Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude
Proto-punk compilations are nearly always worth hearing, since there are so few of them, and this one from Year Zero and compiler Kris Needs is no different -- better even than the usual cream of the crop. Needs is no stranger to great music, having championed great rock and dance music from the '70s and his time at ZigZag magazine all the way to the acid house era and his associations with Primal Scream and the Orb. The two-disc set includes 33 tracks over two discs, running basically in chronological order and beginning in a great place: the Standells' mangy and noisy "Dirty Water," a prime piece of garage rock. From there Needs draws from various streams of music, from glam (T. Rex, Mott the Hoople), the resurgence of rock & roll in the '70s (MC5, the Stooges, New York Dolls, the Up, Flamin' Groovies), pub rock (Dr. Feelgood), jazz and spoken word (Sun Ra, the Last Poets), and various strains of art rock (the Deviants, Pink Fairies, Silver Apples). Aside from those highlights, other tracks stand out: a live "Hurricane Fighter Plane" from Texas avant-acid pioneers Red Krayola, and obscurities from the Jook (oddly, a spinoff of art rockers John's Children) and Third World War (a working-class English rock band of the early '70s) and Death (one of Detroit's earliest punk bands circa the mid-'70s). The end of the second disc verges on straight-ahead punk rock at its best, including classics from the Dictators and the Saints, but ending with an excellent left-field choice, Culture's "Two Sevens Clash."