|Last Words' Animal World mask from the Wizard Records press kit|
If you want something done properly, do it yourself. Living in the West of Sydney in 1977, Scottish emigree Malcolm Baxter (born Dundee, 31 March 1957) and Irish transplant Andy Groome (born Dublin, 24 August 1957) took such sage advice to heart. Having arrived in Australia in 1968 and 1969 respectively, they met at the Cabramatta Hostel at which their families first lived. They started playing music together in 1972 and went through a few school bands before some pivotal musical exposures focused their attention.
|The Two Malcolms, 1980.|
The first Last Words lineup included ex-Brisbanite, Saints acolyte Jeff Wegener on drums and Mike Smith on bass. As recorded in Pulp fanzine (and reproduced in Inner City Sound), "the band were getting desperate. They've been considering all sorts of attention getting stunts, like: advertising themselves in Ram magazine; beating up journalists, a la Sid Vicious; playing illegally on the Sydney streets; moving to Melbourne; recording a single (even though they can't afford it); or, at worst, breaking up". A single it was to be though, and a novel funding arrangement was brokered. Before the recording Wegener left to Melbourne and the Young Charlatans, and Smith was jettisoned.
Malcolm Baxter: "We wrote Animal World in Andy's bedroom in Miller [a suburb in Liverpool, Western Sydney]. Then a few months later my father went guarantor and we got a loan out to record and press the records. We thought no one would ever put this out, so we will. The Last Words then was myself and Andy - I played the drums and sang, Andy played the guitar and bass. It was recorded on an 8 track at Axent Studios in Kogarah in the winter of 1977".
The record was released on the band's own Remand label in October 1977, with flip side Wondering Why. A few copies sported a stamped die-cut sleeve:
The loan the band took out also extended to a few roneographed posters which were included in copies sent to record shops. Not many of these have survived (well, one that we know of).
The record was well received by those in the know, and why not? It's a truly great record. But was it enough to get our boys out of the Western suburbs?
|L-R: Malcolm Baxter and Andy Groome|
outside Axent Studios, 1977.
Wizard paid for the June, 1978 recording of six songs with a name producer, Les Karsky, who had worked with Midnight Oil and Boys Next Door. For this phase Baxter and Groome were joined again by Wegener on drums. Rounding out the band was bassist Rique Lee Kendall. Kendall was born in Melbourne in 1958 but had lived in Canada for six years where he had played in legendary Vancouver punk band the Skulls. On his return to Australia he'd played bass as Matt Black on the Thought Criminals' Hilton Bomber EP.
The Wizard issue (ZS-196) was released on 6 November 1978, this time with Every School Boys Dream on the B-side. All copies are on blue vinyl and the period appropriate company sleeve is the Phonogram one above - Wizard switched distribution to RCA sometime around 1979 (around the ZS-300 series of 7"s). We've put the complete press kit put together by Wizard on a separate page, it's well worth a visit. There was a fucking great video too, which if you haven't seen yet, well, do yourself a favour:
L-R: Baxter and Kendall
at the Grand Hotel.
"We went to the UK because this was not the music history that Australia wanted. Molly Meldrum banned the Last Words from Count Down and he had never even seen us. The only reason we got to release Animal World on Rough Trade was a friend of ours from Virgin records nicked the 1/4 inch tape of four of the songs from Wizard and brought them to London for us. And with Rough Trade, we got to London and we started work, but Andy and me thought 'We did not come here for this', so we got up one morning and took the blue vinyl Animal World to the BBC and gave it to the John Peel show. Then we went to Rough Trade and gave them a copy. By the time we got home, Rough Trade wanted to sign us and John Peel was playing Animal World and asking who was this band called the Last Words! When the record came out it sold something like 5,000 copies in the first few days and we went to number 8 in the NME alternative charts. The first pressing did not have Wizard on the labels, it was only after Wizard forced Rough Trade to put it on that they did and that was the second pressing".
The third release of Animal World uses the Wizard recording and came out in the UK in 1979 on Rough Trade (RT 022). As detailed by Malcolm, there were two pressings; and despite internet wisdom, Malcolm has set us straight on which came first:
The London era band was Baxter, Groome, Kendall (now Leigh Kendall) and a local, John Gunn (born Hammersmith London, 9 April 1962) on drums. A Rough Trade hype sheet of the time details goings on: "They were quick to pick up followings in places as Chelmsford and Coventry. Derby made them No 8 in the alternative charts. They also have a strong following in Germany and hope to follow it up by playing there in March ". The band played on for a few more years releasing two more 7"s and an LP - selected highlights can be heard on the Retro CD. But, what about those Germans?
The recordings with Eric we'll cover another time, but it segues into today's piece of teeth-gnashery - the
Animal World (Remand) [Download]
Wondering Why [Download]
Animal World (Wizard/Rough Trade) [Download]
Every School Boys Dream [Download]
No Music In The World Today [Download]