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Review: 'Disco Zombies'
'South London Stinks'   

-  Label: 'Optic Nerve Recordings'
-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave' -  Release Date: '29.1.21.'

Our Rating:
Well if nothing else Disco Zombies were totally right that South London Stinks, especially if you were there in the late 1970's and ever went anywhere near Battersea or Wandsworth the stink was truly awful. For anyone not in love with the Leicester punk scene or the more obscure parts of the post punk scene has probably never heard of Disco Zombies or may have heard them on the Peel show and forgot all about them, now is the time to rectify that.

So 2021 is the year for the band to get a full on retrospective double album to allow us to hear what one of the founders of Food Records and a member of Bomb Party got up to, as early adopters of drum machines in Punk, as Disco Zombies.

This retrospective includes the bands comeback singles as well as original material that came out on South Circular Records and Dining Out Records back in the day.

The album opens with the quite brilliant Top Of The Pops a very witty rather rapid bouncy power pop take on the absurdity of wanting or needing to be on Top of the Pops in the style of Eater or Television Personalities.

Time Will Tell is similarly speedy song as they sum up what they think of someone who they believe Time Will Tell them all about if they are worth risking all that time and effort on.
Punk A Gogo is a good look at the fight between Punk and disco and how they were both being played on the same dance floors, this is good basic, simple as it comes and all the better for it, poppy punk with a damn cool guitar solo thrown in before the bassline breakdown that sounds like they want to be Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers but without all the drugs.

Disco Zombies is the bands own theme tune and has a good pop at Disco Zombies in a similar way to the John Cale produced Ze classic Disco Clone did in America, only less robotic, as they have a go at them for not going out drinking and being obsessed with dancing heaven forbid.

The A side closes with TV Screen a song that now sounds far sighted as being glued to the TV Screen has only become more worrying as the years have gone by and people's lives have been subsumed by a new reality the Disco Zombies were singing about before it had even been invented.

The B-side opens with Drums Over London a song whose lyrics got them into trouble with the Anti-Nazi league, who didn't get the irony in the lyrics, as they take a pop at all sorts of issues of the time and the fight to accept London as a multi-cultural city and the way certain communities were being pigeonholed and the idiots who complained about the immigrants.

Heartbeats Love is slightly slower power pop song of love and lust as they hope to persuade her they really mean what they claim.

Here Come The Buts is a magnificent title and concept as they list lots of buts that stop them doing what they want or need to do, this again reminds me of Eater and a little bit of The Flys. This also uses a drum machine pattern also used by Metal Urbain among others.

We then get to two of the stand-out songs on the album firstly the magnificent tribute to Mary Millington that starts off slow as they explain how they have fallen in love with her along with millions of other men lusting over her pictures and films the song is in no way as salacious as Mary's life but does capture the spirit of how a Veterinarian became one of England's hottest porn stars of her time.

Then comes the astonishingly brilliant John Peel show favourite Tony Hateley a great tribute to the rather mercurial footballer who played for so many clubs that the chorus of "where have you been lately Tony Hateley" works perfectly, as they name check all sorts of other legendary 1960's and 70's football players. Personally, I remember his time with Luton Town the most and how well he played against Orient.

Side 3 opens with Sex Olympics that is sort of a tongue in cheek theme tune to the Sex Olympics awards show, that they might have been obsessed about for the wrong or is it right reasons over fizzing guitars and a good basic drum pattern.

Target Practice is about the sort of Target Practice you might indulge in after you've been dumped but still live with the ex-girlfriend, this is bittersweet with a good dose of bile among the stripped back power pop as they carry the ex off to hospital, this is in some ways troubling in the way it describes domestic violence.

New Scars is slow bitter twisted look at love going wrong and your girlfriend running off with your best mate again, this is a bit doomy and wracked with pain as these Disco Zombies continue to lose in love.

Greenland possibly feeds into a line some Tories used to use in the late 70's and early 80's about getting rid of the unwanted to Greenland and this song is sort of a celebration of that fact that when the tanks roll over london they will be relocated to Greenland, for context this should be heard next to things like the Poison Girls Take The Toys From The Boys.

A theme that continues on Paint It Red asking questions about why we are obsessed with doing up our houses while Russia and China are on the rise in a very late cold war kind of way as we need to know will you do the household chores when the revolution comes.

Side 4 opens with The Night Of The Big Heat a sparse taut tune that slowly seems to build a bit like they are waiting for the start of a big fight before they start singing about watching The Night Of The Big Heat and the alien invasion that film is about.

LHO is a cool fizzing basic power pop punk song about well Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of JFK.

Paint It Red 2 sounds like a bit of a lower lo-fi version of the song and for me doesn't add much to the first version on the album.

Lenin's Tomb is a song about how all good Russians visit Lenin's tomb, well as a reviewer who visited the tomb in 1985 I can say the effort was kind of worthwhile, but us foreigners could jump the queue by flashing a passport!

The album closes with Hit a song that complains about having written another hit and describes a well-known formula for getting a hit and becoming a big pop star, this obviously has its tongue very firmly in its cheeks and is a good wry ending to a very enjoyable comp from a band that are well worth hearing now you finally can.

Find out more from https://opticnerverecordings.com/collections/disco-zombies/products/disco-zombies-south-london-stinks-2lp?variant=32148992360559 https://www.facebook.com/DiscoZombies

  author: simonovitch

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