Bristol Archive Records Blog

Bristol The Punk Explosion – Album Review

Various Artists: Bristol – The Punk Explosion (Bristol Archives)

Bristol Archive Records is my new favourite record label. Their sole reason for existence is to preserve the punk/post-punk musical history of Bristol. This compilation is almost perfect. For a start, this was the first time I’d listened to a punk compilation where I didn’t already know every song.

I grew up listening to punk compilations and samplers and mix tapes, and this is the first one that I’ve heard where the actual sequencing of the tracks made any sense. On The Punk Explosion, the tracks are ordered chronologically, starting in 1977 (naturally) and ending in ’83, this makes sense because it shows the development of the punk sound. We start off with some Buzzcockian poppy love songs (“she’s my choc ice”?!) and finishes with the birth of hardcore and thrash (Chaos UK and Onslaught, respectively).

What this album does best is present the Bristol scene as a microcosm of the punk scene in general. On an ordinary compilation, The Clash or Stiff Little Fingers would represent political punk, Dead Kennedys would be your dose of hardcore and X-Ray Spex would be the only female-fronted band. On this record those bands are replaced with 48 Hours, The Undead and Vice Squad.

By limiting the record’s scope to a very specific geographic location, Bristol Archive Records have avoided rehashing the same old bands and I’ve had a chance to listen to music by bands I’d only heard of from staring at the patches on other people’s clothes at gigs. Before Bristol Archive Records, the punk compilation wasn’t dead, but it was stagnant. Check this out if you like your music short, fast and loud. 9/10

Daniel Shields

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