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PHILUPS

MATHESON

Dear Roadrunner, Firstly let me point out this is not a letter putting down Roadrunner or the Sydney SKA band, The A llnighters. I’ve seen the Allnighters twice and as far as a Ska band can go they are not without talent. The same cannot be said about Scott Matheson. His writing comes courtesy of the N.M.E. Book of Narrow Minded Journalism. Take for instance the immediate put down of Sting wearing a “ beat” T-shirt for credibil­ ity. I’m not sure about Matheson, but when I wear a T-shirt depicting a band, it strangely enough means an admiration for the band. Now according to Matheson, Mod was only good while it was enjoyed by the working classes. I hadn’t realised that those slightly better off financially weren’t entitled to enjoy certain styles of clothing or music. The biggest laugh however, is when we are told that Mod, unlike Ska, is a mere rehash of previous styles, fashions and has very little music creativity. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Ska around years before Mod, and Ska has no more musical creativity than Mod. Isn’t after all, bands who write the music and not styles. Anyway, there are talented bands in both. I am from Brisbane, now resident in Sydney. I’ve read Matheson’s futile attempts at jour­ nalism before, especially the narrow minded article in Roadrunner concerning Brisbane bands and its scene, many issues ago. You couldn’t cut it in the Riptides, How many more chances will you get with jour­ nalism? Yours Sincerely Greg Atkinson Sydney. You dummy! Of course the rich can’t enjoy music as much as the working ciasses! They’re too busy spending their money on other pleasures! As for Ska/ Mod, it’s chicken and the egg as far as I can see. And as far as narrow minded­ ness goes, well surely it’s a matter of taste.

COUPE Dear Editor, Stuart Coupe, with his sycophantic Bruce Springsteen extravaganza, has at last blown the little credibility he had left. Sydney read­ ers familiar with his column in one of the Sunday rags will know that his claim to have “ written very little about Springsteen” is a blatant untruth. Since his CBS overseas jun­ ket, local readers have had Bruce ad nauseum, and many will have undoubtedly recognised the conclusion of the Roadrunner article, as it appeared in an abridged but al­ most verbatim form nearly a month ago loc­ ally. Personal interest, opinions and prefer­ ences have become Coupe’s trademark in recent times. Excesses in praise of Spring­ steen have been dominant since the artist’s wildly anachronistic and flimsily defended in­ clusion in his “ New Music” book. Coupe’s self confessed obsession takes

an unusual form. He appears to be more interested in some glorified image of “the rock’n’roller” , with music as a by product. His infatuation with and glorification of “ street credibility” , as a yard stick by which an artist’s success can be measured, is limiting. It is a tacit acknowledgement of the fallacy that meaningful rock music can only be produced after “ paying your dues” , almost a denial of rock musicians as artists. The ingratiating reverence toward the Boss and continual kowtowing smack more of mollyism than of a rock writer at work. His function as a writer has been blinded by his fanatical subjectivity - and perhaps the most worrying part about the article is the overrid­ ing fact that Coupe is trying to pass off one huge advertisement for CBS as a piece of rock journalism. One can’t help thinking that the “ lump in his throat” at the Springsteen concert was only matched by a CBS lump in his wallet. Coupe used to be part of rock music - now like so many others he’s become part of the rock industry. Concerned, Sydney. Look mate, if you had the chance to fly half way round the world to see your hero, free of charge, what would you do? Turn up your nose and feel holy and uncorrupted? Personal opinions and preferences are at the very core of rock journalism (and letters about it). That’s my opinion anyway.

Dear Roadrunner, Reading Keri Phillips’ article on The Jam (July ’81) had me aghast at her comments. Though they may be referred to as a “ Mod” band, they themselves have said they were always a “ Punk” band, that is going back a few years to when their star was on the as­ cendant. Paul Weller may take partial influ­ ence from Pete Townshend and even said his playing did influence him. Their dress has always been “ Mod” , if that’s what you want to call it, and saying they all looked very “ six­ ties” , - what was the intention of that com­ ment, to plug the “ Mod” angle even more? Mod wasn’t music but the fashion of an era, and in her article, we have an example of a writer losing track of what she is primarily supposed to do; write about music. Who cares about “ Mod” ? It’s been and will never be again. Revivals always fall short of the original in that they are “ Created” to fill a void, or to make money. What got me going more than her weak attack on their dress, wasjthe comment that Paul Weller’s quote “Songs don’t quite mea­ sure up to the originals” , referring to the Kinks “ David Watts” and the Motown hit “ Heatwave” . How many good songs does a band have to record and in the Jams case, there are three excellent albums to choose from, before they are recognised as being one of the better bands, and consistently for the past four years? I conclude that Keri Phillips must indeed have “ odd” tastes in music if she cannot rec­ ognise the Jam for putting out the excellent music they do. Simon Sydney P.S. Your article on Charles McMahon was very good, more of that nature please, it makes for very interesting reading.

