9/10 Mike Staff review, 14 August 2014
This is my second groundbreaking punk album of the day, having already written about Crime's long-overdue anthology of (mostly unreleased) studio recordings. Coincidentally I already wrote about The Outsiders' second album 'Close Up' the other week because that has just been reissued on Captured Tracks. I wonder if the two reissues were coordinated or if it's just a happy coincidence.
Anyway, this release is interesting for two reasons. Firstly because back in May 1977 this was the first ever self-released punk rock LP, and secondly because The Outsiders had a jagged, angular sound very similar to what later became known as post-punk, which became more pronounced on their second record but is already apparent in places on this debut.
Even listening back to it now, 'Calling On Youth' doesn't really sound like anybody else. At its heart it's a power-pop album, but with the crunching distortion and fast tempos of the Buzzcocks, exemplary and sparingly used guitar heroics, Blue Cheer-ish hard rock boogie and even shuffly lounge-soul in 'Break Free', not to mention a mid-album Canterbury-flavoured acoustic breather in 'Start Over'. Unlike many of the early punk bands, this lot had serious chops.
The most fun songs here are where they're really getting stuck in with those chunky stop-start distorto-riffs, ecstatic guitar twiddling and hoarse vocals on tracks like the Stooges-esque 'I'm Screwed Up' or the snotty punk riffing of the title track, but the variety and enthusiasm and excellent Modern Lovers-ish pop instinct displayed throughout mean that it still sounds vital and uplifting to these tired old ears. Only a whisker away from full marks.
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- Calling On Youth by The Outsiders
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