Past Imperfect

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The liner notes to this two-disc collection of material by the Wreckery mentions "contemptuous dismissals of The Wreckery as ‘the bastard spawn of The Birthday Party'" by rock scribes of the day, but at least the band came by their musical similarities honestly -- guitarist and vocalist Hugo Race did double duty in the Wreckery and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds for a brief period, and both acts came out of the same Melbourne scene that was dominated by drugs and doomy, blues-damaged sounds. If anything, the Wreckery's music suggested a mid-point between the fevered chaos of the Birthday Party and the more sophisticated approach Cave would bring to the Bad Seeds after Race had left, making it a reasonable to question just who influenced who. Past Imperfect collects 24 tunes from the Wreckery's short but prolific lifespan (four albums in as many years), and while Race and his bandmates couldn't write songs on a par with Cave, this sampler makes it clear that they were a fine band, conjuring up a powerfully evocative sound that was dark but full of fire and drama, and the production (handled by the band itself) gets the depth and the details of their performances on vinyl with impressive skill. In the case of Past Imperfect, referring to vinyl is appropriate -- since the Wreckery's first label, Rampant Records, lost their master tapes when they went out of business, the bulk of this set had to be mastered from old LPs, but engineer Calum Orr did a fine job, and despite some occasional surface noise, the discs sound lively and impressive. And Race's extensive liner notes are entertaining while offering a warts-and-all history of the Wreckery's accomplishments and misdeeds. Past Imperfect is probably best appreciated by folks who know Race's body of work through his association with Nick Cave, but that's not to say they won't enjoy the very distinctive enthusiasm and skill the group brought to the recording studio.

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