Agony Shorthand

Friday, July 09, 2004
SICK THINGS VS. SICK THINGS.....Who would you take in a battle royale between the two screeching punk rock bands called THE SICK THINGS: the raw 1977 first-wave, girl-led UK Sick Things, or the harshly abrasive, pre-hardcore 1980-81 Australian Sick Things who later morphed into the equally damaged VENOM P. STINGER? Well, the British version were one of those under-the-radar punk bands who easily best most of the popularly-championed UK punk by a mile, yet only two of their tracks came out officially (“Bondage Boy” and “Kids on the Street” on the Raw Records “Raw Deal!” LP compilation). Both, along with the posthumous exploding syphilis anthem “Anti-Social Disease”, are strictly top-shelf, with an ultra-snotty cockney girl barking out various unpleasantries on top of a wallop of unhinged, louder-than-Lemmy guitar. I’d argue that these phenomenal bashers are almost as hot as THE USERS’ tracks from the same label and era, and that’s getting pretty warm. Then there’s the Australian Sick Things and their “Committed to Suicide” 45, which almost makes the UK Sick Things sound subtle and halting in comparison. Full-on over the top feedback and noise, with a hardcore-like punk rock song structure buried in the muck somewhere, “Suicide” is one of those tracks that’ll play well on bad days and poorly on good days, if you know what I’m saying. There was an LP and subsequent CD of posthumous recordings called “The Sound of Silence” that was anything but, and while it’s got some terrific ugly, nihilist punk, it spins out of control about halfway through and starts treading into difficult listening territory. In any event, I did feel both SICK THINGS deserved some props and a comfortable place in your music collection if not there already, and have proceeded thusly.