Nightengales | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Thanks to an unending stream of CD reissues, music by obscure bands from the late 70s and early 80s--New York punk-funk outfit ESG, for instance, or British postpunkers A Certain Ratio and 23 Skidoo--is finding its way to listeners who weren't yet born when it was made. One of the latest beneficiaries of this trend never even put out an album during its existence. The Prefects formed in Birmingham, England, in 1976, and soon got busy as a supporting act distinguished by a shambling attack and unusually droll lyrics. Released late last year, The Prefects Are Amateur Wankers (Acute) collects everything the band recorded--all 31 minutes of it--before splitting up in 1979 and reemerging as the Nightingales. The reissue makes it clear that while the Prefects were good, they're of most interest now as a precursor to that better known and more significant band, which has joined the crowd of reunited postpunk outfits. As heard on the classic Pigs on Purpose (recently rereleased on Cherry Red), the Nightingales' best material was delivered with a driving, manic intensity that made them sound a bit like the Fall covering Captain Beefheart--the drumming was spastic and twitchy; the guitars were trebly, abrasive, and frequently out of sync; and Robert Lloyd's vocals were wordy and lacerating, yet oddly croonerlike. Last year they released a handful of new singles, and a live recording I've heard from last fall suggests that though their execution is sharper now and their energy level a bit lower, they haven't lost their nervy edge. This is one of only three U.S. performances. The Waco Brothers open. Wed 3/16, 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $10 donation.

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February 22
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