The Outcasts: 1978-85 review – Irish punks who earned their name

Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 05:00

   
 

Album:
1978-’85

Artist:
The Outcasts

Label:
Captain Oi! Records

Genre:
Alternative

So how exactly does one of Ireland’s best punk bands end up as a footnote instead of a chapter? Perhaps The Outcasts were simply unluckier or more poorly advised than other music acts of their time? Whatever the reason, this three-disc gathering of their recorded output – two albums, one mini-album – tells a valuable if solemn tale of a spark turning into a flame and then spluttering out.

The best album is their debut, Self Conscious Over You, released on the mighty Good Vibrations label in 1978, and featuring the kind of rough-edged pop-punk that cajoled as much as lurked. Love Is for Sops, You’re a Disease, the title track, The Cops Are Comin’ and Justa Nother Teenage Rebel (included here as a bonus track), drew attention to the band’s scrappy, confrontational style. Despite their best intentions, however, The Outcasts were no pop-punk stylists, and within a few years were releasing roughed-up cover versions (The Glitter Band’s Angel Face, David Bowie’s Five Years) and displaying belligerent edges to original songwriting (Machine Gun, Gangland Warfare).

Between creative misguidance, business mistakes and personal tragedy (original member, Colin Cowan, one of three brothers in the band, died in a car crash in the early 1980s), they drifted too far to be rescued. For a fistful of songs, however, there was surely no better Irish punk band.