Sunday, 1 April 2012

It Never Ends: Sputniks - Our Boys 7" no label 324, 1979

The Slunks (slunk is a cow's afterbirth, or an aborted calf covered in such) were a Mt Gambier party band in 1978, formed entirely so the members could learn to play. David Munroe (a.k.a. Dave Graney), an Aussie Rules playing timber worker, had travelled up the East coast of Australia, witnessing the nascent Sydney punk scene, and Rose Tattoo (and the Mangrove Boogie Kings). You can read about his impressions in his most entertaining memoir, 1001 Australian Nights. Having got a taste for the life he returned home and put together a vehicle in which to escape. The other players were Martin Wells on drums, Liz Dealey on bass and Steve St Stevens (a.k.a. Steve Miller) on guitar.

The Sputniks formed in Adelaide around April 1979 - Graney, Miller and Dealey having moved there and met up with Clare Millionaire (a.k.a. Clare Moore) on drums and Philip Marks (ex-Foreskins) on guitar. Over the next year, before a move to Melbourne, they proved themselves extremely hardworking and put together an impressive list of achievements.

Starting with a first gig in June they toured South (to Mt Gambier and Naracoorte), plus a Spencer Gulf tour with the Accountants, playing Whyalla, Port Augusta, and Port Pirie. Funded by proceedings from these tours, and live work in Adelaide, they recorded a single at Noumenon Studios in October. Our Boys / Second Glance was released in December.

Early 1980 saw the band getting a residency at the Union Hotel, where they endeavoured to get other bands to play, reportedly with mixed success. Live they played mostly originals, mixed in with Doors, Bowie (Queen Bitch), Buzzcocks (What Do I Get?), and 13th Floor Elevators (You're Gonna Miss Me) covers. Moore took front of stage for a version of In The Midnight Hour which was always popular. Admirably they had at least one new original every time they played.

March 29, 1980 saw their last Adelaide show, and in early April they moved to Melbourne. Gigs aplenty followed, amongst them The Bottom Line, The Exford, Paradise Lounge, Hearts and the Duke of York. Despite the year of hard work the foundations of the band proved shaky and by October Marks and Dealey had returned to Adelaide and the rest began to become the Moodists; starting with this ad in Juke magazine:

A fantastic Sputniks band photo can be seen here and the top few photos on this page are also our boys and girls. Graney and Moore's long list of musical collaborations is well documented elsewhere but you should also cock an ear to Dealey's later work, starting with the Acid Drops' brilliant Surfin' Prostitute Beat 7", through the stellar The Wailing House 7" with the Twenty Second Sect, who also put out several LPs.

But back to the Sputniks record. Played loose and sloppy, and with an endearing high energy, the rudimentary musical and songwriting skills don't stop this from being a great record. Of course, those deficiencies effectively add to its charm. In particular, Dealey's bass playing on Second Glance is a thing of joy; but the whole song is infectiously great from go to whoa.

The record was never issued in a sleeve but 100 copies were sold with badges attached to the diecut. We don't know how many different designs there were but feel obliged to show you this standout version:

The real it-never-ends action on this one revolves around the purple vinyl copies. In case we didn't mention it before, here at Wallaby Beat coloured vinyl rarely evinces much more than a shrugged shoulder; we just don't care. On the very odd occasion though it can cause us to break a mild sweat. The story went, and still goes, that a small batch of between 7 and 12 copies was made and circulated to the band's members and friends. Here 'tis:

And here are the two tracks. As always we thank Harry Butler's DNA fanzine for its excellent contemporaneous coverage of the early Adelaide scene - many of today's details come from Issues 4-16, and the Juke ad from issue 48.

Our Boys [Download]

Second Glance [Download]

More from the Sputniks marketing arm


Holly said...

LOVE Second Glance - thank you!

Anonymous said...

I always liked this single. I bought my copy from Phantom, I believe.

GASPUNK said...

Thank you from Sweden.
I just found your blog and it's great:)