The second release on Sealed Records is a 14 Track round up of the five singles by Zounds. The debut single from 1980 Can't Cheat Karma was released on Crass Records and 39 Years later still stands as one of the finest singles both politically and musically. For the next three singles Zounds released them on Rough Trade Records, along with their debut album The Curse of Zounds. 1981's Demystification was a tense and stark masterpiece. It was followed by the haunting Mikey Dread-produced Dancing and then the more straight up pop of More Trouble Coming Everyday. The final single of Zounds Mark 1 was La Vacht Qui Rit released on Belgium label Not So Brave in 1983 and was originally supposed to be a split single with The Mob but ended up with two scratchy studio tracks and two rough and raw live tracks recorded in Holland in 1982. Every home should have these essential Zounds recordings.
Our take: Zounds’ five 7” releases have been repackaged numerous times over the years: a 1983 LP on Italy’s Base Records, CD collections in 1993 and 2007, and even a 7” box set on Broken Rekids in 2011. This collection on Sealed Records doesn’t add much aside from super cool new artwork and a rad poster insert, but you won’t find me complaining that some of the best anarcho punk ever is back in print. Zounds’ first single, Can’t Cheat Karma, is a top 5 Crass Records release for me. One of the most musically sophisticated and capable anarcho bands, Zounds made chart-worthy music for the punks, and the three tracks from Can’t Cheat Karma are all hits that will inspire a singalong at any gathering of spiky punks. If you haven’t heard them before the choruses will hit you immediately, but as the tracks sink in you’ll notice all kinds of subtleties, particularly in the guitars, which dance across the beat with the grace of a seasoned ska or funk player. Amazingly, Zounds got even better on their second single, Demystification. The title track is the band’s best song, brooding pop that brings in subtle organ sounds to make the track both fuller and more delicate. The b-side, “Great White Hunter,” is probably Zounds’ best song other than “Demystification,” with a big classic rock riff anchoring the track. Their final three singles don’t get as much attention from punks, but they’re full of moments of equal brilliance. The a-sides to their final two singles both had a Smiths-esque rockabilly jangle different from anything the band had done before, but equally brilliant. As you can tell, Zounds are one of my favorite anarcho bands and the thirteen tracks here are long since burned into my memory banks from repeated play. If you don’t already have these songs on a physical format, this beautiful looking and great-sounding reissue will do the trick just fine.