VARIOUS ARTISTS: We Are the Flowers in the Red Zone Vol. 1: LP

May 27, 2020

For some, punk is an adolescent rite of passage, a “phase” or a fashion trend one sheds when they “grow up” and move on to that corner office nine-to-five when the trust fund runs out or it’s time to be just another cog in the machine. For others, it’s a statement of rebellion, one that can put a person in serious danger with one’s neighbors to one’s government. Case in point: the record under discussion here. Originally released in 1988 as a cassette compilation featuring eight bands residing in countries that was then part of what was known as the Eastern Bloc, every beat, every note, every syllable uttered is a testament to groups of people resisting the totalitarian control of the Soviet Union. Taking that into account, it’s not easy to review something like this, which is just as much a statement of purpose as a usual music comp. Is the music good? Yes, it is. Dezerter is probably the only band that anyone’s likely heard of, but the rest are quite good in their own right, with sounds culled from studio, soundboard, and “audience” recordings ranging from punk to oddball hardcore to post-punk. To put things in perspective, included are two zines (one a reprint of the original zine that came with the cassette, all copies of which were confiscated by authorities at the East German border) chock full of photos, art, interviews and other info. Kudos to the folks reissuing this, and mountains of respect to those who put their necks on the line putting together the original release. –Jimmy Alvarado (Warsaw Pact)