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Amateur Wankers

The Prefects

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Album Review

The Prefects' sole recorded legacy at the time of existence consisted of two John Peel sessions, but it's that plus a couple of extra tracks that makes up this really enjoyable overview of a band that was at once somewhat high profile and perhaps one of the most obscure punk-era acts in the U.K. It might be a stretch to say that the Prefects would have been the natural rivals/counterparts of Wire, but there's enough evidence here to show that had they continued they might well have made their own Chairs Missing eventually. The two sessions are mixed together, in a nice change from the usual method of presentation, and sequenced to make a brief but memorable listen. The opening rips "Faults" and "Escort Girls," both under two minutes long, demonstrate how the band was very much a product of its era, with quick, slogan-chorus arrangements and unbridled energy, but the disc hits its stride with "Going Through the Motions." Perhaps as much commentary on the activity of band life as anything else, the slow, deliberate majesty of the track (Alan Apperley's guitar in particular is this mesmerizing, looped glaze) manages to balance out experimental impulses with focus just right. From there there's counterpoint declamatory call and resigned response vocals gliding over crisp thrash ("Things in General"), saxophone skronk over calm guitar intros ("Total Luck"), and their own contribution to extended rock epics with "Bristol Road Leads to Dachau," a ten-minute riff/jam that might not be "Marquee Moon," say, but keeps the tension building all the way to the end. Two live tracks — the brief "625 Lines," recorded on the night of the legendary Short Circuit show and the hilarious ringer of "VD," taken from a 2001 reunion date but lasting only ten seconds long, fill out this great peek into the past.

Amateur Wankers, The Prefects
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