Sunday, 27 February 2011

Assassins - Assassination / Suicide 7" Greasy Pop GPR100, 1982

Adelaide, as Danny Decay observed, it's a crazy place. Little did we realise when we planned Malcolm Fraser month that most of the recorded opposition to his nibs originated from South Australia's capital - the city of churches, Australia's serial killer capital, snooze-ville.

The most vociferous of them all is surely this ditty by three members of hometown legends the Dagoes. Although Fraser isn't mentioned by name, there's only one prime minister. Just to nail down the intention here's songwriter Doug Thomas's account of the track from the book Underground In The City Of Churches. Take it away, Doug:
"The lyric that is important is the very last line. 'Australia needs this man dead'. That's all I had to say, that's what the song's about, kill Malcolm Fraser - he's an arsehole. The Dagoes did it once or twice as an instrumental set opener in 1979, called something daft like Party Dress or Party Dance. Something really dumb, certainly not Assassination or Kill The Prime Minister, but it was rejected by the Dagoes, it was knocked back unanimously by Dick, Neil and Beau as a political statement which they didn't want. Dick flatly refused to sing it so it was an instrumental. It didn't unduly worry me until a couple of years later when the prick was still in power, and I still hadn't had my say!"
During one of the Dagoes' many break-ups Thomas got together with two other band members, Otis and The Turk (Geoff Short - brother of Filth's Bob Short), and advertised for a singer. Ian List came through the audition and the band practised under the names Ten Wombats, Electric Soup and Main Feature. Kill The Prime Minister was dusted off (along with another enticingly titled original, Up Yours Cazaly). Eventually the lineup settled as List, Thomas and Short under the name The Assassins.

Thomas, Turk, List, '82, trying not to look like Hüsker Dü
In February 1982 Kill The Prime Minister was recorded, and after some funding difficulties finally released in 1983 on Greasy Pop. It's one of the easier-to-find Australian punk records and as a result is perhaps unfairly ignored. Unfairly because instrumentally and thematically at least it's a little monster. While the guitar is sharp and loud, the vocals are pushed back deliberately - it was List's first go in a studio and Thomas wasn't overly happy with the results. The band never played live as far as we are aware, and anyway soon changed their name again to the Falling Spikes, then the Spikes.

Kill The Prime Minister was also reissued under its original title on a split 12" with Ian List and The UVs in 1990 (GPR 100/152).



The Assassins disenchantment with the PM by 1982 merely echoed that of the electorate. Faced with a recession, high inflation and rising unemployment, the people were ready to go with the ALP. Fraser called a snap election on 3 February 1983, unaware that that morning Labor had replaced their then leader with the popular Bob Hawke. The Liberals well and truly had their daks removed at the March poll.

Which neatly leads into one last Malcolm Fraser incident. Attending an ex-heads of government junket in Memphis, Tenn. in 1986, he was seen wandering around the foyer of the Admiral Benbow Inn in a towel, discombobulated, and wondering aloud as to the whereabouts of his trousers. Trousers (missing) in action, as it were. Amongst allegations of prostitutes and being slipped a Mickey Finn, Fraser has stayed mum all these years, surely taking the Mickey Bliss one more time.

Malcolm "sporting the mohawk look" on the cover of Trousers In Action 1, 1982.


Balk Brimley said...

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Dude Behind The Record Counter said...

Huge HUGE fan of Australian rock! Thank you... and keep it up.
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Anonymous said...

So that's the end of the Fraser thread? I didn't necessarily expect you to feature them, but surprised you didn't mention X-Ray-Z and The Barrow Creek Boys

Bob Short said...

Geoff Short AKA Turk is my long lost brother. Last time I saw him was when he came to see my band Filth play "Do the Harold Holt" back in 78. I would like to see him again if anyone knows where he is!