"Keep Britain Tidy - A Public Service Announcement With Guitars" (Compilation Album, 2008)
True to form, Cambridge's Repeat Records return with another politically-charged release. This time it's a BNP-baiting compilation album, in support of the Love Music Hate Racism organisation. In May 2008, close to 70,000 Londoners voted for the British National Party (BNP) in the London Mayoral Elections, giving the BNP their first seat on the London Assembly (alongside London's first Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson) and with it, as Repeat points out, "...the potential to directly influence the way London is run, and an extra layer to their facade of respectability". For those unfamiliar, the BNP are a party founded on, nee a rebranding of, the neo-Nazi National Front that was.
So what, you might well ask, will a 23-track compilation album coming out of genteel Cambridgeshire do to change the political map of one of the world's leading capital cities? Thankfully, the label itself is realistic about their ability to influence things stating "No-one involved in this is daft enough to believe that a bunch of indie bands can single-handedly wipe out racism by putting out a CD and playing a few gigs in tiny venues to people who (largely) agree with what we're saying". Instead, they aim to at least show how easy it is to organise an event, to hand someone a leaflet or a flyer, in the hope that more people might get involved.
Familiar with only a handful of the acts here, most are youthful, energetic types with a taste for post-punk indie pop, with just four of the 23 tracks running over the four minute mark. Ten City Nation's 60s-tinged TDK 90 is a stylistic standout and sounds (I assume by design?) like it was recorded on a TDK D-90 cassette tape. Lily Rae's Diane could be an early Blondie outtake. The Indelicates weave an odd but intriguing mix of keyboard and guitar pop on the joyfully entitled Big Beat Better To Know. Dexy does reasonable guitar folk on The Dying Breed. My Broken Tex La Homa win the most distinctive name competition and the live recording of their space rocking Evil Tune encourages repeat listens. The distorted guitar and vocals on the demo version of Fighting Type by FallingFast instantly recalls very early Modern English and will certainly prompt further research. Greg McDonald's violin, guitar, voice (with female backing vocals) combination on Stranger At The Door is unusual and could suggest unpredictably creative things.
Although none of the tracks seems written specifically for this compilation, punk poet Attila The Stockbroker's (the only old school name I recognised) contribution is right on the money, bringing the album to a perfect close with a live rendition of his defiant Spirit of the Age. This Joe Strummer, Brighton v Crystal Palace, and Blink 182-referencing rap poem includes the line "Show me a fascist and I'll show him the floor". A fitting conclusion to a worthwhile release and cause. 7/10
Rob Dyer (August, 2008)
Official Repeat website: http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk