Acute Records returns with another collection of almost completely unavailable punk rock music from the 70?s, this time from UK unknowns the Prefects. The huge booklet included in the package takes care of the ?unknown? status of the Prefects: turns out that these guys played with the Clash on the White Riot tour, as well as playing tons of other shows with lots of other great bands. Clash manager Bernie Rhodes is credited with uttering the title of this collection sometime around this period, when he claimed that the Prefects ?abuse (the arts).? Barry Cain of the Record Mirror also had little need for the Prefects, offering the criticism ?Too fast, too new? in a review. Lucky for all of us that Acute exists to re-evaluate this band that flew a little too high over people?s heads the first time around.
A lot of these songs offer up exactly what you would expect from a UK punk (or post-punk, or DIY, or whatever) band: 2 or 3 chords, shout-along choruses, furious 4/4 drumming. But there is an incredibly prescient and self-effacing sense of humor at work in songs like ?Faults,? ?Things in General,? and ?Going through the Motions.? The Prefects satirize the commodification of punk with clarity, precision, and humor long before anyone else had even realized the limitations of the so-called movement. The 10-minute ?Bristol Road Leads to Dachau? indicts everything that they see around them in a more progressive style than most punk bands would dare in 1978, though it?s not quite the collision of Beefheart and the Ramones that guitarist Alan Apperley claims. The drumming never really moves beyond competent (although it is certainly fast) on any of these tracks. There aren?t any polyrhythms lurking in these rants.
One thing is confirmed by the testimonials of the band members and friends in the liner notes: The Prefects never took themselves very seriously in the face of all the self-righteousness and egomania of the punk movement. The band dissolved before they really had a chance to let anything like that sink in, really. It?s clear from Helen Apperley?s essay (she was the tour-van driver) that this group represented youth, joy, and rebelliousness in total sincerity. The seven-second track that ends this disc, ?VD,? also supports that sentiment. People who thought they knew everything about the UK punk and post-punk scene owe it to themselves to pick up this disc, because the ?Prefects Are Amateur Wankers? is probably the most representative release of that era. In hindsight, of course 8/10 -- Sean Witzman (25 May, 2005)