External Menace – Coalition Blues album (Dirty Punk Records)
UK punk band External Menace have been going since 1979. On their Facebook page they describe themselves as being “All in our mid 40s ‘n’ fuckin past it!!!” One of their contemporaries, Louder Than War writer Joe Whyte, begs to differ as he reviews a recently released compilation of the band’s best tracks – & concludes they’re stone cold classics one & all.
Just a little bit of context to this album review, so please bear with me!
Back in the late 70’s I lived in Airdrie and the neighbouring town was Coatbridge. Both are about 10 miles from Glasgow and like many of the small towns across the UK they were fertile punk breeding grounds.
I was in a band called End Result and Coatbridge had The L-Plates who were, I guess, our rivals. I reckon they thought we were a bit soft and arrogant (we were) and we were a bit scared of them as they were actually from the streets whereas we just played at it.
Anyway, the L-Plates evolved into External Menace with quite a bit of success before imploding. My band just imploded.
Their story is tinged with tragedy as original singer Wullie Hamill was killed in a road accident a few years into their ascent.
After a couple of cracking releases and tours they finally called it a day before reconvening in the 90’s with new frontman Welshy well established.
This new release rounds up a remastered collection of their best stuff and sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.
Sneddy’s guitar is something of a punk masterclass with searing lead lines interspersed with fiery power chording.
There’s little respite throughout and I was reminded of External Menace’s love for SLF and The Clash on seeing them way back then. There is, however, a huge melodic slant to much of the material and Someday, which opens the album (from 1982), is a hard act to follow.
Main Street Riot, which I know from personal experience is based on a real-life tussle with the cops during Coatbridge’s Family Fair Day. The song itself is a furious, adrenalised rush. Not unlike the events it’s describing.
Ah, those were the days…..
Youth Of Today has a real bittersweet taste to it’s excoriating riffing and popping drums. It has a Ramones energy and some neat soloing atop bass that weaves in and out of the song.
Shocktrooper (with Sneddy in one of his occasional vocal stints) has a little bit of Spiral Scratch Buzzcocks and a big bit of the Dolls in it’s glammy, lo-fi energy. Again, it’s a song filled with more hooks than Matt Hayes’ tackle box and the life just springs out of the grooves.
Closing with their self-titled anthem rounds the album off nicely; Hamill’s screamed verses at odds with the smart chorus. The musicianship throughout the album is sheer quality despite the velocity of most of the songs. They should have been huge.
External Menace were (and are) a real class above a lot of the competition back then & now and this beautifully packaged album is a fantastic legacy to them.
External Menace are playing their first show in years at Rebellion this year.
Don’t miss them.
You can find External Menace on Facebook HERE.
All words by Joe Whyte. More of Joe’s writing can be found at his author’s archive.