Thursday, November 29, 2018

THE ADICTS/Albums 1982 - 87 (5CD) Box Set Reviewed!

THE ALBUMS 1982 - 87
(Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records)

Alongside The Ramones and The Misfits, The Adicts are one of the highest selling Punk bands in the world of merchandise. From t-shirts to badges, the familiar grinning ‘joker’ face of vocalist Monkey (AKA Keith Warren) can be found in almost every record store you walk into and at just about any Punk gig in town. For a band that didn’t necessarily connect with a large American audience during their ‘heyday’ in the ‘80s, that is quite a feat. Ironically, they seem to be more popular in the U.S. now than at any time in their career. The U.S. masses may have been a little late in embracing them but there’s a reason for that: The Adicts’ back catalog is unique and utterly timeless. They were a Punk band, pure and true, yet they had no problem wearing their Pop influences on their sleeves. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing them yourself, Captain Oi and Cherry Red Records have made it easy to start playing catch up with the excellent five CD box set THE ADICTS: THE ALBUMS 1982 – 87.
With an image based on the droogs characters from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and a slashing, dashing sound influenced by The Ramones, Buzzcocks, ‘60s Rock and the British Street Punk scene, The Adicts burst on the scene in 1979 with their LUNCH WITH THE ADICTS EP. Their debut album, SONGS OF PRAISE, was released in 1981. By 1982, the band had signed with Razor Records and that is where this box set picks up their career….

While SONGS OF PRAISE had introduced the band’s full-throttle yet playful approach to Punk Rock, SOUND OF MUSIC (Disc One) expanded their musical horizons. While some of their contemporaries plodded their way through paint-by-numbers Punk, The Adicts brought new ideas to the table, never afraid to knock down the foundation and rebuild it again, song by song. The album opens with the sound of a calliope (a musical nod to the merry-go-round on the cover) and then dives head first in catchy, sing-a-long Punk. Monkey and the boys – ‘Pete Dee’ Davison (guitar), Mel ‘Spider’ Ellis (bass) and Michael ‘Kid Dee’ Davison (drums) – play it fast and real but not without a bit of fun. SOUND OF MUSIC features classic tracks like “Chinese Takeaway,” “Joker In The Pack,” “My Baby Got Run Over By a Steamroller, and “Shake, Rattle, Bang Your Head.”

Fans had to wait three years before The Adicts returned in full force with 1985’s SMART ALEX (Disc Two). With most of the album co-produced by former Vapors front man Dave Fenton, SMART ALEX was their most accessible album to date. With more melodic hooks than ever before, this was an album that smoothed down some edges without betraying their Punk roots. Tracks like “California,” “Troubadour,” “Tokyo,” “Bad Boy,” and “Maybe, Maybe Not” showed more depth in the songwriting. If one prefers the band’s Pop melodies over their Punk approach, this is the perfect entry point in the band’s catalog. A wonderful platter to play over and over again.

Keeping their sights on the Pop prize, FIFTH OVERTURE (Disc Three) finds the band embracing mid ‘80s technology and production. Fans were definitely taken aback by the band moving away from Punk and showing their Pop card. However, FIFTH OVERTURE is such an infectious album, it is hard NOT to love. Sure, the guitars are turned down and there’s quite a bit of keyboards on the album, but the band were always playing with their sound, pushing it to its limits. This may have been too far for some fans, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that there are loads of great hooks to be had on FIFTH OVERTURE. “Change,” “Na Na Na Na,” “She’s A Rocker,” and the classic Adicts sounding “Too Timing Me” are gems just waiting to be rediscovered by Pop fans. This is a quirky album to say the least but an album that they needed to make before rediscovering their roots.

Disc Four in this box is entitled RARITIES and features non-album tracks including B-sides, single versions and so much more. The re-recording of “Viva La Revolution” remains one of the band’s most popular anthems. “Steamroller (My Baby Got Run Over By A)” is the classic B-side version, which is far superior to the recording that ended up on SOUND OF MUSIC. Strangely enough, their version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” remains a live concert staple. “A D X Medley” is a fun romp through the band’s back pages. Their cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” is a fab tribute to one of the bands that influenced the band. Rare EP tracks like “Champs Elysees,” “Who Spilt My Beer?” “Cowboys,” and The Clash-like “Sound Of Music” are must-have Adicts nuggets that every fan holds dear.

Disc Five is the LIVE AND LOUD! album recorded in 1982 but unreleased until 1987. Crudely recorded and full of raw Punk sweat and energy, this is an essential release for those that enjoy live albums.

The Adicts  - Monkey, Pete, and Kid + new members - are still treading the boards three decades on from when this box ends. And they still make great records. If you are unfamiliar with the band, THE ALBUMS 1982 – 87 makes it easy to get acquainted. Reader, meet The Adicts!

Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee


No comments: