The Hard-Ons – Ripper ’23 (Cheersquad) (Album Review)

The Hard-Ons circa the first phase (mid80 to early ’90s) were an underground punk favourite in Aotearoa/New Zealand, with their take on Ramones punk and quirky cover artwork by Ray Ahn (bassist in the band).

The original lineup: Peter “Blackie”, Ray Ahn and Keish de Silva lasted until 1994 and since then the reformed line-ups have seen change, most recently seeing Keish leave in 2020, followed in 2021 by the recruiting of Tim Rogers of You Am I and Tim Rogers and the Twinset fame.

Ripper ’23 is the second Hard-Ons album to feature Tim Rogers on vocals, however, unlike 2021’s I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken, on which Tim Rogers joined after the album had been mostly written and which was recorded in days, Ripper ’23 is a product of all four members recorded over several months. The cover artwork (not by Ray) is a parody of a 70’s series of Australian MoR album compilations, Ripper, Ripper ’76 and Ripper ’77 and is a clue to the influences that Tim Rogers brings to the band.

Kick off track Apartment For Two is classic Hard-Ons punk attack and is/was the lead single for the album, it has a later doppelganger in the AC/DC-ish In Falls Everything, and they are both obvious album highlights. Tim Rogers’ influence comes almost immediately on Goin’ It Alone and the subsequent Sheets are Shrouds. Choppin’ Block harks back to 2021’s I’m Sorry Sir, That Riff’s Been Taken, but it is perhaps on Never Been Handsome that the meld of Hard-Ons and Tim Rogers magic comes to the fore, reinforced by the Ripper 70’s parody burst Grandiose that come in at a punkish 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Over the remaining three songs, the magic of Never Been Handsome never quite returns, and the album ends with the feeling of not quite convinced by the new partnership. The elements are promising, and I want it to work, but like buying a Jim Beam and Coke in a GoGo bar in Bangkok, sometimes you’re left wondering if it is Jim Beam!

3.9 out of Five Stars

Simon Coffey

Click here to watch the 13th Floor interview with The Hard-Ons