Monday, January 11, 2021

Various: Burning Britain - A Story Of UK Independent Punk 1980-1983

BURNING BRITAIN is the first-ever box set to properly tell the story of the early Eighties independent Punk scene – nicknamed UK82 – when the music went underground and thrived outside of the major label framework.
With 114 tracks, this longform 4-CD box set follows previous, acclaimed compilations from Cherry Red dedicated to Post-Punk (To The Outside Of Everything), Goth (Silhouettes And Shadows), Mod Revival (Millions Like Us), etc.
BURNING BRITAIN offers a mix of Indie Punk classics, rarities and obscurities, drawn from genre- defining labels like Riot City, No Future, Fallout, Clay, Mortarhate, Anagram, Step-Forward, Small Wonder, WXYZ, Rondelet, Spiderleg and Flicknife.

Many tracks make their debut on CD; others have long been out-of- print; all are out-and-out Punk!
Includes around 50 Punk classics which troubled the official Indie charts back in the day!
The most comprehensive and authoritative box set of ‘third wave’ Punk Rock ever assembled!

BURNING BRITAIN is the sequel to 2016’s acclaimed 4-CD Box Set ACTION TIME VISION, which documented the independent Punk revolution of the late Seventies.
BURNING BRITAIN is the first-ever box set to properly tell the story of the early Eighties independent

Punk scene – nicknamed UK82 – when the music went underground and thrived outside of the major label framework.
With 114 tracks, this longform 4-CD box set follows previous, acclaimed compilations from Cherry Red dedicated to Post-Punk (To The Outside Of Everything), Goth (Silhouettes And Shadows), Mod Revival (Millions Like Us), etc.

Big names from the early days of Punk (The Damned, Angelic Upstarts, UK Subs, Cockney Rejects, The Adicts, The Lurkers, Chelsea) are joined by all the key bands from the next wave, including The Exploited, The Anti-Nowhere League, Discharge, Blitz, G.B.H., The Toy Dolls, Vice Squad, The Business, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, Poison Girls and Conflict.

Cherry Red Records' John Reed is proving himself one of the great compilers of British popular music's underground history, particularly in chronicling the British punk/post-punk scene. 2016's Action Time Vision: A Story of UK Independent Punk 1976-1979 and 2017's To the Outside of Everything The Story of UK Post Punk 1977-1981 each collected over a hundred definitive and

forgotten independent singles in one place, with extensive liner notes and smart, engaging design by Keith Davey.
One could have spent a lifetime on the scene and still not found all of the obscure singles collected in these sets. Each set out to demonstrate the breadth of creativity and vision that was going on beyond the trivial eyes of a British media machine more interested in creating firestorms of scandal and paranoia than engaging with an increasingly disaffected youth culture. In retrospect, they show just how much that fractious transition period of the 1970's into the 1980's remains with us today, both stylistically and ideologically.

Now comes Burning Britain: A Story of Independent UK Punk 1980-1983, a direct sequel to the Action Time Vision set. Like its predecessors, Burning Britain offers a treasure trove of punk singles, many from bands long overlooked or ignored. This set may be even more revelatory than the ATV set considering that UK punk had gone back underground during the years covered here. Ian Glasper's excellent introduction and band bios amplify the importance of the time period and of how these many "minor" bands (according to the official history) combined to make a major statement.

For the bands contributing to what became known as the UK82 punk scene, everything was personal and rage was a defining factor. The common narrative is that UK punk had become commodified and lost its way by the end of the 1970's, a victim both of its success and of its adherence to its own

stubborn codes. But Glasper argues that the scene went underground, became even rawer as the next generation of teenagers embraced the DIY aesthetic, and, subsequently, entered a new phase of vibrancy. Glasper describes the shift as "an infinitely simpler, harder and more abrasive take on the genre, distilled from the original concept of punk but with all the arty pretense and mainstream aspirations ripped away in a frenzy of violent frustration". Unlike the media-savvy manipulations of McLaren's Sex Pistols or the cynical calculations of the Clash, this music "all came from the heart". These were kids who were foolish enough to buy into the original punk mythos but then sincere enough to turn the bullshit into a visceral reality.


