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):


Holly said...

great post - thank you!

Anonymous said...

OL'55 album "Cruisin' for a bruisin'" have been released in Holland under the name BREAKERS with a different sleeve than the OZ one) and a single with two tracks from the LP have been released under the same name!

DoctorPepperOz said...

I also contributed backing vocals to Sweet Dancer A Go Go under the name of David the Poet because Kim couldn't remember my full name. Phantom Poster Man related to Jarryl's job with a street poster company.
David N. Pepperell aka Doctor Pepper aka David the Poet.

Anonymous said...

Gene Simmons of Kiss stated in a 1982 interview that Kiss had recorded a cover of The Breakers' song Lipstick and Leather. It was never released, not even on Gene's 11 disc demo collection Vault