Sunday 31 March 2013

The Screaming Tribesmen 7" EMI Custom 13349, 1982

Mick Medew had been playing in a blues band in Brisbane in the late seventies when he met New South Welshman Ronald S. Peno, who had moved to Brisbane in late 1979 at the behest of Bruce Anthon of the Survivors. The aim was to audition for The Credits, but the first rehearsal didn't work out so Peno hooked up with Tony Robertson and they grabbed Medew and eventually Chris Welsh to form the 31st. The 31st married Peno's interest in midwest and New York American rock with Medew's love for '60s punk, via a common interest in Radio Birdman and The Hitmen.

The 31st played for about a year and here it gets complicated, so hold on tight: Brad Shepherd (ex-Fun Things but at this stage post-The Aliens' final line-up) joined briefly before he and then Robertson decamped to The Hitmen. Michael O'Connor from The Apartments joined on bass and the band played a few gigs around August 1981 as Died Pretty. Peno and Medew then grabbed the rhythm section of the Fun Things and The Aliens, John Hartley and Murray Shepherd, and became The Screaming Tribesmen for a small number of shows in December 1981.

So if you learn nothing else today it's that Mick Medew was in Died Pretty and Ron Peno was in the Screaming Tribesmen. Hopefully there's a rock'n'roll pub trivia near you that you can ace with that piece of science.

Peno returned to Sydney at the end of 1981 and the "classic" three piece line-up of the Screaming Tribesmen played around Brisbane with occasional forays to Sydney up until mid-1983, recast as more of a classic '60s punk sounding band. Like other Brisbane garage bands they covered then quite obscure Australian garage - The Missing Links' Some Kinda Fun and the Black Diamonds' See The Way. American songs covered included The Starfires' I Never Loved Her, the contemporaneous Vertebrats' Left In The Dark (from Bomp's Battle Of The Garages LP), and a couple of soul songs as reinvented by the Human Beinz - The Isley Brothers' Nobody But Me and Bobby Blue Bland's Turn On Your Lovelight. The set was rounded out with originals and songs from the 31st. A live set from the time can be heard on Citadel's The Savage Beat CD.

During March 1982 the band recorded four songs at a jingle studio, Speak. In interviews from the time the band bemoaned the fact that there weren't any studios in Brisbane that could capture their sound. I guess Mungo Coats had shut up shop by this point. The sound is pretty thin, and when you hear the massive sound achieved for the next single, Igloo, recorded over 48 hours at Trafalgar in Sydney, you can sympathise with the band somewhat. 500 copies were pressed by EMI Custom and quickly sold out.

I Don't Wanna Know [Download]

Lookin' On [Download]

Love Lite [Download]

Trans 43 [Download]

Sunday 24 March 2013

Perculiar Clerk - Another Guy 7" Phoenix 13286, 1982

We always enjoy a band that can't even spell its own name correctly, but in this case we're not sure if we're more galled at the misspelling or the aesthetic blunder of referencing Petula Clark. Unlike previous Wallaby Beat illiterates, there's documentary evidence that Peculiar Clerk knew their way around a dictionary (see below), so we can't really blame the band itself. Perhaps lax educational standards at the EMI Custom typesetting department were at fault, but ultimately the buck stops with Tom Misner, owner of Phoenix Records (or, as he might prefer to call it, Phoenix Regords. Yes, Regords). The guy seems to cop the blame for everything else, so why not add proofreading to the list?

Peculiar Clerk formed from the ashes of Latis, a Zep/Heep/Quo cover band based in the western Sydney suburb of Blacktown. In 1979, the band ditched both its name and its heavy rock repertoire for revved up Beatles, Who and (of course) Petula Clark covers, a smattering of self-penned tunes, and the obligatory skinny ties. In lengthy self-analysis over at the Peculiar Clerk website, various members acknowledge that the arrival of punk made their former setlist obsolete, but are at pains to note that they were not a punk band themselves. All signs point to that subgenre we've come to know and tolerate, Oz Rock/powerpop, but setlist staples like the Undertones' Teenage Kicks and originals like Disco (Destroys Your Mind) show that their hearts were in the right place (though singer Peter Keen's assertion that disco sucks "starts with 's' and ends with 'k'" has us rethinking that entire first paragraph).

In 1982, two originals were recorded at Central Recorders by the then-active lineup of Keen, Rob Manego (bass), Peter Marples (guitar), and Steve Askins (drums). The resulting single, Peculiar Clerk's only release, pairs a couple of energetic powerpoppers which should get the job done nicely for fans of The Word et al., though we hasten to add that microscopic examination reveals no trace of a chorus on either side.

Peculiar Clerk folded in 1984 but not before playing an impressive double-header, performing firstly to around 30,000 people at a festival on the banks of the Parramatta River, followed by a nighttime gig at their Blacktown RSL home base. The band describes one of those venues as "a filthy cesspool" - take a tour of their website to find out which.

Another Guy [Download]

Miss You [Download]

Peculiar R Us

Sunday 17 March 2013

Manikins - Love At Second Sight 7" SMX55051/2, 1980

In August 1979, Perth's Manikins became the first of that city's Class of '77 to head East. A short tour of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne followed on from the good reaction to the band's first two singles. On their return to Perth the band released a great cassette called Live Locally featuring nineteen songs culled from their set. In fact the band had recorded fifty songs, almost their entire (all original!) inventory, in a midnight to dawn session at Sweetcorn Studio following the Talking Heads' February 1979 show at Perth Concert Hall. The cassette was a mixture of the band's favourite songs with those deemed to have featured least mistakes. Should you have trouble finding it, most of the tracks can be heard on the self-titled LP/CD from last decade.

