JU-87 - The Stukas (self released)
No ballads were written in the making of this album.
If you’ve heard or seen The Stukas, you knew that already. The Stukas are Sydney’s most enduring punk act, luxuriating in the glow of being known as their hometown’s “most hated band”. They play old school, take-no-fucking-prisoners punk rock.
But you probably knew that already, too.
What might have escaped notice is that, 30-plus years after they formed, The Stukas can actually play this punk stuff really well.
“JU-87” is 10 songs (nine originals and a cover) of suitably direct punk rock. No production tricks to prop it up. Recorded honestly and cheaply, but not to sound sludgy or intentionally low-fi.
Vocalist Guy Devarine-Bohan might be the last man standing from numerous line-up changes but remains a magnetic presence live and transfers that to tape. Guy bears a stunning resemblance to Rotten in his stagecraft but mostly sounds more like his own man. Or maybe like Jimmy Pursey with a Strine accent.
Guitarists Hal Mattar and Mark Burrows churn away earnestly, Burrows launching muscular articulated missiles with his lead breaks. It’s not two-chord thrash and in “Apathy” they even spit out dual lead lines (with a nod to Tek and Asheton’s “Hit ‘em Again”.) Dane Colless (bass) and Nikki Manic (gotta be the drummer with that name) anchor the whole shebang with their lock-step bottom end.
That girl who didn’t like Mondays might be an obvious choice for inspiration but “Brenda” is far preferable to the Boomtown Rats’ effort. The paranoiac “Danger” careers along like a stolen car while the fuzzed-up yearning of “FJC” reveals a lyrical depth not previously apparent. Self-deprecating irony meets high-energy in “Not So” in a way that might even do Andy Shernoff proud.
You might consider that “I Don’t Care” is fairly typical of The Stukas’ oeuvre: Nilhism with a serrated edge but never shunning musicality. It drives hard with the band locking in behind Devarine-Bohan's bark with grim intent:
The Stukas have a dangerous edge live that means anything could happen - and sometime does. Audience abuse is the norm when the members aren't about to hang a left hook on one another. Of course that edge is hard to translate to CD. Every time I've seen them, The Stukas have been musically quite together and this does come across in this recording.
By the time the album-closing Rezillos' version of “Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight” (uncredited on the sleeve, so I suppose it’s a hidden track and oriignally recorded by the early Fleetwood Mac, Young Docteurs/The Baddies guitarist Paul Hayward reminds me) you should be ready to give it another spin. The record is urgent and fun...the latter something that The Stukas are, even if they won’t admit it.