Yummy! - Hard-Ons (Citadel Records)
“Yummy!” marked the Hard-Ons’ arrival on a major label's promotional roster and you had to be mad, deaf, both or no longer breathing not to hear the greatness in the songs. A decade-and-a-half later with a re-mastering job in place, it sounds even better.
Hard-Ons had always struggled to get a sound on record that they were happy with so they went the extra mile on “Yummy!” Unfortunately, their producer-of-choice, Ian Davies of 2JJJ live-to-air fame, went many extra miles when he left Sydney to live in Perth - so the band had to go to him. Rented amplifiers and an unfamiliar studio were factors that led to significant re-mixing - and it was always a worrying sign to see that on an LP sleeve.
There wasn't actually that much to worry about in the end. There’s a salient lesson in the re-issue liner notes, by the way: If you want a withering critique of a production job, ask the musicians who played on the record. No matter how it sounds, it will never be good enough because they always want to go back and record it again. So bear that in mind when you read these.
“Yummy!” is the sound of the Hard-Ons surrendering to their pop muse. Mostly. There’s the odd joke (“Stairway To Heaven”) that would have been better as a sight gag, but for the most part it’s pure gold like “Where Did She Come From”, “Raining”, “Dull” (how’s that for a triple play?), “Fade Away” and “Si Beside You” - every one a potential radio single. The sound wasn’t so much compromised as have the pretty parts glossed up and there were plenty of heavier crunchers like “Feast on Flesh” and “Spew” to keep the old hard heads on-side.
In fact, “Yummy!” did respectable business, as advocates for product are often heard to say, without isolating the band’s existing fan base. It also set up another round of extensive overseas touring without making anyone a millionaire.
This was a year or so pre-Nirvana so would coming out in The Year Punk Broke have made a difference? Who knows or cares. Grunge devalued a lot of punk and made it safer than a night at home with a board game. Hard-Ons were never into playing corporate games - or they would have changed their name to Angel City or something equally gormless.
The re-issued “Yummy!” is expanded and packed with extras like B sides and demos. The double CD includes the Hard-Ons’ half of the “Where The Wild Things Are” split single with the Celibate Rifles, the famous “Let There Be Rock” collaboration with Hank Rollins and official and two unreleased versions of the “Dateless Dudes” mini-album. The latter two versions were recorded with Captain Sensible in London and Rob Younger in Sydney. Rob’s mix works best for me but there’s a slightly unhinged air to the Captain tracks that stands up well in its own odd way.
The balance of disc two is made up of demos of “Yummy!” and “Dateless Dudes” that sound as advertised and are for completists.
The jury’s back and the verdict is obvious. There might be a sense of “clearing the decks” on the part of the band but every one of these re-issues are value-laden and worthy. If you need a re-evaluation of the Hard-Ons’ worth and influence then jump right in.