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Sick Things: $30 PPD

Message boards have  basically supplanted the need for proper mail order one might have been acquainted with between the seventies and the nineties. The social aspect to it all’s still intact, but the quick responses one receives – and gives - removes some of the anticipatory glee that was part and parcel with getting a package or a note in the mail.

It’s not better or worse, it’s different. Roughly the same stuff would have been available a decade and change back. And if one heads over to the Terminal Boredom forum, it’s pretty plain to see that everything’s the same, just in digital form.

The one problem that mail order always had, though, was expensive, international shipping costs. And if you’re trying to track down the Sick Things compilation Sounds of Silence, it’ll cost you.

The Sick Things, which would eventually turn into Venom P. Stinger and then the Dirty Three, had more to do with that band in the middle then the latter act. It’s all incomprehensible guitar chords and almost indecipherable yelping. Dugald McKenzie’s strangled vocals where the through line between the Sick Things and VPS. There are aural similarities, but this earlier group trucks less in distinctive rhythms.

On Sounds of Silence, there seems to be some overlap with My Life’s A Mess. But in a collector’s world, it might be worth tracking down both. The title of that other compilation, though, seems way more appropriate. On tracks like “Paranoia,” which is only on SoS, listeners should assume that McKenzie’s yowling on about the vagaries of not trusting anyone or anything – his accent probably obscuring intent for Stateside listeners beyond just the shoddy quality of these thirty year old recordings.

Included here, though is the Commited to Suicide single, initially issued in 1981. It obviously comes a few years after the first wave of punk had subsided. But its release date and sonic proclivities pretty easily explain why the band would go on to cover the Exploited’s “Blown to Bits.” Apart from that thick accent sported by both McKenzie and Wattie, each group’s guitarists seems more taken with the idea of the instrument being shrouded in distortion than granting listeners any sort of understand of what’s going on. That being said, the Sick Things are able to pull the move off a bit better, most likely due to it’s ability to play in a few (but not too many) different tempos.

This stuff isn’t horrible, but it’s certainly not worth thirty bucks ppd. Track down some VPS instead.