Sunday, 30 December 2012

U-Bombs - Give Me A Medal 7" Radioactive PRS-2584, 1978


Adelaide's alright if you like saxophones:



For Irving and the U-Bombs, one of Australia's original class of '77, it wasn't always the way. Following an all-too-familiar lightning bolt moment - a chance encounter with the Sex Pistols on TV - Paul Tuxworth (guitar, vocals), Anando "Phil" Bahti (bass, vocals, guitar) and Roy Erzinger (drums, vocals) made the overnight transition from teenage Genesis-obsessed prog rockers to fully-fledged punk rockers. Within weeks, a set of over 20 songs was worked up, consisting mostly of covers with a sprinkling of originals. Soon after, Irving and the U-Bombs debuted at a private party in the Adelaide hills, playing a short, fast and frantic set which was reportedly greeted by dropped jaws and stunned silence. A nine-week residency at the Belair Hotel followed, during which the band cultivated a reputation for fearsome live performances ("Adelaide's premier speed outfit", according to issue #1 of DNA zine).

Within a year, the name was shortened to the U-Bombs and, portentously, the lineup was extended to include Ian Thurnwald on sax and vocals. It was this incarnation which appeared on the Live At The Marryatville cassette, released by Simon Stretton of Black Chrome/Tomorrow Records, which by all accounts still captured the original U-Bombs attack (please drop us a line if you have a copy you'd let go). However, as recorded in the pages of DNA, the addition of sax didn't sit well with many of the band's original fans, who saw it as the beginning of the end. Indeed, the lineup change foreshadowed a move to a more considered, less punky songwriting style and a less frenetic delivery (though the above video shows the occasional flashback to former glories). This era is documented on 1978 and 1979 demos - one released on Tomorrow as 12 Family Favourites From The Golden Years of Protest - and the U-Bombs' only single.

Give Me A Medal has a reputation for being one of the weaker early Australian punk records, and we ourselves have struggled to look past what might have been had the U-Bombs hit the studio just six months earlier. So what is there to appreciate about a record that is, in the words of DNA again, "cleared of the simplistic sludge that is punk"? Give Me A Medal has some interesting lyrics; The New And Improved has tempo on its side (at least to begin with); and (What's) Your Problem? is a pretty good song, plain and simple. The record - with its silk-screened sleeve, poster, stickers and instruction manual inserts - also makes for a nice visual package. Still, we can't help wishing that the instructions for the "groovy 'do-it-yourself badge kit'" (see below) weren't emblematic of the U-Bombs' musical trajectory.

Give Me A Medal [Download]


The New And Improved [Download]


(What's) Your Problem [Download]


Instruction manual.

Far out poster.

Groovy 'do-it-yourself badge kit' / all purpose bumper sticker.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Systems Go! - No More Xmas, Carol 7" no label or matrix number, 1978


First of all:

Now before you think we've gone all god botherin' on you, let us explain. After the fact that the first 18 seconds blows most contemporaneous "prog" out of the water, the first reason for posting Sister Jan's groovy 1973 reading is that Clare Moore of The Sputniks is apocryphally playing the freaky drums on it! That's not quite the case though Clare did learn her craft under the Svengali-like gaze of the good sister.

The second point of Wallaby Beat interest is that playing on and writing songs on Mead's records was a guy called Arnold Strals. He's presumably responsible for that analogue synth on The Lord's Prayer and the funky drumbeat. In fact he copped the songwriting credit, nice work for words nearly 2000 years old!

Fast forward a few years and, like Moore, Strals appeared in the Adelaide underground. The band was Systems Go!, and while clearly not a punk band, the photo in Inner City Sound hints at a David Lynch-ian otherworldliness, with a touch of Pere Ubu thrown in.


The band released a pretty obscure 7" in 1978, along with a track on the 5MMM compilation best known for the Brats in 1980. As well as Strals the band featured Huw Lewis on lead and slide guitar,
Liduina van der Sman on sax and flute, Adrienne Sach on piano and harmonica, Keith Newman on drums, Vonni Rollan on congas and Nigel Sweeting on bass.

Van der Sman later played with ...And The Native Hipsters in London, before closing the circle and playing with Moore and Dave Graney on 1997's The Devil Drives. Newman had been in The Warm Jets who became Terminal Twist, who covered several of Strals' songs, including Common Knowledge on their EP. Strals' songs are also listed as an influence on Terry Bradford from Greasy Pop band July 14th, in his interview in Underground In The City Of Churches.

Rollan and Sweeting then spent time in new wavers Nuvo Bloc before Sweeting hooked up with Strals and Lewis through the early to mid '80s as Speedboat. You can hear a Speedboat track, Sex Without Grunting, on Fast Forward 11.

Which brings us to the 1978 single. The less interesting A-side of the single can be heard on Left Of The Middle. The flipside though, is a lumbering beast of a song, really hitting its straps in the choruses, where Strals' take on Tom Waits' take on Captain Beefheart will sit really well with your fifth glögg/umeshu/Fosters on Tuesday afternoon.

No More Xmas, Carol [Download]

Sunday, 16 December 2012

It Never Ends: Voigt/465 - A Secret West 7" Unanimous Weld Enunciations E594, 1978

An extensive history of Voigt/465, authored by keyboard player and vocalist Phil Turnbull, can be found spread across several pages at his No Night Sweats website. A comprehensive firsthand account, it even offers some mild It Never Ends action to entertain us record collector subnormals, via its description of multiple pressings of the Slights Unspoken LP. Rather than parrot those details, we'll focus today on our own minor contribution to the story: welcome to the fascinating world of variations on Voigt/465's A Secret West / State 45.

