Various Rough Trade Shops: Post Punk Vol. 01

At once defiant and submissive, belligerent and keenly focused, celebratory and funereal, post-punk (for lack of a better descriptor) was the most life-evincing music yet produced by a blossoming indie culture that was only beginning to feel its power. This monolithic 44-track collection of tracks from the late ’70s and early ’80s — plus some of its 21st century progeny — is overwhelming: the sound of young people sparked into creativity by punk, but drawing from a palette of colours (reggae, funk, free jazz) that extends far beyond the monochromatic four-chord rock of the Pistols and the Clash circa 1977. The British have the upper hand in terms of both agitprop (the Pop Group, Scritti Politti) and dry humour (Family Fodder, the Flying Lizards’ hilariously uptight cover of "Sex Machine”) but the Yanks most reliably bring the groove (ESG, Liquid Liquid). Trainspotters could nitpick about crucial exclusions, of course, but in terms of a historical document and a mix tape for the party of the winter of your discontent, this feels like one of the greatest compilations ever made. (Mute)