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):

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.