Punk, DIY, powerpop, grillfat, glam, NWOAHM from Australia 1975-1984.
Sunday, 8 January 2012
The Barons - Greatest Hits 7" Doublethink DTDT-5, 1979
"The Barons' maxim was So?, meaning Do you expect me to justify this - I won't" - Michael Tee.
Read The Barons' story straight from the horse's mouth at the always excellent No Night Sweats site, the web's definitive first-hand account of Sydney post-punk. In short, we have a loose assortment of prog rock obsessed stoners from Sydney's northern beaches prone to wasted jams in the privacy of their own living room, the conclusion of which would be signalled by a tape of crowd noise culled from Kiss Alive!. Among said stoners numbered Michael Tee and Mitch Jones, future two-thirds of Scattered Order and the driving force behind the M-Squared label, not to mention Mark Tremlett and Fred, designer of the M-Squared logo and landlord of M-Squared's Wilshire Street HQ, respectively. Though released by the Thought Criminals' Doublethink label, Tee considers The Baron's Greatest Hits to be the first true M-Squared record. The songs were recorded in 1977 and 1978, but by the time of the record's release in 1979, the pair had already begun cobbling together studio equipment and documenting the Sydney scene (see the Sheiks, Seems Twice, Nervous System); the experience with Doublethink served as a catalyst for the formation of their own label.
As can be heard in the likes of Always Lurking and Dog Squashed, The Barons could barely hold it together long enough to work their way through a barre chord. We can only imagine that steadfast lack of ability applied to covering the turn-on-a-dime Frippisms of 21st Century Schizoid Man ("where we would play along with the live version off KC's USA LP. We used to play along with records a lot; it was easier as we could not be bothered working out how to play our instruments properly"). Instead, on Greatest Hits, we have an assortment of originals ranging from inspired amateurism to a painful lack of ideas masquerading as minimalism - Boiled Dinner explores the lower reaches of the tempo dial on the Hammond organ drum machine, and is every bit as compelling as that description implies. As with The Popes, the influence of They're Coming To Take Me Away rears it head in the cadence of Just In Time, highlighting a certain self-awareness about the absurdity of this whole mess.
The Barons' only other official release was a cover of Paint It Black on M-Squared's Growing Pains compilation 12". There's a disappointing lack of playing along to Aftermath to be found, but it does make for a nice companion piece to The Residents' Satisfaction. These days it can be heard on Ascension Records' Terrace Industry 4xCD. More home-recorded nonsense is available via Mutant Sounds.
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.