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La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2

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Sounds Title: 
Guest Set La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2

Stuart Schrader guest DJ set on La Vida Es Un Mus Radio on NTS2, October 22, 2021

Tracklist

Eppu Normaali “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas” (Finland, 1978)
Fiendens Musik “En Spark Rätt I Skallen” (Sweden, 1978)
Squad “Red Alert” (United Kingdom, 1978)
The Coils “Smash the Front” (United Kingdom, 1978?)
Los Violadores “Represión” (Argentina, 1983)
Outo Elämä “ANC” (Finland, 1980)
Warheads “Today Can’t Be Worser Than Tomorrow” (Sweden, 1980)
Γενιά Του Χάους “Μπασταρδοκρατία” (Greece, 1984)
Spermicide “Police” (Belgium (1980?)
Distortion “Frustrerad” (Sweden, 1982)
Electric Deads “Compact Chaos” (Denmark, 1982)
Tant Strul “Tomheten” (Sweden, 1980)
Fancy Rosy “Punk Police” (Germany, 1977)
Ruth “Mescalito” (France, 1978)
Screaming Urge “Killa Poe Leese” (USA, 1982)
Disorder “Civilization” (Netherlands, 1981)
Los Laxantes “Vacaciones en Irlanda” (Argentina, 1981)
UDS “Ma Che Bella Società” (Italy, 1983)
Handgrenades “Murder” (USA, 1979)
The Eat “Communist Radio” (USA, 1979)
The Sound “Missiles” (United Kingdom, 1980)

Track Descriptions

I figured I should begin with either the best anti-cop song ever written or the best punk song ever written—wait, they’re the same song! Eppu Normaali’s “Poliisi Pamputtaa Taas” is about police violence, and it’s an unbelievable combination of snarl and hooks. This version is from their first LP, which is perhaps one notch inferior to the previously released, slightly rawer single version.

I’ve written extensively about the English-language version of this honkin’ track by Fiendens Musik, called “A Boot Right in the Face,” so here is the Swedish-language original version. The song narrates the type of random, frequently right-wing street violence that was a predominant feature of everyday life for punks, leftists, queer folks, immigrants, and people of color in the l970s and early 1980s.

An obscure short-lived Coventry punk band that shared a member with The Specials (though he wasn’t on this recording), Squad released two 45s. Here’s their track “Red Alert,” in which the singer sagely admonishes us not to trust the man.

The Coils, a forgotten band from the class of ’77, were hindered slightly by a mush-mouthed singer, but the key part of the chorus here is fortunately comprehensible: “Smash the Front!” Coils played on the Anti-Nazi League benefit circuit, and this testament to their opposition to the National Front, unearthed by Dizzy Detour for the Bored Teenagers compilation series, is available nowhere else online.

Los Violadores became the best-known Argentine punk band around the world in the 1980s. The anthemic track “Represión,” from their first LP, documents everyday life in the waning years of the military dictatorship.

From Joensuu, in southeastern Finland, Outo Elämä issued a lone lo-fi single in 1980, which depicts a fist smashing a swastika on the cover. The B-side was this anti-Apartheid track, “ANC,” celebrating the African National Congress.

Revel in the optimism of Warheads, a tough Swedish punk band, who suggest that surely today can’t be worser than tomorrow. This track appeared on the “Let It Out” compilation LP in 1980.

Repressive and conservative Greece did not have a big punk scene, comparatively speaking, but its bands produced perhaps the most cohesive and recognizable sound in Europe. The Enigma Records compilation LP “Διατάραξη Κοινής Ησυχίας” documented that sound in 1984, and Γενιά Του Χάους, or Chaos Generation, contributed two tracks. “Μπασταρδοκρατία,” or Bastardocracy, perfectly captures the band’s melancholic and anxious vibe.

Belgium’s Spermicide sang in French but recorded and released their only single in England, collaborating with the Newtown Neurotics (my favorite band most days of the week). This track, “Police,” remained unreleased until it appeared on the compilation “Bloodstains Across Belgium vol. III”; I’ve never seen it posted online.

Distortion were another tough Swedish punk band, verging on hardcore punk (thanks to the influence of Motörhead, I assume), who released an EP in 1982 and then disappeared without a trace. Here’s “Frustrerad,” the record’s opening track, actually recorded in Norway, which is about tfw u try to find a copy of this rarity.

No other band on earth sounds like Electric Deads from Denmark. Unbelievably powerful, high-tension hardcore punk. Here’s their mid-tempo banger, “Compact Chaos,” from their first EP, self-released in 1982. My last will & testament stipulates that I be buried with this record.

Early on, Sweden’s Tant Strul were more punk than wave, but they went on to release half a dozen new wave records. From their first single, issued in 1980, “Tomheten,” or The Emptiness, is a dark wave track before darkwave was a thing.

Among the cognoscenti, Fancy Rosy’s track “Punk Police” gets classified as “fake punk,” but its genre-bending combination of disco and punk, plus Rosy’s sultry persona, makes it feel pretty real to me. From what I’ve heard, Rosy was a Puerto Rican model, but she lived in Germany at the time this single was released there and in the Netherlands.

Truly unique, combining synth and other electronic noises with early punk, Ruth was on the fringes of the French punk scene in the late 1970s, with this track appearing as her lone release at the time, on the compilation LP “125 Grammes De 33 1/3 Tours.” I was surprised to learn, however, that Ruth was a gender-queer persona adopted by the artist Thierry Müller.

With one of my favorite anti-cop songs, here’s Screaming Urge, from Columbus, Ohio. This screamingly urgent track appeared on their superior second LP, recorded in 1981 and released the next year.

Of the Disorders, the one from the Netherlands may have been the most explicitly anti-imperialist. The band put out only one six-song EP that contains what I once referred to as “one of those guitar sounds that makes us grown record collectors weep.” Still true after all these—sniffle—years.

Los Laxantes were one of the first Argentine punk bands, and their early recordings did not make it to vinyl for nearly 25 years. This snotty track, “Vacaciones en Irlanda,” fascinates me: it’s about how oppressive the British are in Northern Ireland. Yet it predates the Falklands War. It’s actually an expression of international solidarity and is not simply Anglophobia. Given how terrible everyday life could be during the military dictatorship, with conditions much like what the song describes in Northern Ireland, the song can also be read as an oblique critique of their home country.

On the left-wing side of the Oi! spectrum, here’s UDS, from Torino, who released only two tracks on vinyl during their short existence. Here’s “Ma Che Bella Società” from 1983.

With a single 45 to their name, Handgrenades were the New York band that most closely resembled the classic UK DIY sound. A couple years ago, two previously unreleased tracks appeared on a 12"; here’s one of them, called “Murder.”

Florida goddamn! The Eat, from Hialeah, near Miami, released their incandescent first single in 1979, containing the track “Communist Radio,” which about my favorite subject: global political warfare during the Cold War. A single line of the song’s lyrics tells you more about the mysteries of punk than any book ever could: “See guerrilla wanna rock ‘n’ roll.”

Finally, The Sound’s first LP contains what must be one of the most intense and brilliantly original anti-war tracks I’ve ever heard, “Missiles.” In fact, I had never heard this song until pretty recently, making it a good reminder of why my addiction persists: the endless quest for obscure tunes from the late 1970s and early 1980s. ‘Til the next fix.