The single is housed in a great sleeve, the murky, ambiguous imagery complementing the sounds within and reflecting the Voigt/465 mindset - i.e. one eye on the rear-view mirror but always surging forward, even if the final destination isn't clear (or, in Turnbull's words, "Post-Punk Rock, Krautrock and Prog rock combine to form a sound unlike any other"). All copies are hand-numbered in a variety of locations on the back cover, which conveniently allows us to trace how construction of the sleeves (and the accompanying insert) evolved over time. Enlightening in some respects but head-scratching in others - we'll get to that in a moment.

Early copies are assembled in marvelous DIY fashion, being two photocopied sheets, cut and pasted onto blank cardboard sleeves; the dimensions of the artwork are smaller than the blank sleeve, creating a white border. Over time, the glue has tended to become discoloured - even on the most well-preserved of copies - characterising the initial batch with brown-ish stains or "foxing". This version is numbered in black pen on the bottom right-hand side of the back cover:

#21

An insert is included in all copies of the record. Early examples - the first 100 or so - feature lyrics to both songs, a dictionary definition of "Whodunit?" with non sequiturs apparently authored by our mate Fat Lenny, and a statement that there were "500 copies pressed":

"500 copies pressed"

Anyone who has ever assembled and numbered record covers can attest that it is about as tedious as a Puritans B-side. At some point, even counting the number of records dispatched from the pressing plant seems like a preferable activity. Whoops! EMI Custom overshipped the order by 10%. Time to re-do that insert. This version, found in the remainder of the run, retains the layout of the song lyrics but inserts a new batch of nonsense below, with a more precise description of the pressing size:

"One of 547"

The earlier insert was most commonly printed on white paper, and the later version on fluorescent coloured stock, but note that the paper colour isn't convenient shorthand to differentiate them - white and fluoro examples exist for both.

The tedium of record cover assembly inevitably leads to band members hitting the pub, never to return. The remaining copies are circulated naked, dooming OCD-afflicted, pic-sleeve-obsessed record collectors to untold sleepless nights. Some examples have even forced us to install padded walls in our record rooms. Voigt/465, ever-determined to tread their own path, took a different tack. Later copies are housed in a professionally printed sleeve on textured cardstock - a less labour-intesive solution, individual numbering notwithstanding. On this version, the print job is somewhat darker, revealing more detail in the reflection, and the artwork extends to the edges of the sleeve (though a white edge remains on the left side of the back cover, where the number appears, again in black pen). Oddly, this appears to be the less common variation:

#285

That all seems like a cogent story, right? So what are we to make of this tail-ender, a return to the cut-and-paste style? The road ahead must seem especially bleak after assembling 500 record covers. This copy differs from the others in being numbered in blue pen, on the top left of the back cover, and in what the Wallaby Beat forensic handwriting department has concluded is different penmanship.

#500

And so last, but by no means least, we come to the music itself. In turns melodic, arty and aggressive, State delivers on all of the promise of Phil Turnbull's above-quoted description without succumbing to its obvious pitfalls. The sublime descending bass run alone shoots it to the top-tier of Australian art-punk. Voigt/465's subsequent LP is also well worth hearing, but though the band would become artier, they would never be as "punk" (a change in drummer seems the likely culprit). The CD compilation One Faint Deluded Smile is sadly out of print, but can be found archived at Mutant Sounds; individual tracks are also included on the Can't Stop It and Inner City Sound CDs.

State [Download]

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Lonely Boys (and The Breakers)

Two weeks ago we covered the excellent News flexidisc that featured Sweet Dancer Au Go-Go, and many moons ago we looked briefly at Kim Fowley's visit to Australia. Today we tie them together with the tale of Jarryl Circus's flirtation with the animal god of the streets, via the Lonely Boys.

Prior to News' initial breakup, Circus had made his way to the Melbourne Hilton to play some tracks for Fowley. The News website takes up the story:
As Gavin was preparing to vacate Faraday St in December, intelligence reached him that before the band went bust, Jarryl had been setting up (on the sly) a solo career with US producer Kim Fowley. Fowley was then a name, having worked all around the world, successfully often enough, since the early sixties. He was making a well publicised visit to Melbourne and Sydney looking for bands to produce. Among the flow of hopeful artists was Jarryl, who played Fowley some News material. The material went down well and Fowley set Jarryl up with sessions at AAV studios from December into 1979. He recruited a backing band and they were recording as the Lonely Boys.
The backing band was centred around Jim Manzie, who had had considerable local success in the mid-seventies in Ol' 55, a fairly weak fifties revival act.  Manzie played bass and recruited Ol' 55 drummer Geoff Peterkin, kiwi session muso Martin Fisher on keyboards, and Scott Douglas on rhythm guitar. Circus, back under his real name Wirth, sings and plays guitar. The sessions, which Inner City Sound says were actually at Armstrong's, yielded four songs which appeared over the next eighteen months on various Fowley sponsored compilations.

