20 August 2012

The Discounts - Selling Records


Label: Original
Year of Release: 1980

When The Buzzcocks issued their "Spiral Scratch" EP on their own label, their approach was trumpeted in some corners of the UK mainstream music press as being unique and ground-breaking. As with many things the NME and their various rivals and sister publications uttered, this obviously wasn't wholly true.  Any record collector worth their salt knows that DIY records had been around for a long time, much beloved by the likes of cabaret artists, folkies, Butlins holiday camp performers, provincial prog rockers and even sixties mod bands.  If somebody was operating in a marginal or specialist field and/or just wanted to make a quick buck selling a record at their gigs or in their local record shops, a DIY pressing was a fairly simple way of getting their music out there.

What is true is that "Spiral Scratch" publicised the ease of the process and made thousands of lightbulbs flash on above a lot of scruffy heads.  More to the point, bands who had formed a mere five minutes ago drew the conclusion that there was nothing stopping them from making a quick raid on their collective bank accounts and seeing if they could get themselves some cultish fame.  DIY records appealed to the Warholian side of many amateur musicians during the punk and post-punk era, and they sometimes chose to quickly put a record out in the hope of gaining a bit of notoriety, only to split up if they were ignored.

Where The Discounts are concerned, I'm possibly drawing far too many conclusions here, because nobody seems to know who the hell they were.  From the limited evidence I have available to me, it would seem that this was a DIY issue in Australia originally, and was subsequently picked up by the British label Original as their debut release on these shores.  It is, to be blunt, a world-weary slice of post-punk bitterness, with the lead vocalist playing the role of a bored record shop assistant (or owner) moaningly intoning his raison d'être.  The band cook up a jolly old swing behind him, but when combined with his droning it starts to sound like the backing to a catchy radio jingle, their best attempts mocked by his lack of enthusiasm.  Did Art Brut hear this one before recording "Formed A Band", I wonder? The "dub" B-side is more bizarre still, being the most minimal dub I've heard in my life.

Johan Kugelberg listed this track in his Top 100 DIY singles of all time, but (so far as I know) it remains uncompiled and fairly difficult to track down copies of.  So then, here it is below.



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