Way back in the early 2000s, Steve Pegrum launched a website like many others charting the family tree of Punk Rock in his localities. (www.southendpunk.com). There was a similar one here for South Wales bands that was fantastic but I’m sure there were loads cropping up as punks got tech-savvy.
With Southend being a mere stones throw from the epicentre of the UK Punk scene in London. It was easy to see how the scene grew quickly and way before mobile phones and 24hr news it was accessible. This CD is ground zero with Volume One being the giveaway as every stone gets turned. Its fourteen tracks of original material plus a veritable feast of a booklet with a short but succinct summary of the band and the song which makes for a great read. Shame its just the CD and not a record with a big book to accompany it for those who now have to wear readers.
The styles are varied ranging from kids who clearly haven’t had their instruments long but are quick learners and enthusiastic participators like the opening ‘You Better Hear’ from The Machines it’s snotty and vibrant and took the band all the way to the epicentre and shows at the Vortex and Roxy.
You also have the more Pub Rock, power Pop end of the spectrum with the excellent Steve Hooker Band. Interestingly at number three on the running order and clearly inspired by those Banshees sees Alison Moyet kick out ‘Radio Roy’ in fine style and a decent demo it is too.
The next few tracks were assured are ultra-rare recordings from the Deciballs with their Snotty ‘Solitary’. The Psychopaths do ‘Drugs’ and you have to love the timing issues with something more akin to the Buzzcocks. One of the best songs on display might be one of the poorest recordings but that’s understandable due to the time-lapse and it was probably taken from a C60 – The Shocks playing with a fantastic exuberance on ‘Too Close For Comfort’.
The Bullies go for a more sophisticated sound and build into the song with some skank on the verse ‘The Fighting Continues’ is a decent song and might have been riding the curve from Strummer and his mob. with a decent arrangement and quite an intricate solo for its time. short-lived as were most of the bands at this furtive time.
Back to the more aggressive bosh of The Icons and their ‘5.15’ before the crustie punx wade in as The Sinyx are up first and its not hard to see their Crass style but they make way for the more aggressive ‘Blind People’ from The Kronstadt Uprising’.
Allegiance To No One dared to incorporate a synth into their armoury like Joy Division did or Tubeway Army even. A band who obviously saw a bigger picture than a lot of their contemporaries. You have to love the energy of Burning Idols who clearly had a lot of love for The Clash with ‘Give Me A Chance’.
By now we’re well into the ’80s and production clearly has improved from the DIY demos of the late ’70s. The Prey had ‘Sleepless Nights’ which has a familiar melody and I like it. They’d had time to absorb all that had gone on in the previous decade and make use of what they’d taken on board and clearly penned a decent song.
Wrapping this compilation up are the Armless Teddies (who knows why?) but they had clearly spent the early ’80s becoming one with the Damneds back catalogue of the Algy Ward years and beyond as ‘Serenade’ dared to dream with the keyboards and acoustic guitars and the build isn’t a million miles away from Smash it up pt 1 and bits and bobs off ‘The Black Album’ good on em I say shame there’s no vocals though but hey maybe on Volume Two.
Sarfend I salute you and Steve for his obvious love for the scene that was Southend that clearly painted a rich tapestry judging by the songs on this very enjoyable compilation.
Author: Dom Daley