The first tracks to appear were in August 1979 on the Vampires From Outer Space LP (USA Bomp 4005 1979). The LP also had a release in the UK (London SH-Z 8543) and in Germany (Line LLP5013) featuring the garish cover at the top of the post. Fowley raves in the liner notes:
Underworld rumors led me to the Lonely Boys in darkest Melbourne, Australia. The bold diplomat, Jarryl Worth, on "Phantom Poster Man", screams of the new falcons, the subhumans demanding their place in the race. Vegetable Minds who have heard this slice of life decree "It's Got Industrial Action".
Whatever. The tracks, the above mentioned Phantom Poster Man (more likely a tribute to the ubiquitous street poster company) and Ugly Girl, bleat the Oz rock past of the band over anything Wirth might have brought from News. Fowley sneaks a co-writing credit on both.

Phantom Poster Man [Download]


Ugly Girl [Download]


Where Is The Sun was the next to get a guernsey, on the Waves (An Anthology Of New Music Vol 2) LP (USA Bomp 4008, also Germany Line LLP5063,  and Canada Bomb 124) in 1980. This song is a bit better, sounding like it was recorded in the wee early hours of darkest Melbourne. In fact this was recorded the night that the News' Faraday St home/base/recording studio was fire-bombed (January 3, 1979). Once again Fowley's liners are hysterical. Potted highlights include that the band started as an "anti-disco group", "their code is alienation plus radiation, the expectation of desperation. They're in control of their rock 'n' roll, they're not old, and they're not on the dole", "the group plays motorcycle club parties and hospital charity dances. Among their influences are Gary Gilmour, the Trashmen, the Dead Boys, and Octavius Caesar".

Where Is The Sun [Download]


Finally Sweet Dancer A Go Go turned up on the Kim Fowley's Hollywood Confidential LP (USA GNP Crescendo GNPS 2132, also in Greece on MusicBox SMB 40130), later in 1980. Ross Wilson is credited with arranging and he and Keith Glass sing backing vocals. You will recognise the song from the News flexi, though now with more doctrinaire drumming and restrained guitar. Still, a good song is a good song. Although Fowley doesn't cop a credit here, Gavin Quinn did take issue with the Wirth songwriting credit:
It seems that at their meeting, Jarryl claimed that he wrote and arranged what Fowley was hearing. When Gavin heard this much through friends in the business, he was predicably not happy. In the beginning, he had written all Babeez/ News material. He was a skilled and prodigious writer: "Gavin had this pop/punk vision and his rate of churning out songs was really fast" [John Murphy]. But Jarryl began writing with Gavin and compositions were collaborative from then on: "I'd lay down the parameters, he would work out the hard stuff. He had a much better appreciation of key and chordal structure than I did. He knew what I wanted, so between the two of us we managed to perfect it. He wasn't too good with melody, so developed a lot with melody. Towards the end it was all a group effort. Regardless of whose songs they were, the band arranged them and made it happen." [Gavin].
Sweet Dancer A Go Go [Download]



The story doesn't quite end there. The band then rebranded as The Breakers and after supporting the B-52s on their tour released one 7" on Powderworks in 1980. This is pure Countdown new wave, over-produced and over dramatic. The choruses are OK.




When I'm On T.V. [Download]


Lipstick And Leather [Download]


Though apparently publishing and even recording deals were signed for overseas it appears that was it. The band's swansong was a brief appearance in the background half way through the film that popularised the phrase "slack-arsed molls" (chime in at 6:08):

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Strutter - Mary Janes Rainbow World 7" EMI Custom PRS-2485, 1976

Once again, we raid our secret stash and invite you to mull over this offering from the wastoids of Newcastle's Kiss Army. By their own admission, Strutter barely set foot out of bed in the morning before hitting the bong, so its a minor miracle that their creative energies were channeled more productively than the foot soldiers down the New England Highway, and with more sincerity than the Section 8 even further south. Unfortunately, motivation ran dry before the important matter of punctuation was dealt with. Perhaps they should have asked to borrow an apostrophe from the So+So's.

Mary Janes Rainbow World celebrates the time honoured tradition of getting baked outta one's gourd with Kiss on the turntable. Hats are doffed to Ace Frehley and his "lead guitar from outer space"; synaesthesia ensues. Yup, Mary Jane - Strutter know a couple of things about her. The riffing's tough and the drumming is simple and pounding, so the lads know a thing or two about rock and roll as well. They're even happy to tell us as much on the flip, but can't help doing so by paraphrasing the title of Kiss' Rock and Roll Over LP.

The Newcastle Bands Database has some basic information about band membership fragmented across a few different pages, some of it contradictory, but hey, it's not like our research has been able to clarify things. However, we can say definitively that this record dates from 1976 rather than the earlier timeframe referenced; 500 were pressed, but we've seen just a single copy over a ten year search.

Mary Janes Rainbow World [Download]


Little Lady [Download]

Sunday, 25 November 2012

News - Dirty Secrets 7"+flexi 1979


Bruce Milne and Clinton Walker published 3 issues of their fanzine Pulp through 1977 (the third was a double issue numbered 3/4). For issue 5 Milne planned to include a flexidisc by our good friends News. Milne had had a relationship with the members of News pre-dating their days as Babeez, having been in various party bands with them in the nascent Melbourne punk scene. Around March 1978 the band thus recorded two of their songs at the Faraday St house they used as band base and recording studio. As recorded at the excellent News pages, they used "the same gear as for the Babeez EP. It was all one take, straight down." The flexis were then pressed at Sydney manufacturer Ambassador Records.