When the major label signing frenzy of the first wave of UK punk died down, it was left to a new breed of indie labels to pick up the slack, and here's where labels like Fallout, Riot City, Anagram, Spiderleg, and a dozen others chronicled here stepped in. While Britain's musical exports in the first years of the '80s embraced the cold synthesized sounds of the New Romantics and fashioned the new wave as a white neo-soul dance music, Britain's punk underground remained hot and was allowed to fester and grow free from commercial interference.In both sound and sympathy, these bands would have a major influence on the US's growing hardcore scene of the middle '80s.

The issues central to the UK82 bands collected here ring loud and clear and their messages remain relevant. It is easy to forget the worldwide sense of dread that enveloped the early '80s, with a global

energy crisis still unresolved, with numerous countries experiencing civil and economic unrest, and with the US and Russia locked in the deepest stalemate of the Cold War. Johnny Rotten's cry of "No Future" seemed an imminent promise. Numerous tracks here amplify the growing distrust of governmental systems: Anti-Establishment's "No Trust", Ad Nauseum's "Crazy World", Blitzkrieg's "The Abuse of Power", Infa-Riot's "Kids of the 80's", Anti-Pasti's "No Government", Special Duties' "Police State", and the Skeptix's "Born to Lose", which comes across as a brilliant amalgam of the Heartbreakers and the Dead Boys.

Paranoia at impending nuclear war might be the dominant theme of many of these songs as they reflect the anxieties of a generation one push of a button away from extinction: G.B.H.'s "No Survivors",

Chaotic Youth's "Whose Bomb?", Erazerhead's "Shell Shock", the Insane's "Nuclear War", Resistance 77's "Nuclear Attack", and the Varukers' "Die for Your Government" are just a handful of the youthful responses to the imminent global apocalypse. Maybe the most effective statement of the youth perspective comes with Vice Squad's "Last Rockers", an ominous embrace of impending doom as Beki Bondage sings "Time has come for us to die / No memories left to cry / No chance of a rebirth / For the last rockers on earth." Apocalypse is supposed to promise a new beginning, but the global nuclear war will bring only erasure.

Under the weight of an uncertain future, these kids were not alright, and they were justified in both their anger and anxieties. Perhaps that's why British society at large recoiled in horror at their very existence. A mohawk or a safety pin became a symbol of separation and disaffection. For most adults, rather than

giving an ear to youth concerns, these badges became symbols of rampant juvenile delinquency that required either blind shunning or violent intervention. Peter & the Test Tube Babies' anthemic "Banned From the Pubs" gives voice to youth frustration of being unfairly judged on the surface: "Banned from the pubs 'cause they don't like punks / Banned from the pubs 'cause they treat us like thugs." How else to respond but with vitriol and an embrace of one's outsider status?

Start to finish, Burning Britain's 114 tracks do not constitute an easy listening experience. This

collection of songs refuses to be treated as background music and threatens to overwhelm when foregrounded; in short, it demands attention. With rare exceptions such as Toy Dolls or a reconstituted the Damned, the pop-friendly undercurrent of first wave punk is erased from in favor of abrasive waves of sound and angry shout-singing. This is invigorating music best experienced in short bursts, but what a collection of bursts this set provides.

[By Jeff Penczak
For starters, there are over five hours and more than 100 artists spread across these four discs. And

while I pride myself on the rather extensive collection of punk albums on my shelves, I think I recognize about a dozen of them. So we’re really scraping the lower echelons of UK punk here and this is nothing if not directed towards a niche audience who refused to patch up their ripped T-shirts, shave their mohawks and sew up their faces after ripping out the razor blades and safety pins. The majority of the punters had moved on to the safer, saner, and more melodic “new wave” and power pop pastures, realizing their political grandstanding pissed off a lot of people, but didn’t win over any hearts or minds.

So, yes, vitriolic anger and political diatribes permeate this story, and most of it is not very pretty. But the true spirit of punk swings from the rafters like a gob-infested ceiling in one of dozens of

dingy bars where this music formed the lifeblood of kids with nothing else to do. Three chords, sore

throats screaming inane “lyrics” that fit the melody more than anything else, and a rudimentary knowledge of how to play their instruments were what brought most of these kids together. That, and a desire to have fun and get blathered on a Saturday night with the mates. If it induces a pounding headache, more the better!

