Swedish DIY Punk and Mod Pop 1979–1981 Volume 1
The release of yet another compilation LP collecting songs from nearly forgotten Swedish punk records from the late 70s/early 80s is cause for celebration among the very small subset of people who love Swedish punk but not enough to throw down the kronar needed to obtain original records. The pressing size of 333 copies on the “Total-Pop!” LP might actually be ambitious in this regard. Nevertheless, even those who don’t think Swedish punk is the bee’s knees might find merit in this compilation, which stays well within the not-so-shit-fi territory of Swedish punk, veering toward powerpop on quite a few of the selections. If you’ve already got the three volumes of “Bloodstains Across Sweden,” this comp will fill in some of the gaps. None of the songs herein will change your life, but none really sucks either. I have already written extensively about Swedish punk rock in Maximum Rocknroll, so I won’t rehash any of my brilliant analysis, but you can read it here and here. Instead, I'll go through this compilation song by song. Here's what I got out of Total Pop, which has good liner notes (from which I have poached liberally in what follows) and a homemade xerox-music aesthetic for the sleeve:
1. HS Art: Despite the name, this band isn’t Swell Mapsian at all, but it’s got a classic late 70s singalong, terrace-anthem herbert sound.
2. Badboll: Killer gritty guitar sound on this one. One member has THE GLASSES (IYKWIS), so it’s gotta be good. After the second guitar solo, one gets the feeling this, which originated in Sweden’s class of 76 (ie, before punk) was really just a hard rock band either taking the piss or cashing in on punk (or both).
3. Knugens Håf: Melodic in the way later Swedish bands like Asta Kask would perfect. I could see recent Swedish bands like Vicious or Regulations citing these dudes as an influence.
4. Anders Angest: This tune is probably the closest to the typical Shit-Fi purview with UK DIY-esque bedsit ineptitude. The Desperate Bicycles comparison in the liner notes is pushing it, but TVPs and their ilk might have been an inspiration.
5. Container: Big surprise here. Depressive minor-chord pop with a song about how much life sucks. Great, Dutch guitar sound. Wonder if the lyrics are about falling into a pile of manure (you win a prize if you get that reference).
6. Traste and Superstarna: Supposedly, they called their sound “farmer punk.” It’s upbeat and infectious Toy Dolls-y (though more annoying) punk, with anti-money Svensk lyrics, but I prefer Southern European farmer punk like La Polla Records over this one.
7. Rockset: Clog-wearing rockers who hated politicians, thus accidentally earning their single a spot in the bargain bins of punk record shops from Gotebörg to Malmö. Apparently no one bothered looking past the dorks on the sleeve cuz this tune’s riffs are cloggin’!
8. Rebell: This one is catchy, mature pop punk. The song is apparently about being an obnoxious tourist, something all proper punx can relate to, right?
9. Tant Brun: Quintessential punk that sounds like a tune you’ve known be heart your all life, for fans of Menace, Cock Sparrer, etc.
10. Mops: Mods.
11. ABC 80: In the vein of Moderns (ie, bedroom mods who were probably too young to ride scooters), this one is catchy and pretty great.
12. Vertex: Ex-Lars Langs, which is surprising because the latter played thuggy motörpunk, but this is Rousers-style professional mod pop.
13. Pictures: Super-poppy radio-friendly teenage masturba-punk, à la The Trend’s LP. Apparently, they shared a member with Hangover, another commercially ambitious fake punk act with one barnburner track.
14. D***** D**: For some reason, maybe fear of lawsuits, this track is unidentified on the LP, but it’s nearly perfect Swedish 70s commercial pop-punk.
So, all that said, “Total-Pop!” is not exactly the compilation I wish it were. My dream is that some deep-pocketed collector would release a vinyl compilation of all the never-before-compiled rarities from the golden era. There remain enough rare records (most of which are now available on blogs) to fill an LP. And, throw in a couple proto-punk tracks, a synth track or two, and a few on the powerpop tip, and you have two LPs’ worth. Here’s my list of bands that need to be compiled right away:
Framför Flötet 7"
TBC (1st 7")
Nobby Tajfutt Band 7"
Gollywog (either 7")
Arsenik 7" (androgyny-punk collectors take note)
Bad Boo Band 7"
Distortion 7" (borderline hardcore, Motörhead-influenced thug punk)
|Extra-rough, inept, odd, and otherwise shit-fi DIY/synth/punk/proto-hc/etc.
Nasty Boys 7"
Homo Electrica 7"
The Tapes 7"
Kessler Jugend GmbH (either 7")
Sarah Coffman 7"
Fega Påhopp 7" (one of my favorite records of all time and
soon to be featured on Shit-Fi)
Absolute Beginners 7"
Cosmic Overdose 7"
Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons 7"
Etiquette Mona 7"
Chilly Chimes 7"
Rävjunk (LP and 7"s!)
Lag och Ordning LP (75 progg released in 1980)