Title - 'The Drones: The Albums' [4CD]
Artist - The Drones
For those unware, The Drones are an English punk rock band from Manchester, England who for a period of time, were in their early days produced and managed by Paul Morley.
One critic wrote: "Bonafide DIY three-chord wonders, the Drones were there at punk’s inception," and if you know anything of their music, that about sums them up.
Indeed, The Drones were reformed at the beginning of 2016 by original members Gus & Wispa, but Gus subsequently retired due to ill health, and the current line-up is Wispa on bass and vocals, Brian (Mad Muffet) Grantham on drums, and Al Crosby on lead guitar.
The just-released The Drones: The Albums (via Captain Oi and Cherry Red Records, UK) is a 59 track, 4CD round up of everything released between 1977-1999 by these Manchester punk legends, The Drones.
Disc One - Further Temptations (1977):
1. 'Persecution Complex'
2. 'Bone Tool'
4. 'Be My Baby
5. 'Corgi Crap'
6. 'Sad So Sad'
7. 'The Change'
9. 'The Underdog'
10. 'No More Time'
11. 'City Drones'
12. 'Just Want To Be Myself'
13. 'Lift Off The Bans'
Disc One is their debut 13 track album Further Temptations, and album that was voted by Q Magazine into their 100 Most Important Punk Albums Of All Time in 2002.
The Drones had a hard-charging and somewhat more professional sound than the other Brit-punk bands of '77. They also show a good range. Tracks like 'Persecution Complex' and 'Movement' are full-bore rockers, while 'City Drones' is more melodic, and 'Sad So Sad' features the kind of football-chant chorus that became emblematic of British punk.
The album also includes two re-recorded tracks in both 'Corgi Crap' and 'Lookalikes,' which originate from their vibrantly brilliant debut 7" Single, "Temptations of a White Collar Worker."
Disc Two - Rarities:
1. 'Search and Destroy' (1977 Demo) (Temptations EP)
3. 'Corgi Crap'
4. 'Hard On Me'
5. 'You'll Lose' (Single)
6. 'Just Want To Be Myself'
7. 'Bone Idol' (John Peel Session)
8. 'Be My Baby'
9. 'The Change'
12. 'Persecution Complex' (Live)
13. 'She's OK' (June 1978 Demo)
14. 'Clique' (June 1978 Demo)
15. 'Johnny Go Home' (September 1978 Demo)
16. 'Then I Kissed Her' (September 1978 Demo)
17. 'Fooled' (May 1979 Demo)
18. 'You Never Notice' (1978 Demo) 9Single)
19. 'Can't See'
20. 'Fooled Today'
Disc Two is a 20 track round up of non-LP singles, B-sides and demos plus a previously unreleased four track session for John Peel.
A quite outstanding collection of true The Drones rarities, the stand outs here are, in my humble opinion, the propulsive 'Search and Destroy' (a 1977 Demo from their Temptations EP), 'Bone Idol' (from the always-brilliant to listen to John Peel Sessions), the stunning live cut 'Persecution Complex, and the raw excellence of 'You Never Notice' (a 1978 Demo Single.
Disc Three - Sorted (1999)
2. 'Johnny Go Home' (Re-Mix)
3. 'Dirty Bastards'
5. 'Psychotic Woman'
6. 'American Pie'
7. 'The Phone'
8. 'Good Girl'
9. 'I’ll Get Back To You'
10. 'I Don't Care'
11. 'Jon The Postman'
12. 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'
The third disc is the band’s 1999 studio ‘comeback’ album Sorted, which was actually originally released as Dirty Bastards).
Released some 22 years after its predecessor, Further Temptations, Sorted (now with only singer Mike Howells and guitarist Gus Callender remaining from the original '70s line-up ... but seeing as they were the band's creative core all along, the use of a different rhythm section doesn't harm anything), was hurt by the generally lackluster songwriting; which rarely ventures out of a comfort zone of three-minute midtempo guitar rock tunes that remind the historically knowledgeable listener that prior to their 1977 punk epiphany.
The problem is that the few originals that most closely resemble vintage punk, most notably the sneering 'Dirty Bastards,' sound terribly forced.
The pair of covers, the Motown classic 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' (already forever connected to the Slits when it comes to U.K. punk covers) and a drastically shortened take on Don McLean's 'American Pie,' are, well, simply put, subpar at best, sorry.
Disc Four - Take Shelter (Live in Japan)
2. 'Just Want To Be Myself'
3. 'Sad So Sad'
4. 'The Change'
5. 'City Drones'
6. 'Be My Baby'
7. 'You'll Lose'
8. 'Corgi Crap'
9. 'Bone Idol'
11. 'No More Time'
13. 'Lift Off The Bans'
14. 'Persecution Complex'
The final disc is a 14 track In Concert album recorded in Japan in 1998 and features all their go-to favorites, along with a few deep cuts too.
In truth, it's wonderful to still hear their old stuff live even today, and this late '90s show has a power-packed atmosphere to it, as you would well imagine.
The detailed CD liner notes have been overseen by the band’s long time manager Dave Bentley and the booklet contains pictures of all relevant record sleeves plus clippings from the era.
Original bassist Whispa still fronts a version of The Drones to this day so if you get the chance, go check them out.