Back in the early 80s, when Margaret Thatcher was just getting her feet under the table and the Falklands war was looming, punk rock was undergoing a radical change, moving away from the art schools and universities and into smalltown squats and backstreet rooms. The music industry had long since washed its hands of punk's dirty linen, with the new romantics just about to invade the charts.
As with all musical scenes and genres both past and present, punk's descent into the underground heralded some of the most creative and forward thinking music of that era, and undoubtedly sowed the seeds for the hardcore, and to a lesser extent, C86 movements that appeared in its wake just a few years later.
Anti-Society is the third in Overground's series of compilations that collects together 23 songs from that era's anarcho-punk squat scene, largely influenced by the legendary Crass collective and all with something to say.
Whilst it would be hard to put any one of these tracks down as duffers, there are a select few that stand out from the crowd, such as Liberty's brass infused 'Revenge', and the Killing Joke-esque swirling guitar sound of Part I's 'Salem'. Elsewhere the Dave Asgrove Band's 'I Rebel' mixes Joy Division basslines and clattering drum machines with vitriolic lyrics such as "I've been abused by the system, I'm not taking any more...", while the intro to Exit-Stance's 'Christian Militia' sounds suspiciously like the opening segment of Art Brut's 'Formed A Band'. Untermensch could have been Rochdale's answer to the Dead Kennedys if their 'Ashfield Valley Headkick' is anything to go by, while Cardiff's Icons Of Filth, arguably the figureheads of the scene in more recent times until the death of frontman Stig in 2004 onstage whilst performing with the band, offer the visceral 'Your Military', which would scare any world leader into withdrawing their forces and calling off a war. Pronto.
Anti-Society is a fascinating insight into a scene that time has seemingly forgotten and many probably weren't aware ever existed. Even if you were to tire of the music (which I'm sure you won't), it's worth purchasing for Sean McGhee's excellent accompanying booklet alone.
8Dom Gourlay's Score