ALBUM REVIEW: Anti-Pasti – 1980-83 (Captain Oi!)

Back in August 1981, as a 14-year-old punk, I did something I’d never done before and have seldom done since: bought a newly-released LP by a band who I’d never even heard.

That band was Anti-Pasti, whose name I’d seen mentioned in the music papers alongside those of Discharge, The Exploited and Chron Gen, who, along with the anarcho bands, were breathing new life into the UK punk scene at the time.

The record was the Derby outfit’s debut album The Last Call, and as soon as I lowered the needle on to the vinyl I knew I wouldn’t regret my unheard buy one bit. I thought it was a fantastic album, and still do. Yes, in places it sounds slightly dated – it’s nearly 40 years old! – but listening to it again as disc one of this 3CD digipack set immediately transported me back in time when music, football and something in the distant future called O-levels were all that mattered.

From the sounds of warfare which preceed the excellent No Government I was hooked, and at a time when punk seemed to be turning into a ‘who can play the fastest?’ contest, Anti-Pasti’s mainly mid-paced songs struck a chord with me, and they still resonate today.

Another Dead Soldier, Call The Army (I’m Alive), Night Of The Warcry, the title track, Ain’t Got Me and Hell are all still great songs, and it’s easy to see why this record spent seven weeks in the UK Album Chart proper as young punks bought it in their droves. They even cover I Wanna Be Your Dog, which was my introduction to proto-punks The Stooges.

Disc two is second album Caution In The Wind, from 1982, which sadly didn’t even come close to replicating the impact of its predecessor. It has its moments – One Friday Night, and See How They Run are okay – but its two singles were bang average, and it lacks the power and presence of The Last Call. I’ve always thought it was over-produced and left them sounding like a poor man’s version of The Professionals.

Disc three is entitled Rarities, and brings together all their non-album singles and B-sides, including their first-ever release, the magnificent Four Sore Points EP, whose raw, scuzzy guitar sound still sounds amazing. We also get both sides of the Let Them Free and indie chart-topping Six Guns 7”s, and the Wragby Studio sessions tapes which made up their side of the unofficial Don’t Let ‘Em Grind You Down split single with The Exploited.

There’s also some live tracks, recorded on the Apocalypse Now tour, which they did with The Exploited, Discharge and Chron Gen, the fellow flag-bearers for what became known retrospectively as UK82 punk, and although the quality is a bit ropey, they do give you an idea of what young punks found so vital.

Anti-Pasti spilt in 1984 after firing singer Martin Roper, but reconvened in 2012 to play at Rebellion Festival, and even released a well-received new album, Rise Up, four years later, but never recaptured the spirit of that handful of wonderful early singles and essential first album. 7/10.

Gary Welford owner