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.


billybadbum said...

Don't suppose you've got a copy of "The Kids Are Out Tonight"? Or is that one of the ones you're in two minds about posting? The band themselves disowned it pretty quickly, but I vividly remember seeing a film clip for it, along with a Gary Twinn interview, on Sounds back in the day...oh, and they're reforming to support Uriah Heep next month!

Wallaby Beat said...

Billy, no plans for any more Supernaut at this stage, though that is a good one. Might see you at the show, we'll be the ones yelling for Unemployed.

The Ghost said...

Liked supernaut in days gone by and still do. All their singles are still worth a play.I remember seeing Unemployed once on Countdown...never again till now. Thanks for digging it out. Little bit of a change from Young and Innocent.

Mister G said...

Nice blog.. I dig Supernaut.. saw them when I was a kid and wrote about it here.

keep up the good work here