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The Dark: Chemical Warfare

Well-deserved compilation of UK punkers’ singles and 1982 LP.

The Dark Chemical Warfare album cover

While much of the noise once generated under the punk banner now sounds thin and dated, the singles and sole album released by Islington’s The Dark between 1979-82 (all captured here) explored political subjects with barbed humour, along with a passion to progress beyond the time-honoured savaging of Stooges riff blueprints.

Tracks such as The Chemical Parade and Bullet From A Gun churn with subtly shaded buzzsaw attack, laying into Thatcher’s arrogant warpath and, on The Ballad Of John Wayne, Reagan’s oppressive buffoonery in America. The braying saxophones on French Toys caught the band’s desire to explore new elements, which also include presaging goth on The Masque (which boasted future Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle).

If songs like On The Wires, Be A Man and surf-style Hawaii Five-O now sound like quaintly nostalgic snapshots, much of this well-deserved collection succinctly positions The Dark above the bellowing anarcho bog-brush with which they’ve been inevitably tarred.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!