Then things went cold. In April, while putting together their first actual release - the Dirty Lies 7", Milne told them the zine wouldn't be published. Clinton Walker elaborated:
...a fifth was almost completed when the concept folded early in 1978. Roadrunner magazine had been started in Adelaide, and we got involved doing what we could for them in Melbourne. But we both harboured an ambition to put out Pulp 5 somehow, sooner or later. It was a matter of finding a couple of hundred dollars which, of course, we couldn't.
News put together a Pulp benefit at Bernhardt's on 30th April, "a six hour spectacular including News (natch), Young Charlatans, Boys Next Door, Two Way Garden, Fiction, and Spivs. An epic show, but for some reason or other, it didn't resuscitate the ailing Pulp". Eventually Pulp 5 became a Best Of Pulp which eventually saw light as the book we all know and love, Inner City Sound.

The flexi also eventually surfaced in 1979 as part of the Dirty Secrets (a.k.a. The History Of News) pack put together by Bruce Milne, coupled with a one sided vinyl 7" containing one side of the Babeez EP (with Dowannalove and Hate). Nobody Wants Me wasn't included as it was earmarked for a Missing Link compilation, Inner Sanctum.
Dirty Secrets was an excellent package and it sold well, at least partly due to the fact that while many in Melbourne were aware that Babeez / News had pioneered local Punk, few knew how or why. This was down to many factors, but especially their practice of avoiding the 'above ground' live circuit and their patchy press coverage. The package also indicated Bruce Milne's continued interest in News, although it marked the end of his 'professional' involvement.
The two songs, by the John From-The-Suburbs, Joy Relentless, Adam Five and Jaryl Circus line-up, are both excellent examples of News' poppy but dirty punk. Both have excellent 1-2-3-4 count-ins, reminiscent of the Babeez' Dowannalove. All in all the sound reflects Five's reaction to The Ramones:
The big changeover was when we heard the Ramones, we incorporated that style into what we were already doing; stopped using 5/4 feels, which we'd been experimenting with, we'd been kidding ourselves (it wasn't necessarily more expressive or musical); and we didn't want it to be as undynamic as the Ramones; if you look at their music through a level-meter you'll find it's flat we wanted more dynamics. We actively made sure there were no spaces in the music; that was one of the definitions.
Sweet Dancer Au Go-Go [Download]


Tell Me Why [Download]

More reading (click to enlarge):

Insert
Rear of sleeve
Low numbered sleeve

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Merv Megastar - Rock 'n' Roll Diskrace 7" EMI Custom 13546, 1984

When we pulled a copy of this single from a box at a recent record fair and read the hype written in sharpie on the plastic outer sleeve ("Merv Superstar [sic] - Oz KBD punk - $1000") we almost spat mouthfuls of banana in the dealer's face (bananas are the perfect record collector food, doncha know). We shouldn't have been so surprised. Perhaps you've seen the dealer in question spruiking a single by the Sharks on a certain online auction site with an $800 opening bid. Yikes. You won't find that turd of a record featured here - ever - but, outrageous misrepresentations aside, Mr Megastar is more than worthy of your time.

So, back to the three assertions in the dealer hype. Let's consider them one-by-one:
  1. Merv Superstar? Duh.
  2. Oz KBD punk? Well, yes, Merv is Australian so bravo, that's one out of three. Rock 'n' Roll Diskrace is twelve-bar Oz Rock pastiche; She's in Love With A Vacuum Cleaner is a cool pub rocker; and Deviates Have More Fun is 1984's Booker Prize-winning Bachelor Boys: The Young Ones Book as adapted by John Otway. Cliff Richard isn't namechecked but Rat Scabies is, hence the "punk novelty" tag for this post.
  3. $1000? Excuse us, we need to wipe half-chewed banana off our computer screens.

Rock 'n' Roll Diskrace [Download]


She's In Love With A Vacuum Cleaner [Download]


Deviates Have More Fun [Download]


Test pressing? Merv proves that he can do it horizontal, or maybe perpendicular.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Moral Support - Need Love 7" Ridiculous R01, 1980

We've had Oz rock gets once lucky, how about half-lucky? Non-Australians might think this is a pretty neat piece of power pop, and as far as the chorus goes we'd agree with you. In fact the chorus is great! However non-Strines are lucky to probably have never heard a little band called Australian Crawl, who our boys ape a little too closely through the verses, kinda ruining it for us.

Nevertheless, great punky sleeve, good chorus. Worth 2:46 of your time?

Local diggers may stumble across a Moral Support LP from the same year - that's the UK Christian new wave/powerpop band, whose album was pressed in New Zealand.

Need Love [Download]

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Numbers - Govt. Boy 7" Local Label 3, 1979

The Numbers began in the North West Sydney suburb of Thornleigh. Brother and sister Chris and Annalisse Morrow had played together at home for many years before unleashing themsleves on the world with a string of drummers. Today we concentrate on their first release, a three track 7" on the Local Label (home of the SheiksParadox, Young Modern and Mopsie Beans), which was recorded in 1978 and came out in 1979. A comprehensive interview with the band by David Nichols can be found over at Mess + Noise. From that interview, Chris Morrow recalls the first record:
It was about being a kid who went to a government school. I guess it was really – I wrote that with Marty Newcombe, who was the original drummer in the band – that whole working class thing. Through Marty we met a guy called Arch Brown, and Arch worked with what was called the Blacktown Music Co-Op. I think it might have been one of those initiative things through Blacktown council, or it might have been just a group of ordinary citizens. At that time the whole “hey anybody can put out a 7” single” mentality was burgeoning, and you could do-it-yourself to get a record out and get some recognition, so during that whole period that was taking place in the western suburbs. We did two or three gigs for the Blacktown Music Co-Op and Arch put us in the studio to do the EP. He was really instrumental in the band’s early career, and he was the band’s tour manager for a long time after that.
Interestingly, Brown and Chris Morrow went on to begin writing a rock opera about the government boy living in Blacktown. Nothing came of it, though a version of the song Blacktown can be heard on the band's second album, 39:51.

