Political Asylum - How The West Was Won (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Political Asylum

How The West Was Won (2012)

Boos Tuneage Records

This re-release of Scotland's Political Asylum's 10-inch mini-album, which originally came out in 1992, is as much notable for the additional fifteen live tracks culled from shows at the legendary 924 Gilman Street venue in San Francisco recorded in 1989.

Yes, the seven tracks on the mini-album are worthy of a re-release on their own, especially the final song which is a cover version of Husker Du's "Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" and is almost as haunting as the original, but it's the live recordings which get my juices flowing. Political Asylum were a band that took whichever musical route they felt a song warranted and it was nothing for them to throw in some folk into the mix either, as part of a track or as the whole thing with a prime example being "Rain," which features as both a studio and live recording here. If you take into account that here were a band that actually meant what it sang about then, the end result is one that really does show how positive punk rock could actually be as opposed to any nihilistic element (not that there's anything wrong with a bit of nihilism, but I have always found myself more drawn to a more constructive approach to being rebellious).

The live recordings (which are pretty good quality) put the focus on a tremendously talented band with members that knew their way around their instruments, very much going against the grain of what some people felt punk rock should have been about. However, this final re-release in a series of the bands' work from Boss Tuneage is a worthy footnote in punk rock history, seeing as it shows that "talented" was not necessarily a dirty word in terms of punk musicians.

The highlights of the live sets include the "Intro," a marvellous opening indeed which keeps the Husker Du comparisons that occasionally crop up with Political Asylum, "Apathy" (which includes a riff that is VERY much like the one that holds together "Dianne" by the aforementioned Minneapolis trio), "Winter of Our Discontent" and "Someday."

We should not forget bands like Political Asylum and their work should be given to those looking backwards to swallow up the history of punk rock.