Sunday 26 June 2011

The Flying Calvittos - Lucky To Be Australian 7" Groove PRS2728, 1979

Ain't nothing like closure. Whether it's hearing from a band member from some no-count band forgotten by everyone except us, or nailing the last sleeve variation on some it-never-ends conundrum. Twoscore and eleven weeks ago we started this blog with Squeal Like A Pig, the punk track from The Flying Calvittos' Goodbye You Spaghetti Punks EP. We said then we'd come back for the rest. We won't ever split a record over two posts again, and to provide closure on this one we today present The Flying Calvittos: The DIY years.

The pick of the rest of the tracks for us is Lucky To Be Australian. The lyrics list events that play into the Australian psyche of being doomed at the arse-end of the world: DarwinGranvilleHobart BridgeWest Gate BridgeVoyager; even our old mates Fraser (not a popular guy among the, er, Dagoes Italian-Australian community) and the Hilton Bomber get a mention. We're exhorted to forget all that; the defiance lifting the crunching, elegiac riff into something beautiful. We half think this may have been used on a commercial or TV show theme some time in the decades between then and now - let us know if you remember.

Fastnet, about yet another disaster, is where we hear some definite Residents influence, maybe a bit of 1979's Eskimo. This approach is continued on the first of the Mamma tracks, Mamma's Recipe, a fine use of echo, sound effects and spoken snatches, perhaps presaging On U Sound's approach in the next decade. And to finish, Mamma's Table is where our boys descend into Italian new wave novelty - even piano accordion gets a look-in.

There's a self-released CD called 26 Hundred Moons floating around with all these tracks plus recordings from later in the 80s and the mid 90s.

Lucky To Be Australian [Download]

Fastnet [Download]

Mamma's Recipe Feeds The People [Download]

Mamma's Table [Download]

Sunday 19 June 2011

British Jets - Another Day In The City / No News 7" EMI Custom PRS-2890, 1980

Back in July 2010, when we were taking our first tentative steps with this blog, we raved about the killer pop-smarts of the first Beaut single, remarking that the hooks and production were enough to win over even our Cro-Magnon tastes. We also alluded to a counterpoint in the form of the Ramones, contemporaries with whom Beaut shared some Judicious subject matter, but not the same musical "violence". Now, as Wallaby Beat closes in on its first birthday, it's time we came full circle with the last chapter in the Burnette/Cutelle trilogy.

You may also recall Branded, David Burnette and Lee Cutelle's "one step forward, three steps back" follow-up to Beaut, centring on guitars that couldn't decide whether they wanted to be the Sex Pistols or Supernaut (proving that the latter wasn't alone in liking it both ways). Less than a year after Beaut's cloying Why Baby Why? 45, diving headlong into punk rock was obviously too great a commitment. Of course, we're talking about a couple of guys whose first musical collaboration pre-dated The White Album, so taking things slowly was par for the course. True to form, it would be another couple of years before the transition was complete.

Recorded in Sydney as a studio-only project, British Jets' one and only 45 takes the Ramones archetype - downstroke powerchords and matching basslines locked in to furious 4/4 drumming - and infuses it with the familiar Burnette/Cutelle melodic sensibility. (Not that the two were entirely unrelated to begin with. Besides their titles, Beaut's and the Ramones' respective odes to Judy share one important conceptual similarity - both feature three chords, total). Each side is equally strong, delivered with energy, force and conviction, with David Burnette's characteristic lead vocals and Lee Cutelle's harmonies tying it all back to the Beaut/Branded lineage (listen for echoes of Generation Breakout in No News). It's a great single, a genuine two-sider, and in our humble opinion one of the best records you'll hear on this blog. It's a real shame nothing further was recorded in this style.

This was the first Burnette/Cutelle single to appear without the backing of Festival Records, and we'd be lying if we said its self-released, EMI Custom status doesn't add to its appeal. The clout of a "major" label didn't exactly make these guys the household names they deserve to be, and the British Jets single did absolutely zip to advance the cause. A Sonics/Rarity/Legend trifecta from a pair with razor sharp aesthetic standards - David Burnette and Lee Cutelle, we salute you.

Unfortunately, a falling out meant that this was the swansong for Burnette and Cutelle's creative partnership. David Burnette moved to the UK, and at last sighting was earning a crust leading Richard Simmons-like aerobic fitness classes. As far as we've been able to ascertain, his discography ends here (David, if you're out there, we'd looove to hear from you). Lee Cutelle soldiered on, releasing more records (Trixters, Shy Ones) which are OK for what they are, but the magic brewed with his old foil had well and truly gone. More recently, he and Shy Ones collaborator Kathleen Murphy have moved in a "dance pop" direction with Moonlight Crush. Despite our best efforts, he's singularly uninterested in discussing his earlier bands. Lee, our door's always open...

Another Day In The City [Download]

No News [Download]

Saturday 11 June 2011

Buddies - Some Pop People / A Silly Song 7" Bestival Rochords 13291, 1981

Remember Mighty Little's showdown between the primate (and his amps) and technology? Brisbane's Buddies perhaps had similar ideas but scaled them back big time, leaving just a schoolpad sketch of a cheeky schoolboy with just a single speaker/amp, over what we think is an extremely early (for Australia) representation of a bar-code!

As well as the artwork, just about everything else is scaled back on this release - the sleeve is just a one sided insert, and the songs (two self-referential pop songs about pop) and production (thankfully with no '80s 'frills') are rudimentary. The performance though is pretty good. We've labelled it pop, rather than powerpop, due to the lack of any powerful guitar - we're kind of hardarses that way. Still, the propulsion of A Silly Song by the bass riff is more than enough to get us excited. Then there's the handclaps - you do realise that nearly every Brisbane punk record features handclaps, don't you?

Los hermanos Wackley, Bob (bass) and Greg (drums), are the ace rhythm section on everybody's none-more-fine, high water marks of Australian punk - the Razar 45 and EP. Bob (as Bob Hood) later continued down a pop path in Grooveyard before turning to the mersh hard rock of the later Screaming Tribesmen. As far as we know Greg's only other appearance was in the Hostages (no way we're linking to that video - reputations must be preserved).

Then there's A Wyatt on guitar - enquiries are out for more info on Mr Wyatt's ID.

The Buddies also released a cassette, which from memory was called Three Kings, before disappearing down the memory hole.

Some Pop People

A Silly Song

Sunday 5 June 2011

Invader - Don't Blame It On Me / Anastasia 7" Machine Gun Rock 13084, 1981

This biker band verges into punk territory with impressive results. One might think that there are lots of similar hard rock/punk crossovers from this period. There aren't.

- sleeve notes from the No One Left To Blame comp LP
For a country with such a strong track record in both kinds of music (punk and hard rock), Australian collisions of the genres were surprisingly rare. Yes, we have our proto-punkers; our pub, glam, and hard rockers who jumped ship; and our teen grillfat so amateurish as to achieve a punky edge. That's not what we mean. We're talking about wilful, artful combinations of punk and hard rock conventions, hybrids that have equal footing in both camps. Songs that can hold their own when viewed through the lens of either tradition. Though the opening quote was penned for Cleveland's Strychnine, it applies equally to anomalous Sydney Westies Invader, and their standing among the early Australian punkers. (It's just a happy accident that both play the Blame game).

In Don't Blame It On Me, the superficial trappings of genre cross-pollination are obvious - the Pistols' Submission re-routed through Marshall stacks. But if there's one characteristic that exemplifies the no-man's-land between punk and hard rock, it's the drumming. (If the mechanics of punk drumming make your eyes glaze over, you might want to skip ahead). Inherited from the likes of Slade, the four-on-the-floor drumbeat - in which every beat in the bar is accented by the kick drum - became a staple of Oz hard rock (check in here at around 1:55, or here at 4:13, or here whenever you damn please). At this tempo, it's usually accompanied by eighth-notes on the hi-hat - that's two hi-hat hits for each thump of the kick drum - propelling the song and, when played slightly behind the beat, making it "swing". Not here. Invader's four-on-the-floor lumbers instead of swings, delivering the sort of heavy-handed quarter-notes reserved by punk drummers for tempos of twice this speed and beyond. Ordinarily, a rhythm stripped of feel and pace is a bit like a gluten-free vegetarian pizza - what's the point? - but here it's perfect. Hey, true art ain't always pretty.

Don't Blame It On Me

For years, Invader was among the coldest of cold cases. Then, in October 2008, this website appeared out of the blue, prompting conniptions among collectors prone to daily Google searching. Suddenly, the mystery unravelled before our eyes. We'll hand over to Invader's Noel Thompson (guitar/vocals) to take us through the who/what/when/where/why:
Invader was a 3 piece outfit, the bass player was Jon Wilson and the drummer was Peter Borg. Jon played both a Rickenbacker and a Fender Precision bass and Peter, from memory played a Ludwig kit. I had a 1975 Gibson SG.

I hadn't played professionally in any band before Invader. I had auditioned for about 5 or 6 bands but none of them played the hard heavy stuff that I was interested in. I decided to form my own band. This was about 1978. I advertised in the newspaper for band members and got a response from Jon first. We both lived in the western suburbs of Sydney and so we joined up and then auditioned drummers and singers. We finally got Peter as the drummer who was an excellent fit for what we wanted to do. Singers were difficult and in the end I decided to take on the singing role myself. So the band eventually got up and going about late 1978, early 1979. We played around the pubs in Sydney and were particularly popular at two biker pubs. The bikers like their music hard and loud.

We recorded the single at Albert Studios in King Street Sydney on the [Australia Day long] weekend of January 24-25 1981. I wrote Don't Blame It On Me in 1979 and Anastasia in 1980. We were playing the songs live long before we hit the studio so we knew them backwards by the time we got to Albert's. The recording was done to try and attract some attention from the higher echelons of the recording industry. The record was a limited pressing of about 100 or 150, I can't recall the exact number. [The confirmed pressing size is 250 - Ed.] It was pressed at EMI. We sent them to many radio stations and music management companies. I have no idea which radio stations actually played the record but did hear that it got some airplay on the BBC in London.

I deliberately set out to write Don't Blame It On Me as a Sex Pistols style song. I really dug the Sex Pistols and all three of us liked our rock hard and heavy. Jon and I particularly liked and were influenced by Black Sabbath. Jon was a Geezer nut and I was an Iommi fan (hence the SG).

Noel Thompson with the SG, c.1979 (more here)