If one good thing has come of underground music in the year of prevailing lurgies, it is that forced inactivity has given some bands the time to take stock of their dusty back catalogues. While modern reissues are occasionally opportunistic Record Store Day type lures for idiot hoarders, we entered an important phase of 40th anniversary regurgitations a couple of years back, and this meant that worthy post-punk creations from The Pop Group, Crass, Young Marble Giants and many others were readily available on lovely vinyl for the first time in yonks. It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out as the next couple of years progress… are we going to be treated to an expanded and remastered version of the sublime Where’s the Pleasure by the Poison Girls or vexed with a coloured double-vinyl reissue of the turgid Kissing To Be Clever by Culture Club?
…Only time will tell!
Paranoid Visions were already on a heavy new release schedule with the ambitious Countdown to Pharmageddon box set series when everything came to a grinding halt last February – the second installment of this (the orange yoke) was partially recorded during lockdown as a result. But regardless of everyone having a porta-studio in their pockets in this wonderfully underappreciated techie world of ours, it’s not a universally-suited work method – Many bands need that face-to-face community or tension to function effectively… and to hate on each other’s stupid facial hair and rubbish band t-shirts…
So, Paranoid Visions has gone a fair distance into the mildewed corners of its archives for two recent vinyl reissues, the more substantial and ambitious of which is REPRESSED EMOTIONS – The Vinyl Countdown Part 1. This comprises music issued on four of the band’s six vinyl releases between 1986 and 1988. These have become expensive Discogs items so it can be a painful catalogue to complete for those who weren’t of age to get these for their original “pay no more than…” prices in the dark ages.
But it’s the presentation of this release that has made it a joy to get my grubby mitts on despite being old and crap enough to have all these records squirrelled away for decades at this point! The audio has been lovingly restored, digitized and remastered by Pete Holidai and Harvey Birrell, and everything is pressed on two slabs of red & black splatter vinyl, all wrapped up in a beautifully designed six-panel fold-out Crasstafarian sleeve. If this is inspiration bordering on coat-tail riding then it’s definitely the right way to go about it. The whole package looks wonderful!
In terms of content, The Robot is Running Amok was a transitional release for Paranoid Visions. The four tracks (taking up side A here) highlighted the band’s development after it had finally found a raw form of musical identity on the previous From The Womb To The Bucket cassette. Interestingly, Strange Girl cuts straight in instead of fading in with a bit of an intro as it does on the original 7”.
Side B is the Autonomy and FOAD to you Fascist American Contra Scum 7” EPs. Autonomy was always a confident piece of songwriting from the band and fares better as a standalone release than the other 7″, which I was never a huge fan of – Its raw politics lock it into a place in time, but I appreciate the experimentation and its omission would be glaringly obvious. The B-sides of these EPs include the relatively obscure Social Security and live versions of Strange Girl and Ignore it.
Sides C and D are taken up with a long, long overdue reissue of 1987’s Schizophrenia in its original form. Although several of its tracks have been rerecorded over the years and are sometimes presented by the band as superior versions, Schizophrenia remains an extremely important document in that it’s the first Irish DIY punk album. But as much as it can be heralded for this, it’s also an unfortunate accolade – by all accounts, early 80s Dublin punk suffered at the hands of emigration, violence and heroin, leaving an entire era with a threadbare recorded legacy. The album itself remains an imperfect gem – Incredibly durable punk tunes are twisted together with snarling diatribes, slow moody sub-gothic postpunk, convincing indignation and the shambolic glory of sonic rampages that survived only when surgically razor-bladed to remove structural damage.
This is how to do a reissue. Out of a mixture of convenience and sloth, I rarely pull out the original singles, but it this is an excellent opportunity to reappraise this era of the catalogue in a cumulative manner. I Will Wallow and City Of Screams from the same era are not included BUT the grapevine tells me that these records will be the focus of The Vinyl Countdown Part 3 – Hopefully repackaged in a similar manner.
At the time of writing, FOAD records is sold out of its allocation of records but copies are still available from Urinal Vinyl…