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Second Empire Justice

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Album Review

The early Blitz singles ("Never Surrender" and "Warriors,") and first LP, Voice of a Generation were raw, down-and-dirty Oi! records with uncompromising sore-throat vocals, like the pre-racist Skrewdriver — a treat for fans of early Leatherface. But then the group splintered into two camps, and engaged in a power struggle to retain the Blitz name, and the contract with No Future. The camp that eventually won and released this second LP the following year changed the band's direction drastically. Howls of outrage, of "sellout," reverberated across Britain and among U.S. hardcore fans when this appeared, scornfully referred to by skinheads as "Blitz goes New Order." Actually, it's Joy Division that's the bigger influence, especially on tracks such as "Into the Daylight" that sound close to "Disorder"-like territory (the guy who produced both Blitz LPs, the must-have-been-bewildered Chris Nagle, was also Joy Division's and New Order's engineer under Martin Hannett! Also the back cover graphics were identifiable JD/NO style, as well). But even that hint doesn't capture this album's essential power. Far from a New Order album, this was an early attempt to fuse post-punk crunch with a drum machine, something the Goths and near-Goths such as March Violets, Sisters of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and Big Black would soon do in a different way. And it's great. "Telecommunication" and "Flowers and Fire" show Blitz marrying the young Peter Hook bass with the bigger guitar pyrotechnics and post-punk crunch of Killing Joke, U K Decay, and Zounds, and it comes across as majestic and insular. Acerbic tracks such as "White Man" proved they hadn't lost their lyrical relevance either. But, rejected by the punks, and unable to break out of the dreaded punk tag, Second Empire Justice was badly shunned by all quarters and sunk ignobly like a Mack truck in quicksand. The reissue tacks on five additional tracks, taken from the post-LP "Solar" single, and it also changes the color of the sleeve from light blue to dark blue.


Formed: February, 1981

Genre: Rock

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

Oi! band Blitz helped to successfully launch No Future Records with its first EP, All Out Attack. Fans snapped up all 1,000 copies of the first run in short order. During the summer of 1981, indie charts in the U.K. saw the release rise to the number three spot. Sales of the four-track EP, which was the first release by the new label, eventually totaled more than 20,000 copies. "Never Surrender," a single that followed the debut's release, climbed to the number two spot on the U.K.'s indie charts....
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Second Empire Justice, Blitz
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