Everybody’s favourite losers, Cockney Rejects scream through ‘Bad Man!’ in true anthemic fashion,

hoisting two-fingered salutes right between your eyes and we’re off and running. Poison Girls proved that the punk scene remained gender agnostic – girls could play rock and roll, and if they missed a few chords, fuck it, nobody’s perfect. And this egalitarian philosophy remains one of punk’s enduring legacies. Many of the female-fronted bands on display (Action Pact, Vice Squad, Expelled, A-Heads, Icon A.D., Violators, Sears) also provide some of the box set’s most enduring tracks, so there! (Granted, they all sound like they took singing lessons from Siouxsie, but that’s not a bad thing ‘t’all!)

Anti-Pasti are one of the most violently anarchic acts to grace vinyl and ‘No Government’ is one of many love songs to the Iron Lady, although I do wish the compilers saw fit to unearth Notsensibles’ ‘I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher’ to balance the scales! [‘I thought You Were Dead’ is a nice substitute, though.] Hardcore/thrash metal fanatics will also

gob themselves silly over Disorder’s ‘Rampton Song’, which even annotator Ian Glasper confesses is “atonal noise that helped nail shut the coffin on any delusions that hardcore punk could ever cross over into the mainstream”. Not for the fainthearted.
The legendary Discharge spout venom, blood, and other bodily fluids while tearing through ‘Decontrol’, two-and-a-half minutes of amphetamine-fueled freakout that proves John Lydon’s mantra that “Anger is an energy”. Vice Squad were one of my favourite acts from punk’s Second Wave, and Beki Bondage’s Siouxsie-isms are still a joy to behold, witness ‘Last Rockers’, the first track released on Riot City Records in 1981.

Disc Two starts to unravel the loud/fast/rules directive, when anger, speed, and politics took over the lyrics and music, witness Blitzkrieg’s ‘Abuse of Power’, Subhumans’ ‘Reason For Existence’, The Insane’s ‘Nuclear War’, 70 seconds of Special Duties’ ‘Police State’, T.D.A.’s eponymous rant, and the Dead Kennedys-styled System’s (‘Dogs of War’), which may be the only punk single to top five minutes. Chaotic Dischord’s ‘Fuck The World’ is still atrocious garbage, no matter how much annotator Ian Glasper apologizes for its deplorable existence.

Disc Three kicks off encouragingly with Blitz’s anthemic bootstomper ‘Warriørs’, The Ejected’s Ramonesy comic-book punk (‘Have You Got 10p?’), and later efforts from the legendary Angelic Upstarts, Vibrators, and The Anti-Nowhere League, all of whom can still bust balls and spin a great tune at the same time! But again the relatively shortlived Crash, Crux, and deliver the goods that make us overlook the occasional dross that seeps into all-inclusive box sets like this. Violators’ ‘Summer of ‘81’ is a nice time capsule of the inner city riots, another strong point of the punk ethos – corralling their anger and frustration inside three chords and three minutes.

The final disk starts out, surprisingly, in a religious vein, with cartoonish punk buffoonery like The Blood, whose vocalist (The Cardinal) donned priestly garb and looked like Michael Palin’s bishop character from Monty Python, and Ruefrex’s ‘Capital Letters’, which namechecks the big guys, God

and Christ. The Sears‘ Clare Taylor’s strident, Poly Styrene-ish shrieking grounded their racket with attention-grabbing energy as evidenced on the early demo version of ‘Not Prepared’. Sadly, their drummer succumbed to leukemia in 1986, aged only 19, while guitarist Dave Nicholls passed away last year. Ultra-Violent are perfectly named and ‘Crime For Revenge’ illustrates the move towards thrash and hardcore that more and more bands were adopting. Either the compilers are major hardcore fans or are simply reflecting the sign of the times, but Disc Four features more of this anarcho noise than previously encountered earlier in the box. It’s also the only disc with no familiar names, suggesting that the post-punk punk movement had worn out its welcome by 1983.

