Holly and I were lucky enough to travel to Scandinavia this year, and prior to the trip I did some research on Finnish and Swedish punk bands. I also tracked down some record stores in Helsinki and Stockholm. Both Finland and Sweden are known for their vinyl culture, so I had high hopes in returning home weighed down with rare Scandinavian vinyl.
I did well in Stockholm (more on that in another post…), though not so much in Helsinki, where I was limited to CDs. They really take their jazz seriously there, and most of the used stores we checked out were full of jazz, funk, and classic rock. Fortunately Fallout Records had a nice selection of punk titles, at least on CD, including the first album (1982) by the classic Finnish punk group Lama (I also picked up Ratsia and Sehr Schnell). Later that same day I ran across a vinyl copy, but at 100 Euros my 10 Euro used CD seemed like a much better option.
(BTW – every record store we went to in Helsinki and Stockholm had lots of copies of albums by the Swedish band Europe, famous for their song “The Final Countdown”. Not very punk rock, but it became a running joke on the trip. It’s the final countdown!).
Lama is arguably the first Finnish punk band, and many consider them the best. The style is really early hardcore – it’s faster than stuff like the Ramones and Sex Pistols. It’s also better. The CD version of Lama we found includes 15 tracks. While I didn’t know what to expect from it, I can sum it up simply in three words. Lama kicks ass. End of discussion.
This is some great punk. In classic punk fashion, seven of the songs clock in at two minutes or less, with only one over three minutes. The fact I don’t understand the lyrics doesn’t matter one bit. One of the nice things about experiencing a band like this for the first time is that you have no expectations, because you’ve never heard it before and you can’t understand the words. They could be singing about cupcakes or kumquats for all I know. I really don’t care. It’s all about the music, and the vocals become almost like another instrument. And I have to say, I LOVE the song “Iso Pasi”. While I like the entire album, this is the song that when it comes on, I stop what I’m doing, and if I’m in private I rock out. Iso pasi! (Which, according to Google Translate, means “Big Capacity”. Capacity for what, I’m not sure…)
If you like early punk and/or hardcore, do yourself a favor and check out Lama. You’ll be glad you did.