Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In any local list of “never-heard-of-ya” UK post-punk bands Birmingham's Prefects would rate fairly high.
They toured with the cream of the period (Clash, Fall, Damned, Slits) and did Peel Sessions but broke up in '79 before they released anything.
So if you didn't see them live, hear their sole posthumous single or catch one of their two Peel Sessions then . . .
This century there has been a compilation (The Prefects Are Amateur Wankers) and a live release. And now this which is impressively bratty, noisy, brittle, political and angry, a kind of collected cross-section of their work which ends with two live tracks, their flat-tack revision of Modern Lovers' She Cracked and some berating of the Clash in White Riot Tour which must have been truly awful to witness.
Before that yelping chaos however is the terrific title track opener which momentarily sounds like they are heading into the blues but then immediately devolves into a grinding, droning jangle with roots in the Velvets but with vocalist Rob Lloyd staking out his position in “going through the motions, forced to communicate, it really breaks my heart”. It's terrific.
There's plenty of archetypal bruising punk-by-numbers but whoever the guitarist is – they changed members and my copy of this comes with no liner information – really had a handle on searing and staccato free-form playing (as on the 10 minute Bristol Road Leads to Dachau about the Provisional IRA pub bombing in their city in '74 which killed 21 and injured almost 200).
The Prefects didn't last long enough to refine their serious messages into something more consistent and had they outlived the tropes of their time (“you're nothing, you're nothing” repeat until weary) they might have had as much to say in their own way as the Clash.
As it stands, this is an 11 song collection of some great songs and then all the rest.