For anyone not too familiar with G.B.H, I will briefly give some background history about them:
GBH formed in Birmingham, England in the late seventies under their original name Charged G.B.H
. The band name was derived from the British legal term Grievous Bodily Harm
. They eventually dropped the charged
of their name and were then known simply as GBH. The original band members include singer Colin "Col" Abrahall with Colin "Jock" Blyth on guitar, Ross Lomas on Bass, and their first drummer Andrew Williams. All of the members with the exception of Williams are still with the band today. The band recorded a number of singles, EPs, and demo tapes but weren't yet signed to a record label prior to this album. They were eventually signed to Clay Records, to record this very influential debut album, City Baby Attacked By Rats
, consisting of thirteen songs. Shortly after the release of this album this album, they compiled a bunch of singles onto an album which was entitled Leather, Bristles, No Survivors, and Sick Boys...
. Six of the songs from there would later appear on the reissue of this album as the last six on the album. GBH is still around today making them one of the longest lasting and influential punk rock bands around. Although the band has stayed away from mainstream publicity, their song Crush 'Em
from their 2002 album Ha Ha
appeared in the Tony Hawk Underground game soundtrack.
The bands ability to fuse together hardcore, punk, hard rock and metal made them standout along side bands like The Exploited. They became known as one of the leaders and pioneers of second generation of UK punk, often referred to as UK82 or 'Street Punk'. This record and first proper full length disc City Baby Attacked By Rats
was released in 1982 and saw them gain a fan base in England but weren"t heard of yet in the U.S.A. It wasn"t until their next release, 1984's City Baby's Revenge
where they began to tour in the United States and started to get recognized internationally in the punk scene. This album was released to critical acclaim be the people on the scene but not everywhere because of the explicit lyrical content. This album shows them in their prime and rawest form. Their use of heavy guitar riffs make their influences of metal shine though while their straight forward and simple two minute to two and a half minute energetic songs showed their punk influences too. The recording here was better than I expected considering it wasn't produced on a big label with a lot of funds. In practically every song, all the instruments are clearly audible, and there is little to no over dubbing to make for a nice, raw sound.
City Baby Attacked By Rats
doesn't have the most diversity in it, as the majority of the songs do follow the same basic formula, that being just fast aggressive straight up punk rock with touches of thrash. In most songs, it starts with a clean guitar riff until the heavy riff and drums overlap. That's not to say that it is a bad thing though. They stick to what they know here and do well and they use it to its full potential. But with a first listen, some songs may be hard to distinct from one another, but with further listening, each is its own song and has its own characteristics. Colin Blyth plays an excellent role on lead guitar. His heavy and powerful crunching riffs work very well and give each one an energetic feel to it. He doesn't play very many solos however, as GBH would not be used the most until their later work starting in the late 80's. The closest thing to a technical solo here is the intro to the thirteenth track Bellend Bop
. Some of his heaviest riffs are clearly portrayed in songs like Maniac
and Gunned Down
. Ross Lomas is a good bassist, although many times his work tends to get overshadowed by the guitar portion. It can be heard, but very faintly. While Andrew Williams was with the band, this album included, he did a solid job. Though most times he plays nothing too complex, in songs like Prayer Of A Realist
and Passenger On The Menu
he shows his ability to do very fast drum rolls and keep up with the guitar riffs. Colin Abrahall has a harsh, aggressive voice that suits the music perfectly, although he doesn't scream to often which I like. He always sings like he is giving it his all which makes the songs feel even more up tempo.
The lyrical content covers a number of different subjects. When this was released, some lyrics here have often been called violent, vulgar, or crass and sounds as though some could have been inspired from A Clockwork Orange
, but these are only in a select few songs here. I don't mind them, however. There are no direct political lyrics here, as they didn't really get into that content until later records. GBH do however tackle many issues such as war, economical problems and religion. The third track here, Wardogs
deals with war and troops, hence the title, with lyrics in the last verse like "We'll get your country out of any crisis, as long as you can meet our prices; We just kill and then get out, March into battle hear us shout"
. They share their religious thoughts on the song Prayer Of A Realist
as Colin sings in the first verse "There's no one up there, there never was; Only in vain is there a God; There's too much suffering for him to be"
. When I mentioned vulgar earlier I was mostly referring to the song Passenger On The Menu
which has some gruesome lyrics about with cannibalism. The second verse reads "Malnutrition was setting in, they needed protein and a will to win; Cannibalism the only way, the logical answer to live another day"
. The lyrics here are actually well written though, as the majority of the album, but songs like Slut
contain some pretty crude lyrics. But if you look beyond the lyrics, the song is actually well done. Other tracks like Maniac
, Gunned Down
, and I Am The Hunted
give off violent imagery that sounds like something the Misfits could have sang. The last two tracks on the album; Boston Baby
and Bellend Bop
are well written and are written from personal experiences of a night out. I know most of these tracks weren't really intended as lyrics being the main focus but I feel they play a big part in the music.
Although I mentioned that some songs may sound similar with a first or second listen, there are a number of standout songs. The album opener Time Bomb
immediately sets the tone of the record. Featuring a blaring guitar riff over the sound of a bomb ticking, the song is very heavy and tells you what you're in for. It compiles all these elements in a minute and a half. The album starts off very strong as the second song Sick Boy
lives up to the expectations of the previous one. They do seem very same sounding, however, with the use of the group vocals in the chorus. Gunned Down
is one of my favorites here as well one of the most metal sounding. The vocals here are more harsh than usual and the song just seems louder. It has some of the best guitar work here too. Heavy Discipline
seems as though it will be a less heavy song with the softer intro, but that all changes about 15 seconds in until the fierce riff comes in along with Colin's abrasive vocals. The title track here is another definite highlight. The assaulting drums over the thunderous and fast guitar riff makes this one complete. The song is played extremely fast and the drums are done exceptionally well. Bellend Bop
was the closer on the original recording and almost seems out of place at a whopping five minutes, seeing as no other songs surpass the three minute mark. It has a mini guitar solo intro before the riff comes in. The song is very up tempo and remains that way throughout with only short bass and guitar interludes separating it from one continuous heavy song. Needless to say, it is a fitting end to an excellent album. Now if you have pick up the reissue which is most likely, an extra five tracks of early GBH are included as well as the single version of Sick Boy
, which is a nice touch but makes the album more expensive. The songs don't vary too different from the previous ones, but are equally well done. Self Destruct
is probably the better of the bonus songs here, the guitar solo making it stand out from the rest.
GBH's debut album, City Baby Attacked By Rats
is an important album for the hardcore punk genre. The album remains a standout and is essential in the band's big discography. Even though albums like these aren't known for their diversity; it is the really the only major con. I would recommend picking up or at least give a listen to this if you are a fan of classic punk music, hardcore, even metal or just punk in general. This would also be a good album to start if you are new to the band.
City Baby Attacked By Rats
I Am The Hunted