The Ex: Singles. Period. The Vinyl Years 1980-1990

The Ex
Singles. Period. The Vinyl Years 1980-1990
Touch and Go

The notion that a band could be truly radical, that their music and methods could be their dissent-in-motion, is the notion that sold most of us on punk rock in the first place. It's an idea that, 4 or 11 or 24 years later, is understood as wishful thinking, even on our least cynical days. So the thought that there might be a band, a great band, who practice what they preach (rather than yell righteous slogans congratulating the converted), and have grown increasingly progressive and inspired over 27 years, well, we might as well be talking about the time Prince rode into your backyard, naked, on the back of Pegasus, to get back his copy of The Road Less Traveled.

Compiling their first decade of singles--A and B sides--previously available only in Holland or the U.K. with the release of Singles. Period. The Vinyl Years 1980-1990, Dutch punk stalwarts the Ex remind us of what's possible, remind us that, save for their American counterparts Fugazi, all other bands are weak-willed sellouts, hopelessly adrift in capitalist bilge water. While the Ex may have blasted into the world with standard-issue early-punk fare such as the anti-commodification rant "Human Car" and early tracks such as "Gonna Rob the Spermbank," which could have been a proto death-disco classic, hew to the Gang of Four model. But by 1981's "Weapons for El Salvador," we see the shape of their punk to come: lumbering, dueling basses; primal, tom-heavy drumming; staccato guitar spikes; and singer G.W. Sok, ever the wisecracking pamphleteer, shouting above the elastic din. And as the collection progresses--see, for one, "Enough Is Enough," their collaboration with Kurdish-exile band Awara--the band can only be said to sound like the Ex, an incendiary device, packed with hope, exploding in a beautiful frenzy.

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