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So What? Early Demos & Live Abuse

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Album Review

The Anti-Nowhere League were living proof that Great Britain learned little if anything from the media phenomenon of the Sex Pistols in the late '70s. By 1982, one might imagine that guardians of public morality and foes of punk rock would have figured out that declaring a band to be wildly offensive and a threat to the standing order would only guarantee their success, but for a brief moment history repeated itself as "So What" and "Streets of London" were banned across the U.K. while shops that found copies couldn't keep them in stock, and the shows that were allowed to go on became fast sell-outs. The funniest part of this instance of history repeating itself is that unlike the Sex Pistols, who were a cracking good rock band with something to say, the Anti-Nowhere League's music was clumsy more often than it was inspired, and for all the crudity of their lyrics, the band's rudeness seemed more silly than offensive; they were more of a threat to themselves than anyone else. Still, for a while controversy made the Anti-Nowhere League stars; they continue to make the rounds of clubs in England and Europe for those who still care, and the presence of releases like So What: Early Demos & Live Abuse suggests that some fans fondly remember their 15 minutes of infamy. Disc one features 15 demos that predated their rise to fame; the music is pro forma Brit-punk, standard issue three-chord bash, but Animal's lyrics are just stupid enough to seem like inspired satire on tunes like "I Get Bored," "Landlord Is a Wanker," "Fat Bastards," and the amazingly thick-headed "Top of the Pops." Too bad the rudimentary recording and mix rarely allow the vocals the space and volume they need. Still, it's a big improvement over disc two, which documents an ANWL live gig from the mid-'90s. By this point, the band was tighter and more polished but even less distinct than they were on the early demos, and Animal sounds just a bit sad as he tries to wind up the crowd with half-hearted run-throughs of old hits like "Let's Break the Law" and "I Hate People." Both discs in this set were previously released separately — the demos as Out of Control, and the live set under the appropriate moniker The Horse Is Dead — and while it may be more cost-effective to buy the two together in this package, you have to be a truly hard and fast Anti-Nowhere League fan to get much amusement from this stuff; if you insist on buying a record by this band, make it the debut We Are...The League.


Formed: 1980 in Turnbridge Wells, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Even when judged by the often confrontational standards of U.K. punk, the Anti-Nowhere League were a band committed to offending people. Looking less like a group of bohemian rebels than an especially unsavory biker gang eager to stomp someone (frontman Animal admits to being a former member of outlaw motorcycle clubs), the Anti-Nowhere League made an immediate impact when they burst onto the British rock scene in 1980. They were heroes to hard-boiled U.K. punks, and to nearly everyone else they...
Full bio
So What? Early Demos & Live Abuse, Anti-Nowhere League
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  • 10,99 €
  • Genres: Alternative, Music, Punk
  • Released: 16 October 2006
  • Parental Advisory

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