Review: To The Outside of Everything: A Story of UK Post Punk 1977-1981

Post-punk was the catch-all term applied to much of the music which followed the original punk explosion of 1976-77.

Sunday, 17th December 2017, 4:51 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th December 2017, 5:05 pm
To The Outside of Everything: A Story of Post Punk 1977-1981 (Cherry Red).

Far removed from the three-chord thrash and pumped up pub rock which made up much of the 'new wave', it encompassed everything from electronic music to funk, and disco to free jazz.

It burned bright for but a few short years - the cut-off point for this excellent set is 1981 - before being supplanted by what became known as indie.


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But what musical treats it did offer us, and Cherry Red have done their usual thorough job in bringing us most of the main bands (notable exceptions being XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure, presumably down to licensing).

The tracklisting - 111 songs spread across five discs in a lavish box set, accompanied by a 48-page booklet - is bound to spark some debate about's what's post-punk and what's not.

Yes, there's some crossover with Action Time Vision, the punk set issued by Cherry Red last year, and Silhouettes and Statues, their goth collection from a few months ago, but we'll forgive them that.

There are some bands which just HAD to be included; John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols project PiL (represented by the still-unsettling Death Disco), Joy Division (the peerless Transmission) and Wire (I Am The Fly).

Tubeway Army

There's other (some might say over-)familiar cuts too; Magazine's classic Shot By Both Sides (a line from which gives this set its name, in case you hadn't realised), and The Slits' Typical Girls.

But for every obvious inclusion there's three more obscure ones, and if there's nothing here you haven't heard before you're (a) even older than me, and (b) have a fantastic record collection. Occult Chemistry, Dif Juz or Second Layer, anyone? No, me neither.

Disc one kicks off with a familiar name, Ultravox, though early single Young Savage was very different to the slick synthpop they would take to the Top 10 of the charts.

The tracklisting, reads like a vintage John Peel show, with bands like Punishment of Luxury, Tubeway Army, Gang of Four and Glaxo Babies taking me back to my youth.


There's landmark singles by Killing Joke, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Pop Group, Human League, The Fall, The Teardrop Explodes, Theatre Of Hate, The Birthday Party. New Order - I'm sure you're getting the gist.

But what makes these box sets so rewarding is finding something completely new to you: gems like Needles and Pills by The Passions; Girls At Our Best by the Banshees-like Warm Girls, or rudimentary electronica like The Normal's TVOD ("I don't need no TV screen, I just stick the aerial into my skin, and let the signal run through my veins...").

Then there's the downright odd, such as the cult hit There Goes Concorde Again by And The Native Hipsters, which I'd also never heard before - each to his/her own...

What is apparent nearly 40 years on is how influential some of these bands were on the indie groups who emerged in the 'noughties'; listen to Adam And The Ants' Car Trouble without thinking of The Futureheads, or Jozef K's Radio Drill Time without Franz Ferdinand coming to mind.

Tubeway Army

But what goes around comes around, so they say, and whether you're a post-punk fan of old, or someone who just loves exploring 'new' (ie old) music, there's something here for anyone who enjoys an angular guitar or an off-kilter rhythm. 8/10.