For some reason, when I was a teenager I wanted nothing more than to be “punk.” That is excruciating to write, but there it is. Being a kid is tough, but I wanted to make my life even more difficult by making myself stick out like a sore thumb in rural Wisconsin. I dressed like Joe Strummer, constantly babbled about Siouxsie Sioux being a god to whoever was unfortunate enough to be near me, and I was obsessed with The Adicts. I even painted my mouth with black lipstick like “Monkey” Warren’s joker make-up.
No photographic evidence of said event will ever reach this page.
Part of that grand affection led to me buying a couple of their albums on vinyl. The second of which was their sophomore album Sound of Music. I was really into Songs of Praise, especially their first single “Viva La Revolution” (of course I was – I was bound to start a revolution, right?), but being quite young I wasn’t really into shopping used records at the time. I bought most of my punk albums brand-spanking-new at my favourite record shop in town. Songs of Praise was never available for purchase so I took to buying the follow-ups instead.
Buying albums I had never heard before felt like a bit of a gamble but it paid off. The first time I put Sound of Music on the turn table, I got goosebumps from the carousel music that opened the album. I was so impressed by the way they turned that into the opening track “How Sad.” That simple trick of one child-like sound running head-first into a wall of guitars sent me giddy like the child I probably was.
This actually remains one of my favourite albums of the genre. I know I use this word a lot, but it really is a lot of fun. Several of the tracks are staples of the band. “Joker in the Pack” and “Chinese Takeaway” are non-political bits of what can sometimes be a tediously political group of bands. Many of the songs remind me of football chants due to the infectious sing-along choruses hooked in every track. The band even recorded their version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a song often associated with Liverpool FC – a track that would later be included as a bonus track on special CD releases of this album.
Wanting to be something you’re definitely not is pretty damn silly, but in many ways that awkward phase taught me a lot. I devoured music books at that point because I wanted to learn absolutely everything I could about a period of time I would never be a part of. I needed to know every literary reference and reasoning behind every political statement that was made.
Without The Adicts, it would have taken me a lot longer to figure out what “droogs” are and what the hell A Clockwork Orange was. Even now that remains one of my favourite books and was a profound effect on my thinking. As a kid, I became infatuated with idea that there was something more out there. It was this music that planted that seed in my mind.
Who knows, if it wasn’t for songs like “Johnny was a Soldier” or “Shake Rattle, Bang Your Head” I might not even be in London right now. And who could even imagine what life would be like then?