Punk, DIY, powerpop, grillfat, glam, NWOAHM from Australia 1975-1984.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Branded - You Been Branded / Generation Breakout 7" Infinity K-7044, 1978
In our last installment, David Burnette, Lee Cutelle and co. had just released two singles as Beaut - classic pre-punk powerpop on the first, and a disappointing, less realised version of same on the follow-up - both with negligible commercial success. Come late 1977, and after nearly a decade of toiling away with not much to show for it, the changing musical climate in the UK seemingly gave Burnette and Cutelle pause to reconsider their approach (after all, they weren't alone in the scramble to react to punk). The result? A record perfectly attuned to the zeitgeist of...1974!
Reconstituting themselves as Branded, the ensuing single (released in early '78) projects superficially as a Sweet song generator set to one part Chinn/Chapman, three parts Connolly/Priest et al., with the output fed through a Never Mind The Bollocks filter. You Been Branded bludgeons with a powerchord-driven riff and an all-downstroke verse, and continues Beaut's proto-thug drumming absent the "proto". Generation Breakout takes thematic cues from Teenage Rampage (and swipes the chorus for good measure), but delivers its lyrics with a more direct, punked-out attitude. The verse from Fox On The Run makes an appearance as the central riff, and it's all driven by a reductionist Rock And Roll Disgrace beat. An argument could be made that the phased guitar sound dominating both sides is Sweet-informed also, but given the timing, we reckon Anarchy In The UK is the more likely inspiration here.
Now, all parlour game deconstruction aside, this is no mere pastiche. If we can adopt the talkin'-to-the-kidz tone of the Generation Breakout protagonist for a sec, do not let us stand in the way of the geniuses-at-work composition of these tunes, and your enjoyment of said. Anyone can take/copy/play with their influences but we all know it's rare that the results gel as perfectly as they do here. To pull this off requires innate understanding of rock'n'roll, an ability to margin walk the dumb/smart line, songwriting chops (optional) and gonads the size of cantaloupes (mandatory).
In addition, there appears to be a schema of punk rock at play here that genuinely views the likes of the Sweet and the Pistols as interchangeable, and it's that insight that enables the parts to be assembled so artfully, subtracting their sum from the whole will leave you with change. The end result is a glam-punk monster - arguably the most effective collision of those genres produced in this country (though admittedly, competition on that front is slim; we revisit the subject next week).
Unfortunately, we have no hard facts to relate when it comes to scum stats, only the frustration born of personal experience in locating this record. It surfaces less frequently than the Beaut 45s (and even more infrequently with the generic - and purely rhetorical - pocket sleeve pictured below), perhaps indicating the label's diminishing patience and a pressing size closer to actual demand (i.e. none). This would be the band's only single (the Branded who had an LP were a South Australian country band), and the end of Burnette and Cutelle's association with Infinity. As far as we've been able to ascertain, other '70s recordings remain unreleased.
Post-Branded, Messrs. Burnette and Cutelle seemingly went into hibernation for a few years. When they re-emerged, their next move would unleash collector scum nightmares for decades to come. Stay tuned.
Think you know a lot about Australian records in the punk era? We promise to astonish you with stuff off everybody's radar. We apply quality control so our powerpop has power, our glam has prominent balls, our punk is spiky and our DIY is far, far out there. We'll also do it-never-ends exposés of sleeve variations and inserts you didn't know existed. Strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.