Adelaide's alright if you like saxophones:
For Irving and the U-Bombs, one of Australia's original class of '77, it wasn't always the way. Following an all-too-familiar lightning bolt moment - a chance encounter with the Sex Pistols on TV - Paul Tuxworth (guitar, vocals), Anando "Phil" Bahti (bass, vocals, guitar) and Roy Erzinger (drums, vocals) made the overnight transition from teenage Genesis-obsessed prog rockers to fully-fledged punk rockers. Within weeks, a set of over 20 songs was worked up, consisting mostly of covers with a sprinkling of originals. Soon after, Irving and the U-Bombs debuted at a private party in the Adelaide hills, playing a short, fast and frantic set which was reportedly greeted by dropped jaws and stunned silence. A nine-week residency at the Belair Hotel followed, during which the band cultivated a reputation for fearsome live performances ("Adelaide's premier speed outfit", according to issue #1 of DNA zine).
Within a year, the name was shortened to the U-Bombs and, portentously, the lineup was extended to include Ian Thurnwald on sax and vocals. It was this incarnation which appeared on the Live At The Marryatville cassette, released by Simon Stretton of Black Chrome/Tomorrow Records, which by all accounts still captured the original U-Bombs attack (please drop us a line if you have a copy you'd let go). However, as recorded in the pages of DNA, the addition of sax didn't sit well with many of the band's original fans, who saw it as the beginning of the end. Indeed, the lineup change foreshadowed a move to a more considered, less punky songwriting style and a less frenetic delivery (though the above video shows the occasional flashback to former glories). This era is documented on 1978 and 1979 demos - one released on Tomorrow as 12 Family Favourites From The Golden Years of Protest - and the U-Bombs' only single.
Give Me A Medal has a reputation for being one of the weaker early Australian punk records, and we ourselves have struggled to look past what might have been had the U-Bombs hit the studio just six months earlier. So what is there to appreciate about a record that is, in the words of DNA again, "cleared of the simplistic sludge that is punk"? Give Me A Medal has some interesting lyrics; The New And Improved has tempo on its side (at least to begin with); and (What's) Your Problem? is a pretty good song, plain and simple. The record - with its silk-screened sleeve, poster, stickers and instruction manual inserts - also makes for a nice visual package. Still, we can't help wishing that the instructions for the "groovy 'do-it-yourself badge kit'" (see below) weren't emblematic of the U-Bombs' musical trajectory.
Give Me A Medal [Download]
The New And Improved [Download]
(What's) Your Problem [Download]
|Far out poster.|
|Groovy 'do-it-yourself badge kit' / all purpose bumper sticker.|