Sunday 19 December 2010

Bad Habit - Stormchild LP EMI Custom YPRX-1424, 1977

As promised in our recent screed on Ipswich nogoodniks the Upsets, here's another barnstormer (literally!) from the same locale.

Like many bad habits, this one was formed as a product of teenage boredom - a 15 year old Neil Coombe (g) and buddies Paul Wilton (b,v) and Neal Ward (d) first began making a racket together in 1975. By 1977, after a couple of years of gigging (including a support slot for AC/DC at Brisbane's Festival Hall), Wilton had been replaced by Steve Arthurson (v,g) and John Pankof (b), and the expanded line-up retreated to a rural chicken barn to record Stormchild, Bad Habit's one and only LP.

An online bio of sorts fills gaps in the timeline and provides more detail about the recording of this LP, including the factoid that vocal takes were often ruined by the sound of gumnuts falling from an overhanging tree onto the barn's tin roof (from the sound of Arthurson's voice, those were the only dropped nuts in the vicinity of the vocal mic). It also promulgates some outrageous hyperbole about the record's punk-ness, the most noteworthy claim being that Stormchild was one of only two '70s Queensland-recorded punk LPs ((I'm) Stranded, of course, being the other). To our ears, the teenage amateurism and lo-fi recording herein certainly warrant the adjective "punky", but only as a qualifier to "hard rock". If these kids had heard the Sex Pistols, or ventured in to Corinda to catch The Saints, then it didn't osmose into their own efforts. Tsk tsk, TrippyHippy, if indeed that is your real name.

Punk rock or no, there is much to appreciate across Stormchild's ten tracks, which showcase a fairly advanced sense of composition for those so young. There are quieter passages and lengthier songs - all worthy, mind - but to comply with the Wallaby Beat remit we focus here on the most straight ahead rockers. The astute listener will note that all three songs plunder the same basic chord progression, yet each is distinct in its own right. To a degree, this is testament to the band's creativity in making the most of a limited palette, but the inventive lead work of guitarist Neil Coombe is deserving of particular credit. Coombe's playing runs the gamut from tasteful economy (the stellar dual lead interplay in Don't Touch) to tasteless bombast (see Burning Yearning, surely the most effective use of the chipmunk guitar solo this side of the Bob Seger System, and a WTF? moment that surpasses even our old friends Toxic), but is never anything less than great.

Neil Coombe himself is dismissive of Stormchild and his own contribution to the record:
"It's far from being my best work (I was 17) and I never know what to make of was far down the track before I thought I did anything 'great'. It was my first album and I always dismiss it, but apparently there are some people out there who took to it...Truly bizarre".
Coombe subsequently played with the likes of 42nd Street and Mr Meaner. Though both have their appeal, we respectfully disagree about their relative merits vis a vis Bad Habit (nothing personal - as a general rule, musicians are the last people we trust to appraise their own work).

Scum stats: either 250 or 300 copies (depending on who you ask) pressed through EMI Custom, but it's more elusive than contemporaneous records pressed in one third of that quantity. Where did all of those records go?

Burning Yearning

Don't Touch

Leave It Up To Rock & Roll


Anonymous said...

I have a copy of this album, recorded june to September 1977, by Gary johns, jenny stoopes and Richard faint. 10 songs on it. haven't played it for a long time, from what I remember it wasn't too bad for its time. Were all good friends of mine. Iplayed in a band with steve arthurson also in the 70s

Unknown said...

I have a copy of this album. I am searching for Steve Arthurson who was great friends with my sister in Ipswich back in the seventies anfd John Pankof, I think. I was Gail’s sister, Leanne. We helped you form your band and you played at the City View hotel in Ipswich. Would love to get in touch. I am on Facebook under Leanne Rasmussen. My sister was Gail Beckett. Really hope you see this msg,

Unknown said...

You were a freckle faced kid back then Steve Arthurson who used to hang around my sister, Gail Beckett

Jules said...

I'm very sad to report that Steve passed away in 2001, Leanne. I don't have any details but I do know this to be true. So sorry, matey. Regards, Jules

Unknown said...

Thank you for your reply. That is so sad. Thank you again x

Anonymous said...

I am Steve's daughter Tiarnie Arthurson. If anybody hàs a copy of this record please contact me 0423045911 or via Facebook

Anonymous said...

Dad died from sclerosis of the liver in June 2001

Unknown said...

I'm the drummer from bad habit neal ward..
Steve is sadly missed by the surviving band members Neil coombes, John pankof , and Paul wilton. Rip Steve never forgotten..
Bad habit

Anonymous said...

Hi i’m Steve’s granddaughter Timika and today I inherited his vinyl album!! My nan Tina told me a bit about how the album was made and I love listening to his music. I’m sad I didn’t get to grow with him around as he passed away when I was only a baby. I would of really liked to get to know him. Unfortunately he had a bunch of health complications due to his drinking which caused him to pass away. Love you grandad ❤️

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of this Album, Stormchild by bad habit. Hvent played it for years , dont have a record player anymore. I will allways cherish this album as steve was a verygood friend of mine back in the younger days.I did loose touch with him , so sad to hear he has passed on.

Anonymous said...

HELLO I AM A FRENCH GUY WHO SEARCHES TO LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM SINCE A LONG TIME EVEN IN A FILE IN FLAC OR EVEN MP3 IF SOMEONE WHO HAS THIS ALBUM COULD HELP ME IT WOULD BE GREAT YOU CAN CONTACT ME AT to send the files via wetransfer or little by little in email box a great thanks in advance to the one who could help me
best regards from france franck