VARIOUS ARTISTS: Oi! 40 Years Untamed: LP

Funny thing, time. Sometimes it takes large stretches of it to notice how far something’s come along through decades of incremental changes. Forty years ago, Oi! The Album announced that punk had a new avenue opening up that steered it away from a disaffected teenage bourgeoisie thumbing their noses at their parents and towards a more authentic “sound of the streets”—to quote the Cockney Rejects’ “Oi Oi Oi”—that many first-wave punks only play-acted at calling home. Much of the music on that album was primitive, raw, and infused with a sincerity that bypassed any musical shortcomings. It sent shockwaves throughout punk’s underground that heavily influenced American hardcore, Britain’s celebrated “UK82” era of bands, and what later became known as street punk. This celebration of that compilation’s legacy features some bands that featured prominently on it, and on succeeding installments in the series, as well as newer groups that carry on the tradition. Cock Sparrer kick things off with an absolute doozy of a new track, setting an almost impossible bar at the outset that everything that follows strives mightily to meet. You get solid tracks from the likes of The Business, Cockney Rejects, Last Resort, Doug & The Slugz (SGV represent!), The Gonads, Proles, Stomper 98, Old Firm Casuals, and many others. It’s interesting to hear how far musically the bands and the sound they pioneered has progressed. Some of the oldest cats here sound like bona fide rock acts—meant purely as compliment—in comparison to their sometimes-rudimentary beginnings, and yet, they sound totally in-step with the overall sonic evolution of the genre itself: lyrically still direct, sonically much more polished and blessed with 21st century recording innovations. While some of us might still prefer their tunes blunt and “amateurish,” ye gotta respect all the decades of work that went into that evolution. Oi’s grown up quite a bit in ways and, no matter how I may sometimes feel about some of its more modern adherents, I’m glad it’s still kicking. –Jimmy Alvarado (Pirates Press,