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METAL URBAIN- Paris Maquis 7″ (Rough Trade, UK, 1977)

metalurbain_front.jpgmetalurbain_back.jpgMost people don’t know that the first Rough Trade release was in fact from a french band – METAL URBAIN (who had released a self financed 7″ shortly before). And what a 7″ that is! Makes every other french band sound like the Beach Boys in comparison. Easily the best early french punk single. So menacing, so earnest. All the others sounded like kids – METAL URBAIN sounded like a bunch of fucking crazies. What makes this so incredibly great is that a 77 band sounded so post-punk already. This is what Jello Biafra has to say about the band and, ehm, himself (from the official website):
“I first knew of Metal Urbain when I saw their first single on display in a record shop in Paris as a traveling teenage hippie in 1977. There was no more room in my backpack so I did not buy it. But I wondered, what could it be…?
When I got back home to Colorado, I learned that the very same Metal Urbain single had found its way to America and my friend John Greenway (who later co-wrote “California Ãœber Alles”) already had a copy. John had the strangest, most non-rock taste of any of my friends and said I must hear this band immediately.
“Panik” on Side A was very angry punk, but not like any punk we’d ever heard before. I loved the screaming synth noises and the pissed-off French lyrics. I could not understand the French, but it completely destroyed the idea that the French could not rock because the language did not fit the music. Now French was a fiery punk weapon.
But the real shock was the B-side, “Lady Coca-Cola.” It was not really punk, more an attack of pure noise. Maybe a little Heldon/R. Pinhas, but more like being attacked by dentist’s drills coming out of the stereo—wow!
These guys weren’t just different, they were insane. I wonder what Jean-Michel Jarre fans thought of this.
In San Francisco, I found a short interview in the greatest of all punk ‘zines, Search and Destroy. “Panik” translated was more political and militant, even frightening, than most other ’77 punk bands. “Why do you sing in French?” “So the Americans can’t understand us.” I liked the attitude too.
More singles came: “Paris Maquis”, “Hysterie Connective”, each one better than the last. Metal Urbain was not just the outer edge of avant-punk, but a great rock and roll band. Hungry, we waited for the album, but it never came. Like many of the great punk pioneers, fire, emotion and conflict blew up the band way too soon.
Others picked up the torch and made France the only place in the world with a long tradition of drum-machine and electronic punk-rock bands. As far as I’m concerned, Charles de Goal, Kas Product, Ludwig von 88, and Berurier Noir, and even America’s Big Black owe their very existence to Metal Urbain.”

Now go and buy the bands CD and vinyls, when you find them. All their releases are great, though this is my fave. The band also released records under the name of METAL BOYS.

Paris Maquis.mp3
Clé de contact.mp3