In addition, my desire to simply learn more about the punk history of the Netherlands has me seeking out records from this part of world music history that I honestly know very little about.
My daughter surprised me on Christmas morning with a stack of vinyl. This was especially surprising as she's only two months old, has no job, source of income or source of transportation. I chalked it up as either a Christmas miracle or help from her mom. Either way, I wasn't going to question it because, hey, I had new vinyl, which included a copy of the 1983 compilation Rotterdam Spunk.
A history lesson on bands I've never had the chance to hear, Rotterdam Spunk is a snapshot of the Rotterdam scene in the early '80s, and if this compilation is an accurate depiction, it was a lively scene at that.
The album kicks you hard and fast from the opener with Kotx's "Before You Go," a song that sounds like classic British bands like GBH or the Exploited. From then on, it's trip through what had to have been a vibrant, varied scene that got little notice on my side of the pond when I was seeking out punk music. The Moral Virtue is a snotty female fronted band, and the J.Dops band have a jangled chaos to their sound that, despite their vocals being in Dutch, could have placed them in the Orange County scene of their era.
Whenever I get my hands on something like this, I'm filled with wonder at all the great obscure punk music all over the world. From the '70s on, there were so many burgeoning scenes existing separately from one another, yet with similar sounds, influences and messages. While in the states we really only had ready access to bands from the states and to a lesser extent the UK, bands were creating similar scenes worldwide, just like the scene assembled on Rotterdam Punk. And it's amazing that, in the pre-internet days od tape trading and record collecting, so much unity of sound has managed to transcend distance and language barriers, recorded and assmbled, waiting for people like me to stumble on it.
It's not a perfect compilation, flawed by the addition of some low-end live recordings, like "Endlösung (Live)", but for every track like that, a track like Bunker's "I Am Not Your Toy" or Genipig's "Haatschild" offer up pogo-riffic punk rock that makes you wistfully wish for the opportunity to travel back in time to catch shows by some of these bands.
And it's not all three-chords in your face. The Dead Spirits show with "Lost In Sin" that there was some odd Bauhaus-influenced noise going on, and even though the comp goes out on a low point with a muddy live recording from Debiele Eenheid, there's too much good stuff here to not give it multiple listenings and for you to make mental notes to seek out more by many of these bands.
Although it's obviously long out of print, online archivists have loaded digital files of all the songs on this compilation online (you can get it here). But I'll warn you - it may open your eyes to a punk scene you were never aware of, and you may end up on a record store quest to not only find your own copy of Rotterdam Spunk, but to also track down recordings by all these bands, as well as releases by bands from other scenes worldwide that you never knew existed.
1. Kotx - "Before You Go"
2. The Moral Virtue - "The Naked Kiss"
3. J. Dops Band - "Speedy Harry"
4. Schizoidphrenics - "Negative"
5. Defect - "Under My Flag"
6. N.O.A.T.H. - "Walk In Line"
7. N.O.A.T.H. - "No Religion"
8. Formaline - "Break Away (Live)"
1. Get Ugly - "The End"
2. "Endlösung (Live)"
3. Bunker - "I Am Not Your Toy"
4. Project III - "Am I (Live)"
5. Geniepig - "Zet Het Gedonder Tot Een Stop"
6. Geniepig - "Haatschild"
7. The Dead Spirits - "Lost In Sin"
8. Spiked Copy - "Raise Hell"
9. Debiele Eenheid – "Sometimes (Live)"