The Govt. Boy EP is a good one, with a strong, urgent delivery, simple drumming and good guitar lines. The dual male and female vocals are also used to interesting effect. There's an element of all the instruments fighting with each other to get to the end of the song, but, those were the times. It's that urgency which was lost when the band set off on the path of commercial success, being picked up by ex-AC/DC manager Michael Browning for his Deluxe label.

This is the point in the post where we find something nice to say about the band's later career. So, um, ah, they weren't the worst band to find some measure of Countdown level success. Will that do? They also had records released in the UK and Europe so keep your eyes peeled. In other Wallaby Beat related tidbits Marcus Phelan from The Works joined on guitar for a while, and drummer Simon Vidale was involved in the Barons and Scattered Order (in fact Mitch Tee did the Numbers live sound for a while). The full, convoluted line-up changes are well handled over at RetroUniverse.

Govt. Boy [Download]


Private Eyes [Download]


Guerilla [Download]


Two of the EP tracks were reissued on a 1980 B-side which managed to get both song titles and the year of recording wrong.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Puritans - Start to Finish 7" Puritan Records MD-A/B2, 1981?

What little we know about the Puritans - and their (presumably) only release - comes from the handwritten note from brothers Matt (drums) and Jon Dickson (sax, bass, guitar, vocals, and songwriting), included with our copy. It reads thusly:
What can I say about the record? Start to Finish is basically the A-side, recorded about 2 years ago. Love/Bitter was the first thing we played when we got our instruments.

Jon is now playing bass and sax with Kill the King, who should be appearing shortly at the Trade Union Club with Sardine.

We regard the record as jazz rather than rock, as is most of our inspiration. You could say the music for us illustrates what we believe. It's an end in itself. It must have the power of conviction and be derived from your own experience and intelligence. Just as you believe in certain principles, the music must come from those principles.
Righty-o then. Love/Bitter sounds exactly as described - an attempt at free jazz by two dudes who just picked up their instruments. It is tedious. Start to Finish is much better, and fits neatly into the continuum of Laughing Clowns-inspired Sydney jazz-punk. Here, the basic musicianship and four-track recording work in its favour, lending it a feel closer to skronky no wave than Mr Uddich-Schmuddich...

Start to Finish [Download]



Jon Dickson's tenure in Kill the King must have been relatively brief - the definitive No Night Sweats site doesn't include him as a member, for example. By 1982, he had joined Jeff Cannon (guitars, tenor sax, synth) and Bill Muysken (drums, percussion, alto sax, synth) in Little Pieces, who issued their Patrick Gibson/M-Squared-recorded LP The Bright World (Park Avenue Records PA 001, 1982) without having played a single gig. The album has some interesting moments, being a more refined, wholly instrumental take on the Puritans approach with the inclusion of some repetitive, droney tendencies. Brief album opener Lord Tony would not have been out of place on Quarterstick Records in the 1990s (think June of 44, Rodan, and their post-Slint ilk), whereas the driving, droney overtones are used to best effect on Party, our other pick from the LP.

Lord Tony [Download]


Party [Download]

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Mystery Of Sixes - Skull In My Cave 7" EP Sundown SUN 0045, 1983

Mystery Of Sixes seem to have more rumour and misinformation floating around about them than just about any other band of the era we can think of. Some of the stories are even true. Formed in 1980, with dreams of supporting Razar (who had already split...), the band's first recording, Azaria, was officially banned from airplay by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal as the Chamberlain case was still sub judice. There's tales of being on the receiving end of bashings and being shot at, both true.

Perhaps the dominant tale of their time was when they were accused of stealing a PA system. Rumours abounded that it was wrapped in plastic and buried in a band member's backyard. The band were subsequently blackballed in Brisbane - 4ZZZ wouldn't play their first single, shops wouldn't sell it (though Skinny's stood by them) and venues wouldn't let them play. Eventually, according to Out Of The Unknown magazine, three other blokes were charged with the theft. With everyone happy again the band was back on ZZZ. Well, no one else was going to play them. To round things off, when the ban on Azaria was finally lifted in 1986, ZZZ made a special point of playing it.

The bans fuelled the song Black Banned on the band's second record, a four track EP from 1983. The record highlights the unique sound of the band, with its complex and jazzy (without getting overly technical) structures setting them apart from other bands from the time. While such a sound would not have been out of place on SST, we need to put to rest one final rumour that has persisted - the EP never came out on Alternative Tentacles, even if the band did slip a copy to Jello when the DKs were in Brisbane. Grong Grong, Hack and The Hard-Ons remain the only Australian bands on Alt Tent.

