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Music Review: Various Artists – MOJO Magazine: Beyond Punk

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Well look, it's another one of those free compilations that come with those great MOJO magazines and yet usually sells individually for a few bucks (or more) at record shops. Lucky for us, some of these can be found cheaply here and there.

No, I imagine you're not shocked that this compilation has the word 'punk' in it and I bought it, but you may be surprised that I still held this record with hesitation. I have to say that I am not a huge post-punk fan and, if I am going to be honest, the Siouxsie song I'm most familiar with is "Peek-a-Boo" that I heard a lot of from watching Beavis and Butthead. Yeah, I know, my credibility just took a hit there (even if I scored major points with the mundane humor crowd!) Therefore, this record reads like a list of bands that I should know more about, so I suppose that the choice to pick it up was even more obvious.

Post-punk, by definition, really does mean 'beyond punk' when put in context of the time. Punk was getting played out and musicians were trying to be more creative with elements of punk but without resorting to the typical thrash and yelp that was common in most punk outfits. What you get on this compilation is a wide array of sometimes complicated, sometimes noisy tunes that won't always necessarily mesh with your tastes. However, there are quite a few great tunes on here, like Mission of Burma's "Academy Fight Song" (mislabeled on this comp) which is a classic song that is right up there with their "Revolver" tune in greatness. Wire, my favorite post-punk band, gets their soothingly enjoyable yet essentially nonsensical "Kidney Bingos" on this disc, which highlights their later period of music more than their earlier raucous.

Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Mirage" comes across as the most punkish tune, with the speed and hard riffs required to cause a bit of pogo-ing. The band that I had hoped would be great is Bird Blobs, if only because their name is rather amusingly curious. However, they are rather noisy without being memorable, which I suppose appeals to some. A few more modern bands, like Radio 4 and Death From Above 1979, get a tune on this record due to their post-punk style in the more modern day. It's too bad that the latter have disbanded and the former hasn't put out anything particularly good since 2002. Those two groups, once promising in 2005, are now just another addition to the post-punk back catalog.

Unlike some other genres, I'm not sure if there are many people out there who like everything that is post-punk, but this is a great introduction to the sound of the genre. Some of the artists on this compilation are still putting out music, like Mission of Burma and Siouxsie Sioux, but it's mostly a collection of tunes from time gone by. One would have to check out some post-punk revivalists like A Place to Bury Strangers and the Walkmen to get their modern day fix these days, but that shouldn't be too much of a chore since I can vouch for the Strangers' excellent live show. Still, is there any chance we can rewind a few decades to when the music scene was utterly fantastic?

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