1978 – The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo compilation review

24 08 2020

1978 – The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo is a new 3 CD set from Cherry Red, released on 28 August 2020.

The 79 tracks (from a marketing view-point, maybe there should have been 78 tracks!) cover the well-known punk and new wave hits from the year, along with lesser-known regional acts from Manchester, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The collection also includes an entertaining 48-page booklet that includes details on every track included in the compilation.

The first CD features some of the era’s big-hitters. Opening with Sham 69’s Borstal Breakout from January 1978, followed by one of the hardest-hitting singles by The Stranglers, 5 Minutes. The percussive Emergency by 999 is another highlight, as is the early Gary Numan release – Oh! Didn’t I Say by Tubeway Army.

Automatic Lover by The Vibrators fits in with the short-lived power pop movement of bands such as Tonight (Drummer Man) from the Spring of 1978. She’s So Modern by The Boomtown Rats reminds you what a powerful force the band were from 1978 to around 1981, with an amazing run of pop / new wave hit singles.

A pre-fame Japan offer Don’t Rain On My Parade and are a world away from the sound they settled on from Quiet Life in late 1979, that showcased their move from new wave guitars to something more sophisticated on the cusp of the 80s synth-pop explosion.

Concrete Jungle by The Coventry Automatics is an early track from the band that would soon become The Specials, with their mix of new wave and ska already starting to develop into the style they would use so successfully from 1979 onwards. The Only Ones Another Girl, Another Planet was unbelievably never a hit but is a classic single from this year, and sits well in this collection.

Magazine contribute the early single Touch And Go. Irish band Pretty Boy Floyd And The Gems Spread The Word Around is a song I missed at the time, but is worthy of inclusion here. The Steve Lillywhite produced When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again by The Automatics has a great guitar sound and Jilted John’s only hit single (produced by Martin Hannett!) is one of the biggest selling tracks on this album.

The second CD opens with the track that gave the compilation it’s name, X-Ray Spex with The Day The World Turned Day-Glo, a song that has aged well. What a guitar sound! Up Against The Wall by the Tom Robinson Band is driven by a powerful guitar riff from the late, great Danny Kustow.

Tyne and Wear band The Carpettes (who I saw at least once in my local venue, Woolwich Tramshed) supply 2ne1, whilst the Midge Ure fronted Rich Kids offer the title track from their only studio album, Ghosts Of Princes In Towers, an album I still love.

Another couple of favourites sit on CD 2 – the John Foxx fronted Ultravox with Slow Motion and the Status Quo pastiche / Mike Oldfield mentioning Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie by Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. I’ve still got a double 7″ vinyl of this single somewhere. I must dig it out.

The third and final disc opens with my favourite Public Image Ltd song, their debut single Public Image. Stiff Little Fingers 2nd single Alternative Ulster and Life’s A Gamble by Penetration are also highlights. Penetration’s Pauline Murray releases a new solo album in the Autumn.

Johnny Thunders full-length album version of You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory is included here, although I prefer the short, stripped back Pete Wylie (Wah!) version, as part of the Hope (I Wish You’d Believe Me) single in 1983. The Saints Are Coming by the Skids features some of Stuart Adamson’s earliest incendiary guitar lines. Again, the compilers choose a deeper cut from one of the era’s biggest bands with In The Crowd from The Jam’s All Mod Cons album.

The punk-pop of Destination Venus by The Rezillos is a forgotten tune from this era. Flashing In The Subway by pub-rockers Tyla Gang comes from the more blues / Dr Feelgood side of new wave rock. RIP Sean Tyla. 10:15 Saturday Night by The Cure is a less obvious choice for this compilation, and so stands out amongst some of the more standard new wave blueprint tracks.

If you are a fan of punk and new wave and want to delve deeper than the hit singles, this Cherry Red compilation offers good value for money and is an entertaining collection from a vintage year for music.