I Don't Know You [Download]


Skull In My Cave [Download]


Black Banned [Download]


Something Mechanical [Download]

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Noise - Think About Tomorrow, Tomorrow 7" Think THK-001, 1981

We saw last week the perils of choosing a popular band name. Unlike the great, the good, and the ska Leftovers, the Innocents from Adelaide didn't even have the decency to tackle a different genre to their namesakes, both falling under the loose umbrella of power pop. So, after one single in 1980 (Identikit Girl / Let's Get Pissed, Distressing Records PRS-2784), a move east necessitated a sensible change of moniker.

Relocating to Sydney as The Noise, the band - Arturo "Arch" Larizza (bass), Richard Daniel (drums), Chris Purcell (guitar), and John Cavuoto (vocals) - would release just this one record in 1981. Think About Tomorrow, Tomorrow is great, moody, expansive pop; a retort - we presume - to hometown heroes the Master's Apprentices. It also belies our lazy comparison to the other Innocents, showcasing a band intent on stretching itself and squeezing the most out of each song - meaning that the arrangement has everything but the kitchen sink. Those who like things more straightforward and upbeat may get more out of Cold Hard Cash, though it will require a tolerance for brass (provided by the excellently named Mourning Horns). Rat Race follows suit, though it's back to the compositional tricks with an extended switch to 3/4 time.

In the following years, The Noise would revert to their former moniker, releasing two further singles as the Innocents ([I Am Not] A Magic Man / Staying At Home 7", Payer Douze FTW666, 1984; and Strange Cults and Customs / After A Fashion 7", Chase SP5, 1985). Larizza went on to join The Saints, but teamed up again with Purcell to release the You Want Everything 12" as the Tall Poppies in 1987.

Think About Tomorrow, Tomorrow [Download]


Cold Hard Cash [Download]


Rat Race [Download]

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Funhouse - Conspicious Consumption 7" EMI Custom 13634, 1984

When Adelaide band Gun Control moved to Sydney in 1984 they changed their name to Funhouse. Being an Adelaide band we revert to our modus operandum and pull out the DNA fanzine stack from the shelf. For balance's sake we'll note that this is our only source as the Wallaby Beat tape deck is out of commission and we couldn't listen to their interview on Public Eye cassette fanzine from 1983.

Singer Rip Savage started in 1979 as a roadie and sometimes vocalist for No Action, a Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks cover band completely lost to history but being the starting point for Ian List (Dagoes, Assassins, Falling Spikes) and Tim O'Connor (of Frente). Rip next moved onto Dead Image with Justin Flint (ex The Victims (no, not those Victims)) on guitar, Phil Perm (né McTaggart) on bass, and Paul Loughhead on drums. They played mostly parties. Flint moved to Perth (still not those Victims) and was replaced by Kelly Hewson from Agent Orange (no, not that Agent Orange, or the other one) and the band rebranded as Gun Control.

The band's first mention in DNA is in May 1980 as bottom of the bill at the Dead Azzaria (sic) & the Dingo Dance, "bring a toy doll and get in 1/2 price", which got cancelled due to adverse publicity in the norm press. Over their first year they developed a set consisting of equal parts punk standards (Sex Pistols - Satellite and Did You No Wrong, Damned - Liar, Ruts - H-Eyes, Dead Boys - Ain't Nothin' To Do, UK Subs - Warhead, Clash - Cheat and White Man, Buzzcocks - Autonomy, Lou Reed - Sweet Jane, Iggy - Funtime) and originals (Political Crimes, Why Are You?, Ignorance, Soldier, Asylum, No Tactics, Clee Chay, Death In An Overcoat). Writing styles were summarised as:
  • Kelly - non-sensical sort of stuff;
  • Phil - political (he's Irish);
  • Rip - about people he knows and their attitudes or various neuroses. 
Herein lies the story of the band as laid out over the next twenty odd issues of the magazine, disparate personalities, disparate tastes, disparate interests, and yet a band which stuck together for four years, trying to get the mix right over and over again.

September 1981 sees them recording their first tape, cutting down the number of covers in their set, and aiming for some of the bigger venues (the Tivoli and the Arkaba). In a live review Harry Butler says "they should be producing a wall-of-noise type sound like Never Mind the Bollocks, instead they're pumping out something like the first Clash album (really thin)"; the mix of political punk, guitar hero soloing and metallic influences seemingly proving difficult to combine. They kept working at it and in a review of a New Year's Eve show Butler says the wall-of-sound is coming along.

In the July 1982 issue, over various gig reviews, Butler notes too many metal moves from Hewson ("he claims it's a piss take but it looks bloody real"), at the next gig "a good show but still too many covers" and by a third gig there is only one cover, and good new songs, but "slow, dirgey metal tunes" are spoiling the set. Rip Savage is noted as developing into a great frontman. Seemingly aware of their faults, the band is able to self-correct, a good sign.

In mid-'82 the band recorded a four song tape with No Tactics / Give Me Security / The Boss / Wooden Doll, which DNA reviewed as "coming across like Generation X backed by a semi-hard rock band". In October another four tracks were recorded, Fly The Flag / Mr Callan / She Belongs To Me / Wake Up. Greasy Pop was to release them as an EP but the band deemed them "too commercial". Doug Thomas recalled in Underground In A City of Churches that it was "no great, lost classic", but "four good songs that should have been released". Two of the tracks did turn up on the A Greasy Selection tape in 1985.

