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.


nap-0011 said...

On arriving from New Zealand the Painkillers ran into a Sydney band starting out with whom they could identify with: feedtime. Both bands enjoyed each others different approach to sculpting sound and played together a lot over the early 1980's. What has been said by many bands in Seattle discovered feedtime through the college radio station KCMU, where DJs and feedtime fans Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman joined to launch the Sub Pop record label.[7] Mark Arm and Steve Turner, assistant DJs at KCMU and founders of the pioneering Seattle grunge band Mudhoney, cite feedtime, alongside fellow Australian band The Scientists, as one of their main musical influences. The Sydney sound of this period were influenced as much by American sound movement such as Screaming Jay Hawkins and the Gun Club, and at the same time the strong blues rock of the Australian band Rose Tattoo.

nap-0011 said...

Before leaving New Zealand the Painkillers played a number of gigs around their home town of Christchurch and recorded a tape. Played on the fledgling days of the University Radio Station Rdu. The Painkillers played live with the Christchurch band Desperate Measures. However, in a time of anti apartheid rioting happening through out New Zealand and race issues dividing the country. The Painkillers having friends and associates in all camps found themselves trapped. As Mr E mentions in the original blog, riots took place out side two outdoor venues of the Painkillers playing live and subsequently through the council and police were sent an official letter saying they would not be given permission to play again in the borough of Brighton Beach. Subsequently they left for Sydney Australia.

nap-0011 said...

Sydney was a great place to be in the eighties. It was like tiny pockets of Sydney suburbs were coming together all at once through their love of finding a different type of sound, not punk rock, but what is now known as swamp rock: a heavy blues grunge style with a punk attitude. The groups hang out at small inner city venues following The Scientists and X. 'It's how we got to know each other, feedtime, we'e friends of X and the bass player of X was the original bass player of Rose Tattoo. There was also the Creatures who Tim became the manager of the Hardons. The Wet Taxi's and Tex Deadly and the Dum dums we're all hanging about', said Prutts the guitarist of the Painkillers.

dickcherry said...

hiya, i've been hoping to hear this track again - for decades - after hearing it one evening on the Tim Ritchie show on triple J, then it vanished into the aether. the link to the sound file no longer works - any possibility you could make the file available to me, maybe by email?

i'd be eternally grateful!