ONE AND A HALF DOZEN OF THE OTHER
Why post something by The Ex? All of their stuff is still available, and the chances of anyone reading this blog not having heard (of) them are pretty slim, what with dozens of records out and almost as many tours under their belt. Well, I think their second LP History is What's Happening has sorta fallen between the cracks of their imposing oeuvre. Primitive-but-catchy 1980 debut Disturbing Domestic Peace will always hold a special place in the hearts of old punks, as it was basically the only Dutch D.I.Y. LP available for a long while. At the time of third LP Tumult (1983) their trademark experimental/eclectic style was more or less into place, and they started getting noticed abroad. History... sounds nothing like those two, in fact back then a lot people thought it was a disappointment. But hey, to me it was one part of the Holy Trinity that got me into Dutch punk (for the other two parts look here and here), and being fourteen and having about 5 or 6 punk records altogether I had no choice but to play it a thousand times and loving it! That said, it did take me some time to get into it; in contrast to the trebly in-your-face sound of their debut, History... sounds kinda muffled, almost as if they're playing in the next room. The words are hard to make out and the guitar is nearly inaudible, pushing (ex-Rondo) Wim's imaginative drum patterns and Rene's barbed-wire bass lines to the forefront. An Ex-member once told me he thought the LP was too rushed, but it's the unfinishedness that appeals to me. Some of the 20 tracks last only 40-50 seconds, and there's hardly any repeating verse-chorus-verse stuff going on in any of the songs. In hindsight, it's the closest thing to Wire's Pink Flag I've ever heard, not as an imitation, but as a similar "cut out the fat and get to the point" statement. Anyway, here's what this 14-year old was grooving to in the summer of '82 (not exactly "Someone Loves You Honey")...
Six of One and Half a Dozen of The Other
(Occasional bleeps courtesy of my MiniDisc player)