But a few winners are tucked away inside, namely the melodic aggression of Last Rites’ Clashy ‘Stepdown’, the Underdogs tightknit, energetic yet melodic ‘East of Dachau’ with its marshall beat

and Ruts-like enthusiasm, and Rose of Victory (ex-Blitz members) do a fun, faithful version of ‘Suffragette City’. Unfortunately, their label’s demise meant it was a one-off and they split shortly

thereafter. The Enemy’s ‘Last Rites’ (not to be confused with the aforementioned band (!)) and Red London’s ‘Revolution Times’ had me reaching for me ol’ leathers and looking for the nearest slam dance. The latter is the best of the unknown bands to leave a lasting impression and will have me seeking out their half-dozen (!) albums.

All well and good, except listening to five hours of angry, screaming lunatics sets one’s own blood a-boiling and head a-throbbing. And all the Thatcher bashing and anarcho rants get real old, real fast. I can’t imagine many of these 50-somethings still squeezing into the leathers and reliving past glories, although the liners do suggest quite a few reunions over the years, with quite a few bands still gigging and releasing new product!
Sure, a lot of this whizzes by (I use the verb advisedly!) at 100 mph, and most of the lyrics are unintelligible grunts, with three syllables (“Oi! Oi! Oi!) matching their three chords, but these acts took the Adverts at their word (three-chord wonders, indeed), and much of the U.S. West Coast hardcore scene can trace its roots back to these hardworking, but sadly anonymous acts.

Legends like 4 Skins, [Charged] G.B.H., a mellowed, but no less vital Damned, Chron Gen, The Lurkers, Vibrators, Chelsea, the Anti-Nowhere League, the U.K. Subs (with over two dozen albums under their leather-studded belts, perhaps the most prolific punk band of all time), Angelic Upstarts, and are prominently featured, but it’s the little guys that bring the brightest smiles, be it the Business’ yobbo anthem ‘Harry May’, Rudi’s Joe Jackson-meets-The Jam beat surrender ‘Bewerewolf!’ (recorded for Paul Weller’s Jamming! Imprint), or Demob’s gloriously nostalgic slice of animosity, ‘No Room For You’.

The Dark managed to survive their tightrope act bridging punk and goth (‘The Masque’ still chills),

Erazerhead successfully marry Ramones and Dickies for ‘Shell Shock’, Icon A.D.’s tuneful ‘Face The Facts’ combines duel female vocals with buzzsaw guitar for a wonderful change of pace from the surrounding mayhem; Emergency’s ‘Points of View’ is melodic punk of the highest order, and the supergroup Urban Dogs (featuring members of UK Subs and Vibrators) justify their existence with the stomping shoutalong, ‘Limo Life’. Screaming Dead were just one of a number of bands who morphed in a more Gothic direction, and their atmospheric ‘Angel of Death’ captures that punky side of Goth that Siouxsie and The Cure began with.]

Various: Burning Britain - A Story Of UK Independent Punk 1980-1983
Label: Cherry Red ‎– CRCDBOX53
Format: 4 × CD, Compilation Box Set
Country: UK
Released: 11 May 2018
Genre: Rock
Style: Punk, Post-Punk, Oi, Goth Rock, Hardcore

CD 1.


01. Cockney Rejects: Bad Man!     
02. The Wall: Ghetto     
03. The Toy Dolls: Tommy Kowey's Car     
04. Notsensibles: I Thought You Were Dead     
05. Poison Girls: Pretty Polly     
06. Stiffs: Control     
07. Anti-Pasti: No Government     
08. Discharge: Decontrol     
09. The Mob: Witch Hunt     
10. Vice Squad: Last Rockers     
11. The Outcasts: Gangland Warfare     
12. Charge: King's Cross     
13. 4 Skins: One Law For Them     
14. G.B.H.: No Survivors     
15. Chron Gen: Reality     
16. The Business: Harry May     
17. Infa-Riot: Kids Of The 80's     
18. Epileptics: Two Years Too Late     
19. Rudi: Bewerewolf!     
20. Chelsea: Evacuate     
21. Action Pact: London Bouncers     
22. Disrupters: Young Offender     
23. Demob: No Room For You     
24. Peter & The Test Tube Babies: Banned From The Pubs     
25. Chaotic Youth: Whose Bomb?     
26. The Dark: The Masque     
27. Drongos For Europe: Death's A Career     
28. Chaos U.K.: Victimised     
29. The Exploited: Alternative

MP3 @ 320 Size: 182 MB
Flac  Size: 533 MB

CD 2.


