Saturday 23 October 2010

Upsets - Back To Afghanistan / Heartattack 7" EMI Custom PRS-2899, 1980

"Hey Puddle, what's happening?" The Upsets in someone's backyard.

The Upsets sole 7" was for a long time one of the most obscure Australian punk records. A third tier Brisbane punk band sitting below even our favourite miscreants from the Shake/Savage label, and a long way below the Leftovers, Razar and the Numbers, both in reality and in the revisionist collector scum collective universe. The reasons for this include: the geographical - they came from the town of Ipswich just outside Brisbane's western border (maybe surprisingly we have at least three more records from this locale to feature down the track); that they were a little younger and later than the aforementioned bands; and probably an outsider attitude coupled with a lack of self promotion.

The record itself though is an absolute cracker, further bolstering Brisbane's punching-above-its-weight reputation in punk rock circles. Lots of cool features - mid paced, neat guitar lines with a slightly metallic tone, a great guitar solo on Heartattack, off kilter song structures and lyrical approach, and sound effects (guns, heartbeats). Special mention must be made of the opening scream of Heartattack.

The band formed in 1978 and the single came out late in 1980. 300 copies were pressed. The record should be considered a sleeveless record (copies come in a standard issue EMI custom blue diecut) but a very few copies had the folded promo poster pictured to the right included as an insert.

After the single's release the band attracted the attention of the management company behind Midnight Oil, who were impressed by the songs' energy and the political side of the lyrics. As a result the band moved to Sydney to work but eventually fell foul of big city vices and fell apart.

By 1982 the members had limped back to Brisbane and recorded some more tracks. One of these, Atomic Run, has survived - taped from a 4ZZZ radio demo show in 1982 or so - it shows the band moving in a post-punk direction. The energy is still there and the guitar is still good, but...fucking 1980's drums, spare me. We include it for interest below.

Guitarist and singer Rob Hesp (a.k.a. Vespa) later morphed the band into Resistance. A demo tape was recorded but we haven't been able to track it down. Drummer Brad Cox ended up in Dumb Show and The Skeletones, amongst others. Other members were Neil Roberts on bass and John Armstrong on guitar. Armstrong was replaced by Pat Dow for the 7".

Back To Afghanistan


Atomic Run

Nice waistcoat Brad. No, seriously.
(Hesp, Cox, Armstrong; Ipswich 1980)

Thanks to Cold Sweat for photos.


Anonymous said...

WOW !! that takes me back, thanks for the waistcoat comment, it came from London! That pics from Caesars Palace in Ipswich with 'Woody' on guitar there. He and Pat joined when Vespa wanted to just sing. The backyard pic has the late Steven Grulke on bass, I think that maybe Resistance actually. Really good stuff !!!
Brad, the Upsets drummer

Anonymous said...

Came across this by accident and the Upsets played at my 21st in October 1980. Vespa and the crew were there at Redbank Plains

Almost had it, and Everything Else said...

I was there when Vespa (R.I.P) smacked Shawn Mcraw in the mouth for abusing Steve Grulkes guitar onstage at he Redbank Plains Tavern. The pub erupted into shit fight and then all the bands were called to meeting the next week. Then the bands were told no more bands at Redbank plains. Wild times indeed, smack addicts in leather Pants. This shit was for real, no plastic punks or weekenders here. We grew up on the means streets of Ipswich Goodna and Gailes where you likely to get a fuck as a fight.

Brad Cox said...

Hey Mark Wood, Vespa isn't resting in peace, well, he might be in his place at Wynumm but not in the accepted sense of RIP. And is this the Mark who I know from Brilliant St drug daze? The X stripper spruiker?

George Seymour said...

The backyard pick was at Wacol , Steve was on guitar , Peter Bozga(from LaFetts)on bass & George Seymour(LaFetts) on drums for the night. Vespa is still with us & doing ok . Steve past away & Peter is on the run .

Amanda Kaempfe said...

I would love to get more information on the upsets and get hold of some footage or any pics if possible! I know Vespa and would love to get some pics of the glory days as a Xmas present for him.