Angelic Upstarts, Live from the Justice League

Angelic Upstarts, Live from the Justice League

So many of the current “punk” fans believe that “their” music started with Blink-182 and Green Day — give me a break. The Angelic Upstarts have been around since the early ’80s. And yes, that is 1980, as in “before your young ass was even hatched.” TKO, the San Fran sound of punk in America and abroad, has added this exceptional live recording to their roster of “Ringside” recordings. Recorded in January of 2001 at the Justice League (née Kennel Club) in San Francisco, this recording reminds us of not only what a great Punk band should sound like but also captures the raw energy, talent, and real political and social relevance of the punk scene. What? Yes, Punk (note the capital P) has social and political relevance, not just a desire to get into some 16-year-old’s pants (although we won’t say the libidinous urges get short shift in this recording). What a surprise for our less-than-well-rounded music listening fans…

Let us say first that it has been a while since we have heard a live recording worth a shit. Most of them are simply bad — most are over- or under-produced, too noisy, and lackluster, and seem to be produced for the MTV crowd. There is almost an audible “applause” sign that lights up at all the right moments to capture the alleged highlights of the performance. Think Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” for the epitome of a pseudo live recording; this is NOT that. This album makes you truly wish you could have been there, and lacking that, makes you happy to have the CD, as it really is the next best thing. This is an exceptional live effort and should be the template for any band to use as a reference point for live recording excellence.

The Angelic Upstarts are U.K. Punk legends, and here you should not get the message that these guys are coasting, has-beens, or irrelevant. They just might kick your ass for even implying it and believe me, when they kicked your ass it would be with the grace and talent of some major ass-kicking Punks. I would love to able to take every person who thinks they know what Punk is to an Angelic Upstarts show; they would hear, finally, that Punk does not have to have buzzing guitars that are indistinguishable from chainsaws. They would hear that vocals have things called dynamics, mood, emotion, and tone, not just freaking hollering for effect. They would hear a band that is able to elevate Punk beyond the sad clichés it has become. Is it a contradiction to say that a Punk band can be pros? I don’t think so. The Upstarts prove it song after song. Here is Punk with social, political, and sexual meaning. Angelic Upstarts have the stuff.

(TKO Records -- 3126 W. Cary St. #303, Richmond, VA. 23221;; Angelic Upstarts --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, October 1st, 2003. Filed under Reviews.

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