Orwell probably held more currency as a reference for punk rock when 1984 was in the headlights rather than a speck in the rear view mirror. It has certainly been a while since we observed a Rewrite Squad or an O'Brien and the Newspeak Dictionaries on a gig flier, but we can't really blame the kids for not relating to a dystopian future set ten years before they were born. Or, as Severed Heads/Terse Tapes main man Tom Ellard observed recently at the Sydney Festival, in the age of Facebook perhaps everyone's cool with Big Brother now. It wasn't always the way. The Thought Criminals of course excelled at deft Orwellian references - besides the obvious, the band pilfered Nineteen Eighty-Four for its label name, production credits, song titles and cover imagery. Similarly inspired but less comprehensive - and, Bloodstains Across Australia notwithstanding, less widely heard - are Melbourne's Proles.
Proles was a popular choice of moniker for punk bands of the late '70s and early '80s, and fittingly, the Melbourne version sounds a tad less distinctive than their like-minds-in-thought-crimes north of the border. Taken under the collective wing of News (a big brother band, so to speak), their influence is obvious not only musically and lyrically, but also in the packaging of the Proles' one and only single - screen printed sleeve and label blanks, albeit with a less ambitious design than News' Chop Chop Chop/Fuck Fuck Fuck 45. Police is our pick of the two tracks, following the News template of driving punk with neatly melodic guitar lines. Though not blessed with a guitar player as inventive as News' Jarryl Wirth, nor with Wirth's speaker-shredding fuzz, Police still packs plenty of power and is remarkably catchy to boot. It is paired with Underaged, essentially Banned From The Pubs as written by 15 year olds, and set to a more subdued (but still cool) musical backing.
On this single, the Proles were: Mark Chrisfield (vocals); Paul Greuders (bass, backing vocals); and brothers Darren (guitar, backing vocals) and Wayne Smith (drums). Alas, no Winstons. The band existed from September 1977 to February 1979, and though the single was recorded in the months prior the band's break-up, it was only released posthumously at the turn of the decade. Copies in circulation at that time have the sleeve/label construction mentioned and pictured above, while those from a later quantity find lack the screen printed sleeve (some come with a recent photocopy) and have a printed and pasted on label design (below). Darren Smith would later surface in the Zorros, whose single on Au-Go-Go we will revisit in due course.
|Copies sold in the '90s had stickers pasted on the labels.|
|Insert, included in all copies.|