The Contractions (I don’t know why there is no “The” on the cover, but everything I can find on them has “The”) were an all-female punk trio from San Francisco featuring Mary Kelley (guitar & vocals), Kathy Peck (bass & vocals) and Debbie Hopkins (drums & backup vocals). They were active for five years, from 1979-1984, during which time they played with punk royalty such as Dead Kennedys, 999, The Cramps, Circle Jerks, Dickies and many more (all helpfully listed on their website). The album itself is mostly taken from two live recordings at the same venue in 1980, plus one tracks from a single and two more from the lone-deleted album ‘Something Broke’.

When one starts playing this the initial reaction is that here is just another over the top obnoxious punk band out to make a noise and take the audience with them on a wave of energy and sweat. But when one starts paying attention one starts to realise this was a group of good musicians who were fooling people into thinking they could not play. There is no doubt that Debbie Hopkins is one of the most dynamic drummers in the scene, coming across as someone who is never satisfied with just providing the beat but is always looking to add to the overall sound. In “Magazine Phobia” we get rolls, toms, different shuffles, and attacks, all in under three minutes. Kathy also has the approach of playing all over the neck, showing plenty of counter melodies as well as keeping it tight when needed, while Mark drives the music in multiple different directions. I admit to not being a massive connoisseur of the classic punk scene as I was fully into metal during this period, but I must admit to being somewhat surprised at not coming across them before this as this is punk being driven by musicians who are able to adapt to the genre they want to perform. The live recordings do sound somewhat dated, but they give a great feeling of the time, the result being an album that fans of punk will do well to discover.

Rating: 7/10