Sunday 22 September 2013

Dave Warner - Half Time At The Football 12" no label DW-1-A/B, 1981

Being the first punk band in Perth is like being the guy who invented planking - sure, you might've been first, but who gives a shit? Still, that hasn't stopped the mantle of Perth's First Punks being bitterly (and publicly) contested. Dave Warner has no time for such trivialities, announcing that his first band, Pus, was not only Perth's but Australia's first punk band, treading the boards at future Perth punk haunt the Governor Broome Hotel as early as 1974. Putting aside the tiresome argument of "first", the fact that Pus took primary influence from The Fugs and felt gazumped by Skyhooks' shtick suggests that Pus was one of those pre-Punk bands that was punk in intent rather than sound. That's never been of much use to us, being people who listen to music with our ears and all. Given that no Pus recordings seem to have survived, in this case we can't even do that.

The closest we get is Dave Warner's first single (Suburban Boy/Donna, EMI Custom PRS-2499), recorded in the UK at Spaceward Studios and self-released in 1976 under the name From The Suburbs. Suburban Boy was a Pus song, and though this version is less polished than the recording we all know as Warner's first release for Mushroom in 1978, the differences are pretty superficial. It isn't punk, but it does establish the parameters for Warner's subsequent work - tales of football and suburban ennui, delivered with a broad (Western) Australian accent. Those themes were also carried through in the label artwork of his next pre-Mushroom single (Summer '78/Australian Heat, Bicton BR-001, 1978), which also hints at the Perth cultural references that would come to characterise his songs, Bicton being the East Fremantle suburb where Warner grew up. The self-applied genre tag "suburban rock" encapsulates those elements, but if you want to know what Dave really thought of punk, go no further than his song of the same name.

The Mushroom releases by Dave Warner's From The Suburbs litter dollar bins from coast-to-coast, so exploring those records is easy and cheap (go and do it!). What brings us here today is a timely re-examination of the post-Mushroom, self-released Half Time At The Football 12" - timely in that Warner, like me, would be grinning from ear-to-ear after the Fremantle Dockers' preliminary final win over Sydney on Saturday night, sending Freo to the AFL grand final for the first time. If I was to really twist the blade, I'd add that half time was about the point when Sydney Swans supporters could have switched off their TVs (sorry, Professor). A live favourite and something of a career constant, Half Time At The Football is quintessential Warner, bringing to the table all of his usual thematic concerns but with a relentless, sloppy two-chord attack that would sit much more comfortably among Spaceward's credits than the '76 recordings.

Half Time At The Football [Download]

We can't leave before tying up the last of Warner's punk-era self-released records, especially given today's theme. To your right, you will see the East Fremantle Sharks' team song, released in 1979 with a blue-and-white label to echo that club's colours - that year saw East Freo defeat the South Fremantle Bulldogs to take out the WAFL premiership. Warner gets a songwriting credit and his voice is allegedly on the recording somewhere, but who can tell with the boofheads from the '79 Sharks caterwauling over the top? No sound files on this one - hell will freeze over before the East Freo team song appears on this blog. Carn the Bulldogs in 2014, and go the Dockers!

Sunday 8 September 2013

Clint Small - Crack In The Wall and On The Fourth Floor 7"s Au Go Go ANDA-2 and 5, 1979 and 1980

Clint(on) Small was a contemporary of Rowland S. Howard and Au Go Go label chief Bruce Milne at the Swinburne Community School. His first named band, apart from the various freeform jam bands that played at the school, was Tootho and the Ring Of Confidence, shortened to TATROC, in 1975, with Howard on sax and Graeme Pitt of Champagne Edge on bass. You can see photos in the extras on the DVD of Autoluminescent.

After that Small remained a somewhat mysterious figure. We don't think we've ever seen anything written about him contemporaneous with his early records, which seems strange given his connections with the Melbourne punk mainstream, such as it was.

The facts are thus thin on the ground and are deduced from the record covers. Small played in an early lineup of the Little Murders, he's on their second 7". His own first 7" from 1979 is a great record: high energy, tough riffing, good solos and impassioned vocals. Clint plays guitar and sings and Wallaby Beat favourite Jarryl Wirth (News, Lonely Boys, etc.) is on bass and guitar - his classic guitar sound can be heard on Wyvern Parsons, Where Are You?, which also sounds like it could be a News song. Mark Graeber plays drums.

There's two sleeves for this one, both feeding off Milne's taste for 3-D postcards - he used to ask people to send them to him in the early shop mail order catalogues. The horse sleeve seems to turn up less then the camels sleeve, althought we're told there's equal numbers of both.

Crack In The Wall [Download]

Have You Got The Feeling? [Download]

Wyvern Parsons, Where Are You? [Download]

The same lineup put out a second 7" in 1980. It's a slightly more relaxed affair but still worthwhile. The A-side, On The Fourth Floor, is most similar to the previous record, but really only cuts loose for about ten seconds at the end. Daeng sounds like an outtake from The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. After that Small's next release was the Steel 12" from 1983 - it starts moving in a more hard rock direction and suffers from Jarryl Wirth's non-involvement. There were more self-released records through the eighties, which we've never investigated.

On The Fourth Floor [Download]

Daeng [Download]

(I'm) Hep Up To Here [Download]

Clint Small: "Photography by Wyvern (Yes, We Found Him!) Parsons"