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“Ultimate Attack: Mob 47 Complete Discography” 2xCD (Speed State Records)

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Mob 47 are one of the most widely known and loved Swedish hardcore bands. Their sound was remarkable because they combined a strong Discharge influence with the speed of the fastest US hardcore bands, such as DRI and Gang Green. Unlike Gang Green or Neos, for example, Mob 47 were never sloppy; the result is some of the most brutal hardcore ever created, faster and rawer than nearly anything before or since. For those interested in terminology, this style is called “mangel,” from the Swedish for washing clothes with a laundry roller. As a young’un, the availability of Havoc tapes and then the Distortion discography CD made it easy for me to hear Mob 47 and fall in love. Both before the release of that CD, which was widely available in the US before the Distortion empire crumbled, and since, Mob 47 have been bootlegged many times. In some cases, there is a good reason to bootleg a band, but Mob 47’s case is not one of them because Åke Henriksson, the backbone of the band, has never disappeared. Go to Stockholm and I guarantee you could meet him at the infamous bowling alley.

Mob 47 had a couple line-up changes over their short career. At least five different dudes sang for them, including Åke. Legend has it that they also had an extra member whose job was simply to write lyrics for the band. It was actually Per, who played in Discard with Åke. This is all pretty amusing when you consider that their lyrics are mostly just Discharge lyrics translated into Swedish.

Everyone surely agrees that Mob 47’s 1984 7" is an absolute classic. It’s pretty rare, considering that there were probably 2000 or more copies pressed. That tells me that people don’t want to let go of their copies. (Though mine was belonged to Jerry A, then to Kalv, then to some random UK punker who sold it to me!) There was a repress in the late 1980s on Uproar Records, with a different (and inferior) sleeve. The first track on the 7", the brilliant “Kärnvapen Attack,” appeared on the “P.E.A.C.E.” comp, and like so many of the amazing tracks on there, was the first international appearance for the band. The tracks on V/A “Really Fast Vol. 2” LP were recorded at the same time as the nine on the 7", as were the tracks on V/A “Cleanse the Bacteria” LP (the rare bonus 12" had the track “Religion Är Hjärntvätt”). Altogether, these eighteen tracks are tracks 1-19, minus 15, which is “Krigshot,” on both the Distortion CD and disc 1 of the Speedstate 2xCD. Track 20, “Lögner,” might actually be my favorite Mob 47 track due to its simplicity, and its archetypal Discharge-via-Sweden guitar solo. Oddly, the Distortion CD claims that “Lögner” appeared on the BCT compilation 7" “I've Got An Attitude Problem,” but only “Sjuk Värld” (track 14) did. Also, nine of these tracks (not the nine on the EP) appeared on the BCT comp “I Thrash Therefore I Am” (original cassette and CD reissue version); from the CD reissue, it seems the band sent BCT twelve tracks for the compilation, but three were left out.

Where the Speedstate reissue blew my mind is with tracks 21 and 22, which do not appear on the Distortion CD, but were taken from the same April ‘84 session. These two tracks, “Det Händerdig Med” and “Snobb” do not, to my knowledge, appear on any other bootlegs or reissues of Mob 47. “Det Händerdig Med” doesn’t show up in any other session at all, perhaps because it’s a mid-tempo anthem. Maybe it’s that I’d never heard it before, but I think it’s a killer track, at least as cool as “Animal Liberation.” The other one, “Snobb,” appears in a different version on the first demo, “Hardcore Attack,” from ‘83, and originally also appeared, along with eleven of the other songs from the 7" session, on the “Sjuk Värld” cassette on Ägg Tapes in 1984. But wait, it gets better.

This 2xCD goes a long way to solving some of the mysteries of the “Stockholms Mangel” 2xLP, reviewed in GOTA #4. The seven tracks I assume to have been originally released on the cassette appear on disc 1. The 2xLP includes five more tracks, which were of unknown origin. (I don’t know why this wasn’t explained in the otherwise excellent liner notes for the reissue.) Now, from the Speedstate reissue, I can discern the following: “Rascist Regime” [sic] is most likely taken from the 6/85 session with Robban singing, disc 2 track 24 (this one is the toughest to figure out because the band was so tight that all the versions of this song sound remarkably similar). “Stop the Slaughter” is from the 2/85 session with Robban singing. The BGK cover, “Arms Race,” which is actually not as good as the brilliant original, is from 4/85, with Robban singing. The DRI cover, “Couch Slouch,” is from the 9/87 rehearsal session before their final gig, with Tommy singing. Finally, “Nedrusta Nu,” in a blazingly fast version, at near grindcore speed, is from the same 9/87 rehearsal. I don’t know why these tracks were included with the “Stockholms Mangel” recordings on that reissue. On the Speedstate reissue, the sessions from which these tracks were taken appear in their entirety.

The live set on disc 2, from Ultrahuset, May ‘84, seems to be the same set as appeared on the “Ultrahuset Massacre” LP bootleg. That LP gives the date of the set as 5/5/83. I tend to believe the Speedstate dating because the set sounds like it was recorded right after the EP. The songs are the ones Mob 47 were playing at that time, and it doesn’t sound like the original vocalist, Mentis, is singing. Also, on the boot LP, track 15 is titled “Religion,” but it should be “Religion Är Hjärntvätt” (obviously), and track 17, which has no title, should be “Varför Håller Vi Käft.”

