Punk is a beast with many heads – a Hydra, if you will – cut one off and two more grow in its place. So attempting to condense more than 40 years of punk and post-punk history into just four compact discs is a seemingly Herculean task.
We start at the big bang of punk (England, 1976) with the explosive introduction of The Damned’s New Rose, fittingly the first British punk single released, before working our way through The Buzzcocks, Generation X and Brisbane’s The Saints, via a few others from that period you might not even consider “punk” (The Jam, The Stranglers, Wire). Bizarrely, there’s no Sex Pistols, nor Clash, but plenty more Aussie, in the form of Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and The Boys Next Door.
Next, we pop across the pond to CBGB-era New York with old favourites Ramones, Patti Smith and Richard Hell and the Voidoids – whose Love Comes In Spurts lends its name to this compilation – while delving into some “pre-punk” trailblazers (The Stooges, MC5, Velvet Underground) along the way.
Disc three is a delightfully oddball trip into the murky waters of post-punk. You’ll find the usual suspects (Joy Division, Gang of Four, The Cure) rubbing shoulders with new-wave pop (The Human League, The Flying Lizards, Talking Heads) and the downright strange (see Warm Leatherette by The Normal).
But, of course, there’s no way of pleasing every punk listening. The last CD, for instance, takes us from 80s US hardcore into present day, but realistically, after The Dead Kennedys and Misfits, it won’t be getting much of a spin in my house: Offspring, NOFX, Pennywise, 28 Days? Thanks but no thanks.
Largely, though, this is a solid encyclopaedic monster of a boxset. Slightly disjointed, sure, but that only goes to show just how diverse and divergent the old punk beast can be.