I’ve had toxic resistance to the English punk bands of the early 80s, almost as early as I became aware of them back in the day. Man, you couldn’t push aside a hippie with a stick without finding some young Mohican sniveling in the bushes right behind him. His new leather jacket was almost always adorned with colorful patches or stickers from “the Big 3” – GBH, DISCHARGE and THE EXPLOITED – as well as lesser lights such as ANTI-PASTI, ADICTS, CHELSEA, 999, COCKNEY REJECTS, VICE SQUAD etc etc. (though truth be told, in high school I was a biiiiig Vice Squad fan). Those bands always sounded totally comic to me – three-chord music for children, played ham-handedly and full of sloganeering, particularly when put up against the amazing California punk of my youth. Or against the US punk of the east coast, Midwest, Northwest and South. Or Sweden, or Australia, etc. With a few exceptions, and contrary to the fight songs coming across the pond at the time, it seems as if punk rock really did die in England around 1980 or so - but thankfully the UK had a lot more to be proud of the first half of that decade, just not from the leathered & mohawked contingent. If there’s anyone out there who wants to fight about this, get in touch and we’ll meet behind stoners’ cove or at next week’s DRI reunion.
Then I heard a song from THE EXPLOITED around 1986 that knocked my goddamn socks off, a roaring 45 that to me, is the apotheosis, the “absolute”, if you will, of moronic English punk. Of course I’m talking about “Dead Cities”. Can’t. Be. Touched! I saw a stage production of the book, later the film, “Trainspotting” at San Francisco’s Edinburgh Castle around 1991 or ‘92 that ended with this song cranked to ear-ripping levels, and I swear the smile on my face could’ve split the building in two. Resisted early 80s English punk until now? Good for you. But download this one, as it’s the proverbial exception that proves the rule.
Play or Download THE EXPLOITED – “Dead Cities” (A-side of 1981 45)