The Ruts - 999
From the siren that opens The Ruts' "Babylon's Burning", the first track off these two EMI repackagings of classic punk fare, we're bovver-booted back to Fatcher's Britain with vigour and vividness. Digital remastering emasculates the rawness but highlights the power-pop credentials of Southall's finest—"Staring At The Rude Boys" was a crafty Jam/Clash hybrid, and there's bucketloads more invention and chops than was normally put before the crophead unwashed. "Jah War" inhales the ganja of honky dub as convincingly as anything by The Clash, and "Love In Vain" is a bizarre white-boy stab at lovers' rock.
The Ruts died in 1980 with lead singer Malcolm Owen, and therefore didn't play into their dotage in endless punk revival festivals. That is 999's richly-deserved fate, for, like this set, it gives new generations a chance to despise their caricature, underpowered, nerdy hybrid of punk and R&B, still sounding like a genre parody by Kenny Everett on an off day. Makes Eater sound as classy as Shostakovich.
Rating: 4 / 10