Sunday 23 October 2011

Finch - Stay / Roses 7" Eagle ES1001, 1976

In theory, Rose Tattoo and Lobby Loyde jamming out a tribute to the Hippie Love Weed* should be a stoner's wet dream. The reality is somewhat different; Realise Legalise's go-nowhere noodling is all leaf and stem, and - much like being dared to drink the bongwater - it'll leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Fortunately, primo stoner grillfat is out there and findable if you have the right connections. Today, we open our secret stash.

Finch was active from 1973 to 1979, initially as Stillwater, then later as Contraband to avoid confusion with a similar ornithologically-inclined Dutch band. A number of releases document each phase throughout the '70s, but our focus here is on Finch's mid-period, a relatively brief window when three records were released on the band's own Eagle label. A debut LP, the well-regarded Thunderbird, appeared in May 1976, and was ushered in a month prior by a 45 with an album track as its A-side. Stay is not a bad song, highlighting the proggy tendencies noted elsewhere, but for Wallaby Beat purposes it's the non-LP B-side which delivers the goods.

Roses, an excellent sub-Quo dotted-rhythm crunch, first appeared in 1974 as one of three Finch contributions to the Drouyn soundtrack LP. The rawness of the original is appealing, but the re-recording showcases a more forceful performance from a band in its prime, captured perfectly by crisp and heavy production. Of course it's the lyrics, with their singular preoccupation and paranoia about the fuzz, which are the icing on the hash cookie. We can't vouch for the horticultural accuracy of the chorus, but there's no arguing the catchiness of its hook. And thankfully, the original's pre-solo declaration - one of grillfat's cooler exclamations this side of "Stick this in your fuse box" - is retained from the Drouyn version. Download it, pack it in your iCone, and get real, real gone for a change.

Roses (1976) [Download]

Roses (1974) [Download]

A second single from Finch's self-released era followed in December 1976 (Short Changed Again / One Nighter, Eagle ES 1002). Regular readers will know that we're as partial to the odd piece of long-haired misogyny as the next bogan, provided selves are not taken too seriously and sick riffage abounds. Alas, Short Changed Again falls at the first hurdle. Don't these dorks know that they'll keep getting cock-blocked until they learn to stop tripping over their own knuckles? As for the riffing, the song presages Finch's descent into mersh hard rock - decent enough, but proceedings would benefit greatly from knuckles and musical balls occupying adjacent real estate. Compared with Roses, you will certainly feel like you got less than you bargained for. A live version of the song, featured alongside AC/DC and Radio Birdman on 2JJ's Long Live The Evolution LP (AA9042, 1977), is included here for educational purposes only.

Short Changed Again [Download]

Short Changed Again (live) [Download]

After the release of Short Changed Again, Finch moved south to Melbourne and embarked on a tour with Supernaut. Line-up reshuffles ensued, including guitarist Bob Spencer exiting for Skyhooks (and, eventually, the Angels), and Mark Evans, freshly ejected from AC/DC, joining the fold. The new-look Finch released the major label Nothing To Hide LP in 1978, along with a number of singles. There are a handful of passable songs on the LP (Nothing To Hide, Leave The Killing To You; both issued as 45s), but on the whole it's characterised by a lack of inspiration and tepid production. 1979 saw more rotations in the line-up, the name change to Contraband and a final LP which continued the downward trajectory. Grillfat ultra-nerds can keep themselves entertained with pressing variations on these records, but that's a level of It-Never-Ends mania beyond even us. We'll leave the grilling to you.

* With thanks to The Mummies.

Form an orderly queue, ladies.


Anonymous said...

Finch also had a kooky song about Pink Spiders being lodged in their least as good as ( the most excellent ) Roses with it's gardening advice

The last band who called the police 'fuzz" was Supergrass when they were "caught by the fuzz" and that was 17 years ago

I reckon the term "fuzz" is due a revival

Big Ern xxx

MJBowden said...

This band had a great sound. You are doing a great job with this sight. You have some very cool. unique music, especially to someone here in the USA.

Anonymous said...

About the 2JJ live recording of Short Changed Again ..... well I have just managed to get my hands on the recording of the entire set recorded by 2JJ ..... and its brilliant ....... includes 4 previously unrecorded tracks

70's boy