This is a 20 track compilation of the best bits of Edinburgh punk, or immediate post-punk, band The Prats, active in the period 1977-81.
Probably best known for ‘General Davis’, which has enjoyed exposure on a few soundtracks over the years (for example the Manchurian Candidate remake of the early 2000s), the band were championed by John Peel but never got much further than a few singles. The compilation includes one broadcast Peel Session and one which failed to make the airwaves.
Things get under way with first single ‘Disco Pope’ which takes a garage band riff and a few Ramones stylings, and is true to the original DIY punk ethic – anyone can do it!
They were very young teenagers at the time and you can hear it in the fairly low-fi recordings (several of them demos) but they retain an of-the-moment charm which comes across even all those decades later. Some of the tracks are barely over the one minute mark but efforts such as ‘TV Set’ recall early Orange Juice and Josef K in bringing some tunefulness and light out of the darker and more obvious thrash of punk chords. The guitar playing and the bass playing are both very strong on all tracks.
‘General Davis’ with its matter-of-fact, nihilistic narrative about a young man “dying with a bullet to his head” and asking “what’s life about, anyway?” is probably the pick of the bunch (and did it inspire New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’, well who knows?). Other wee vignettes such as ‘Nobody Noticed’ also display a storytelling aptitude and an awareness of social issues (“Tanya’s in bad way, and the kids can’t cope”), while ‘Inverness’ may be the first and only song written about that particular town (“Inverness – what a mess…”) although it is hardly complimentary!
So altogether a small time capsule of another time, although BM thinks the Prats certainly deserve to be remembered for their efforts and this release is worthy of their enduring memory…