Scrapheap Challenge

This is a compilation DVD from Brighton based SCRAP Records, which features numerous bands from the punk/alternative and underground scene. Most of the bands are British based but it also features bands from as far afield as Russia, New Zealand and the USA and promises to be a good insight into an often overlooked part of the music scene.

There are two ways of approaching this DVD, if you come at it purely from a musical point of view you're going to be largely disappointed. There are some good bands on here, most notably Russian band Theodor Bastard, who combine a nice dark animated video with haunting vocals over an industrial/electronica soundtrack. Missing Teeth provide the first decent musicianship with a live performance video that displays some decent hardcore punk that is only bettered by K-Line, who are by far the most musically proficient and contribute a catchy, more US style hardcore track coupled with a montage of live footage. Dead Silence provide the only other highlight with an interesting mix of rap/dub that whilst far more interesting than The Streets doesn't have the same impact as Senser, competent and catchy nonetheless.

The rest of the bands are average at best, from the apocalyptic skiffle of the Dead Plants (who feature a bizarre mechanical horse in the video!), to the seemingly pointless Ren and the really rather poor Pink Pork Chops who play badly, have terrible lyrics but do win the award for the most swear words in the first ten seconds of a song! The really notable contribution comes from 2000DS (DS standing for Dirty Squatters), who I last heard of on the Travellers Aid Trust album back in 1988 (I think?). I'm rather surprised they're still around as they're certainly not the most musically talented of groups but this is where the whole point lies; the whole scene that the majority of these bands grew out of wasn't based around great musicianship, the tunes didn't have to be great as long as there were tunes! Back in the dark days of the 1980's when the travellers and squatters were regularly getting trashed by the local constabulary there was a vibrant underground music scene that refused to lie down and give in, bands set up and played in woods, abandoned houses, laybys and anywhere else they could get away with until they got busted. That's the way you have to approach this DVD, as a collection of bands that share this ideal, it's all about getting people together and having fun and you simply can't fault that!

That said it would be more interesting as a compilation CD (such as the Scrap Punk Compilation) as aside from the live footage the videos are low budget, more often than not home produced affairs that really don't make for compelling viewing. The promo at the end for volume two of this series suggests that there are some decent bands to come but I can't imagine that too many people outside of the immediate scene are going to sit through it more than once, whereas they may well extract the best parts of a CD to listen to again.

A dying breed they may be but it's good to see that there are still people out there prepared to stand up and do their own thing in the name of peace, freedom and their own brand of anarchy.