Skank Attack – Here On Out (Independent/Border) CD REVIEW

‘Legendary Wellington band Skank Attack to release album for NZ Music Month’, states the press release. Legendary? I vaguely remember these guys being around in the late ‘80s, but were they ever legendary, and have they become more legendary in the interim?
Here On Out is a compilation of eight songs recorded in 1988 at Writhe Studios in Wellington. What makes it worthy of investigation is its connection to that studio, and the production/engineering of former Skeptic Nick Roughan and former Bailter Space drummer, Brent McLaughlin.
The question is, did Skank Attack have any of the awesome qualities of those two genuinely legendary bands, and if not, were Roughan and McLaughlin able to invest them with any hints of greatness? The answer? Hmm, not really.
First, the good news: it sounds pretty fine. Roughan has worked with the original multi-track tapes, and brought them up to speed, sonically. It’s a bold, fat, punchy sound with impression stereo separation and clarity.
More good news: every now and again, there’s a hint of the influence of Bailter Space, and certainly the very ‘80s rhythms and guitar wrangling are enjoyable enough.
But Skank Attack will be of more interest to those who collect anything influenced by Echo & the Bunnymen, Joy Division and New Order – these guys just ooze those three bands, except you get the feeling that, by ’88, they’ve already missed the bus somewhat.
Of more concern is that neither the vocals nor the songs really convince, and too often, I found myself mentally flash-back to some dire Wellington pub while some very ordinary pub rock band played New Order covers.
It’s great that the former members of Skank Attack have honoured their own history by going to the effort to preserve it for posterity in a handsome package, although it would have helped if someone had thought to include articulate sleeve-notes to fill in that history for modern-day punters.
As it stands, Skank Attack remains another also-ran Wellington band from the late ‘80s that never quite made it for reasons that become rather obvious when you listen to the album. But New Order fetishists will have a ball. GARY STEEL
Music = 2.5
Sound = 4

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