BOYS, THE: The Punk Rock Anthology: 2 x CD

The Boys were one o’ the more obscure (at least in the U.S.) bands to come out of the first waves of the English punk thing. This has always struck me as odd because, while not as incendiary as some of their contemporaries, they penned some barn burners in their time that also happened to be wicked catchy to boot. What the Ramones did with the template provided by the Beach Boys and the Stooges, the Boys did with the one provided by the Beatles and Spector, delivering tunes that melded razor-sharp pop hooks to punk bluster and breakneck tempos. A huge chunk of those tunes—“First Time,” “Brickfield Nights,” “Sick on You” (quite possibly the catchiest song ever to reference both a relationship gone sour and vomiting), “Classified Susie,” “Jimmy Brown,” and “Tenement Kids,” to name a few—can be found crammed onto the two discs here, along with assorted demos, single tracks and versions, resulting in a mighty fine primer for those unfamiliar with the band. The tunes are mapped out, more or less, in chronological order, which allows the listener the chance to hear how, over time, the band sacrificed the manic tempos for a more power pop approach, a sound that, at first blush, seems like the primary influence for more recent bands like the Exploding Hearts. In the end, the worst case scenario for any potential listener is forty-seven tracks from one of punk’s unsung greats.

 –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)