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21 November 2017

J.D. - 'Warsaw' (RZM Productions)

The band mysteriously known only as 'J.D.' chose not to release these recordings, which is understandable; they're the dictionary definition of 'raw', in terms of recording, performance and composition. This is punk rock, though - the year '1977' has been mythologised by the mohicans and their descendents, or maybe it was '78 when these were recorded - I dunno for sure, but the anger is sure there. The band that was to follow shed a lot of these influences, making this little more than a curiosity for diehard fans (which I'm not) or for people who revel in early, raw obscurity. As the record progresses it starts to get closer to the Factory sound, but side one has a surprising amount  of chugga-chugga punk rock. The opening cut ('All Of This For You') is great in a primitive way and sets a tone that doesn't sustain itself throughout, as if this is sequnced in the chronological order of how it was written. 'Failures' has a Stooges-like sound, and 'Novelty', though later reinvented as a much more well-known song, is delivered vocally like it's the Descendents or other early 80s American HC act. Reportedly they were unhappy with post-production techniques, but I'm not sure any are evident here - this is rough sounding, maybe because of the bootleg mastering job, or maybe this wasn't actually the album they intended. Omission can sometimes be a good career move; as much as 'Transmission', 'Interzone' and 'Living in the Ice Age' foreshadow what was to come, certainly the myth was amplified by holding these back. The Hooks and crannies are already obvious, the early synth pulses ('No Love Lost') and the overly dour vibe, but the vocals are the main thing that are not quite there yet.  They're angry, yes, and captivated by strange ideas of isolation and collectivity, images of war and order ('Leaders of Men', 'They Walked in Line') no doubt a byproduct of the late 70s British culture and the difficulties of the economic reality of the time. Manchester was a hell of a lot further away from London culturally than geographically; its hard to see this occupying the same stratosphere as the whole Sex Pistols/Vivienne Westwood/Siouxsie aesthetic at the same time, but it technically did. If it reminds me of any London band it would be Killing Joke's first album, which we'll get to soon. But maybe this is a solid document of what they would have been like live - a bit more raw, the drums flailing rather than crisp.

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