Sunday 26 September 2010

It Never Ends: Marching Girls - True Love 7"s

We thought we'd throw you in the shallow end of Australian It Never Ends fanaticism with a trio of records the armchair collector can round up pretty easily. Auckland band the Scavengers first recorded True Love in 1978 and it appeared on the truly great AK79 compilation LP. In 1979 the band moved to Melbourne and changed their name to the Marching Girls. Their first single was a March 1980 re-recording of True Love backed with First In Line. This version is more toned down than the Scavengers, but it remains a superlative piece of pop-punk. Bruce Milne's AuGoGo records from Melbourne got the ball rolling putting the record out as their eighth release (ANDA-8, July 1980):

Next up was a New Zealand pressing - 400 copies on Simon Grigg's Auckland label Propeller (REV 4, August 1980):

Finally Bob Last's Edinburgh label Pop Aural got in on the action in June 1981 (POP 011) with a yellow wash over the background. This is the version that is slightly more elusive than the others, at least in Australia:

Like I said, you can complete this set fairly easily. Completism only gets harder from here on in.

Scavengers - True Love

Marching Girls - True Love

Marching Girls - First In Line

Marching Girls play Melbourne with a selection of local New Wave and pub rock bands, including our friends the Inserts

Sunday 19 September 2010

Works - (You're Just A) Button On A Shirt 7" Piranha Brothers PRS-2649, 1979

The Piranha Brothers, London extortionists with a fear of giant hedgehogs and a proclivity for nailing their enemies' heads to the floor, will be known to anyone familiar with Monty Python's Flying Circus. For some, the sketch has been killed by the tendency of Python dorks to quote it verbatim; for me, it's this malodorous Sydney label that has engendered eternal reluctance to revisit the adventures of Doug and Dinsdale. The label's general tenor should be fairly self-evident - nudge-nudge wink-wink dinosaur cabaret-boogie and flaccid comedy turd-rock. However, buried among the dross are a couple of noteworthy releases, namely a single (through RCA) by Sydney mods The Clones, and this underappreciated powerpopper by The Works.

Unlike The Clones, The Works evidently had a foot in both camps - that is, ties to the old guard (Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band) as well as the new (Numbers, Brave New Works). However, if there's any trace of Oz Rock in (You're Just A) Button On A Shirt, it's below the threshold of detection for these ears. Catchy, uncomplicated and with a neat guitar hook, the song drives along at a tempo and with sufficiently rough edges to leave you with some dirt under your fingernails. Good stuff.

A label retrospective CD has been cobbled together by Canetoad, where The Works and The Clones sit incongruously among the aforementioned turd bands, bullshit neo-rockabilly, and worse. Click here if you have a strong stomach.

(You're Just A) Button On A Shirt

Sunday 12 September 2010

Mighty Little - Burning Sands Of Bondi 7" Phoenix PRS-2626, 1979

That pic sleeve – wow. These guys heard Computer Games, foresaw the future of music, and didn’t like it one bit. Perhaps the matrix grid don't care, but Mighty Little certainly did - enough to respond with amps stretching over the horizon, helmed by a proto-King Diamond/evil monkey hybrid, staring down a bank of data tapes in a fight to the death (thus anticipating Japanese hardcore in the process). Bravo fellas, bravo.

For a record that states its intentions so boldly, the mix is a little on the tame side. The "full-frontal bass" (delivered by the remarkably vertical "Horizontal Smith") is just that, but the rhythm guitar really could’ve been brought to the fore. For the most part it’s all in the pocket, almost to the point of understatement - it’s not until the final bars that things start to get savage (unless of course you factor in the couplet that begins the first verse, which goes straight to the pantheon of sexist opening salvos). But in the end, the production shortcomings are overshadowed by the sheer meanness of the song. A tough guitar riff pinned down by a one note bassline is a defining element of '70s Oz hard rock, and this example holds its own against the best of them.

Equally, there's an Oz punk 'n' roll tradition of guitarists appropriating pop culture/TV themes as guitar solos (see Radio Birdman, Celibate Rifles). Here, axe-wanker Barrington riffs on Lawrence of Arabia, thereby lending the song its title. What this has to do with the musical culture wars depicted on the sleeve is anyone's guess.

There are at least three other singles on the Phoenix label, each worth hearing for the adventurous of spirit and/or low of standards. Variously, they are: shambolic, Raincoats-like all gal pop with shaky English and even shakier musicianship; oddball hard rock with mild overtones of Chrome circa Blood On The Moon (actually a reissue of The Flush 7” sans sleeve); and punky powerpop in the style of early Scientists. The likelihood that any of those reference points were intentional? Minimal.

Burning Sands Of Bondi

Is our man Barrington he of the post-Kuepper Saints?

Update 18 June 2011
Thanks for the comment Steve. Here's the Youtube video Steve mentions which has a more balls-out version of Burning Sands Of Bondi (with guitar up front, where it belongs), over some great rehearsal room photos. Not quite the Dunedin Sound.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Replicas - I Wanna Know The Truth 7" no label REP001, 1979

"A minor record to be sure".

Many years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, The Professor took time out from hunting woolly mammoths and working on his prototype of the wheel to carve these words on the cave wall that is the Australian punk discography. (These scratchings have, of course, been of great interest to subsequent generations of musical archaeologists. Perhaps someday he'll update the bloody thing. But I digress...). Despite the ongoing re-evaluation of records at the margins that has taken place since, the sentiment conveyed by those six words rings true today as much as it did way back when. The Replicas' sole 45 is a minor record. Still, it's a good one, at least if you're willing to recalibrate your expectations to the "minor record" sliding scale. Cool forceful drumming, no guitar, but bass way up front. Some keyboard noodling too, which somehow doesn't manage to ruin the whole shebang.

The Prof ended his assessment by saying that I Wanna Know The Truth "could use some guitar though". Now here I must beg to differ, for the evidence suggests that adding guitar was, in fact, a terrible idea. Try spinning The Replicas' only other vinyl appearance, a track on the Sydney local radio Homegrown Album sampler (1982), and see how long you can resist the urge to yank the record off the turntable and throw it out the window.

I Wanna Know The Truth

Some copies come with a screenprinted diecut sleeve.