Vomit: Punk Rock Past and Present

review vomit x1 cong

Vomit are something of a miracle. At best average when they formed in the heady days of punk — though they had lots of energy — they reformed a few years ago for a laugh and a couple of nostalgic gigs for their mates, and just never stopped.

They gig all over the country and support the bands they listened to as young punks, such as Slaughter and The Dogs, with band members of the more famous bands on first-name terms with the Vomit lads. Weird.

The most miraculous thing is they now actually write good songs — at least in the genre they’re in — that easily stand up to the best punk singles back in the day.

If we’d bought the opening track on the “present” CD, 21st Century News, back in 1980 from A&A’s crepe-lined shoebox of indie and punk singles, we’d have ranked it as good, and probably still have a soft spot for it. They’re not old geezers trying to recreate the glory days of punk with clichés and tired covers, they’re actually making ambitious new music that sounds fresh, while retaining the spirit of the early days.

In the new songs, the “present” CD, 21st Century News opens with the sound of the News At Ten theme, up to the point where the bongs come in, before a riff kicks in. The song’s got pace and melody, a catchy chorus and a verse that features a call and response from Lee Vomit and a backing singer.

Kill City Breakdown is also good, a riffier tune but with a catchy pre-chorus that lays the road for the shouty chorus, presumably one that the crowd can join in with.
Middle America is, like the opening song, another ambitious tune that avoids being standard verse/chorus repeat punk, and in a small section there’s a Stranglers influence (Straighten Out we think). A number of other good tracks follow — Dirty Toys, the reggae-tinged China White, Forgive, Forget — and the quality is high. There’s not really any filler, though a couple of songs —3rd World War, She Said He Said — are perhaps less convincing.

Last track New World Disorder ups the standard and closes with a flourish.

The new songs are accompanied by some older songs, all re-recorded, which show how Vomit have progressed as songwriters. The opening song on the “past” section is Society Breakdown — an enjoyable but formulaic punk song, as is the slightly angrier Fight For Your Life. They’re both songs that sound great live but less so at home.

Doesn’t Matter How Old You Are is also on this section, one of our favourite old Vomit songs, but sounding more ragged than the newer songs. (The CD closes with a nice ska mix of Doesn’t Matter).

Aside from enjoying the music, the progression of the band as songwriters can be seen. The early songs are a band more interested in playing live, but the new ones are more about song-writing for its own sake and show some real dedication to learning the craft.

We’d like to bet many of the bands they play with lack that dedication.

This is on sale at A&A Music in Congleton for £10 — a bargain for Vomit fans, and well worth the investment for anyone who likes old-fashioned punk.

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