By The Cortinas
The Cortinas 'MK.1' is the latest release from Bristol Archive Records who specialise in local bands from the mid-70's onwards, "as a vehicle to talk about and remember Bristol's forgotten stars, those people that should have, could have or probably had no chance of fame and Global domination."
Formed in 1976, The Cortinas started out as an R&B covers band before discovering punk pioneers like The Stooges and The New York Dolls. After building up a sound reputation in their hometown they were invited to play at the infamous Roxy in London as support for The Stranglers. By July 1977 they had supported Blondie, Chelsea and Television and recorded a well-received Peel Session. Things were on the up and two singles via the Step Forward label, owned by The Police's manager Miles Copeland, were released. But by the time they released their debut album 'True Romance' for CBS in 1978 they had taken a further change in musical direction and left many disappointed with the final result. By the end of the year they had called it a day.
'MK.1' is a new compilation of the band's two year career that includes three tracks recorded for Step Forward ('Fascist Dictator', 'Television Families' and 'Independence'), seven tracks from their ill-fated debut as well as previously unreleased material.
Opening with 'Defiant Pose', it's a gutsy, shouty, no-hold bars onslaught. "Ain't gonna take no for an answer. Ain't gonna take no anymore," are the perfect, if not stereo-typical, opening lines to any punk album. Tied together with a simple but effective riff, the track highlights the band's style that is somewhere between the raw aggression of the Sex Pistols and the pop influence of The Buzzcocks.
Along with the opener, there are so many highlights. 'Independence' has a marvellous groove, a catchy riff and dare I say melody. 'Fascist Dictator', probably their most famous track, is a great punk track that hasn't got the recognition it deserves. While 'Television Families' has so much energy you can only imagine how lively the clubs were when that was blasted out. Other standout tracks include 'Ask Mr Waverley' and 'Justice'.
The low points on the album are when they slow the pace down like on 'Tribe Of The City', which starts off promisingly, but it doesn't pack the same punch as the other tracks and by the end feels so laboured that it almost reaches a standstill. Thankfully these moments are few and far between.
So whether you are new to discovering British Punk or are an ardent fan, this album is a sound investment and will sit nicely alongside any collection that has 'Never Mind the Bollocks', 'Damned, Damned, Damned' and 'The Clash'.
It's a shame that things never worked out for them, but had The Cortinas released this collection of songs then I'm certain they'd be regarded as highly as their famous contemporaries.