Buy 1978 – The Year The UK Turned Day-Glo on Amazon

Disc One

Borstal Breakout – Sham 69
5 Minutes – The Stranglers
Emergency – 999
Don’t Tango On My Heart – The Doll
Oh! Didn’t I Say – Tubeway Army
Automatic Lover – The Vibrators
I’m A Boy – Cyanide
Bad In Bed – The Electric Chairs
Lost Lenore – Attrix
Stuck With You – Zones
Party Clothes – Subs
You’re A Disease – The Outcasts
She’s So Modern – The Boomtown Rats
I’m Civilised – Menace
Moonmidsummer – The Freshies
The Kids Are Alright – The Pleasers
Don’t Rain On My Parade – Japan
Concrete Jungle – The Coventry Automatics
Another Girl, Another Planet – The Only Ones
Touch And Go – Magazine
Spread The Word Around – Pretty Boy Floyd And The Gems
When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again – The Automatics
Stella’s Got A Fella – Social Security
Chloroform – The Bleach Boys
Jilted John – Jilted John
Rat Up A Drainpipe – The Members
Glandular Angela – The Exits
Why Don’t You Do Me Right? – Alternative Tv

Disc Two

The Day The World Turned Day-Glo – X-Ray Spex
Up Against The Wall – Tom Robinson Band
Central Detention Centre – Gyro
Ain’t Got A Clue – The Lurkers
The Backstreet Boys – Patrik Fitzgerald
Nobody Loves You When You’re Old And Gay – Dead Fingers Talk
I Can’t Resist – The Reaction
I Can’t Wait – The Jolt
Kinnel Tommy – Ed Banger
Loving A Killer – The Stoat
A.C.A.B. – The Rowdies
Start All Over Again – No Sweat
I Believe – The V.I.P.S
2ne1 – The Carpettes
Ghosts Of Princes In Towers – Rich Kids
Kung Fu International – John Cooper Clarke
Ringing In The Streets – The Ripchords
Slow Motion – Ultravox
Love Is Blind – Nightshift
Rock’n’roll Ain’t Dead – The Questions
Cortina Cowboys – Blue Steam
Birmingham Reggie – The Others
Live In A Car – UK Subs
It’s Alright – The Turn
Teenage Vice – The Teardrops
Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie – Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias

Disc Three

Public Image – Public Image Ltd
Alternative Ulster – Stiff Little Fingers
Light At Your Window – The Detonators
Fibre – Spizzoil
Life’s A Gamble – Penetration
28/8/78 – Scritti Politti
Europeans – Europeans
Take The Cash (K.A.S.H.) – Wreckless Eric
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory – Johnny Thunders
The Saints Are Coming – Skids
It’s The New Thing – The Fall
Alphaville – The Monochrome Set
In The Crowd – The Jam
Starry Eyes – The Records
Weekend Girl – The Bozos
Destination Venus – The Rezillos
Flashing In The Subway – Tyla Gang
10:15 Saturday Night – The Cure
Larger Than Life – The Parrots
Wrong Street – Nicky & The Dots
New Town – The Vitamins
Love Song – Passage
What She Wants, She Needs – Eater
Never Met Suzi – Time Machine
White Christmas – Slush





The Stranglers – The Classic Collection

6 03 2018

Take a stroll over to your CD cabinet. Do you have a copy of the first 7 albums from The Stranglers? Nope? Ok now is your time to rectify this. Parlophone have reissued the bands 1977-1982 studio albums under the name The Classic Collection.

The Raven

These reasonable priced reissues (all single discs) have unfortunately not been remastered, which is a bit of a missed opportunity. So if you already own the albums, you will probably stick with what you have, but I would recommend purchasing the new expanded version of Live (X-Cert) which has an additional 8 previously unreleased on CD tracks from the original concerts at The Roundhouse in 1977 and Battersea Park in 1978. I dare you to listen to the version of Nice ‘n’ Sleazy from Battersea on this reissue without picturing in your mind the on-stage antics from the video. You know which one I mean.

If you don’t have the albums, The Classic Collection offers a quick and easy way to collect some of the finest albums of the late 70s / early 80s. Key non-album tracks from the period are included on each album, along with lyrics (that are more readable than previous CD releases), pictures from the era and a history of the band written by David Buckley (the same history appears in the sleeve-notes of each individual album).

The band’s debut album Rattus Norvegicus still sounds dangerous and raw, 40 years after its original release.

From the violence of Sometimes, the harsh beauty of Goodbye Toulouse through to the new wave classic Hanging Around, the band’s debut still delivers on so many levels.

Every time I hear Peaches, I’m transported back to my school-days, and album closer Down In The Sewer is a dripping with acid, punk-Prog powerhouse of a song.

1977 also saw the release of No More Heroes. The title track is one of the band’s enduring classics, but the album contains often overlooked tracks such as Bitching and English Towns.

This re-issue includes two of my favourite early Stranglers tracks, the edgy paranoia of Straighten Out and the precursor to the post-punk sound of the bands 3rd album, the single 5 Minutes.

“Got anything to say? No? Well shut up!”

1978 saw the release of the bands 3rd album, Black And White. To me, this was the best sounding Stranglers album. There is a real consistency that runs through every single song.

Always a great singles band, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy was one of their finest. Like the earlier Peaches, Sleazy is a mutated version of reggae that is simply a classic Stranglers single. Outside Tokyo slows the pace before the snarling Sweden (All Quiet On The Eastern Front).

All 4  band members sound amazing throughout this album – with my favourite Hugh Cornwell guitar sound and the mighty barracuda bass from JJ Burnel. There is a beautiful symmetry on the epic Toiler On The Sea, and this reissue is topped off by the inclusion of yet another classic Stranglers single, their cover of Bacharach & David’s Walk On By. Better than the original, yes I think so.

As I mentioned earlier, the 2018 re-issue of Live X-Cert is the definitive version. The album captures the band in their most raw state.

Highlights include an incendiary 5 Minutes, a venomous Straighten Out and a speed-driven Hanging Around.

The extra tracks include a breakneck speed version of Down In The Sewer, with Bitching, Peaches and my favourite live version of  Nice ‘n’ Sleazy.

My only tattoo is of The Raven logo on my arm, so you can probably tell that this is my favourite Stranglers album. One of my few regrets is that there was no official live album released from this period, as the band switched up to another level live in 1979-1980. Track down footage of the band from this period on YouTube, you will not be disappointed.

The title track is many fans favourite song. To my ears, The Raven features JJ’s best vocal and some wonderfully inventive guitar lines from Hugh, topped with a driving, almost jazz-like percussion track from Jet and inventive, rhythmic synth lines from Dave Greenfield, delivering an absolutely beautiful song that I never tire of hearing. And I’ve heard it a lot.

Although I followed the band from early 1977, I was not allowed to see them live (my parents hated the band!) until 1979, with their gig as special guests of The Who at Wembley Stadium in August 1979 being my first live MIB experience. Hearing songs from their soon to be released album The Raven was a great way to start a long list of memorable Stranglers gigs.

nmh

Anyway, back to The Raven. Ice and Baroque Bordello still send shivers, and the band did not let up with the string of classic singles, delivering two more in the shape of Nuclear Device and Duchess. This 2018 reissue also includes the single and extended mix of one of the bands best later period singles, Bear Cage.

The most experimental Stranglers album, (The Gospel According To) The Meninblack was released in 1981. Apparently featuring a guest appearance from some bloke called Charlie, this album heralded in the darkest period in the band’s history. Just Like Nothing On Earth still sounds like the future, and Two Sunspots really should have been released as a single. Second Coming has grown into my favourite song from the album over the many years since the albums release.

Another great single (which cost me 79p back in the day, fact fans) is included on this 2018 reissue – Who Wants the World, along with a track that was only available at the time on a US import album,  Vietnamerica.

The final album in The Classic Collection reissue series is from later on in 1981, La Folie. Most people will know this album from the huge hit Golden Brown, but the album offered much more than this iconic single. Let Me Introduce You To The Family may not have performed well in the charts, but it was a great single, and sounded amazing live. Tramp, with its powerful chorus, is the one that got away, and should have been the follow-up to Golden Brown.

Ain’t Nothin’ To It and The Man They Love To Hate were standout album tracks, and the fine production from Tony Visconti gives the band a new edge for the emerging decade.

So there you have it – a welcome reissue of the first 7 classic albums from one of the UK’s best bands.

Buy The Classic Collection on Amazon

Rattus Norvegicus (1977)

No More Heroes (1977)

Black And White (1978)

Live X-Cert (1979)

The Raven (1979)

(The Gospel According To) The Meninblack (1981)

La Folie (1981)

 








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