Normals, The - 1999 - Your Punk Heritage 1977-84 (US)
This Louisiana punk outfit's history was as abbreviated as the rapid-fire catchiness captured on this first-ever compilation disc. The New Orleans-based foursome issued one single in 1978, "Almost Ready"/"Hardcore," built up a rabid fan base, and supported nearly all the big names (including the Police, the Ramones, and Talking Heads), yet never landed a record deal. The Normals tried to change their fortunes by moving to New York in May 1979, but they split up after failing to make any headway there. To pay off its debts, the band regrouped for an annual hometown gig from 1981-1984 (a gesture it resumed since re-forming in 1997). Your Punk Heritage compiles the "Almost Ready" single, an obscure, yet essential, U.S. punk-era benchmark; a clutch of demo sessions (some self-produced, with others abandoned after the band's funds ran out); and live tracks from the 1984 reunion show. Guitarists David Brewton and Charlie Hanson are the dominant writers, with a knack for thuggishly appealing hooks on standouts like "Same Old '76," "Vacation to Nowhere," "Yankee Dollar," and "Sex and Violence," which address hippie complacency, obsessive love, the group's collective mood, and media exploitation. Still other tracks, such as Demented Breakdown," hint at a more poppy, mature direction in effective tempo shifts and massed harmonies. The group's trashier side emerges on a cover of the British Invasion chestnut Henry the Eighth," which is great fun, like the other live tracks; a couple of radio spots provide additional period flavor. With nearly all its contents being aired for the first time, Your Punk Heritage is a must-own for archaeologists of the genre, yet it should also be accessible to discerning fans wanting to understand what the fuss is all about.
Ralph Heibutzki, All Music Guide
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