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Various - No Future: Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned Tribute Album (Released Emotions U.K.)

No Future: A Tribute to The Sex Pistols, Clash And The Damned
17 January 2011

This collection, much of which (or all of which, perhaps) appeared on previous Released Emotions tributes to these three bands, is a hit and mostly miss affair. The last third of this version is worthwhile, but for example, the opening six Sex Pistols covers are an utter waste of time. The Pistols’ originals are so stunningly distinctive, that I’ve never heard anyone reconfigure them for artistic profit (the rapping Bolsheviks ’ attempt at “Holidays in the Sun” here is just the latest in 33 years of such failure!), and merely redoing the songs as they were originally rendered is so pointless (since no one could do better at sneering Johnny Rotten ’s pointed, intelligent, belligerent outrage than he), as the Pistols tribute act Sex Pistols Experience does twice here, that it makes one cover ones ears! The following six bands trying out The Clash here fare better, if no reason than Joe Strummer ’s bunch were based much more on the stellar rock tunes than singular performance art a la Rotten, and the talent level is better as well. On the downside, Bleach has a good go and toning down “Complete Control” for new effect, but the ultimate net is merely a less passionate attitude about something the Clash clearly felt with indignant fury. (Without which, complaints about major label mistreatment become mere whining.) Likewise covers of “Guns and Brixton” and “Bankrobber” just sound like Xeroxes. Fortunately two old roommates from Harlow, Essex, Steve Drewett & the Indestructible Beat (he of Newtown Neurotics ) and his old pal, ranting poet Attila the Stockbroker add some world music punk and ‘60s folk spirits to bring out the lyrics, and The Price throw some requisite American Civil War folk muscle into “English Civil War” recapturing the song’s 150-year-old roots. Lastly, because of their pioneering pop melodies soaring out of a charging punk style, The Damned prove most fertile ground for new assessment by ‘80s and ‘90s groups. Having already digested Leatherface ’s incredible pummeling of Machine Gun Etiquette ’s torching “Melody Lee” on Released Emotions’ Sex Pistols/Damned tribute The Pretty and the Vacant , it was good to hear it again, though The Price’s stripped down look at 1981’s Ruts’ Malcolm Owen eulogy “Limit Club” and The Urchin String Quartet ’s classical rendition of the ’77 classic debut “New Rose” stake out sterling new terrain. Exit Condition do a more traditional “Plan 9 Channel 7” playing down Captain Sensible*’s original psychedelic guitar moves, and Portsmouth’s *Red Letter Day , the mainstay of the label, rip-roar through a tight, hard “Love Song” that streamlines some of the original’s breakneck beat. And Robb Johnson‘s try at the horrendously underrated Sensible’s 1984 farewell “Thanks For the Night” makes it a fresh political manifesto with new anti-consumerist/resistance lyrics that Sensible would likely approve of, being a staunch lefty himself. All’s well that ends well, but this would have been better just sticking to the Damned! (