DUMBWORLD - The Negatives/The Reals (Savage Beat)
While archivists trawl through shoeboxes looking for seminal Aussie punk detritus to release, there'll always be a receptive audience in the darker corners of the I-94 Bar. As if you didn't know it and in the finest traditions of The Geeks, Kid Galahad And The Eternals and Evil Roomers, here's another package of lo-fi garage-a-rama to warm the cockles of pacemaker-assisted hearts.

The Reals (1975-77) provided a home for future Sacred Cowboy Garry Gray, experimentalist Ian "Ollie" Olsen and well as one-day Moodist bassist Chris Walsh. Olsen's departure saw them morph into The Negatives (1977-78) who featured on the controversial "Lethal Weapons" compilation - and arguably deserved a better fate.

As one of Melbourne's few "punk" bands, The Reals were well-versed in the ways of the Stooges et al (as four covers here will attest), but also did a fine line in Dead Boys/Damned-styled gutter rock. There's nothing to inspire future Celine Dion producers - it's lo-fi all the way and derived from rehearsals or the odd boombox live recording. The word is Interesting, with some sharp teenage social comment ("Minority Groups") audible through the clouds of smoke.

The Negatives certainly climbed a few more rungs on the evolutionary ladder. The half-a-dozen tracks show a more developed musicianship that points in the direction of the Cowboys. Not that they were in any dangers of playing sessions for Wendy Saddington or Jeff St John - they were just playing the same song by now. Tempos are moderated and Gray is coming into his own as a singer. Ditto Walsh's bass-playing which has a sense of the steamroller about it in "Last Man On Earth".

You also get a "censored" (i.e. the overdubs are absent) version of their "Lethal Weapons" contribution "Planet On The Prowl" that's more than likely an alternate take or safety copy.

Every barrel has a bottom, sonically speaking, and it's scraped for the final three cuts, from a 1974 Gray band called Judas Escariot and the Traitors. Any relation to the soundtrack of "Jesus Christ Superstar" however is truly in your addled mind. These are sonically living under the floorboards but where else will your hear the earliest version of "Minority Groups"? - The Barman

3/4




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