Sunday, 21 November 2010

Walrus - I Am The Walrus / Wild Time Tonight 12" EMI Custom PRS-2555, 1978

From delicate, fluttering insects to loud, lumbering mammals in the space of a week - talk about biodiversity. Befitting of a blog named Wallaby Beat, we're about to get all anthropomorphic-like.

The Tasmanian mock variety notwithstanding, Walrus is yet another example of an Australian hard rock band named after a non-native species (see also: Buffalo, Rabbit, Bengal Tigers). As anyone who has endured an episode of the Crocodile Hunter would know, Australia has a vast array of beasties capable of reducing your life expectancy, so we're not sure why the unpatriotic nomenclature held such sway (Steve Irwin would surely have approved of this exception). In the case of Walrus, it's possible that the appeal lay in a ready-made theme song, a cover of I Am The Walrus included on the band's lone 12". On the plus side, their version gives the song a tough HM arrangement and is surprisingly listenable. On the negative side, it's still a Beatles cover, so it doesn't appear here as a matter of general principle.

The 12" was recorded in January '78 and released mid-year (three years after Walrus formed in Sydney's western suburbs - click here to read more biographical details in the band's own words). The recording date is remarkable given the musical approach of the standout track, Wild Time Tonight. The tempo, double-tracked guitar riffing, and overall attack are nothing short of NWOB(A?)HM a whole year before the genre's defining bands made it to vinyl in the UK. Add a second kick drum and we're in territory mined by Jaguar three years hence. We can only assume our Westie hairfarmers were dialled in to the same Budgie tunes (Breaking All The House Rules..., especially) as their limey counterparts, and were possessed of the same impulse to trim the fat and hit the accelerator.

Walrus, Jaguar, Budgie...it's like a fuckin' zoo in here.

Props are also due to the band for dispensing with pragmatism and opting for the 12" format, a decision that clearly enhances the power of the tunes. Spread out over a whole 12" side, Wild Time Tonight hits like a brick to the erogenous zone - reason enough to consider the supplied mp3 a placeholder until you chase down the vinyl. Largely used as a promotional tool, copies sometimes surface with the aforementioned bio and/or the promo photo pictured below.

Though there were no more official releases, a number of other recordings exist which confirm that Wild Time Tonight was something of a one-off - the remainder of the band's repertoire tended towards sluggish hard rock, without the personality or taut execution evident here. With a change of name to The Lads around 1980, the band remained active to varying degrees throughout the following decade (mainly confined to the western Sydney pub circuit, including one memorable afternoon gig at the Viking Tavern on September 2, 1984), but never did reach the level of like-minded long-hairs Boss or Heaven. Or Finch.

Wild Time Tonight


Photographic evidence against the bio's claim of "a lengthy stint of shaving". Seconds after this pic was taken, vocalist Mark Collier deployed his chute.

Thanks to Clint Chapman for help with info.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Bout time technology caught up with the "Original" Walrus and show the the four imposter bands as just that, who stole the name and not the capability.

Anonymous said...

WALRUS never achieved the industry backing it should have got. Nor did FINCH or a few others of that time period which were far better musicians and rockers than many signed acts of the same period and later.

Keep rockin' fella's.

John Woods said...

Just found this WALRUS listing. Thank you for the promo. Also learned today that there was a copycat WALRUS band in Sydney now.

The 12" WALRUS single was a world's first, as we thought of it after talking the EMI engineers because we wanted to make the record so loud, you had to turn t down.

Typically, Skyhooks copied the idea and got credit from dear Molly Meldrum for a "first" during 1979.

I am still playing and sure wish I had the great gear available today back then, as we really did have lousy equipment by todays standards, particually from the bass guitar aspect.

I have been playing with a 3 piece Rock Classic band called Rockerbox here in the US until recently.

Hi to Mark, Ted, and young Stewart.

John

Anonymous said...

Hi john its little al email me at drummerboy1962@bigpond.com.

Serena Klatt said...

the bass plyer was little johnny john mcloy sadly john has left us a great bass player he love FREE andy frazier
all best mick k

Anonymous said...

Can you re-upload?thanks

Anonymous said...

Hi johnny,if your still kicking mate,send us an email at plasterer1962@gmail.com. Cheers Alan