DNA records a gig or two each month over the next year, occasionally reporting on the same lines - a mixture of sparks of energy and slabs of turgid dirge. By late 1983 a move to Sydney was deemed necessary. The band recorded two originals in December, Conspicuous Consumption and Retaliation, ditched the turgid originals and covers (but strangely started doing Interzone by Joy Division (and Search And Destroy (oh dear))).  Their last three local gigs received good reviews in DNA - being described as tighter, more focussed, and a "non-stop blitzkrieg". In February 1984 they headed for Grong Grong and on to Sydney.

Sydney was somewhat successful, they made progress and got good gigs. They changed their name to Funhouse after being asked too many times in interviews about their existing name (sounds like this time the rock 'n' roll arm of the band won the clash with the political arm). The two tracks came out as a single around September. However, one night after a gig most of their gear was stolen. They got by borrowing gear for a while but couldn't rehearse, and they broke up. One more time on their return to Adelaide for final shows, Butler described them as "punk flavoured hard rock".

Savage next landed in Mushroom Planet, Loughhead as Paul Larsen for two long stints in the Celibate Rifles, and Hewson in any number of Adelaide punk and hardcore bands through the '80s - Skunks, Hot Tomatoes, Raw Power (not that one) and Grunter amongst them. The Too Drunk To Funhouse 12" was by an unrelated Melbourne band from later in the '80s.

While there's a metally guitar tone and solos on the record we really just hear the stronger influences of the Dead Kennedys and the Ruts coming through, and oddly with both tracks being credited to Hewson they are both definitely political, not "non-sensical".

Conspicuous Consumption [Download]


Retaliation [Download]

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Relatives - Uncle Theo Comes To Visit 7" Red Ash RAP 002, 1979

By now, regular readers will be well acquainted with The Relatives' great first single, and in particular its hilarious diss of art dealers and collectors. Written from the perspective of a former art collector, Picasso (Private Collector) reflects on the absurdity of the collecting world. Among its many pointed observations, the sentiment that "auctioneers should be kicked in the face" is one that still has some currency with today's punks. The song's conclusion - in which the cynical ex-collector ends up making counterfeits - may ring bells for some, too.

The theme is continued on Uncle Theo Comes to Visit, The Relatives' second and last single. The Prof has been known to complain that it lacks humour, but we'll put that down to its standout song, The Collector, cutting too close to the bone. It's a cracking song, a cautionary tale about the all-consuming record collecting impulse. Riffs cycle through a progression of truck driver's gear changes, ramping up the tension as the obsession takes hold, and only returning to baseline once the collection has gone up in flames. Most hardcore record collectors have, at one time or another, fantasised about being released from the burden of a collection by destroying it. We ourselves have often contemplated the therapeutic benefits of putting a match to our 50-count box of Hilton Bomber EPs. Hmm, tomorrow's a public holiday - might be a nice day to fire up the barbeque.

We put some questions about Uncle Theo (and Uncle Theo) to Simon Kain, Relatives bassist and all-round nice guy. Not only did he answer them graciously, he also made available an unreleased song from the Uncle Theo sessions. Ultimate Fridge embodies everything that's great about The Relatives - inventive songwriting, unique and funny lyrics, lots of energy - and would've been a highlight had it been included on the record.

There were formative pre-punk versions of The Relatives going back to 1975 or so, but by 1977 your set lists had already incorporated Saints and Sex Pistols tunes. Dave Graney has spoken of seeing a news report about the Pistols as the key event in his introduction to punk - was there a similar pivotal moment that pushed The Relatives in that direction?

Reading Anthony O'Grady's Funhouse editorial in RAM Magazine really gave a sense of momentum of a pre-punk movement especially the Sydney scene. By this time our listening was extending to Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Velvets etc. There were snippets about the Ramones, Blondie and the CBGB scene coming through, and then the UK scene started getting mentioned. The Pistols getting signed and dropped by EMI was making the local papers, and the first plays of the video were on TV, from Countdown to Flashez to the news. I think I missed the LWT report Graney mentions but the release of Anarchy was highly anticipated and I bought it on the day of release. The Saints were also getting name checked after their Sounds review, however I (and we) didn't get to see either them or Birdman as we were still too young to get into the gigs and we missed the Punk Gunk gigs as well.

If there was a seminal moment I guess it would have been in early 1977 when the Boys Next Door played a house party over the road from our house. Their equipment van had broken down so the host, who knew we had a band, dragged them over to our place looking for amps. We had tiny little practice amps at this stage but they gladly borrowed them. Having supplied the gear we were invited to the party which was a rabble of the St Kilda scene absolutely tearing the place up. Chris Walsh of The Negatives was filling in on bass for Tracey and I had a long chat to him about music etc. On the turntable they played Alice Cooper's Killer and Funhouse by The Stooges, both I heard for the first time and really right then my direction was set. The band played a great early set of the Lethal Weapons tracks plus covers of I'm Eighteen and possibly the Ramones. Cave was in torn jeans and a cadet shirt with a (Caulfield Grammar?) school tie and a holey jumper over that. It was a great gig and the fun, pace, mayhem and energy of the night really set us on the trail to play punk classics in first gig as The Velvet Underpants in 1977.

Babeez/News seem to have been influential in giving a hand to younger bands in Melbourne, the Proles in particular. News gave you an early gig at Bernhardt's - how influential were they on The Relatives?

In 1978 I was at Melbourne University with John Murphy, who was a school friend of a guy I knew from Scotch College. John was drumming in News and I often ran into him in Lygon Street outside of Readings, which was then the number one place in Melbourne to get all the new singles coming out of the UK and USA. They used to get the shipment on I think a Wednesday morning and then pin them up on a large cork board. I'd drool trying to work out which ones to get each week and was never disappointed.

