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HARD-ONS – Dickcheese [2012 reissue]

| 1 November 2012 | Reply

Label: Citadel Records
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Were Sydney’s HARD-ONS ever JUST a punk band?  From their raucous early singles and EPs through a host of albums they never stopped evolving, always imbuing their frenzied glue sniffing punk energy and mayhem with elements of 60’s garage and girl bands, poppy melodies and later, huge metal riffs, resulting in music as multicultural as the band themselves.

Dickcheese, originally released in 1988, is probably the punkiest of their full-length releases.  From opener Made To Love You we can hear the metal riffs of Blackie creeping in, whilst What Am I ‘Sposed To Do showcases the irresistible melodies they were reknowned for.

Oozing Out For Pleasure combines both of the above – the metal riffs and the catchy tune, topping it all off with crass juvenile punk humour.  It’s a heady brew and to teenagers around the world at the time it was the perfect soundtrack for the times.

In 1988 the charts were awash with hair metal – proof, if needed, that Hard-Ons never gave a fuck about trends or charts.  They knew who their audience was and despite the fact that they never made it big, that they still to this day work day jobs, their music has integrity and style.  It’s real, more real than a million other poseurs and autotuned one hit wonders could ever hope to be, and as Blackie writes in the liner notes to this re-release: “look we didn’t give a fuck except bout the MUSIC”.  It shows.

With one song over three minutes long out of the original 18 on the album, including three semi-joke “songs” under a minute each, it’s fast and furious, relentless but never less than intoxicating and – as previously mentioned – irresistibly catchy.

From the gross out jokes of Every Time I Do A Fart to the sugary sweet “fuck you” of Get Away, frenetic love song There Was A Time – equal parts pop and pogo – to the 30 second thrash blast of Fuck Society, the album never gives you time to catch your breath, much less get bored.  Metal pop punk played by – and for – ADHD madmen.

Lead single Something About You remains a pop punk classic which puts those who followed in Hard-Ons wake to shame (Yeah I mean YOU Blink 182, Green Day et al), Ache To Touch You wraps up impossible teenage lust in a swirling maelstrom of guitars and melody; and Stairway To Punchbowl is about as “experimental” as the band ever got.

It’s hard to believe that almost 25 years on this album still sounds like the classic it deserved to be at the time – I still have my beloved vinyl copy and pretty much everything the band released in their first ten years remains indispensible.

Never shy of releasing a single here or an EP there, the bonus items on disc one of this reissue are just as fantastic – there is the insane riff and smut fuelled 7” single Busted/Suck ‘N’ Swallow – both righteous classics in the Hard-Ons canon, and proof that the political correctness plague hadn’t yet infected us all in 1988.

Also present is the split 10” EP with UK band The Stupids, “No Cheese” which features all sorts of mayhem, duets and covers including the AC/DC track Walk All Over You, a live staple for the band for a couple of years at least.

Disc Two features live shows from January and March ’88 at the Barwon Club Hotel in Geelong, capturing the teetering-on-the-brink frenetic chaos of the era and sense of humour of the band as they joke and tear through supercharged and shambolic versions of predominantly Dickcheese tracks as well as a few from earlier releases including I Heard Her Call My Name, Ferdi’s Song, Don’t Wanna See You Cry and Rich Scrag.

There’s one song (It’s Cold Outside) from a Netherlands show in April ’88, and another 4 from a show I blurrily remember at Perth’s Old Melbourne Hotel in October ’88.  In those days a half hour in a Hard-Ons moshpit would leave you feeling like you’d done the rounds with a half dozen bricks in a tumble dryer, such was the bruising afterwards, and listening to Don’t Wanna See You Cry, Feast On Flesh, Rejected and All Washed Up from this gig made me sore all over again.

This is the second release in series of five from Citadel, which plans to cover the entire Hard-Ons output from their first decade.  With these albums and hard-to-find singles being pivotal to the band’s development, the rock scene both in Australia and beyond, and punk/rock/metal in general, they’re essential purchases, made doubly so since they’re crammed chock full of extras and live recordings.

Category: CD Reviews

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