Saturday 28 May 2011

It Never Ends: Lipstick Killers - Hindu Gods (Of Love) 7" 1979

For most record collectors it-never-ends is a stock-in-trade, a rule-of-thumb, a goddamn fact-of-life. For others though, like us for example, completism is not an unobtainable goal but the level to be met in every instance. Another such person is Mark Taylor of Sydney band Lipstick Killers and more recently the collector behind the conceptual greatness of the G45. Are you familiar with the G45? It is a compendium of US '60s garage 45s ordered by a three pronged ranking system. You can view the list in all its glory here.

In the G45 ranking the R factor (Rarity) and the S factor (Sonics) are more-or-less explanatory, but the groundbreaking aspect is the third rating, L for Legend. Like the number zero (or nihil) for ancient mathematicians, this gives us a new way of understanding the ebb-and-flow of records and why some are more desired at certain times than others. In the spirit of that, today we cover the ins-and-outs of the first Lipstick Killers 45 - Hindu Gods (Of Love) / Shakedown U.S.A.

The Lipstick Killers' story has been told at least thrice - in B-Side fanzine, then in Prehistoric Sounds, and then for the worldwide audience on the i-94 freeway. Let's recap:
  • post (our Wallaby Beat forebears) the Psychosurgeons' breakup the band morphed almost immediately into Lipstick Killers, final singer Stan Armstrong being replaced by Filth's Peter Tillman, and Kim Giddy coming in on bass. David and Mark Taylor on drums and guitar made up the rest of the band;
  • in 1979 the original rowdy, high-energy line-up recorded their debut single, Hindu Gods (Of Love) with Steve Harris of the Visitors on piano and Deniz Tek behind the desk;
  • a year of growing popularity in Sydney based on legendary live performances followed;
  • encouraged by Greg Shaw's enthusiasm the band moved to L.A. in late 1980 for a year and, while they played several shows, nought was coming of it so they broke up, eventually returning home.

Hindu Gods (Of Love) / Shakedown U.S.A (AUS Lost In Space, PRS-2661, 1979) S3/R3/L3
The first issue was an Australian EMI Custom press in a handsome picture sleeve. This one is elusive (especially without ringwear) and has maintained its legend status over the years, probably due to the sonics. Great songs, great riffs and strong vocals. Only the fact that the songs don't unhinge themselves keep it from reaching the rarefied heights of the S4s and S5s. 1000 pressed.

Hindu Gods (Of Love) / Shakedown U.S.A (USA Voxx, 45-1003 1980) S3/R1/L1
The first US pressing appeared on Bomp side-label Voxx. First presses come in the Blow Your Mind - Go Voxx! / Join The Voxx Rebellion company sleeve. The label font size is smaller, the Bug Music Group publishing credit is on one line, and the matrices read "Hindu" and "Shake". This variation is slightly harder to track down than the next though let's not pretend much teeth gnashing will occur before you get any of these. It appears the company sleeve can still be obtained on other 45s at the Bomp Store.

Hindu Gods (Of Love) / Shakedown U.S.A (USA Voxx, 45-1003 1980) S3/R1/L1
The second Voxx pressing comes with a redesigned label - larger font size, Bug Music Group credit over two lines, and more mundane catalogue number matrix etchings. The company sleeve too is redesigned, a less imperative, more self-referential "The spirit of the 60s, the sound of the 80s." This would appear to be the most common version.

Hindu Gods (Of Love) / Shakedown U.S.A (USA Voxx, 45-1003 1990?) S3/R2/L1
At some stage a third pressing took place, this time on silver labels. Somewhat surprisingly, given the perfunctory nature of much of their work, Bomp/Voxx added a lurid red picture sleeve for this actually quite seldom seen version. We vaguely recall this appearing for a few years on Bomp catalogues from about 1990. Unheralded at the time, and barely mentioned since, I can't imagine not wanting to own it.

The rest of the Lipstick Killers discography varies from a walk in the park (Inner Mystique comp 7", Mesmerizer variations), to the mildly sweat inducing later 7"s.

Hindu Gods (Of Love) also appeared on two Bomp compilations, the Experiments In Destiny double LP (Bomp! BLP-4016) and the Where the Action Is! promo sampler LP (Bomp! BLPR-3001, 1980).

