Not to be confused with the constantly entertaining Social Registry stalwarts from the early aughts, this incarnation under the heading Vietnam reared its head in ’85 on New Zealand’s Jayrem records. The short release falls center square into the hearts of Joy Division and Cure fans. It’s got the moody makeup of the best kind of dark, yet oddly poppy post-punk (see: The Sound, The Names, The Comsat Angels) and knows its way around a smudged eyeliner hook. Pairing a set of damp, reedy vocals with the kind of pessimism that plays well with the goth table, these would have killed had they had wide distribution at the time. Alas, Jayrem was more of a localized label that filled out the needs of the NZ scene at the time, without expanding the way that, say, something like Flying Nun did.
The reissue culls the existing and previously released studio recordings along with a couple of unreleased cuts that round out the picture but pale a bit in comparison with the heavier hitters on the LP. The details are scant on what happened to the band post release of the original, but it’s a nice piece of Kiwi-pop history and a decent addition to any post-punk playlists that might need a bit of an outlier to liven things up. The reissue comes courtesy of the diggers over at Spain’s B.F.E. records, who for their part, are always scrounging the fringes of the ’70s and ’80s for oddities. The only real problem is that the release sounds a bit like a needle drop in terms of quality, but beggars can’t always be choosers. Perhaps the original tapes were long gone. The music remains though, and it’s a worthwhile dig to be sure.
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