Thursday 27 September 2018

Record Collection Random Choice (RCRC) - The Compilations - Sound Of The Suburbs / Sound Of The City

Two compilations from the same stable released within a year of each other, and went some way (at least in my little world of acquaintance) to sparking some interest in punky/new wave stuff that had been long, long, forgotten about (all of about 10 or 12 years, which when you're only 20 represents 50% of your life - this stuff was old).
So as they are form the same gene pool, they are considered, in my head at least, as a double album, and for the purpose of this musing I am maintaining that belief.

From 1991, 'Sound Of The Suburbs' is basically a "starter kit" for late 70s/early 80s post-punk and new wave.
I recall it's release being salivated over in the pages of Select Magazine, who also bigged up the release of 'Singles from The Specials around the same time.
Re-discovery of a period not so long past was in the air - a couple of years later Select were the one's who first mentioned Britpop - could these compilations be the catalyst that started a movement? (probably not).

'Sound Of The Suburbs' picks the prime tracks of the period, and every one is a winner.  And like all the best, heavily listened to compilations, one track MUST follow another.  Once the sequence is in your mind (and ears), if the playout of Only Ones "Another Girl Another Planet" is not immediately followed by the drum crack and guitar intro of Undertones "Teenage Kicks" then there is something going wrong inside my brain.

'Sound Of The City' gives the bigger names a second outing (proving they are not One Hit Wonders), adds a nod to the US with The Ramones, Blondie and The Pretenders (OK, they're only 25% American) and gives a spotlight to some of the lesser known names (less obvious choices?) of the era, like The Ruts, Spizz Energi and The Jags (who were an actual One Hit Wonder).

So what do you get?
Well, rather than pick out highlights (which is too damn difficult, because they are all highlights), the track listings are:

Sound Of The Suburbs
  1. Jam - The Eton Rifles
  2. Adam & The Ants - Antmusic
  3. Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen in Love
  4. Only Ones - Another Girl Another Planet
  5. Undertones - Teenage Kicks
  6. Martha & The Muffins - Echo Beach
  7. Altered Images - Happy Birthday
  8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Oliver's Army
  9. Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  10. Ian Dury & The Blockheads - Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick
  11. Blondie - Call Me
  12. Teardrop Explodes - Reward
  13. Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays
  14. Psychedelic Furs - Pretty in Pink
  15. Stranglers - No More Heroes
  16. Vapors - Turning Japanese
  17. Eddie & The Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do
  18. The Members - The Sound of the Suburbs

Sound Of The City
  1. Boomtown Rats - She's So Modern
  2. Ramones - Sheena Is a Punk Rocker
  3. Blondie - Denis
  4. The Ruts - Staring at the Rude Boys
  5. The Buzzcocks - Promises
  6. The Damned - Love Song
  7. The Jags - Back of My Hand
  8. Spizz Energi - Where's Captain Kirk
  9. The Jam - Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
  10. The Stranglers - Hanging Around
  11. Sham 69 - If the Kids Are United
  12. Ian Dury and The Blockheads - Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part Three)
  13. The Pretenders - Brass in Pocket
  14. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - (I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea
  15. Adam and the Ants - Dog Eat Dog
  16. Generation X - Dancing With Myself
  17. Stiff Little Fingers - At the Edge

More compilations of this type would follow, invariably titled Teenage Kicks (I have 5 different compilations with that title) or No More Heroes or Alternative 80s or Punk & New Wave Classics, and would contain much of the same tracks.
This is the original, and the one responsible for re-igniting populist interest in this period/genre of music (and allowing record companies to trawl and re-package their archives)
It may not be to everyone's taste (especially with the word "Punk" in the title), but theses sets contains some absolutely sublime pop records of the period, and some surprisingly popular "Big Hits"
(Surprising?  Sham69 - a possibly niche concern, and certainly now a "cartoon" of their former selves manged 4 Top 10 singles in this period)

The Members - Sound Of The Suburbs (the track that gives it's name to the original compilation)

Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (probably one of the finest Punk/New Wave/Pop Singles ... ever)

Blondie - Denis (a nod to the US, and one their very best)

The Jags - Back Of My Hand (one hit wonders (with a soup├žon of Elvis Costello-ism going on))


  1. Tracks 3-5 on Sounds of the Suburbs is possibly the best three songs in a row of all time

  2. I bought Sound Of The Suburbs and played it to death. Not a bad track on there. Never got SOTC, but I found my way to those tracks one way or another.