The Outcasts- ‘Vive Lyon’ – Belfast punk at its best?

CD Review: THE OUTCASTS ”˜Vive Lyon’
Spit Records (GOB1)
Released March 2011 ”“ Available now”¦

Available from Spit Records

These days were all accustomed to differing musical genres and sub-genres, we get metal, death metal, speed metal, black metal, punk, anarcho-punk, techno punk the list goes on; another genre is often created by geography ”“ Remember all those compilations ”˜Avon Calling ”“ The Bristol Compilation’, ”˜Sent From Coventry’ etc and who (despite trying) could forget Madchester? Another such geographic genre was Northern Ireland punk, and it’s to this area that the newly formed Spit Records has been set up to service.

Spit is the brainchild of Sean O’Neil, the respected author of the definitive N. Ireland punk bible ”˜It makes You Want To Spit’ the aim of the label is simple; to release as many previously unreleased late 70’s and early 80’s recordings by N. Irelands punk and new wave bands as practically possible.

N. Ireland punk developed its own unique identity ”“ don’t forget the nascent punks of Belfast in 1977/78 had bigger things to worry about than if your T-shirt was from Sex or Boy, ”˜the troubles’ were an every day occurrence, and certainly prevented or at least scared off the mainland based bands from heading over there. As such N. Ireland punk was not as influenced by the sound of The Clash, Pistols etc the sound they created was primitive, basic rock ”˜n’ roll mixed with strong melodies and equally strong lyrics often based on the bands experiences during those politically fraught times.

The Outcasts ”˜Vive Lyon’ is the labels first release; and a timely one at that ”“ The Outcasts have reformed with the intention of playing literally a handful of dates throughout 2011. The CD as the title indicates, draws it’s material from two recordings of The Outcasts playing at The West Side Club, Lyon, France between Jan 1983 and Sept 1984 ”“ Quite how The Outcasts ended up playing regularly in all areas of France is detailed in the extensive 24pg sleeve booklet which features contributions from surviving members and previously unseen photographs etc.

What we get in total are 14 tracks of the band captured at perhaps their most proficient period, hence ”˜The Cops Are Coming’ an interesting tale concerning killing a girlfriend and then sleeping with the corpse, and ”˜Mania’ initially released a few years earlier ”“ both sound particularly powerful, and clearly benefit from the band becoming musically more accomplished; we also get ”˜Gangland Warfare’ which was previously available as a B-side on the bands solitary chart entry, thankfully we don’t get the A-side, a cover of The Glitter Bands ”˜Angel Face’ also notably absent is their best known track ”˜Self Conscious Over You’

The time period between the gigs is significant, but for some reason is not presented chronologically, tracks 1-9 coming from September 1984 ”“ a period in which the band themselves admit they were looking for new directions which included covering The Stooges ”˜1969′, tracks 10-14 are culled from January 1983 and are more of a traditional ”˜punk’ sound, they are faster, more instant and certainly show the band at their peak. The album is literally a snapshot, it captures a time period, and essentially a time before The Outcasts frankly lost their way.

The Outcasts were an important band, as evidenced by the fact that practically their entire back catalogue has been re-issued on CD ”“ seek out the Captain Oi! CD re-issue of their first album ”˜Self Conscious Over You’ initially released on the legendary Good Vibrations Records.

The very geography that helped shaped their sound however also contributed to their demise; despite the attention being on Good Vibrations brought them, despite the patronage of both John Peel and Janice Long, and the support from record labels such as Anagram (UK), New Rose (Fr) The Outcasts were reluctant to leave N. Ireland, they turned down a lucrative initial record deal as it would of involved relocation to London; home was N. Ireland and their motivation was to entertain the local punks, the band was an escape from the sectarianism that wrought havoc on their communities ”“ sadly that meant that the remainder of the world were not exposed to the band. Hopefully this release will go some of the way to address that.

It’s a live album, recorded some 27yrs ago, however all the tracks have been re-mastered, and transfer well onto CD; its limited to just 1000 copies, with the accompanying excellent booklet it’s a decent package, and hopefully is an early indicator of the level of care that Spit Records are going to put into each subsequent release. The label website suggests future releases by Rudi, Protex and The Moondogs, if that’s the case then Spit Records is a venture to keep an eye on”¦ perhaps the success of the label will encourage a reprint of the book to accompany the releases; we can hope.


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9 comments on “The Outcasts- ‘Vive Lyon’ – Belfast punk at its best?”

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  1. Big fan of The Outcasts, esp. the Self Conscious Over You LP, so definitely gonna get a copy of Vive Lyon. I see they are playing Rebellion, which i’d love to go to, but I think I’ll be away. Will they come to London, I wonder?

    Also excited to hear about the possibility of future releases by The Moondogs, Rudi and Protex. I love all that Belfast/Good Vibrations stuff. I have a copy of Shellshock Rock which I must dig out and watch again, and Protex, too. But not It Makes You Want To Spit – I must track that down (actually, just found a link on Vimeo:

    Good stuff, Toby

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