No music today, surely these songs are either known to you or easy enough to get by dragging your sorry arse to a record shop mouse to an online purveyor of musical items. The songs are readily available on several recent CD compilations - Hindu Gods (Of Love) on Do The Pop! and Tales From The Underground, and Shakedown U.S.A. on Do The Pop! Redux Part One.

Update March 2013 This typed insert surfaced recently.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Makeshift - Love Is Everywhere? / Joke 7" NRG 13037, 1981

We have a tendency to go on a bit when it comes to records we're enthused about. Perhaps you've noticed. Today, though, the facts we can relay aren't commensurate with our enthusiasm for this obscure DIY punker. Makeshift made a great record, and we know bugger all about it. But, as believers in the scientific method, allow us to propose some hypotheses which fit the available data:

  1. This is a Sydney record (we presume as much because our copies were found there);
  2. Paul Makeshift, one-time drummer for the Babeez, is no relation (see hypothesis 1);
  3. Listening to the sound file below will lead to the prompt addition of this 45 to your wants list.

Alternatives to our H0s about location and membership are welcome - info that leads to acceptance/rejection of the null even more so. After all, our prevailing theories about this record haven't always been well-founded. For example, our presumption that Makeshift was a one-man show doesn't stand up to closer scrutiny - there are at least two distinct voices orbiting the melody as Love is Everywhere? concludes.

Which leads us to the song in question, something of an unheralded classic of Australian DIY, making hypothesis 3 a no-brainer. The singer's a conflicted young chap, caught between wanting to live life at full speed and knowing he'll only be punished with bloodied knees and wounded pride when he does. Which of course is a metaphor for his form with the sheilas. Love is everywhere; he can feel it in his extremities, just not in the anatomy that counts, and since he's "not vicious enough to be Casanova" he only has himself to blame. The vocal performance contributes to the tension between bitterness and resignation played out in the lyrics (" I go again"), as do the assertive downstrokes and contrasting tentative guitar fumbling which drive the song. Then there's the relentless drum machine, which stops for nothing short of the volume control on the mixing desk (there's a lesson there for our protagonist). In short, a loser rant propelled by amateur guitar hacking and an in-the-red Dr Rhythm - "an NRG release", indeed.

A second single exists, though we can't recommend it. Makeshift seemingly evolved into a real band playing real songs, recorded at a real studio with a real producer. It's a real bummer.

Love is Everywhere? [Download]

NRG: beating The Able Label at its own game.

Addendum, 24 May 2011
Price in pencil on the label + big circular sticker stain + frayed top edge + instant dust cloud when removed from the sleeve = Gould's Book Arcade.

RIP Bob Gould.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Terryfoot - Surfside 6 7" Rev PRS-2774, 1980

It's a while since we've proffered a piece of pure powerpop here. Probably because previous posts from that genre haven't garnered the hits. But what the hell, you'll eat your vegetables as well as your meat.

Terryfoot (Terry Foot on the labels) were an obscure and short-lived Sydney band comprising Bruce Bellingham on guitar and vocals, Ian Hill also on guitar and vocals, Carl May on bass, and Zol Almady on drums.

As you would hope, Surfside 6 is an infectious pop track propelled by a hooky riff. Thematically - with surfing, girls, their tight jeans and the way they "smell so good" - we're also in the right place.

Bruce Bellingham has lobbed up more recently as Eric Mackenzie. Life's too short to figure out which is his real name so we'll just quote from his various bits and pieces on the net.

On making his first record:
I remember sitting outside the door of the studio at Double J in Kings Cross in the early '80s and the DJ looked out, saw me and said "come in, what have you got there?". I was promoting a single by my first band Terryfoot which had been pressed at the EMI plant. I would run into Roger Grierson who was up to the same thing with his band, EMI was one of the few places you could get 45s pressed. The DJ invited me in, we had an interview, the song got on "A" rotation. We used to wait at The Sandringham Hotel for the manager to turn up on his motorbike with the keys to the PA cupboard so we could play. It's still going. I hope to play there in the next few months.
On the footsteps in which he followed:
I have been into the sounds of the Stones of the '70s and early '80s, the glam and punk movements, Mick Ronson (David Bowie), The Pistols and The Ramones, pop rock from the '80s of the Cars and Billy Idol/Steve Stevens, some of the very early grunge of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, also Aussie bands AC/DC, The Angels and The Church.
With those influences, it's a pity Terryfoot didn't try to pull off a glam/punk blend à la Supernaut or Branded, but 1980 wasn't 1978. Again, you'll eat what you're given.

