Longevity was not a common trait for bands in the first wave of British punk. It’s not surprising, considering amateurism was an important part of the aesthetic of punk, while careerism was scoffed at. 999 initially seemed to go that route, coming to an end after a handful of albums and one classic single, ”Homicide.” Yet after a short break up, 999 would reform, and this new era is the focus of 999: The Albums 1987–2007, the second volume of a box set series compiling their official recordings.
1987s Lust, Power, and Money, the band’s first official live album, kicks off the set. It is a well thought out overview of the band’s first ten years, offering up blistering takes on such career highlights as “Feelin’ Alright With The Crew,” “Emergency,” as well as their hit, “Homicide.” Although this set primarily focuses on material from their first three albums, they do offer some equally quality new numbers, “Obsession,” “On The Line,” and the title track. It’s a fine testament to the powerhouse of a live act 999 had become. It also marked the beginning of what would become something of a cottage industry for live 999 albums, as their discography is littered with well over a dozen live albums of various quality and legality that document both their glory days and their later years.
Considering their focus on being a live act, it isn’t surprising that it wasn’t until 1993 that they reentered the studio, nor is it surprising that the three albums span 14 year time period. You Us It! arrived in 1993, at a time when punk rock suddenly had much more visibility, and what makes the album so thrilling is hearing just how contemporary it sounded, with scorchers like “Black Flowers For The Bride” and “Big Fast Car” holding their own with the best moments of their earlier work. Takeover followed in 1997, with their most recent studio album Death In Soho coming a decade later, both of which finding Nick Cash and company in fine form.
Unsurprisingly, 999 is still an active touring band, one of the few from the first generation of punk to still be going strong while retaining most of its original members. 999: The Albums 1987–2007 is a fine document of the later years of one of punk’s more underrated bands.