Three of the songs reappeared the next year on the band's third single. These versions were re-recorded at Perth's Planet Studios and were mixed at Paradise Studios in Sydney. Needless to say the pro-studios cleaned up the band's sound and while not completely anodyne, it's a pity that the balls evident on the earlier versions had retracted at least part way inside the band's body. In particular the fantastic, sloppy guitar caught on the tape versions is toned down. Nevertheless, good songs all, and worthy of your time.

Like the Numbers and XL Capris, we can but warn you against approaching the band's later major label stuff. We again thank DNA fanzine for their excellent record of happenings in Australia's South and West; this time issues 7 and 34, the Perth punk issues.

Love At Second Sight [Download]

Nuisance [Download]

All I Care About [Download]

What should have been - the Live Locally version of Love at Second Sight.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Cocky Laura - Cowboys And Indians 7" no label 13260, 1981

At the risk of being wrong (again), we'll stick our necks out and say that Doug Ironside (guitar, vocals), Jon O'Rourke (drums, vocals), and Warren Slater (bass, vocals) were on a Gang of Four trip circa December 1981. But if that leads you to expect Cowboys and Indians to be some kind of Marxist allegory about dispossession, a narrative crucial to understanding Sydney punk (um, apparently), then think again. Lyrics are more F-Troop than Althusser - hey, there is an O'Rourke in the band, after all - with some added belching for good measure. Classy.

So the influence is purely musical rather than ideological. Fair enough - it'd take another decade for the schtick of printing layout instructions on a record cover to seem fresh again, anyway. With that in mind, we might expect Every Dog Has His Day to be a tribute to the band's touch-football-meets-Lord-of-the-Flies namesake. Nah, it's your conventional "I saw you with another guy" song, but at least it's spat out with some conviction and at an acceptable BPM. Making Albert Studios sound like Basilisk is a real accomplishment, though.

Every Dog Has His Day [Download]

Sunday 3 March 2013

The Dagoes - We Sell Soul 7" DAG 001, 1980

When it comes to Australasian bands covering Texas sixties punk the pantheon probably consists of Robbie Steele's Maid Of Sugar, Maid Of Spice, Tom Thumb's You're Gonna Miss Me and The
Lime Spiders' version of The Liberty Bell's That's How It Will Be. Radio Birdman might be considered but come on, Tom Thumb get points for getting there first, covering Roky in 1967!

Somewhere down amongst the lesser gods are Adelaide's Dagoes, who covered a song by Roky's first band, The Spades, as their first record in May, 1980. The original We Sell Soul is interesting as a song without much structure, so I can see why Spacemen 3 saw fit to cover it. According to Teenbeat Mayhem it's "crude intense moody howlin' punk", which I guess explains why The Lyres covered it too.

We don't know the vector which brought the song to Adelaide in 1979. Boots of the 7" had been around since 1975 so maybe they were ordered from the States. The Dagoes themselves had been going since March 1978, starting as Daryl Breakaway and the Niggers, becoming the Dagoes in May 1978, and spending a few months and lineups as The Tony Rome Band. They settled and stayed as the Dagoes in September 1979.

Around this time they were covering Pipeline, Teenage Head, (This Ain't) The Summer Of Love, Pablo Picasso, Frenchette, California Sun and We Sell Soul. A quick scan reveals the band were looking to America rather than other favoured musical climes of the time, though in 1980 they added covers of English bands the Flys and The Boys. Originals included crowd favourites Little Blackie, Let's Liquidate and This Perfect Band.

Anyway, after breaking up in December 1979 the band got together on February 26, 1980 and recorded the three songs presented here. Earlier recordings, three of them, had been deemed unfit for release. To avoid the risk of another lecture from Harry Butler, I'll quote him (almost) verbatim from DNA 6:
Being typically Daygoes, the whole event was fraught with problems from start to finish. Firstly they hadn't played together for over two months, so a couple of hours of swift rehearsals were in order. Not only to learn to play together again, but also because some members had forgotten how to play some of the songs. Next several guitar leads were found to be missing, and as playing began Johnny Tomato began breaking drum sticks madly. Despite it all, the group won through and the first song (Blackie) was successfully recorded. Then disaster struck. A combination  of having forgotten the songs and being totally "out of it" resulted in the bassist cracking up and walking out... They resolved to carry on, and overdub the bass parts later. 
The next song attempted was We Sell Soul, and they managed to get it down on almost the first take. Then to Let's Liquidate. No real problems occurred here, but some overdubs were necessary. Firstly the bass had to be put down, and there was deep discussion about what should be played - in the end two bass tracks were recorded. Then some synthesizer was stuck on top. Finally all that was left were the overdubs on We Sell Soul. It was decided that no bass was necessary, so it was just a matter of getting the vocals done. People who listen closely will notice some unusual noises in the background in Dick's rave in the middle of the song. These are the result of the activities of Tony Rome, Frankie Thomas and Harry Butler in trying to inject some humour.
That explains the "who needs a bass player" line, and we assume the Billie Jean King reference is a dig at Doug Thomas's hairdo. In the end, We Sell Soul is probably the weakest of the three tracks, the others displaying a tough yet limber garage sound. As evidenced by this and their later recordings, The Dagoes really only followed their own star anyway, not really caring to sound like anyone else.

We Sell Soul [Download]

Little Blackie [Download]

Let's Liquidate [Download]