CLUECHAZ

Dear Roadrunner, At last the time has come. At last it is possible to read an interview af an original and in­ novative Australian band without having to put up with the personal prejudices and whims of the interviewer. Such was the case with this month’s (August) edition of ‘Road­ runner’ which had for its main feature an Darling, Sorry but here come those tears again. I can’t honest arid down-to-earth interview with agree with the summary of The Plants in the “The Sunnyboys” . The journalist (I know not his name for in July Roadrunner. Anyone who has followed the transcript he was only referred to as this bands’ progress, as I have done would be able to tell you that they have become “T.C.” ) introduced his interview by giving us a first impression account (and first impres­ progressively worse as time has gone by. Their lyrics were always awful (i.e. hearts sions are important because they are per­ in the right place but pathetically expressed) sonal interpretations that are not affected nor but as Mr. Mullane rightfully observes, there distorted by popular tastes nor by popular is a tension within their music that is wholly rock media, which has the rather detestable their own. That tension still exists though I tendency of trying to dictate popular tastes) would assert that their newer songs don’t of a gig the band performed in Adelaide and match up to the older ones. Sadly these lads from then on it was just straightforward and don’t know their own better points. I find it honest questions and answers. As I said before I know not the journalist’s interesting to read that guitarist Phil Berry name, but for our sake give us more of “T.C.” was bearing the bulk of in-group attack while recording a song. To my mind he and the so that we, your readers, have a chance to drummer are far and away the most vital, form our own interpretations and opinions creative and exciting members of the band. It concerning good and rare Australian bands, is a plain fact that the demise of the Plants and please don’t leave us wandering blindly sound has existed in tandem with the push­ through your own prejudices like newly born chicks following the mother goose, or in this ing of these two into the background. The Plants sound best with drums mixed up loud. case mother ‘Roadrunner’. Furthermore, the guitar work of Berry is the Yours Shaun Ridley only sound in performance that actually Grange, S.A. pushes their songs to the limit. As for their asserting that “ dancing is not P.S. I hate “ The Sunnyboys” . the acid test of ‘good’ music, this only covers T.C. is none other than Toby Cluechaz, up for the fact that this band (or at least cer­ Shaun, editor of Adelaide’s most prog­ tain members) simply want to be looked at, ressive and vindictive fanzine. The Ar­ they want the audience to say “ gosh, aren’t changel. Unfortunately his by-line drop­ they progressive!” Dont lie to us Plants, we ped off the page sometime between lay­ know you’re just a bunch of rich kids out on a out and printing (Sorry Tobes). Some thrill. Give us drums and guitar attack and get have said that Tobes is prejudiced before a new lyricist. Good luck kiddies! he even opens his mouth (thanks J.D.) but The Historian we’re all delighted you enjoy his interview Perth. W.A. so much.

MULLANE

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T H E Tom Waits For No-One Well, not quite, but the Tom Waits tour has been put back a month due to ‘family illness’. The new dates are CANBERRA — School of Music, Fri. October 2nd; SYDNEY — Capitol Theatre, Sat. Oct. 3rd and Sun. 4th; BRIS­ BANE — Festival Hall, Wed. Oct. 7th; ADELAIDE — Festival Theatre, Sun. Oct. 11th; MELBOURNE — Dallas Brookes Hall {not Princes Theatre as previously adver­ tised) Tues. 13th and Wed. 14th Oct. and PERTH Concert Hall Mon. Oct. 19th. Only those ticket holders inconvenienced by the new dates will need to exchange tickets as all existing tickets will be valid for the new dates. Refunds, if needed, are available from point of sale (i.e. where you bought the ticket.) Tom Waits and so do we.

Midnight Oil returned to Australia last month, after three months in the U.K. and a quick look at America. Peter Garrett’s succinct precis of the trip went thus; ‘We’ve been, mate, we’ve made the record, we played and we’ve come home.’ You want more? O.K. Well Peter reckons they recorded the album at Glyn Johns (Stones, Who, Q-Tips and countless others)’s home studio, old converted stables, in Sussex. It’s called ‘Place Without A Postcard’ and should be out

Girl/Boy is an Adelaide based tape com­ pany which will be releasing tapes of local bands. The first of these, from Die Dancing Bears is already available and a tape from hot jazz combo Snakes and Adders is due for release in early October. There is also the possibility of a Shreds tape and the release of some Systems Go material recorded before the band broke up. Girl/Boy is Susie Ramone and Roy Ezringer and according to Roy they will be offering production, promotion and distribution (thru Smash and Grab (Adelaide), Missing Link (Melbourne) and Phantom (Sydney)). The tape facility is best suited to those bands who can afford to record but can’t afford to put out a limited edition single. The first official Girl/Boy release was to have been a single from Fun Fun Fun, but that was cancelled after Dave Walker and Ian List left the band recently.

