As any reader of this blog knows I’m always on the lookout for comps of early punk, so when I found a used copy of Wax Attack Vol. 1 – A Collection of Rare Punk Rock I had to take a closer look. The inclusion of the Finnish band Rattus told me this was something I’d probably like, and he record looked clean, so I picked it up.
Before going into the music, I have to say this disc has a double-whammy of issues. There is a skip in one of the Rattus tracks that causes it to just loop at one point in the song until you raise the needle and move the stylus, and a close look revealed the record has some dimpled spots that weren’t apparent when I first looked at it in the store. To add to my frustration, the label on side B actually goes onto part of the last track… so I pretty much can’t listen to the Razors “Enemy” all the way through. The center hole is also off-center… though this doesn’t seem to hurt the playability too badly. But man, if someone from Moonie Records ever reads this, get some quality control!
Quality issues aside, right from the first lines of the first track I knew I had something decent here:
I knew from the moment that I looked at your face,
That you deserved to be sprayed with mace.
— “Death Was Too Kind”, Subhumans
Wax Attack is basically just a bunch of old singles and EPs put together onto one album, and the jacket reverse even shows the covers from the originals. And that’s OK with me, since buying originals of this stuff would cost way more than a new release comp, and I’m more about the music than I am collecting vinyl.
Vancouver’s Subhumans start it off strong with four tracks, including “Fuck You,” a song I always assumed was a D.O.A. original since I first heard it on one of their albums. Up next are Los Angeles punk rockers The Rotters with a pair of songs, including “Sit On My Face Stevie Nicks” (wait, what??). Finns Rattus close out the first side with their six-song Fucking Disco EP, which unfortunately is marred on my copy… man, I’m still pissed about that!
Eskorbuto open side B and like the few other early Spanish bands I’ve heard, I really like their sound. The international mix continues throughout the side with Terveet Kadet (Finland), Society Dog (San Francisco), the Molesters (Holland), and the Razors (Germany). Funny how that with all these punk bands packed onto this record, there are no groups included from the UK – though that may very well have been by design, since it’s not like there’s any shortage of English punk comps out there.
Overall I was impressed with the sound quality and track selection – the bands are similar enough in style that listening to Wax Attack doesn’t feel disjointed, but there’s enough variance here to keep your attention and to make you stop what you’re doing sometimes when a new song comes on. If you find a copy, it’s well worth it – so long as you can make sure the labels don’t cover the music and there aren’t defects in the vinyl. (I’m not bitter. Really. OK, maybe a little.)