This CD is a monster, comparable only to the 2 CD Lilliput comp Kill Rock Stars released a few years ago, which was anticipated by fans as highly as this comp. Combined with the recent bout of shows Métal Urbain have played, the timing of this release is many years too late, but great to have nonetheless.
Métal Urbain were a 1977 Paris punk band that used synth/drum machine/2 guitars/French vocals to incredible effect on three 7inch singles before they broke up.
Métal Urbain were the first ever release of Rough Trade Records, with their second single Paris Maquis. Their third single Hysterie Connective was on the short-lived Radar Records, which Jake Riviera started after he left Stiff Records.
In 2004 you can look back and see how Steve Albini appropriated parts of their sound for Big Black, or you can laugh at the cartoon villain extreme vocals, but in 1977 people who heard this band liked them very much.
Métal Urbain were as extreme as the NYC band The Mad, whose I Hate Music was on Killed By Death #1. They were just as wonderful as another little known French band of the time, Stinky Toys.
Métal Urbain did not dilute themselves in any manner. They sang in French, they came off as terrorists, or at the very least anarchists, and they made music that sounded different than anything else, with slogans that stuck in your head. When you listen to Paris Maquis you can't help but shout out "Fasciste!" with the band.
Some of the tracks sound joyous, such as their third single Hysterie Connective. The band was not too serious to be fun.
This compilation contains 24 tracks - everything they ever recorded. There was a posthumous record in 1980, then a later double LP collection, then a revised repressing of the first collection, along with the 3 singles they released when together.
To this sum output the compilers have added alternative versions and unreleased tracks. Best of all, none of it is junk. If you listen to the MP3 in the right column of this review and like it, you will enjoy the whole disc.
Highlights of the disc for me are Panik, Paris Maquis, Lady Coca Cola, Clé de Contact, Ghetto, 50/50 and Colt 45.
Interesting is the cover of Train Kept a Rollin. Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'n' Roll Trio first released the track on Coral Records in 1956. Later, Yardbirds and Aerosmith did covers which cemented the song in the consciousness of a generation forever. The Métal Urbain cover has echo and a rockabilly feel. It is reverent to the original and is a pretty cool interpretation of the classic.
If you like first wave punk and have not heard this band, buy this disc now.