Sunday 22 April 2012

Traitors - Noiseless Workers 7" Afterwork/Missing Link MLC-101, 1979

For a blog with a professed distaste for all things Carlton, Wallaby Beat sure has spent a lot of time there over the last few months. It's a lesson that if you follow your nose, you may not always like where it leads you. Today, we sniff out another Carlton/punk crossover, and as with similar cross-pollination by the likes of Henry Vyhnal and Fred Cass, the bridge between scenes is the Babeez/News.

For the full Traitors story, we'll direct you to issue 3.1 of the sadly defunct Stained Sheets zine for a sprawling, five-page interview with Traitors main-man and self-proclaimed anarchist, David Langsam. Langsam's background was in "performance poetry" ("I started doing that in 1972 because I couldn't play an instrument"), activism, fringe art and theatre - the interview references Afterwork, an arts magazine Langsam had co-produced with the Bleeding Hearts' Eric Gradman, and the Pram Factory theatre (the latter is a story for another time, but for now, interested readers can scan the back cover of the Matchbox LP for clues). After attending mid-'70s shows by Carlton stalwarts the Bleeding Hearts, Stiletto, The Sports and Jo Jo Zep, Langsam became passionate about the local rock scene, leading to eventual writing gigs for Juke and Roadrunner:
"I hated the NME/Julie Burchill school of rock journalism that sneered at bands, because I knew how hard they worked to put a dozen songs together and then organise a poorly-paying gig and play their hearts out, only to be sneered at and decried by some toffee-nose on some minor point...So I thought if I'm going to review bands, I need to put together a band and record my songs and see what it's like from the inside".
Langsam professed a love for punk - The Saints, Clash, Jam, and Sex Pistols in particular - but his approach to putting together a band reveals a decidedly pre-punk mindset. Unlike journo non-musician contemporaries who dived in head-first, Langsam hand-picked some pro muso Carlton mates to perform on his behalf. Said mates included Rick Grossman (bass; Bleeding Hearts, Parachute), Eddie van Roosendael (drums; Stiletto, Mondo Rock), Randy Bullpin (guitar; High Rise Bombers, Mondo Rock), Nick Rischbieth (guitar), and Geoff Spooner (guitar). Gavin Quinn of Babeez/News was also tapped on the shoulder to sing Langsam's lyrics:
"It was all done in one day with me giving a run through of how I played [the songs] on guitar and sang them and then I left it to Rick and Eddie to lay down the rhythm section - which would have to be, by definition, loud powerful and innovative - and then Nick and Geoff played a professional variation of my guitar part. A friend taught me to sing three notes - E, F# and A - and I sang Workers, with Gavin doing a backing vocal. Randy was only there for an hour or so and put down that amazing guitar solo on the first take. Gavin sang Paul and Eddie sang Cops with Geoff playing lead guitar. While I wrote, produced and arranged the EP, my only part was singing Workers". 
Langsam had frequented Missing Link's precursor Archie and Judhead's since the early-'70s, and had come to know proprietors Keith Glass and David Pepperell. Once the Traitors' EP was recorded, Glass agreed to release it on Missing Link; the Afterwork logo was also revived for the occasion. Seven hundred copies were pressed in 1979.

Musically, the aroma of Carlton is present throughout, but luckily all three songs are good and none outstays its welcome. On Paul, only the very faintest of whiffs is detectable, and as the shortest and punkiest track it's our recommended starting point. Cops - a song inspired by a 3AM confrontation over souvlaki with a member of the Carlton constabulary - is another strong track, while the odour threatens to overpower Noiseless Workers before it settles into something leaner and meaner.

Noiseless Workers [Download]

Paul [Download]

Cops [Download]


David said...

This is my favourite blog of 2012.

Anonymous said...

G'Day Wallaby Beat.
Great review, thanks.
I guess what was most 'punk' about the Traitors was that there were no constraints on the musicians.
We were all there to have fun with three songs and while we were within our own constraints it was a real effort of what I think anarcho-syndicalism is meant to be. Doing the right thing without being told, by agreement.
By the way, do I get a cut of the action for each download - I've been on Itunes for a couple of years and must be up to about 79 cents by now.
If you don't fight, you booze!
David Langsam
July 23, 2013

meanie said...

Any chance of a link to these 3 songs please?