Punk, DIY, powerpop, grillfat, glam, NWOAHM from Australia 1975-1984.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Die Dancing Bears - Drug Dance / New York Valentine 7" no label MX59905/6, 1982
Die Dancing Bears' beginnings were in Adelaide, where vocalist Lynton Cox had gigged with Recoil, a training wheels punk band playing a few originals interspersed among Ramones and Stranglers covers. After the band's demise in March 1980, Cox dallied briefly with Cracked Actors before forming Die Dancing Bears in October with Daryl Champion (bass, ex-Void/Art Vandals), Liz Neat (drums), Kathryn O'Neil (keyboards), and Kym Tonkes (guitar). The band released a self-titled cassette the following year, before upping stumps and moving to Sydney where, in May 1982, this single was recorded with a slightly altered lineup - Neat (who found the band's music too depressing) having been replaced, initially by Iva Malone (who also found the band's music too depressing), then by Michael Waniarcha for the recording. Waniarcha found the band's behaviour depressing and was replaced by John Burgess after the single was recorded.
Drug Dance/New York Valentine was released in October, around the same time as Madroom's Cruelty of Beauty 12", making it among the first Australian records to veer self-consciously into UK-influenced goth-punk territory (though beyond Box of Fish, Club of Rome, Dorian Gray and perhaps Marble Soldiers, we can't think of too many others that fit the bill from the class of '82/'83). Goth, like Melbourne pub rock, is not our strong suit. Our experience extends about as far as TSOL's Dance With Me LP, which is to say, not very far; intentions of educating ourselves for this post fell by the wayside with the realisation that, ultimately, life's too short. That said, New York Valentine's sound is faster and more aggressive than we'd typically associate with the likes of Bauhaus and Southern Death Cult. Its pace, ascending riff, and discordant guitar clanging make it more akin to the Dead Kennedys' Bleed For Me, though given that it was recorded a month prior to Plastic Surgery Disasters, the DKs are an unlikely influence. We're on firmer ground in drawing a line to the Birthday Party's live run-through of Loose, and noting Cox's Cave-like vocal yelps - dig that opening scream.
The band continued into 1983 with additional line-up changes, but no further records would emerge. Tonkes later joined Madroom, vastly improving their sound on 1984's I Am For An Art... LP. Cox eventually returned to Adelaide, becoming a morning DJ on community station Three D. Sadly, he passed away in 2005.
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.