Back to John - of course we discussed music and he kindly offered to try to get us a support at News' Bernhardt's residency. Bernhardt's was the still-standing disco better known as the Thumpin' Tum in the '60s. It still had the old decor of black and white striped wallpaper and red light coverings. It was a mad crowd of guys in garbage bin liners and was a lot more "punk" than the scene at the Tiger Lounge in Richmond where the Boys Next Door had a residency on Tuesday nights.

By the time we got the support we'd changed the band's name to The Nooney Rickett IV, which we pinched from a combo in a kitsch '60s teen flick called Winter A-Go-Go. Jason and Rodney were still at school and I think for this gig we had dropped the second drumming, retaining Ashley Thompson. We had a lot of nerves playing our first public gig, especially to a real punk audience. My memory of the gig was a blur of noise, we hadn't used foldback before and we couldn't hear what the other guys were playing. It was a slow death that couldn't end sooner and there was a real sense of disappointment afterwards. Not shared by all the band, but I really felt down after that and we didn't play in a "punk venue" again until 1980.

The Relatives released two singles within the space of 6 months in 1979. A common lyrical thread between them has always intrigued me: collectors and collecting. The lyrics seem to reveal an inside knowledge of The Sickness. What was the inspiration there?

I wrote The Collector for the Theo EP. It was directly inspired by a guy I knew who had the most incredible collection of records, all beautifully arranged in his bedroom. He'd order boxes of releases each month, it really was an obsession. Going as far as getting every different country's release of the same record. I mean really! Spending another $20 on a record you already have just to know you have the Spanish version. Years later he'd sold the lot (bar his fave 45s) and replaced them all with CDs (no doubt still getting each release with different country of origin!). I had my own vinyl Jones going (see Readings above) so it was really a warning that the obsession can overwhelm you in the end, hence the burning of the collection at the end of the song.

Who is Uncle Theo?

The relative you love to visit.

You pressed more copies of Uncle Theo than your first single (500 vs 300). It certainly seems to be easier to find. Tell us about how Uncle Theo was distributed - did copies make it elsewhere in Australia, or even overseas?

The vast majority of Uncle Theo singles (and almost all the badges that went with them) were given away on the night with the extras given to band members, sent to whatever radio stations, press, bookers or industry connections we could find. Only a few were put on sale in shops, I dropped off five I think to Readings (of course) and our local Brighton record shop took 10 copies or so. I was too embarrassed to ask for any money for them - that is, if they ever sold. None were sent to overseas press or labels that I can remember. One copy did end up with Molly [Meldrum]. We were at the taping of Countdown when the Police played and whilst he wasn't looking I flung a copy onto the pile of records he was about to review. Unfortunately the ruse failed and we missed out on our one Countdown moment.

After the two singles, The Relatives went in a more post-punk, Fall/Gang of Four direction. How do you rate the songs from this period compared to the singles? Did this incarnation of the band do any studio recording?

The music changed fast and the amount of influences swirling around were so exciting to soak up. Both the Gang of Four and Fall were big influences as well as the Birthday Party, Wire, Mekons, Pop Group, PiL to name a scant handful. It was a natural progression to keep harnessing the aggression of punk and explore the rhythm and jaggedness of the sounds that were around. We were not going to be a Sham 69. Once Andrew and Ashley left the group (1979) Rob took over all the vocal duties and we drafted Bruce in on drums. He was a sheet metal worker with long hair and a real prog rock drum kit with multiple toms etc. The kit shrunk over time and he became a real beast of a player which drove the beat of the group.

Another change at this time was that Rodney Howard began writing songs prolifically. Songs such as Trade Secret, Philosophy and Golden Rule are some of my fave tracks we ever played. Intricate staccato-like riffs with a propelling beat and great lyrics. It's such a shame these were only recorded to demo stage and not properly released. With Rod writing so many great songs I think it was about six months before Rob, Jason and myself (the Kain brothers often collaborated) began offering new songs. All the recordings of this era are well documented in the tapes that are at Inner City Sound. There are no other recordings from that period that I recall. It being the era of the cassette we did plan to release cassette only versions of some recordings, live and studio (RAP 003 and 004), but didn't get around to doing so.

You seem to have done a great job documenting The Relatives' history. Was it apparent at the time that you were involved in something important, something worth documenting and preserving?

See answer to the Collector! I have always hoarded stuff about bands I enjoyed, from the early days of scrapbooks to Go Set to programmes from live shows. It seemed only logical to extend this to any band(s) I was in and yes I knew it was important, possibly not to anyone else but certainly to the members of the band. As I've probably shown in my rants above, that era was incredibly special. There was a new inspiration with every NME, gig, visit to a record store and every new Relatives rehearsal. It all went by so relatively quickly (say '77 to '82), I'm glad I kept it all.

The Kain brothers both continued to play music after The Relatives broke up. What are you currently up to musically?

Jason is more active than I. After Chad's Tree broke up in 1989 I did a few gigs with Juliet Ward (Lighthouse Keepers) and Jason in a band called Skullduggery, but I gave up playing live altogether. I got into band management and booking and the bug has never bit again.

Emotional Moment [Download]


Summer Holocaust [Download]


The Collector [Download]


Ultimate Fridge (unreleased) [Download]