Thursday, August 29, 2013

REVIEW: Venom P. Stinger - 1986 - 1991

Seminal Australian punk rockers Venom P. Stinger are finally getting the reissue treatment they deserve.  The band, which featured Mick Turner (guitar) and Jim White (drums), who formed two thirds of the Dirty Three, Dugald McKenzie (vocals), and Alan Secher-Jensen (bass).  Playing a frenetic, hardcore version of punk characterized by rolling drums, twisted guitar licks, propulsive, rubbery bass and McKenzie's shouted/spoken vocal style, they seemed to me to be as much a multi-sensory experience as purveyors of songs.  Is is just me, or do the rest of you experience punk in the gut as well as your ears?

The 1986 - 1991 collection is via Drag City, and collects all of the band's vinyl releases from the referenced period on CD for the first time.  For the musical historians, the material includes all of the tracks from the Meet My Friend Venom and What's Yours is Mine LPs, the Walking About 7" and the Waiting Room EP.  In my view, the album collects all of the essential VPS material, as it covers the period for which McKenzie was the vocalist.  One hears and feels the energy, and senses the sweat.  As far as I'm concerned, if you are going to pick only one hardcore punk band, Venom P. Stinger is the intelligent choice, and 1986 - 1991 is a gift.  And listening to it, the essential genius of Venom P. Stinger becomes apparent.  The musicians really could play, and were more disciplined and structured than may have readily been apparent.  The music went to the edge, but never over the edge.  And there was a lot of very inspired performances under the noise.  This will be one of my favorite reissues of the year.

I think the best way to present VPS' work for your evaluation is via live performances.  Here are clips of two of the songs on the album, performed in the studio of Melbourne public television in 1988 --

"What's Yours Is Mine", the title track for one of the band's LPs --

Drag City

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