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"The Venom P. Stinger retrospective is on. One of the roughest groups of the '80s is back in print on vinyl and for the first time ever on CD, and still nice and hard and rough and wild on either format. File under: punk rock/noise rock/free-of-constraints rock. If you think of Venom P. Stinger simply as the proving ground for 2/3rds of the Dirty Three first, then you're seriously missing it, and fuck you. It was the mid-'80s and everything was going fine. The music underground was its own world, not related to the orbit of commercial music that rained bullshit down onto the overground. Nobody down below had any great plans, they were just playing in bands. Melbourne had launched the career of the legendary Birthday Party, but that lot were long gone and there were loads of other interesting and great things going on. Like Sick Things for instance. Dugald McKenzie and Mick Turner were part of that extremely raw and intense band, whose 'Committed to Suicide' had changed so many lives (for the better!). Mick had played as well in The Moodists and was in Fungus Brains and some others. Also on the scene was Jim White, who was playing in several bands, including People with Chairs Up Their Noses and the Feral Dinosaurs. It was a small group of people playing in bands like these back in mid-'80s Melbourne and probably only a matter of time before you played in the same band together. And so, they did. Venom P. Stinger attacked in a modified, somewhat streamlined hardcore punk style, with Mick's burnt-and-twisted guitar tone setting them apart. Also unique was Jim White's drumming, which appeared to be born of a snare roll that grows and grows until it has eclipsed the entire kit, played with casual aplomb while never sparing the rod to any aimed-for surface. Meanwhile, bassist Alan Secher-Jensen nailed these loosely divergent styles together with nice heavy root notes. Instead of the violent pile-up that occurred in every Sick Things recording, there was instead something more organized, though coming from unique and indeed, singular corners of approach: post-hardcore with a very individual style. Unchanged from Sick Things days, however, was frontman Dugald McKenzie, whose vocalizing was a ferocious, largely apolitical transference of personal experience, all about conveying the awful qualities of life with throaty sensuousness and dirty glee. This was an unfiltered view of his day-to-day, which involved partying with drink and drugs and other low types drinking and doing drugs and not having responsibility for anything, other than getting more drink and drugs. The down-and-out side of life is most clearly envisaged with 'Walking About,' which is as definitive a slice of early-wave Aussie garage punk as they come. As well, there is a pleasing aesthetic and humor afoot, parlayed most effectively in the straw-in-shallow-water sound effects of the noise-rock piece, 'Jaws 2.'"