The Prefects - Amateur Wankers [Acute Records - 2005]Unsung heroes. Forgotten ones. Out of favours pioneers. Music history is full of people who for some reason failed to be remembered. Thanks the Lord, there are people and labels who dedicate themselves to bring back to life distant memories. Acute records is one of those, and a few month after Glenn Branca’s Lesson n°1, they allowed me to discover a band that I had never heard of: The Prefects.
The Prefects got together in 1976 in the Birmingham area. The band fell apart round 1979, releasing shortly after their only single on Rough Trade. In other words, you had to be there at the time to hear about them… This Cd’s features the 8 tracks The Prefects ever recorded in studio, plus two live cuts. This is the only thing you will ever hear from them.
The Prefects where part of the post-punk scene, sharing bills with the Slits, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Magazine. They even opened for The Clash on their White Riot UK tour. They left quite an impression: bassist Graham Blunt got beaten up by The Clash and their roadies for not showing enough respect.
Let’s forget the anecdotes and focus on the music. Early tracks are pretty much straightforward punk songs, reminding me of The Ramones ( Ohohohooooh’s and hey ho’s included), although a little more experimental since they added “exotic” instruments such as sax and clarinet. Their music is pretty bleak, on the verge of being frightening, but at the same time quite fun. While Faults and Barbarellas are straightforward, songs like Escort Girls and Total Luck have something droney, repetitive, and trance inducing. A kind of stuff that wasn’t very common in those days, especially in the punk scene. The best track on Amateur Wankers is without the shadow of a doubt the ten minutes long Bristol road leads to Dachau. Incisive guitars, utterly bleak mood, industrial-like rhythm, a voice somewhere between Ian Curtis and Peter Murphy. This is a truly indispensable song, one that any fan of the era should at least hear once in his life.
The last track is 60 time shorter: 10 seconds. Apparently it was John Peel’s favourite. It has something of a “fuck off we don’t care about you” statement. But I do care for The Prefects, and I thank Acute for releasing this stuff. Better late than never!François Monti