This 4 CD set, the forerunner to the Left of the Dial set, is an excellent collection of US and UK ‘punk’ from about 1974 to 1981 or so. Yes, a lot of these tracks were anthologized on Rhino’s D.I.Y series… sell them back. [Keep the Boston, Mass one!] Yes, there are a lot of tracks by the usual suspects [Ramones, Clash, Damned, Buzzcocks, Blondie, the Jam, X. Television, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Dead Kennedys… several of whom have catalog on Rhino!] NO, the Sex Pistols are not on the set. There were apparently sticky negotiations, but you own THAT ALBUM anyway don’t you?
What makes me saddest though is that this set points out the inadequacy of the Left of the Dial set. LotD is spread too thin, trying to cover all the cool bands in one fell swoop and really kind of failing to do any of them justice. Which points to a glaring need for a second LotD set or perhaps one called Riding the New Wave focusing on say 1980-1985 and then letting LotD intermix from college radio bands say 1984-1989 [Grunge]… Anyway, back to the great No Thanks.
Like LotD, I found a LOT of interesting things here I had not heard before. Just random playing right now, there’s Mink DeVille’s Loaded era-Velvet Underground sounding Let Me Dream If I Want To, Pere Ubu’s dark and spooky Final Solution, the Saints’ I’m Stranded and the Stranglers, who I have all ready gone and bought another collection by. I know I’ve heard Richard Hell’s Blank Generation, but I swear this is a cleaned up version that sounds so much more powerful than I remember. Same with the Stooges’ Search and Destroy. And OH MY GAWD, the X-Ray Spex Oh Bondage Up Yours! HOLY COW, where did Poly Styrene come from? And that’s just disc one!
There’s a well of the lost here: Generation X with Billy Idol up front come off very well with Your Generation and Ready Steady Go… the early Boomtown Rats tracks here, Lookin’ After No. 1 and She’s So Modern are so far removed from their “hit” I Don’t Like Mondays its hard to believe it’s the same band. The Avengers’ We Are the One is a fantastic lost cut. Ditto Don’t Dictate by Penetration, Homocide by 999, [My Baby Does] Good Sculptures and Top of the Pops by the Rezillios, Babylon’s Burning by the Ruts, Borstal Breakout by Sham 69… you get the idea.
Yes, there are some things I could do without… putting Joe Jackson’s hit Is She Really Going Out With Him? over some of his more exciting punk things like Look Sharp! or Got the Time or I’m the Man; Elvis Costello’s Radio , Radio and Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart AGAIN… but it’s a few little personal things versus a really great and dedicated set.
I hope this leads some people to buy Stiff Little Fingers and the Stranglers, the Jam, the Damned [whose Strawberries and Machine Gun Etiquette are out on re-issue!], the Vibrators excellent Pure Mania and the Dead Boys. As for myself, I think I will begin looking for the Avengers, some Soft Boys and the Rezillios…
4.0 Stars… that’s 4 Safety Pins through the Cheek to You!