Much scratching of heads at the RR office a couple of weeks ago when an NME turned up in the post with a review of the ‘New Christs’ album, ‘Living Eyes’ in it. In a definitely ‘over the Top’ assessments re­ viewer Barney Koskyns gives the line-up of the band as that which played under the name New Race recently (Rob Younger, Detroit codgers Asheton and Thompson) and doesn’t mention Radio Birdman once, for indeed the album is none other than Birdman’s ‘Living Eyes’. There is a band called. New Christs, but the onty link with-

around early October in Australia. A&M will most likely release it in the U.K. and Europe, but as yet there is nothing definite scheduled for America. Garrett said the two gigs the band did at the Marquee were great, but in true Oil’s style, they kept a pretty low profile. ‘England’s the best place in the world for music,’ he said, ‘but everything else is pretty terrible.’ The band are ‘very pleased’ with the album and co-inciding with its release the 6V2 week tour, ‘Scorching of the Earth’ tour starts in Sydney on 9th September.

Powderworks Records and tapes, the company that has taken over Seven Re­ cords, have announced that from September they will be marketing their cassettes in a ‘one plus one’ format, i.e. one side of the tape will contain a full album and the other will be blank and available for recording. Island Records and Sonet Records are already doing the same in the U.K. According to directors, Tony Hogarth, Alan Watson and Ken Harding, the ‘small cost in slight increase in manufacturing costs is a small price to pay if Powderworks’ action goes towards reducing the growing $60 million a year blank tape industry in Australia and in turn increases sales of pre-recorded cassettes.’ Initial releases in the new format will include albums from the Radiators, Outline, Eddy Grant, XL Capris, The Crackajacks and Billy Connolly. Powderworks will progressively re-issue its current catalogue in the new format. New Numbers bass player Is Gary Roberts, previously with Sydney band Moving Parts. Original drummer Marty Newcomb has rejoined and co-wrote the band’s new single ‘Jericho’ with guitarist Chris Morrow. The band are currently on a

2 month tour. Dates are Melbourne, Sept 1-15, Adelaide, Sept 17-20, Sydney, Sept 21-27 and Brisbane, Oct. 1-4. The Dead Kennedy’s, whose single ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ is selling well enough to chart, but isn’t because it isn’t selling in the right record shops according to Missing Links, have formed their own record company. It’s called Alternative Tentacles and will be based in London. First releases on the new label will be an American punk compilation called ‘Let Them Eat Jelly Beans’ which features a new Kennedy’s track, ‘Nazi Punks Fuck O ff as well as tracks from 16 other bands, and a solo E.P. from Kennedy’s frontman Jello Biafra. The Tarielorn Festival of Transition, cancelled last year because of local council action, is to be held on the N.S.W. Labour Day Weekend (Oct. 1-5) at Riverwood Downs, Stroud, N.S.W., about 60 kilometres north of Newcastle. The Festi­ val is sited on a large property, with a river flowing through. The organizers say there will be 2 stages and over 40 bands and acts performing, headed by American cult hero Rodriguez. Camping areas and full amenities will be provided. Tickets are $25 for the weekend.

