Saturday 24 July 2010

Beaut - Goodbye Judy / Paper Chains 7" Infinity K-6496, 1976

Contrary to the one word review written on the label, Goodbye Judy is an astounding piece of pre-punk powerpop. I'm sitting here reading the Bomp powerpop issue from '78 and feeling this captures every element Greg Shaw talked about within: "short, catchy, hook-filled, built on bright uplifting major chords... the element of urgency, the possibility of (uncontrolled) violence". OK, while the beat is thuggish, there's little threat of violence (unlike the other notable Judy from 1976).

But what is the story? Chuck Warner wrote eloquently in the Teenline liners on the genre's "basic mise-en-scène: a hopeful but hopelessly single guy, so, so alone in a world where, somewhere, inevitably lurks the perfect girl. It’s just that she’s already going out with someone else - or she’s one or more of the following: hiding, vain, spiteful, oblivious, older, unapproachable, unaffordable, too shy, too pretty…or simply a little too boy-crazy to settle for just our hero!" He stresses he's writing about America, 1973-80, and yes, we hope a band playing suburban Melbourne halls and high school dances was a bit tougher than that... our singer here has at least loved and lost. And while it's not exactly a put-down song at least he's showing a bit of spine and self esteem - it's her loss!

What about some of the musical and production elements? Horns, great multitracked vocals punctuating the lines, the whispered backing vox "Is that you?", the glorious "iiiiiiii, I don't want you" chorus, again - the keep-it-simple proto-thug drumming, and the delicate acoustic guitar under the third verse. All up a tip of the hat to the songwriters, producer and arranger.

While Judy is the undeniable hit, Paper Chains is no slouch either – great innocent 1970s pop, this time with a glammy, power-chord driven middle-eight stomp. Evocative of pashing your main squeeze after a spot of BMX riding in the bush near the creek. One can imagine this going over well on Beaut’s support slot for the Bay City Rollers’ November 1976 tour. Anyone willing to own up to being there?

Goodbye Judy

Paper Chains

Unfortunately, the second and final Beaut 45 (Infinity K-6715, 1977) doesn't match the success of the first (creatively, at least – I’m sure sales were roughly zero for both). The horns, piano, even the acoustic guitar embellishments of the first single are no more, in favour of more pared-back production. One can only speculate that the Infinity coffers slammed shut after Goodbye Judy bombed. Why Baby Why attempts to compensate for the lack of additional instrumentation with dense vocal harmonies and some interesting guitar interplay throughout the chorus. The problem is that it’s saccharine as all get-out – bittersweet, sure, but this stuff will rot your teeth. And let’s face it, the band’s balls aren’t exactly dragging on the ground in Goodbye Judy, but at least they’re not stuffed into a purse. 

Over And Out is the stronger cut, and is the closest thing we have to the sound of Beaut belting it out live. Ordinarily something to be lauded, but one can’t help but wonder whether the production values of the first single would have elevated it to something special. Overall, the whole affair comes across somewhat flat, a bit of an afterthought. Still, a Burnett-Cutelle afterthought is better than many a band's A-game, and there's evidence that the suits at Festival had ongoing faith in our dynamic duo...but that's a story for another day.

Why Baby Why

Over And Out

A Beaut promo sheet for the Goodbye Judy single. There's another one floating around proclaiming Scheaut Beaut! Onto your playlist!. Wishful thinking, and dangerous waters for those with English as a second language.


Robin Wills said...

oooh that first single is really top notch...perfect and wonderful in every way...

Recharge Life said...

Dave and Lee wrote some amazing songs that never saw the light of day. Through circumstances and connections they were the support act for a famous band that Paul Dainty bought out playing at Festival Hall in the 70s then called Dave n' Lee Harmony(same line up) Dainty thought they were good enough that he took the original master copy reel to reel tape of all their songs back to the UK. Not sure what came of that. In 1999 I visited Dave in the UK and he was working in a music store, still playing solo gigs and was the king of the gym junkie set singing and dancing to music for the fitness freaks. Lee is still writing and playing music in Sydney, Gordon worked for years repairing guitars and still lives in Elwood, the bass player had a framing shop in Sandringham. cheers
Michele Tardini (Ex Fan Club President for Dave and Lee from 1968)