The pioneering punk/new wave bands of Northern Ireland including the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers and Rudi didn’t just write great songs, they wrote great pop songs. Of course we didn’t appreciate it at the time but they didn’t just write pop songs for the moment, they wrote songs that stood the test of time.
Protex were one of best of that wave of bands, although the commercial success they’re deserved eluded them.
This is brilliant bouncy pop, ’60s harmonies on songs like Got Johnny, Place In Your Heart, Private Lines and I Can’t Cope have the members of the international punk clans rocking back and forth in their Docs and brother creepers in appreciation. Lots of the crowd can’t have been born when Protex first recorded these songs, but the young Brazilian punks who look they stepped out of Love And Rockets light up and sing along with Don’t Ring Me Up. The tall serious German punks nod along and even crack a smile.
While Protex wrote escapist pop back in the day, new songs like Walking On A Tightrope have a political edge. That represents progress, at the height of the Troubles every utterance from an Ulster band was judged as either too political or not political enough. It was a terrible trap for young bands, so it is heartening to see that for Protex the passing of the decades means greater creative freedom.
Long may their vocal harmonies and ringing pop tunes entertain us.