Surfside 6 [Download]

Sunday 8 May 2011

Die Dancing Bears - Drug Dance / New York Valentine 7" no label MX59905/6, 1982

Die Dancing Bears' beginnings were in Adelaide, where vocalist Lynton Cox had gigged with Recoil, a training wheels punk band playing a few originals interspersed among Ramones and Stranglers covers. After the band's demise in March 1980, Cox dallied briefly with Cracked Actors before forming Die Dancing Bears in October with Daryl Champion (bass, ex-Void/Art Vandals), Liz Neat (drums), Kathryn O'Neil (keyboards), and Kym Tonkes (guitar). The band released a self-titled cassette the following year, before upping stumps and moving to Sydney where, in May 1982, this single was recorded with a slightly altered lineup - Neat (who found the band's music too depressing) having been replaced, initially by Iva Malone (who also found the band's music too depressing), then by Michael Waniarcha for the recording. Waniarcha found the band's behaviour depressing and was replaced by John Burgess after the single was recorded.

Drug Dance/New York Valentine was released in October, around the same time as Madroom's Cruelty of Beauty 12", making it among the first Australian records to veer self-consciously into UK-influenced goth-punk territory (though beyond Box of Fish, Club of Rome, Dorian Gray and perhaps Marble Soldiers, we can't think of too many others that fit the bill from the class of '82/'83). Goth, like Melbourne pub rock, is not our strong suit. Our experience extends about as far as TSOL's Dance With Me LP, which is to say, not very far; intentions of educating ourselves for this post fell by the wayside with the realisation that, ultimately, life's too short. That said, New York Valentine's sound is faster and more aggressive than we'd typically associate with the likes of Bauhaus and Southern Death Cult. Its pace, ascending riff, and discordant guitar clanging make it more akin to the Dead Kennedys' Bleed For Me, though given that it was recorded a month prior to Plastic Surgery Disasters, the DKs are an unlikely influence. We're on firmer ground in drawing a line to the Birthday Party's live run-through of Loose, and noting Cox's Cave-like vocal yelps - dig that opening scream.

The band continued into 1983 with additional line-up changes, but no further records would emerge. Tonkes later joined Madroom, vastly improving their sound on 1984's I Am For An Art... LP. Cox eventually returned to Adelaide, becoming a morning DJ on community station Three D. Sadly, he passed away in 2005.

New York Valentine [Download]

Sunday 1 May 2011

Yettis - Ray Price's Injuries 7" Not Those Records PK 01, 1986

This week we venture north of the early-'80s for a rare foray beyond the Wallaby Beat temporal remit. Timeless classics are few and far between, but today's subject certainly qualifies (if "timeless" connotes the amount of time invested by the artist, that is). If you share our view that Purple Vulture Shit represents a high-water mark of human cultural endeavour, then comrade, have we got a treat for you.

As an AFL man, the full impact of Ray Price's proclivity for doing himself a mischief is somewhat lost on me, but I suspect that making light of it is about as tasteful as a joke about Barry Cable's leg. The lowdown on Mr Perpetual Motion's tenure with the Parramatta Eels can be found here (we recommend scrolling down to read the recollections of Johnno from St Ives). Alternatively, you can listen to the Yettis' touching tribute to the great man, which pretty much covers all of the essential bases. As you do so, we suggest casting an eye over Ray's likeness, lovingly reproduced on the insert - a piece that sits comfortably alongside works by the great visual artists of our time (Faxed Head, Unholy Swill, Psycho Sin, the Drills, this guy). A whole lot better than the whatchamacallit outside Parramatta stadium, at any rate.

The Yettis connect the dots.

