You know the feeling,when you stumble upon a gem from the past, how you know your mates will thank you for enlightening them (and even more often, forget after a time it was you who did, and become all snotty about how they were among the early admirers?) Such is the feeling I got when I first heard some of these tracks on The Transmitters' Myspace page. The impression that this is the real thing, cutting through all the heavily hair-styled cohorts of contemporary imitators, talented and less so, from Franz Ferdinand to more recent acts like The Blood Arm, the Fratellis and whatnot.
This compilation features The Transmitters' special brand of cut up, tripping, at times dissonant, at times groovy punk/post punk rock ("Persons Unknwown") verging on the no-wave ("Uninvited guest"). It's clever, aggressive music, and the "demo" quality of some the songs, grainy, crackling and frayed around the edges, evokes the times of analog recording, which remain dear to some of us and undeniably lend warmth and grit to the overall sound.
Few of these songs are what you'd call straightforward 70s punk rock, though there is a measure of overdriven nasty, at times provocatively short tracks ("Paper Boy"), but these are laid alongside some more adventurous sonic explorations that put The Transmitters closer to Television or Scritti Politti than, say the Buzzcocks ("Testoterone", with its Roxy Music-like vocals and complex rhythm pattern). Accordingly, atonal riffs scratch the back of your brain, evoking early XTC, and some guitar work is suprisingly sophisticated, with late 70s guitar heroes as obvious influences, but thankfully without the nauseating masturbatory emphasis and self-indulgence that make most wizards of the neck a pain in the ass: these interventions remain tense, sharp and good-manneredly short.
In short, the Transmitters deserve their place among the bona fide pioneers of punk/post punk rock and I wouldn't be surprised if their name turned up alongside the likes of Magazine, The Fire Engines or the Slits in future name-dropping competitions on what original punk was really about.
The compilation is available in stores from 5th March on Elsewhen Records, but pre-release copies are available now for download, or from CD Baby.