Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hard-ons - Smell My Finger & Dickcheese (1986/88, 2 CD reissues 2012, Citadel) - A critique.

Right from the get go.  The name of the band is the Hard-Ons.  If that alone wasn't enough the group monikered one of their album's Dickcheese.  And to go one (or two, and even more) better, songs dubbed "Suck and Swallow" and "Everytime I do a Fart" were enshrined onto vinyl and compact disk by said band in perpetuity.  So how did three easily-mistaken-for-surfers/metalheads from Sydney, Australia mange to lower the lowbrow bar even further south and in the process become the bestselling independent artist of their era in the land of Oz?   Well, that just might be impossible to fathom unless you took the time to acquaint yourselves with the music of this prolific and long-running punk/hardcore trio, who by and large weren't as gratuitously puerile and ribald as those aforementioned record titles might suggest.  I know, it may be taken a quantum leap of faith for some of you to wander into the seemingly grungy, puss-ridden world the Hard-Ons inhabit but it just might be to your loss if you don't - especially via the gateway of several maxi-padded out double CD reissues that have recently made the round on Australia's venerable Citadel Records.  

Comprised of three high school mates, Peter "Blackie" Black (vox, gits), Ray Ahn (bass) and Keish de Silva, the trio was easily enough taken by punk rock tradewinds blowing in from the west - Sex Pistols, Ramones, et al in the late '70s, and incorporated the Hard-Ons in 1981.  It took another four years before they got around to releasing records, starting with '85's "Surfin' On My Face" 7," and not far behind the eight-song mini-LP Smell My Finger.  Surprisingly consistent and disciplined, the record boasts rugged punk/metal salvos in the guise of "Lollipop" and "Dancing Girls" alongside the negligibly more melodic "Buddies," foreshadowing the penchant to follow on their splendid Yummy! record.   Following the eight ...Finger tunes is their 1987 follow-up Hot For Your Love cobbled together with songs tracked between 1985-87, housing covers of  The Choir's garage classic, "It's Cold Outside," and the all too common "Rock and Roll All Nite."  Disk one is rounded out by all eight sides from the Hard On's first four singles, including "Surfin'" and my personal fave, "Girl in the Sweater."  To give you some sonic perspective, at this point in the game the band had some serious parallels with sardonic Yankee punks White Flag...and naturally, the Ramones.  Disk two of this lovingly packaged and annotated reissue features live performances from 1984-86 and several demos from the same era, which will be of particular interest to die-HARD (get it?) fans, not so much casual observers.

The "difficult" third album, Dickcheese, sounds more like it should have been the debut - loose, raucous and raw, more so than just about anything occupying the SMF reissue.  Even with a wealth of liner notes in the booklet to draw on, I'm not sure what would account for that, but bruising shredders like "Something About You" and "There Was a Time" managed to tuck in a few hooks amidst the unremitting flurry of power chords.  Issued in 1988, Dickcheese was a varied beast as well, offering the thirty second "Fuck Society," and the not much lengthier blitzkrieg "Yuppies Suck," both of which were modeled on American hardcore punk, at least according to my ears anyway.  This platter is a turbulent, thrashy barnburner, packed with more spastic energy and sophomoric humor per square inch than possibly anything else in the cherished Hard-Ons oeuvre.  Disk one of this teaming reissue is rounded out by the "Busted"/"Suck 'n Swallow" 45 and four songs contributed to a split 10" ep with British tour-mates the Stupids.  The bonus CD is decked out with material from four live concerts contemporary to Dickcheese, all with reasonably good audio quality I might.

Both of these double disk reissues contain roughly 60 songs, with spruced up remastering and detailed dissertations from the Hard-ons themselves, packed with vintage photos.  They're available direct from Citadel Mailorder, Red Eye or Amazon.  Check out iTunes as well.  Below you'll find a four-song sampler of some of the songs discussed here.  Stay tuned for more Hard-ons reviews in the not too distant future!

From Smell My Finger reissue
Girl in the Sweater (demo)

From Dickcheese reissue
Something About You
It's Cold Outside (live)


Unknown said...

I chose Girl In The Sweater for a lip sync competition in high school. It wasn't appreciated. Good times!

Bruce K. said...

Well, they certainly had a knack for band name and album titles!

spavid said...

Still not as creative as Guided by Voices!