Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Days Of Wild Skies (Exit Condition)

From the West Midlands town of Stoke On Trent, Exit Condition were part of the mid 80’s UK melodic punk/hardcore scene that spawned the likes of Snuff, Leatherface and er…Ok, so nothing major came out of that particular punk rock time line...or did it?

By the mid eighties, the whole UK 82/Anarcho/Oi! thing that had constituted punk in the UK during the early part of the decade was all but dead. The current re writing of history will have you believe that in it’s place, the only worthwhile new guitar music being made in the UK at the time was the C86 scene being championed by the NME. Wrong! Indie pop certainly left it's mark but at the same time, under the surface, a new punk scene was emerging.

The first new UK bands that I became aware of were the Stupids and A.Y.S. Both bands dressed in jeans, t shirts and trainers (which after the leather jacket and mohican years was actually considered a radical fashion statement in punk circles!) and were obviously following the US hardcore template, A.Y.S even covering a Minor Threat song on their first EP (again, another radical move when out of all the great bands that emerged from the heyday of US hardcore, only one, the Dead Kennedys, had been truly accepted by the UK82 generation). From there, Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll began to carry UK scene reports which mentioned a whole host of new UK bands, Heresy, Generic, HDQ…The NME even began to take notice, coining their own short lived name for the new scene-Britcore! For a short time at least, the new bands were all part of something new and exciting and it was possible to mention Napalm Death and Mega City Four in the same breath despite the major difference in the bands respective sounds as they were part of the scene that was dragging UK punk kicking a screaming into a new era. It didn’t last of course. Napalm Death and their ilk crossed over into metal while Mega City Four and Senseless Things flirted with the mainstream and the lower reaches of the charts. Somewhere in the middle though, the new punk scene was up and running, thriving on a diet of DIY gigs and tours, fanzines and short run releases, which brings us nicely back to Exit Condition.

Now, while I would argue that the gig and ‘zine network created at the time unwittingly helped lay the foundations for the ‘alternative rock’ and indie boom that followed, I’d find it more difficult to argue that many really great records came out of this period (1984 or ‘85, up to the point where things changed once again with the success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’) Some did though and one album that really does stand up is Exit Condition’s ‘Days Of Wild Skies’ from 1990. I picked up my copy from Ian who ran the label that released this, Meantime Records, when my band at the time Wordbug were playing a festival at Bradford’s 1 In 12 Club. Being a big Husker Du fan it was easy to see where the band was coming from (just about every melodic band on the scene at the time was influenced to some degree by Husker Du!) but Exit Condition added their own distinct edge to proceedings with some metal and thrash touches on top of all the melodies. Prior to this their sole album, the band had released a single on US artist Pushead’s Pusmort label which was no great shakes but they really came good on the album and their equally excellent later singles, which makes it a real shame that the band are a mere footnote in a largely overlooked period in the punk rock scheme of things. Just to prove a point on how small this whole scene was, ignoring a Polish cassette release, only one pressing of this album was ever produced (a thousand copies) which I find amazing when you consider how damn good this is and it’s never been reissued. Check out a vinyl rip of the album here:

Exit Condition-Days Of Wild Skies.

A few years ago Boss Tuneage Records released an excellent Exit Condition anthology which amongst some demo and Peel session tracks included some of the songs from the album alongside the equally great later singles. Get it here. Scumville has some Exit Condition info alongside details on other bands from the same period.

(Thanks To Aston at Boss Tuneage for the OK on the music here.)