GBH - Punk Junkies [reissue] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Punk Junkies [reissue] (2005)


Let's be honest here: The Brits were a little tardy to the hardcore party. There's no doubt that the Sex Pistols, the Vibrators, and the Clash helped ignite the punk revolution, but it was American bands like Black Flag and Bad Brains that put hardcore on the map. One of the first to emerge across the pond was Charged GBH, who along with Discharge took the raw aggression of early hardcore and would then infuse it with the burgeoning style of heavy metal.

Of course, that was some 20 years before the first release of 1997's Punk Junkies, and clearly a lot had changed. The GBH that appears on Punk Junkies has a thick, heavy sound, magnified by the crisp, modern production. The songs still beat by at overdrive speeds, but elements of hard rock and metal creep into the formula.

The anti-corporate anthem "Shaking Hands with the Machine" tosses break-neck thrash into the mix, topped off by archetypal British jargon and "wit": "Welcome to the club for the ill-advised / Monkey suits and corporate lies / You had the mansions, the drugs, the cars / You sold your soul, now sell your arse." "Lowering the Standard" is spiced up with some impressive double-bass drumming and lead vocalist Colin Abrahall spits out his words with punk veracity; "Ballot box lies and alley cat morals / What do you think you're doing / Resting on your laurels / All the greed and all the filth and backhanders / Can't save you now, nor will I." The standout "Break the Chains" boasts a variety of rhythms that start and stop violently with group shouts of "Break the chains!" among the fast and heavy punk-metal fusion.

The nice thing about Punk Junkies is that the SOS reissue comes with three bonus tracks including "Punk Rock Ambulance," "Three Piece Suit," and "Happyville USA," which were all re-recorded and released on the 2001 Punk Rock Ambulance EP.

Punk Junkies, though far from the band's breakthrough work of Leather, Bristles, Studs, and Acne and City Baby Attacked by Rats, is not far from what a developed, better produced GBH should sound like. Though certainly not as influential as the band's earlier work, Punk Junkies is a fierce and durable effort, indeed impressive for an album coming 20-some releases into the existence of GBH.