Punk, DIY, powerpop, grillfat, glam, NWOAHM from Australia 1975-1984.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
Plastic EP & The Records - At Home / Three Special Words 7" New Wave SF 350-A/B, 1981
The graphic design clusterfuck to your right has created a great deal of confusion among punk collectors and Australian music discographers alike. Is it the Plastic EP by New Wave and the Records? Or New Wave by EP and the Records? No, no, and no to the other more creative permutations that have circulated, Chinese-whispers-like, among the small cadre of enthusiasts aware of this 45's existence. Plastic EP is a pseudonym adopted by the band's vocalist (a.k.a. Daniel Samargis), an homage to the four-tracks-at-45-rpm 7" format embraced by Australian record companies in the '60s; the Records is his backing band. "New Wave", it seems, was either their label or a misguided attempt at consumer advice.
Contrary to the Sydney locale documented in the Who's Who of Australian Rock, the EPs (as we shall refer to them for brevity) were Melbourne-based. Formed in late 1979 or early '80, the EPs' main inspirations were the bands that popularised their namesake format - the Monkees, the Beatles, the Yardbirds et al. It's no surprise, then, that the band existed in isolation from the Melbourne punk and DIY scenes; what is surprising is the choice of direction for their first release (pressed in a quantity of 250, and distributed locally to friends and gig attendees) - a deliberate stab at UK punk.
Naturally, a vinyl-derived band moniker (so nice, they named it twice) delivers brownie points right off the bat, but there are other admirable qualities on display here which appeal to our more conceptual sensibilities. For starters, we are big fans of the EPs' spontaneous approach to song writing - hit "record" and see what happens. "Some of our best songs have been written in under five minutes", explains Plastic EP. "I can write a song from a drum beat and sing the song from start to end without any words written down...it's more important to get the whole song down as a whole than to record a perfect song". Obviously an inherently hit-and-miss technique, here the band wisely distils the hits at the expense of the misses (an approach that was subsequently abandoned; more on that next week). Whether the attempts at UK '77 were a stylistic success is open to debate, but both songs are undeniably catchy, and performed with commendable energy and disregard for technical precision. At Home opens with a gangbuster intro, among the best in Australian punk, before settling in to a more straightforward, '60s-inspired 12-bar punker. Three Special Words more obviously displays the EPs' "make it up as you go" ethos (Can't think of what to sing next? Nonsense syllables are an acceptable substitute for words!), and is arguably the stronger track.
An additional appeal is that nobody here is playing with a full deck. Plastic EP's inability to sing a note, combined with the rudimentary lyrics and musicianship, lend proceedings an air of the mentally deranged, only adding to the EPs' standing in the Wallaby Beat canon. Things would only get stranger over time - we pick up the trail next week.
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.