Sunday 28 November 2010

Klerks - The Groove Tapes 7" Vi-Nil VR010, 1985 (recorded 1979)

If you believe the insert, the Klerks' material was written in the Palm Beach branch of the ANZ bank. How apropos. From that home base in Sydney's northern beaches, the band ventured into the inner city throughout 1979 and became a regular Friday night fixture at the Sussex Hotel (where the EP's cover photos were taken). At that time, the venue was evolving into the epicentre of the Sydney mod scene - the Klerks shared a stage there with the likes of the Sets and rubbed shoulders with other future mod scene-makers.

Musically, stages were about the only thing the Klerks shared with the mods - bar the new wave-ish closing track, The Groove Tapes is raw and menacing punk rock. We have featured The Rider below as the standout song, but Love And Pain and Fun In The Sun are both worthy efforts, too. The EP highlights what seems to have been an ongoing alliance with Wallaby Beat favourites, the Flying Calvittos - both singles featured musical contributions from the mysterious Groove, and were tracked at his Surry Hills studio (here, Groove is responsible for some spastic keyboards, which thankfully tend toward fart noises as often as not). The Klerks' logo, as well as the cover of their only other single, were also designed by a Calvitto.

As for the other single, this is where things get a little complicated. Though The Groove Tapes was recorded in 1979, it did not see the light of day until some six years later, when it was released in a tentative edition of 250 copies on the Vi-Nil label. (Vi-Nil, of course, is best known for the first Hard-Ons single, as well as its other live-in-the-studio archival release, the Lipstick Killers' 1978 recordings). In the interim, the Klerks had expanded to a four-piece and recorded what was to be their first release proper, a two-song single appearing on Vi-Nil in 1983 (K001/2). This outing was incomparably weaker, and included an extended but anaemic re-recording of Love And Pain.

As if the Klerks' chronology wasn't convoluted enough, the matrix etching of The Groove Tapes belies its 1985 release date, placing it firmly at 1981. The most likely explanation would be an aborted '81 attempt to put the EP to wax, with the original plates being rescued for its eventual Vi-Nil release. Another theory involves the great scientific innovation of 1985, the flux capacitor. Keep an eye on our other website, where we intend to expound on this theory at length.

The Rider

Groove: "a wild, wild operator". From the advertising LP The Adventures of Smedley Strongheart (EMI Custom PRX.5667, late-'60s).

Sunday 21 November 2010

Walrus - I Am The Walrus / Wild Time Tonight 12" EMI Custom PRS-2555, 1978

From delicate, fluttering insects to loud, lumbering mammals in the space of a week - talk about biodiversity. Befitting of a blog named Wallaby Beat, we're about to get all anthropomorphic-like.

The Tasmanian mock variety notwithstanding, Walrus is yet another example of an Australian hard rock band named after a non-native species (see also: Buffalo, Rabbit, Bengal Tigers). As anyone who has endured an episode of the Crocodile Hunter would know, Australia has a vast array of beasties capable of reducing your life expectancy, so we're not sure why the unpatriotic nomenclature held such sway (Steve Irwin would surely have approved of this exception). In the case of Walrus, it's possible that the appeal lay in a ready-made theme song, a cover of I Am The Walrus included on the band's lone 12". On the plus side, their version gives the song a tough HM arrangement and is surprisingly listenable. On the negative side, it's still a Beatles cover, so it doesn't appear here as a matter of general principle.

The 12" was recorded in January '78 and released mid-year (three years after Walrus formed in Sydney's western suburbs - click here to read more biographical details in the band's own words). The recording date is remarkable given the musical approach of the standout track, Wild Time Tonight. The tempo, double-tracked guitar riffing, and overall attack are nothing short of NWOB(A?)HM a whole year before the genre's defining bands made it to vinyl in the UK. Add a second kick drum and we're in territory mined by Jaguar three years hence. We can only assume our Westie hairfarmers were dialled in to the same Budgie tunes (Breaking All The House Rules..., especially) as their limey counterparts, and were possessed of the same impulse to trim the fat and hit the accelerator.

Walrus, Jaguar,'s like a fuckin' zoo in here.

Props are also due to the band for dispensing with pragmatism and opting for the 12" format, a decision that clearly enhances the power of the tunes. Spread out over a whole 12" side, Wild Time Tonight hits like a brick to the erogenous zone - reason enough to consider the supplied mp3 a placeholder until you chase down the vinyl. Largely used as a promotional tool, copies sometimes surface with the aforementioned bio and/or the promo photo pictured below.

