Optic Nerve (label)
26 February 2021 (released)
01 February 2021
The Direct Hits were part of the Mod Revival movement that followed the emergence of The Jam and they released their album ‘Blow Up’ on Whamm Records in 1984.
However, before the ‘Blow Up’ sessions the band had recorded a set of 12 songs in a tiny studio in Tooting – Broadway Sound – self-funded and with very little production, they did 9 songs in a day and 3 more a week or so later. So this album, which feature a lot of songs that were on ‘Blow Up’, finds the band at their rawest and most primitive. And it is really bloody good!
The songs are true to the Mod Revival sound but also hearken back to much of the original Mod movement back in the sixties. The songs had been well rehearsed as the band were playing gigs on a regular basis and so it wasn’t too difficult to lay their music down but, for me, what is remarkable is the visceral quality of the recordings. Yes it’s raw and there is very little in way of embellishment but by criminy it is good to listen to and I find it much more exciting and musical than ‘Blow Up’.
Listen to a track like ‘Naughty Little Boy’ with definite links back to The Who and stunning drumming almost reminiscent of Keith Moon himself or ‘I Start Counting’ with Beatle-esque guitar parts and Hollies like harmonies. They manage to steer into real Jam territory with ‘What Killed Aleister Crowley’ (my favourite track) with a great rhythm guitar and lots of changes in tempo and even some reverb.
The first time through I listened to the album and thought “Yeah, it’s ok but a bit meh” but I turned it on again after a session listening to some metal and with the volume turned up – the difference was incredible! The songs come into focus, the vocals and the harmonies deepen and the drumming suddenly is crisp and authoritative instead of crackly and splashy. A definite case of PLAY THIS LOUD.