Sunday 28 August 2011

Rejected - First Offence 7" EMI Custom PRS-13775, 1985

To paraphrase Buddy Rich by way of Frank Costanza: Australian hardcore...this is not our kind of hardcore. We'll leave it to scholars of the genre to compile the definitive '80s hardcore punk world rankings, but Australia's output sits well behind that of heavyweights like the US, Sweden and Japan. Better than France? Not as good as Germany? Whatever our position in the league table, it's hardly a source of national pride.

There are exceptions of course, and some gems to be found among cassette releases, but in general the vinyl landscape of Australian hardcore is bleak. Some of this stuff has seemingly developed cachet in certain circles, but as support for our prejudices, we'll direct you to the back-catalogues of Cleopatra and Reactor Records as the last word in mediocrity. Not all of it is bad, necessarily, but at best it's undistinguished. In some cases the records simply haven't aged well; in others, it's clear that there wasn't much going on to begin with. And then there's the Crucified Truth EP, which flat-out sucks no matter how you slice it.

So what's so special about The Rejected, then? Well, at first glance, not much. Their First Offence EP from 1985, a 300-press EMI Custom job, is blighted by two elements guaranteed to sink any hardcore record: bad (i.e. good) production and cheater-beats. The clarity of the recording is problematic across the board, restraining the songs from achieving the requisite level of urgency, but it's Personal Gain and You Don't Care which are the main offenders in the cheater-beat stakes - drumming lost in the no-man's-land between traditional hardcore polka rhythms and blast-beats, minus the propulsion of the former and the BPM of the latter. Copper, which closes out the record, is Plod by name and plod by nature, and does little to redeem proceedings.

What is significant about First Offence is its use of the D-beat. For the benefit of anyone reading this from under a rock, the archetytpal D-beat can be found in the first seconds of the first song on the first Discharge record, and thereafter up to the crushing Why 12". Others may have beaten them to the punch, but there's a reason it has come to be known as the D-beat and not the Buzz-beat: Discharge delivered it with such conceptual singularity as to map out the raw punk blueprint for the next 30+ years. In other countries the D-beat was embraced as an important stylistic innovation, but Australians, it seems, were not early adopters. Similar impulses manifested differently in Seems Twice (more on them later), but there's scant recorded evidence of the kind of direct influence apparent in Scandinavia and beyond. Discharge was held in high regard here, as various covers of the era attest (Decontrol by Sick Things; Never Again by Public Nuisance; State Violence, State Control by Mob Vengeance), but those covers are telling in and of themselves - not a D-beat among them. And on the rare occasion that D-beats did show up in Australian hardcore songs, the effect wasn't particularly Discharge-like (check out this pretty good and relatively early example from End Result; various takes by Arm The Insane are also littered across their generally dire discography).

Nuclear War and You're The Victim are notable, then, for being Australian D-beat songs with a heavy Discharge influence in the structures, riffage, and lyrics. The slickness of the recording is still less than ideal, but the songs do have brevity on their side, and they're the definite highlights of an otherwise unremarkable record. Both songs would be re-recorded for The Rejected's subsequent LP, but disappointingly - much like Diamond Head's fate at the hands of some other band - D-beats were conspicuously absent on the new versions. Which means that our interest in The Rejected ends here. Gluttons for punishment may wish to track down their second (and final) LP, but with a pressing of just 69 copies, we wish you luck and a speedy recovery to full mental health.

Personal Gain [Download]

Nuclear War [Download]

You're The Victim [Download]

You Don't Care [Download]

Copper [Download]

Nuclear War, what the fuck is it good for?


My want list said...

Did you really have to post about this record? The last time it sold on eBay it was already overpriced. Now that the tunes are available...perish the thought. Why couldn't you have posted about that far more tasty Australian record entitled "First Offence", the Sid Rumpo LP.


Brian said...

I'm proud of Australians for trying to make a D-Beat hardcore record. Who would have expected that in 1985? The Potteries is usually ten or fifteen years ahead of you culturally. Is there a crust punk character bonking Kylie on Neighbors now? (Remember when John Bull bonked her and told you to invade the Ottoman Empire at Gallipoli? Until they make phones that reach winter to summer, it's the only way we can contact you). What Neighbors didn't tell you was D-Beat is wicked. It's bad enough when spotty teens make it; for a moment I thought one of those dusky meths drinker chaps had gotten aboard with his kangaroo! That at least would've been original. Isn't that the point of all that Fosters? Do you want your punk mistaken for American? Hardcore bands would kill to sound like your Sick that's hardcore you could really saw off your leg to escape a burning tanker with! (Judgement: A half-stroke returned for the band name and title so neatly summing up the Australian experience even tighter than our own "To be hung or transported for theft of chips". Also, the comment above did not seem to appreciate what Wallaby Beat does for him. I'd go round at night and stick a bat up his nightdress, if I were you.)

Clinton said...

I think you need to listen to the Crucified Truth 7" again.