Though there were no more official releases, a number of other recordings exist which confirm that Wild Time Tonight was something of a one-off - the remainder of the band's repertoire tended towards sluggish hard rock, without the personality or taut execution evident here. With a change of name to The Lads around 1980, the band remained active to varying degrees throughout the following decade (mainly confined to the western Sydney pub circuit, including one memorable afternoon gig at the Viking Tavern on September 2, 1984), but never did reach the level of like-minded long-hairs Boss or Heaven. Or Finch.

Wild Time Tonight

Photographic evidence against the bio's claim of "a lengthy stint of shaving". Seconds after this pic was taken, vocalist Mark Collier deployed his chute.

Thanks to Clint Chapman for help with info.

Sunday 14 November 2010

The Limp - Outer Space Moth / Animal Kingdom 7" no label, 1980

White labels, some handwritten, some not.
The Limp came down to Sydney from Newcastle in late 1980. They shared DNA, songs and attitude with Pel Mel, who became vastly better known (not saying much). Both formed part of the Sydney version of Melbourne's Little Bands, continuing to swap members and ideas with like minds in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills. The Limp released a 7" on Primate records; it's ok but not one of our go-to records for that scene.

What is pretty much unknown is their first 7", recorded and barely released just prior to the move to Sydney. The band was given the chance to play around in the local Teachers' College music department's instrument room and record a 7" in their studio. 100 copies (or maybe 200, sources conflict, memories lapse) were pressed and then given away at an art exhibition at said college, thus pretty much disappearing into the æther. Member Tim McGee recalls more details of the recording at No Night Sweats.

Going back further in time, to 1979, The Limp were probably the first Australian band to embrace the No Wave songbook, covering Helen Forsdale and 3E live. The studied mixture of awkwardness and brash attitude of that scene comes through on the stuttering music and thousand-yard-speed-stare vocals of the A side.

We have no idea what an outer space moth looks like but if this song is any indication it must be a fragile and beautiful insect, and needless to say rare beyond belief.

Outer Space Moth

Animal Kingdom

Embarrassing as it is to admit, we probably don't have the complete packaging for this puppy. If you have a magazine or any other packaging that might have come with this and would part with it please get in touch.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Supernaut - Unemployed 7" Polydor 2079 116, 1978

As mentioned last week, more top shelf Aussie glam-punk is on the table. Here's a tasty treat of dole queue defiance from 1978 by a band better known for gender-bending than genre-blending, Perth's Supernaut.

Ahhh, Supernaut. Famous worldwide now for their absolutely brilliant glam masterpiece debut I Like It Both Ways and the fantastically suggestive flipside to their second 7", Lick My Lolly. There's an LP and five 7"s from their glam era, all but one (Young And Innocent) worth tracking down.

Unlike Branded, these guys tasted massive pre-punk success, I Like It Both Ways being a Number 1 smash. Following the also successful LP, which came out in December 1976, the band set up camp in a Melbourne studio to record their second album (provisionally titled Test Pressing). Recording stretched out over a year or so and eventually the album was scrapped as too dated. Part of this decision must have been based on the band catching a whiff, as 1977 waned, of the new thing coming from England and thinking, "Bloody hell! We can do this!". All that was released from the session was this punky 7" from April 1978. Props to the band for following their noses, especially given that major label land and radio ignored punk pretty much completely here.

Maybe they weren't just looking at the UK but immersed in it. In an online interview vocalist Gary Twinn (an English ex-pat, as were the blonde Burnham brothers) talks about going to see the Clash in London and buying tapes of the shows at the markets the next day, so they may well have spent time in London during '77 and '78.

Wait! Wait! Come back! This doesn't sound anything like the Clash.

So what do we have here. Mid-paced but high energy glam-punk, with a distinctly punk lyric and sneering vocal delivery. It's clearly more East End and Sarf London than Westway. If I had to name names I'd say a bit of Sham with a big dollop of Cock Sparrer - both bands with a history in glam and Faces style swagger. With anglo accents and backing vocals from the (Fremantle Oval) terraces it's definitely LDK-friendly, though those low down kids might wonder what the CES is. We're thinking of reclaiming simple thuggy drum beats as an Australian thing because here's yet another prime example. Maybe this is the true wallaby beat.

The lyrics are great too, we particularly like the couplet "Listen to the news at six, all those lies about statistics". Overall a really infectious song.


Unemployed era Supernaut, working it live. More here.

After Unemployed the band signed with Wizard and issued one more 7" as Supernaut before becoming The Nauts and issuing an album and one final 7". We're in two minds about featuring that stuff here, check back in 2012. Some of the early glam singles (interspersed with songs from The Nauts era) were briefly reissued on CD in the mid '90s, a time when Supernaut was affectionately viewed as a campy joke (at least in their home town). The disc seemed to disappear almost instantly, and amazingly, no subsequent reissues have surfaced.

To avoid confusion over the Englishness of it all,
a special company sleeve exists.