Venom P Stinger’s Raw, Relentless, Punk Retrospective

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Venom P. Stinger
1986-1991
Drag City

Like a furious blast of hot, rancid air, the Australian quartet Venom P. Stinger spewed startling punk-rock noise on the Melbourne scene during its prime. With all the subtlety of a steamroller, the band subjected what could have been, in gentler hands, catchy rock ‘n’ roll to a barrage of abuse, pushing its vibrant tunes to the edge of chaos without going over the brink.

For all the brutality, though, these guys could really play: Guitarist Mick Turner and drummer Jim White brought fresh twists to the genre’s conventions, rarely lapsing into familiar tropes. Together, they would later form the more refined Dirty Three, an instrumental band with violinist Warren Ellis (not the novelist), as well as work with Cat Power.

At the center of the storm, singer Dugald McKenzie, formerly of Sick Things, brandished a voice so raw and relentless that the Clash’s Joe Strummer sounded like Frank Sinatra by comparison. Howling, barking and snarling with scabrous charisma, McKenzie suggested a wounded beast on the loose, which might not have been too far from the truth, since self-destructive habits allegedly sparked his departure from the band. In any case, this essential two-disc set collects Venom P. Stinger’s widow-rattling output, consisting of two albums, plus an EP and a single. Annoy the neighbors and blast it today.

For more great ’80s punk from Down Under, also check out last year’s four-disc set The Aberrant Years (Sub Pop), compiling recordings of the Sydney group Feedtime, who were more focused and just as exciting.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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