01. U.K. Subs: Endangered Species     
02. Blitzkrieg: The Abuse Of Power     
03. The Defects: Survival     
04. The Expelled: Dreaming     
05. Anti Establishment: No Trust     
06. Subhumans: Reason For Existence     
07. The Damned: Wait For The Blackout     
08. Erazerhead: Shell Shock     
09. The Insane: Nuclear War     
10. Special Duties: Police State     
11. Threats: Go To Hell     
12. Lunatic Fringe: British Man     
13. Organized Chaos: Mary Whitehouse     
14. T.D.A.: T.D.A.     
15. The System: Dogs Of War     
16. Newtown Neurotics: Mindless Violence     
17. The A-Heads: Dying Man     
18. The Adicts: Viva La Revolution     
19. The Partisans: 17 Years Of Hell     
20. Chaotic Dischord: Fuck The World     
21. Court Martial: Too Late     
22. Red Alert: No Prisoners     
23. The Samples: Dead Hero     
24. Death Sentence: Victims Of War     
25. The Xpozez: 1000 Marching Feet     
26. Destructors: Northern Ripper     
27. Icon A.D.: Face The Facts     
28. Mayhem: Dogsbody

MP3 @ 320 Size: 182 MB
Flac  Size: 536 MB

CD 3.


01. Blitz: Warriors     
02. The Ejected: Have You Got 10p?     
03. Rabid: Jubilee     
04. The Septic Psychos: The Thatcher     
05. The Lurkers: Drag You Out     
06. Abrasive Wheels: Urban Rebel     
07. Attak
: Murder In The Subway     
08. Undead: Dead Revolution     
09. Icons Of Filth: They've Taken Everything     
10. Angelic Upstarts: Lust For Glory     
11. Anti-Nowhere League: For You     
12. The Vibrators: Dragnet     
13. Crash: TV Times     
14. Crux: Keep On Running     
15. One Way System: Jerusalem     
16. Resistance 77: Nuclear Attack     
17. Violators: Summer Of 81     
18. Ad Nauseam: Crazy World     
19. Major Accident: Mr. Nobody     
20. Uproar: No War No More     
21. No Choice: Cream Of The Crop     
22. Shrapnel: Let There Be Anarchy     
23. External Menace: Have Visions     
24. Disorder: Rampton Song     
25. Emergency: Points Of View     
26. Urban Dogs: Limo Life     
27. Instant Agony: Fashion Parade     
28. Anthrax: They've Got It All Wrong     
29. Skeptix: Born To lose

MP3 @ 320 Size: 178 MB
Flac  Size: 524 MB

CD 4.

01. The Blood: Megalomania     
02. Ruefrex: Capital Letters     
03. Warwound: Holocaust     
04. The Sears: Not Prepared (Demo)     
05. Ultra Violent: Crime For Revenge     
06. Omega Tribe: Freedom Peace And Unity     
07. Exit-Stance: Ballykelly Disco (Demo)     
08. Dead Man's Shadow: Toleration Street     
09. Last Rites: Stepdown     
10. Riot Squad: Unite And Fight     
11. The Underdogs: East Of Dachau     
12. Xtract: Blame It On The Youth     
13. Anti-System: Animal Welfare     
14. Mau Maus: Facts Of War     
15. The Genocides: Keep Your Hands Off Me (Rich Bitch)     
16. Rose Of Victory: Suffragette City     
17. The Varukers: Die For Your Government     
18. The Enemy: Last Rites     
19. Red London: Revolution Times     
20. Screaming Dead: The Angel Of Death     
21. Kronstadt Uprising: Xenophobia     
22. English Dogs: Psycho Killer     
23. Conflict: The Serenade Is Dead     
24. Naked: One Step Forward     
25. Broken Bones: Problem     
26. Subculture: Loud And Clear     
27. Soldier Dolls: What Do They Know?     

28. Criminal Justice: Middle East Mayhem

MP3 @ 320 Size: 181 MB

Flac  Size: 531 MB


  1. Thanks for another outstanding post!!!

  2. These are on fire prouductions! I used photo 01-photo 04 for the folder view on the Action box and it looks so cool with the thumbnail view for each file.
    We need the Spirit of 77 now more than ever.
    It never went anywhere because it is the force and the fire.