The Disco Zombies compilation Drums Over London is one of the more surprising albums to be reviewing in 2011. Having released a couple of singles in the late 70s to mass indifference and poor record sales they’re more obscure than an 8 track in a pimped up gangsta wagon. But, thanks to those musical historians at Acute Records, The Disco Zombies have been rescued from obscurity for a new generation to explore.

The band are perhaps best known (although in this case ‘best known’ is a relative term) for their controversial single ‘Drums Over London’ from which the compilation takes it’s name. With lyrics that could have been co-written by Alf Garnett and Enoch Powell or taken direct from a Daily Mail editorial it adopts the persona of a racist, right wing, little Englander, a risky move in the days of Rock Against Racism and the rise of the National Front. In these more politically sensitive times it is even more open to misinterpretation, misrepresentation and misunderstanding than it was over 30 years ago. Its ability to shock remains as strong today as it was back then and, given the recent riots, it’s re-emergence couldn’t have been more poorly timed. Hearing lyrics like “And then you have the Indians replacing our doctors and factory owners. Who do they think they are they’re taking us over” in 2011 chills the blood. Morrissey got crucified for much, much less.

The first two thirds of the album is unsophisticated quasi-humorous topical punk pop taken from their rare 7” singles, which hasn’t dated well. It’s been done much better, wittier and more intelligently by Half Man Half Biscuit and Art Brut. Their ‘Top Of The Pops’ is a poor man’s imitation of the Rezillos classic of the same name, ‘TV Screen Existence’ sounds like a low budget Television Personalities tuning up and ‘Target Practice’ just sounds like pub rockers jumping on the punk bandwagon.

Towards the end of the album an altogether artier and sophisticated sound emerges culminating in album closer, ‘Where Have You Been Lately Tony H’, which sounds like the missing link between Half Man Half Biscuit and The Teardrop Explodes. It’s the best track on the album and probably the only track that I’ll be listening to again and again.

Disco Zombies are little more than a very minor footnote in the history of British punk, more notable for spawning an editor of Mojo, Dave Henderson, than the music they produced.