A follow up on two successful Captain Oi! box sets by the band, ‘THE EPIC YEARS’ and ‘THE ALBUMS 1979-85’

Disc One is the band’s first-ever live album that includes Punk classics like ‘Baby Baby’, ‘Automatic Lover’ and ‘Troops Of Tomorrow’. The recordings are vibrantly captured and the band’s boundless energy is well captured. When I’m listening it dawned on me how overlooked the band’s catalogue has been in general terms. Knox and the gang wrote some really great slabs of power pop punk rock and had it down to a tee and did it better than most of that time period. None more outstanding than ‘Amphetamine Blue’ which has stood the test of time and is still a stone-cold classic.

The second disc is 1988’s ‘Recharged’ album which features the single ‘String Him Along’ that opens the album in a more countrified power-pop but the band was able to go from that to the more aggressive and choppy ‘Hey Little Doll’. ‘Go Go Go’ is pure Rock n Roll’ and indicative of the time with regards to the production. One of my favourites off the album is the acoustic ‘Every Day I Die A Little’ maybe a predictable rise and fall middle section as the drums kick in but a top track all the same. Rounded off nicely with a crowd-edited rendition of ‘Disco In Moscow’.

Disc Three is the ‘Meltdown’ album which now adds the previously non LP ‘Wasted Life’ as a bonus track. ‘Office Girls’ kicked off the album and the band had lost none of their appetites to pen spikey punchy power pop, tight verses and uplifting chorus. Again I love the balladeering on ‘So Young’ with its great saxophone break from Waterboy Anthony Thislewaite that took the Green On Red sounding track into another direction making it one hell of a song. The band mixed the songs up quite a bit on ‘Meltdown’ running through their repertoire of influences from the balladeering to the tougher punkier songs and other genres getting some oxygen which helped make The Vibrators one of the best bands to emerge out of punk and beyond.

In under twelve months the band released the follow up to ‘Meltdown’ with the fourth disc in this set 1989’s ‘Vicious Circle’ album which features the Billy Fury cover of ‘Halfway To Paradise’ single and the rare bonus B-side ‘Drive’. With a better fuller more rounded production that really suited The Vibrators songs, ‘Vicious Circle’ kept the show on the road with topical ‘Polltax Blues’ adding some grunt to proceedings and that Stooges piano tonk underpinning the rolling riff.

Whilst ‘Fire’ was still snotty having it lean on the Billy Fury cover still sounds weird such is the contrast.

The final disc is the band’s tenth album, imaginatively called ‘Volume Ten’. Opening with ‘Losing It’ is something of a classic sounding Vibrators song with a strong pop melody and chorus glued together with a sharp guitar riff that leads to a palatable chorus. ‘Hot For You’ is more uptempo and yet another example as to how good the band was even when they did a cover of ‘Rave On’ which I’m still not sure about. It’s not like they were struggling with writer’s block and could have gone with just original tunes but hey ho what do I know.

The clamshell box also has a booklet containing detailed liner notes overseen by Jon ‘Eddie’ Edwards which are pretty cool.

For a relatively cheap amount of dosh, these Vibrators box sets are a fantastic purchase and people who possibly got blown off course and missed out on these recordings now have the chance to fill those gaps with some great records. Pick one up it’s a no-brainer!

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Author: Dom Daley