As the title may suggest, this compilation covers a very short space of time for this energetic songwriter, but one listen and you'll see that Jay Reatard has produced more quality material in one year than many bands get to in a life time. Jay Lindsey has been around for a while fronting various bands, but most notably The Reatards, which was actually just him alternating between vocals, guitars and a beat played out on an up-turned bucket. His recent solo work consists of one album, 2006's Blood Visions and a whole host of singles and EP's that are now out of print. So In The Red Records offer us this 17 song run through that collects together all these rare loose ends and the result is a startlingly consistent sonic clenched fist that repeatedly pounds your face for 38 minutes.
Opening track Night Of Broken Glass will let you know exactly what to expect from this collection as it launches in to screams and machine gun punk rock like a slightly polished Beastie Boys a la Heart Attack Man. Another Person is slightly more melodic, incorporating swirling synthesizers around the rapid drums and Reatard's voice that assumes an almost 80's New Wave monotone. The refreshing thing about Jay Reatard is that he never tries to do anything else but punk rock, but that's not to say that this collection lacks variety. Every song sounds like Jay Reatard but to write this off as a punch-in-the-face punk hammering would be wrong. Songs like I Know A Place and Hammer I Miss You keep a healthy pace but allow more percussion and melodic vocals with the latter evolving into a blanket tone of rising group vocals that seem remarkably majestic. Don't Let Him Come Back rides on a Monkey's-like rhythm section and is quite pedestrian by Reatard's standards.
But then, by contrast, you get the twin assault running down the middle of the record beginning with It's So Useless. Sounding like a possessed Marc Bolan, Reatard creates a near perfect punk song with the chorus being shrieked in time to crashing cymbals gladly recalling my Sham 69 days. All Wasted is slightly less abrasive but manages to merge the New Wave monotone with So Useless' catchy chorus, this time ending with the repeated chant of "All zombies are wasted, all zombies are useless to me."
For all its might and pace this is well crafted and slightly over polished punk rock. I may have described it as a clenched fist but I wouldn't be surprised if the fist had well manicured nails, maybe with glam-polish and relatively soft skin. Reatard's voice is very melodic no matter how much he tries to hide it. You do start to cry out for more short, sharp bursts like It's So Easy or Blood Visions with their classic punk urgency and pogo capabilities. This collection is less Black Flag and more Pop Levi, but at the same time he gives you enough indication that if it came to it he'd kick Levi's ass in a punch up. But if this doesn't satisfy your Reatard cravings then look no further. Having recently found his home at Matador, we lucky people get another round up of Reatard with the imaginatively titled "Matador Singles '08" compilation hitting stores on October 6th. The two compilations should undoubtedly show this guy as an artist of unrivaled energy and enthusiasm who seems physically unable to stop spewing out quality rock at an alarming rate.