Want to know what some of the most collectible and hotly sought after records are among serious vinyl collectors these days? Not Jazz. Not Classical. Its not even Soul. Nope. Its good old noisy, snotty, snarly, gnarly, raw, rag tag rough ‘n ready punk rock and new wave music from its mid-1970s heyday that is commanding some pretty hefty coin these days. I even know some dealers who specialize in the stuff.
So its not exactly surprising to realize why its not exactly easy to find these vintage records in their original form, much less in good condition, these days and why values are up. Punk and New Wave records were kinda like Soul sides from the 60s and 70s — they got played and played hard and often, more often than not on low quality record players! So after many years of frustration at only having CDs of some of these great albums I missed back in the day, its a lot of fun to finally have access to at least many of the classics on nicely made vinyl reissues, often in their original form and sometimes with nice bonuses. Following are two I’ve been spinning lately:
Buzzcocks : Love Bites is the second album from England’s pioneering punk pop new wavers. This record is pretty amazing, their highest charting (#13 in the UK) and containing the hit “Ever Fallen In Love.” And as great as that song is, you really need to hear the rest of the album to understand the power of this band. Just check out the final track “Late For The Train” with its relentless and driving drums and backwards guitars and you know this wasn’t just a bunch of “Gabba Gabba Hey” wannabes.
This new reissue comes pressed on pretty, standard weight white vinyl that isn’t quite as quiet as I’d hoped. But still, the album sounds terrific when the band is full on, which is most of the time and you can really feel it. Apparently this marks the first time since the original UK editions that the 1/4-inch master tapes were used for creating the new vinyl pressings. Happily, this reissue series is quite thorough and it includes an full color album sized booklet with insightful notes written by Jon Savage. It even includes the original embossed cover art design.
Buzzcocks : Love Bites is not streaming on Tidal but there are a whole lot of other interesting recordings by the band up there including their fine, and sadly final, release from 2014 titled The Way (click here for my review). You can jump to their artist page by clicking here.
The Damned : Music For Pleasure is also a fun sophomore album that rocks pretty madly from one of the earliest punk bands out of the gate. The Damned are often cited for releasing the first punk single in 1976, “New Rose” and the first UK punk album Damned Damned Damned. I’ve read that their second album was a bit of a disaster upon its release (leading the band to split up for a bit) but in 20/20 hindsight it doesn’t seem so bad to my seasoned ears in 2019. In 1977 it might have come across as not punk enough — production by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason probably didn’t help the reputation either. Nonetheless it is pretty aggressive with quirky twists that at times reminds me of early XTC. So, perhaps its a bit more “new wave” yet feels enough like a punk record to make you want to pogo around the room.
Happily, it sounds real good, mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Sound, pressed at Pallas in Germany on 140 gram purple swirl vinyl (gotta say, my copy feels more like 180-gram so your experience may vary). This reissue also faithfully (as far as I know) reproduces the original amazing and iconic Barney Bubbles cover art and includes the original inner-sleeve plus an audiophile grade plastic lined sleeve for storage. The drums really rock a whole bunch on this album (maybe that is part of Nick Mason’s influence). Brian James’ guitar is no slouch either here, a big sound which would reappear soon in The Lords of The New Church with Stiv Bators from The Dead Boys. While there is no “Neat Neat Neat” on this album, Music For Pleasure has plenty of charms worth exploring if you like the band. You can find it streaming in CD quality up on Tidal (click here for that); it sounds pretty good there but the new remastered reissue vinyl sounds way better with bigger guitars, fatter drums and more clarity overall.