The Members, a British band that emerged during the punk boom of the 1970s, are still active to this very day, since dusting off the cobwebs and getting back out on the live circuit ten years ago. And 2017 sees their decade long reformation celebrated with the release of a 'Greatest Hits - All the Singles' compilation. And a forty year celebration since their very first gig, which was at the Roxy Club in 1977. Press sheet blurb states that this compilation is the result of "years of negotiations", so I guess this has been a long time coming, due to what ever licensing hurdles might've been encountered.
Previous to this arriving for review, I was already aware of a small number of tracks by The Members, but am generally a relative newcomer to their music. Although what better initiation into a band's output than what can be presumed to be their best known songs. A combination of 7" single mixes and album versions of their back catalogue of varied chart success at home and abroad, I believe the tracklist follows some kind of vague chronology, and it's no surprise to see the opener is their best known hit, 'The Sound of the Suburb'.
It's a fun little journey listening to this collection of tunes, which switch between all-out punk rock and reggae. And, as the album progresses through the ages, so does the music, with numbers like 'Emotional Triggers', 'Robin Hood in Reverse' and 'Incident at Surbiton' (all from 2016's 'One Law' album) showcasing a more innovative side to The Members (or those members that are left in The Members since their early days).
Does a lot of this sound dated? Sure. But some of this music is nearly four decades old, so naturally sounds of its time. But it still provides a great listen in 2017. And tracks like 1979's 'Offshore Banking Business' and 2009's 'International Financial Crisis' (the latter a newer version of the former) still resonate with frustrating relevance in today's precarious and clandestine economic-political climate... probably more so than ever before. Whereas lyrics to ditties such as 'Working Girl' have distinct misogynistic overtones in the 21st century, and others like 'Solitary Confinement' just seem to be having some kind of angsty whinge. And then there's a brand new track, 'Smartphone Junkie', a direct polemic on those who've allowed themselves to be submerged within the antisocial trappings of the digital age.
I'm unsure as to what degree of remastering has taken place to the original recordings as there's no indication of such within the accompanying CD booklet, but much of the music sounds fresh and crisp enough, and rougher elsewhere. But songs retain what is, undoubtedly, their original raw edge. The newer, noughties tracks, expectedly sound a tad more polished, but still with a nice organic quality. All in all, this is a great little introduction to The Members' music. I'm sure their hardcore fans will also want to snap up what is being billed as a long overdue compilation.
Anglo Centric Recordings
GREATEST HITS - ALL THE SINGLES
Review by Mark Holmes
1st Dec 2017
1) The Sound of the Suburbs; 2) Solitary Confinement; 3) Offshore Banking Business; 4) Working Girl; 5) Killing Time; 6) Romance; 7) Flying Again; 8) Radio; 9) International Financial Crisis; 10) New English Blues; 11) Midlifecrisis; 12) English Girls; 13) Emotional Triggers; 14) Robin Hood in Reverse; 15) Incident at Surbiton; 16) Smartphone Junkie; 17) Fire Brigade; 18) NW10
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...tracks like 1979's 'Offshore Banking Business' and 2009's 'International Financial Crisis' (the latter a newer version of the former) still resonate with frustrating relevance in today's precarious and clandestine economic-political climate... probably more so than ever before."