Musically (I use the term advisedly), Ray Price's Injuries out-Black Eyes Waste Sausage with improvised flailing and feedback, and a walkman-level recording quality which makes Real Fucking Idiots sound like Radiohead. Wait, maybe it's the other way around.

Unfortunately, the credits give no clues to the Yettis' identity - personnel are listed as Kaptain (guitar), Standard Practice (guitar, harmonies), Hosey Funicello (guitar, harmonies), and Flatty (vocals, drum...yes, singular). Someone by the name of Doc is also credited with "nothing". However, some telltale slide guitar tacked on as the song's outro lends weight to our suspicion that the Yettis were the Painkillers in disguise, a theory which Tim Yo clearly shared (see below).

And just who were the Painkillers? Their songs comprise two-thirds of this disc, but beyond that we can tell you nothing. There was a Painkillers on the One Stop Shopping cassette from 1980, but the name is too common to conclude that there's a link. Nor is there any connection to the current gig for Mr James Baker, esq. The only person with a normal name on the entire record is drummer Barry Jones, but since he's not returning our calls, this one remains in the open case file. For the record, the Painkillers' contributions (Spider, Train Song) are post-Blood Red River, sub-Crampsian swamp rock in the vein of La Sect Rouge. Like the Eels' cheersquad, a pleasant enough diversion, but a mere warm up for the main event.

Ray Price's Injuries [Download]

Tim Yohannon connects the dots (from Maximum Rock 'n' Roll #49, June 1987), while the sceptics at Trousers In Action act like Yettis don't exist (#13, 1986).

Addendum, 7 June 2011
This just in from Mr E (a.k.a. Peter from the Painkillers), via Bruce Griffiths of Trousers In Action/Aberrant Records. Our thanks to them both for the info, and in particular to Peter for having the vision to preserve Ray Price's Injuries for future generations.

The Painkillers and the Yettis were two completely different bands. The Yettis were friends of ours but they wouldn't let any Painkillers play with them because we knew how to play our instruments and they didn't. They had a couple of electric Hawaiian guitar type things that they had bought from garage sales, an amp or two, a guitar, a drum and a microphone and although they couldn't play they liked making sounds (noise) out of them, but normally only did so in private. They did play a couple of times at Painkillers house parties and in general people hated them. However, as Bruce may recall, I had a certain fondness for chaos and decided to put Ray Price's Injuries on our record, because, after all, I was paying for it.

Flatty (Mike)
Standard Practice (Chris)
Kaptain (Gary)
Hose (Andy)

The Doc was sometimes their singer but didn't make it to the recording session of Ray Price's Injuries, which was recorded in Flatty's garage. A small portion of the tape was damaged so I cut and pasted on the outro, which is in fact the outro from the same session, to cover the damaged bit. You can hear Chris protesting "stop stop" etc. and the distinctive sound of the Hawaiian guitar. Ray's injuries are for real, and were taken from magazine and newspaper articles at the time that the Yettis had collected. They weren't actually footy fans but liked absurd things. I think the sketch of Ray Price was probably done by Kaptain but Andy may have embellished it.

On the other hand the Painkillers were a group of school friends from Linwood High in Christchurch, NZ, that one by one ended up in Sydney. We played only a couple of times in Christchurch, twice ending in riots, and then eventually played maybe about 100 times in Sydney and environs. Musicianship was lacking, but we were more about grasping the moment. It took its toll.

For the most part in Sydney the Painkillers were:
Vocals: Phil
Guitar: Dutch (Rimu)
Guitar: Prutts (Neil)
Bass: Mr. E (Peter)
Drums: Barry Jones

Neil is not on the record, he had gone to Perth or London at the time, and now lives back in Christchurch. Dutch died not long after the record was released. He fell from a train coming back from Queensland to Sydney. Barry Jones went into hiding in Queensland to get away from some bad people. Phil formed a band called the Hub, but has since died from an asthma attack. And I still live in Sydney, producing corporate videos for a living.

At the time, I took a bit of flack for putting the Yettis on the record, but I knew I had done the right thing when TripleM played it in a segment called "The Worst Records Ever" - not once, but twice. The fact that my non-musical mates jamming in their garage could be played on commercial radio warms my spirit to this day.