One mystery this reissue doesn’t solve, but which I think I’ve figured out is the “bonus track” on the Mob 47 “War Victim” 7" bootleg, which was released on a Canadian label in the late ‘90s. I’m not positive that it’s a bootleg, because the label’s name and address do appear in it, but the tracks on it are taken from the two British late ‘80s Mob 47 bootleg LPs, “Racist Regime” and “Ultrahuset Massacre.” The bonus track is definitely the Crudity song “Poor Fools,” but for years I’d wondered if it were Mob 47 playing it. This is a fine distinction since the two bands shared members and were contemporaneous. My guess is that the version on the bootleg 7" is actually just a slightly sped-up version of the Crudity original (which has been previously bootlegged on 7" and also appears on the “Stockholms Mangel” 2xLP). Crudity do sound somewhat like a slower Mob 47, so it’s a believable ruse. Any other theories out there?

Nevertheless, there is no reason to seek out these earlier bootlegs (there’s also a Brazilian LP version of the Mob 47 stuff from the Distortion CD in addition to Distortion’s own vinyl version) because the Speedstate 2xCD includes everything they include and much more. For example, it includes a 4/85 session which might be my favorite Mob 47 stuff, and which I’d never heard before. It’s extremely fast and raw. Also included are eight Discharge covers recorded 3/86. As if Mob 47’s sound and Åke’s membership in Discard, the first Dis- band, weren’t enough, these covers prove that these dudes had Discharge on the brain at a young age. Two Åke solo projects are also included. The first is from 11/84, when he played all the instruments on two Varukers covers (these also appear on the “Racist Regime” LP). The second is a ‘97-’98 session of all new stuff. It’s interesting to hear the exact same type of riffs over a decade later. The only drawback is that he used a drum machine. It’s not so much the sound of the machine that bothers me actually, it’s that no one has figured out how to build a drum machine that can play a d-beat. Though when they do, I’ll be the first to jump off a bridge.

Around the same time this 2xCD came out, two new Mob 47 bootleg LPs appeared in distros. I haven’t seen them yet, but I wonder if they’re taken from the 2xCD. Hardcore Holocaust’s listing says that one of them includes previously unreleased live stuff from ‘85. Considering the evidence, it seems possible the set is simply incorrectly dated. Then again, unreleased live stuff is a dime a dozen on Soulseek or even amongst tape traders. Usually, the sound quality is terrible. The other LP claims to include a cover of Crucifix. This interests me not only because I love Crucifix, but because nowhere else have I seen it. Then again, I don’t think one Crucifix cover is worth $16. Hardcore Holocaust’s listing also says that the record includes an ‘82 demo. That is almost definitely untrue. Mob 47 hadn’t formed yet as such in 1982.

This LP also is supposed to include two Censur tracks. Censur were the band out of which Mob 47 grew. The first band containing these punkers, we learn from the liner notes to the “Stockholms Mangel” 2xLP, was called Speedy Snails. The three-piece line-up of Censur wasn’t the first line-up of Mob 47, but it might have been the line-up on the 7". Anyway, I guarantee these two Censur tracks are the same as the two on the Xcentric Noise compilation cassette “Greivous Musical Harm.” On that tape sleeve, the band is listed as Cencur, and I bet the track “Smutjarter” should be “Snutjävlar”--though it seems to be a different song from the Mob 47 song of the same name. If it’s true that Censur recorded a demo, these two tracks are probably from it, but I don’t know if there were more tracks recorded. Every time I’ve seen a Censur demo listed on a tape-trade list, it’s been just these two tracks. Anyway, they’re both raw, simple, and energetic. They sound like Mob 47 if the Discharge influence were somehow subtracted from their sound. I wish these two tracks (or even the full Censur demo, if such a thing exists) had been included on the Speedstate 2xCD, but it’s a small gripe. They’re fairly easy to track down at this point, and they don’t hold a candle to the 124 awesome Mob 47 tracks on the two CDs.

I should note that I know of one Mob 47 track not included on this 2xCD. It’s a live version of “Dom Styr Våra Liv” released on the ultra-rare “Birkagården Gärdet” live comp LP on Rosa Honung Rec. Though it’s not dated, I’d guess that this version is from late ‘85 or early ‘86 with Tommy singing. Don’t worry too much, because it’s no better than any of the ‘85-’87 versions of the song included on the Speedstate reissue.

Finally, though I generally loathe CDs, this reissue warrants the format because it includes so much music. One of the main reasons I hate CDs is that they require artwork to be so small as to be worthless. This CD doesn’t solve that problem, but it does include sleeve artwork for both demo cassettes and both versions of the front sleeve of the EP. Also, it includes cool photos (some in color even!) that I’ve never seen before. It includes rough translations (into both English and Japanese) of most lyrics and an unattributed history of the band written in Japanese. Also, there is a small piece written by Kawakami from Disclose in Japanese; ostensibly it’s about how influential to Japanese crusties Mob 47 have been. Everyone, from the most obsessed Mob 47 fan to the neophyte, should pick up this reissue. Go to www.speedstaterecords.com.

 


 

This review of Mob 47's 2xCD discography was originally published in Game of the Arseholes #7.5 in summer 2005. The release is now out of print, but the review remains useful, and hopefully Speedstate will re-release the 2xCD.