Total Chaos - 17 Years of Chaos

Seems like a bizarre anniversary to commemorate, but 17 Years of … Chaos offers a career overview of a band who had a vision and have pretty much stuck with it ever since. Inspired by the British punk bands of the early 1980s, Total Chaos are the kind of band that it's easy to take the piss out of: with the bog-brush haircuts and studded jackets it looks as if they stepped right out of a tourist postcard from 1984.

"Riot City" from their 1994 album Pledge of Defiance may just be their defining moment, a Discharge/GBH-style blast with an amusing anti-solo in the middle that still sounds as exciting now as it did then. From there on in it doesn't vary that much but the band benefit from the beefed-up production modern recording allows. "Lost Boys" sounds like Angelic Upstarts and the tracks that move away from their basic formula to more of a street/'drunk punk' style are less interesting. There are a few fun moments, like "DUI" with its acoustic (!) intro ('Drunk! Unemployed! Incarcerated!') and "Riot 77", its misty-eyed reminiscence being an oddly consistent theme through a lot of genre.

There's probably something inherently wrong with a band like Total Chaos, their retro-isms mirroring exactly the Teds we used to laugh at as kids, trying to recapture the 50s with their quiffs and drapes. But then a lot of punk was about fashion and not giving a chuff and doing exactly what you wanna do. And if you wanna drink beer and just knock out some fast and angry music and not care about what others think, then that's maybe still a pretty punk thing to do.



out of 10
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