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Various Artists Perfect Unpop Review

Compilation. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

''If you dance to the music the night will go on and on''.

Tim Nelson 2008

Perfect Unpop, a collection of more obscure 'Peel favourites' from 1976-1980, is not only one of the best compilations of the year but also excellent value, packing 24 tracks onto one CD, so full kudos to Cherry Red for getting this stuff together. If you used to peer at the NME independent chart and wish for all the achingly obscure records that featured within, this collection is for you, but that's to damn the album with faint praise, since this stuff is the opposite of cynical, the opposite of Pop Idol, the opposite of our current nightmare of celebocracy.

Like Michel Gondry's recent film, Be Kind Rewind, this is a celebration of DIY or so-called 'outsider' art, but the wonder of it is that it is all so damn good: A perfect illustration of the primal power of rock and roll through twenty four punk and post-punk acts, including the Au Pairs, the Blue Orchids, the Young Marble Giants and many others you'll be pretending you knew about all along.

On Subway Sect's Ambition, a track often voted top punk single of all time, Vic Godard sings ''Nothing ever seems to happen to me'', but the point about all of these tracks is that they make things happen and change reality, at least for three-odd minutes, for their creators and maybe, too, for the listener. Taking Ambition's inspired amateur appropriation of the Who's teenage-wasteland riffs as a starting point, this is a celebration of inauthenticity, of fearless fakery, of seizing the tools of art and industry for yourself, and as such it's unfailingly inspiring.

It would be futile to pick favourites here, as there’s a world history in every track (and excellent sleeve notes too), but despite the presence of Wreckless Eric, it's hard to beat the Vibrators' Whips and Furs, particularly for the breathlessly exciting delivery of the apparently simple but secretly cosmic line: ''If you dance to the music the night will go on and on''.

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