and now to the Go-Betweens who surprise, To the Editor, Ah! Mr. Craig N. Pearce once again! What surprise Nasty Negative liked, or was that does the ‘N’ stand for? nasty or negative? I because he knew they had a rave review in a have read with ‘amusement’ his various London musical paper and he likes to be in scribes in Roadrunner, condemning bands with the “ in” crowd? such as Voxpop (the way he described their I have been running The Ballroom for female member was every male chauvinists many years (I started it long before “you dream come true!) International Exiles, the know who” took over briefly) and myself and degrading adjectives obviously scrutinized my partner, continually have the biggest and carefully through the dictionary, and now we also the newest bands in town. We are also have an equally grotesque review, this time one of the few venues who believe in giving declaring The Ballroom venue is no longer new, young bands a chance, whether they be the shining star it used to be because we had arty, punk, new wave, rockabilly or whatever a selection of what he so curiously quoted as adjective is descriptive. “ boring, upper middle class tw a ts’’ — Perhaps the next time Mr. Pearce decides Equal-Local, Go-Betweens, Essendon Air­ to darken our doors, he will introduce himself port and Kinetic Picnic. Now you can please so we can have a chat and decide whether he is a Were-Wolf or just another frustrated rock people some of the time, but you can’t please them all the time and Mr. Craig N. Pearce journo who hides his guitar/drums, whatever, obviously could never be pleased, except by in the closet!! himself and although he says “the purveyors Yours sincerely, of fashion and trends either stay at home or traverse through other newer haunts” , I have Dolores San Miguel, never seen an article where he is happy with Promoter of The Ballroom Music, Melbourne. the Band (s) and the venue. If he is so intent on being with the “ in crowd” why does he 4th of July keep coming back to The Ballroom (not cool, (plus 13 days) man) when he apparently hates the place. Is Dear Roadrunner, he a sado-masochist? or maybe no other Thanks for such mind-blowing reviews on Springsteen at Wembley. I only hope he gets venue lets him in! Now getting back to the “ review” , firstly over here — FAST! Equal-Local (the ones he thinks are “ upper Regarding the review for ‘Dedication middle class twats, who hate every other (Gary U. S. Bonds) — Maybe, playing ‘The band around” ) apart from the fact that one Pretender’ 3 times in a row will change your hell of a crowd like them and enjoy their life — but how the hell do you get OFF side relaxing and unique musicianship, I have ONE? I haven’t been able to stop playing it never heard or read of them nastily dissect­ and the best song has to be ‘Jole Blon’ with ing other groups.(Maybe Craig “ hears voices Springsteen doing the 2nd verse. ‘Daddy’s from God” ) Essendon Airport and Kinetic come home’ is next best, followed by all Picnic are two young bands who are trying songs penned by the Boss. and succeeding to add another angle of P.S. Yes, I have listened to side 2 — once! The Great Beast Returns! interesting music to the scene. Dresden War P.P.S. Any ideas as to how one can get Crimes unfortunately, but fortunately for Mr. hold of the Boss’s latest American release Birdman is that Rob Younger sang on their Pearce broke up recently and many an ‘Demo Tapes’? one and only single, ‘Face A New God' ardent fan (they had a large number, signed Desperate recently released on Green Records. including myself) were very disappointed — for Springsteen O bscurantist m arketing strategy? A Trafalgar generated smoke-screen (Birdman bombed in the U.K. press stakes)? Wha’ppen? The explanation, according to a Spokes­ person from T rafalgar is quite simple. Nicholas Ravenscroft, a writer for the Austra­ lian, is a friend of Hoskyns and sent him a tape of ‘Living Eyes’ with rather a garbled Upstairs, covering letter. Hoskyns managed to get his Cnr. Frome and Bundle Sts., wires crossed completely and thus . .. mass City. confusion. ADELAIDE'S SECOND­ Green Records’ Stuart Coupe didn’t seem too concerned however when he was con­ HAND RECORD STORE. tacted for comment. ‘All we want to do is get We buy your unwanted them (New Christs) in the studio — it doesn’t records and tapes. See us matter who they are — and get the single now for the best price over to the U.K. as soon as possible. Rumours that the New Christs will be in town. replacing Midnight Oil at the Reading Festi­ val in England are completely unfounded.’ LARGE STOCK Kraftwerk, the Komputer Kids from OF INDEPENDENT Krautland, will be giving two perfor­ SINGLES AVAILABLE mances only in Australia this month — Sydney, Capitai Theatre Sept 16th and NEW SINGLES: DAGOES - TEN YEARS ON Melbourne, Princess Theatre Sat. Sept. SURFSIDE 6 NEW L.P.S: SCIENTISTS DAVID CHESWORTH LITTLE MURDERS 19th. Their new album, ‘Computer World’ SUNNY BOYS 12 " E.P. TRIFFIDS is released to coincide with their visit. DEAD KENNEDYS Caledonian funksters. Simple Minds, to B PARTY - RELEASE THE BATS. support Icehouse on their return tour of Oz, with the possibility that Icehouse will TAPES: THE LOUNGE $5. DIE DANCING BEARS $2.50 support the S.M.’s on their up and coming NOUMENON COMPILATION $6. British tour. Nice. , \ \ , FAST FOR WARD ISSUES 1-6

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8 Roadrunner


BIEVABLY, THE SAMEI

DA IN THE Joey Ramone still looks tike the son of Edna Everage and Tiny Tim after a bad night. By the time the lights come up on stage, illuminating the Ramones’ flag with its big eagles and the words *Hey Ho, Let’s Go”, it is an hour and a half after the advertised starting time, we have heard the Interval tape twice and the crowd is more than somewhat feisty (the guy standing next to me alternates between vomiting, nod­ ding off and playfully punching his mates). People for whom the wait has been too long, are carried out at regular intervals. The Ramones hit the stage to the strains of the theme from the spaghetti western. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but it’s clear that good taste and commonsense end there. For the rest of the night it is to be the anarchic sitiiness that is the Ramones' forte. The band have spent the last few months iabouring on an album under the influence of lOCC s Graham Gouldman, and this writer certainly hoped that some leavening pop elements had infil­ trated the Ramones’ live blltzkreig. I should have known better. Even pop genius Phil Spector had failed to break through the Ramones’ own wall of sound when he produced their last album, Bnd of the Century Indeed there was so little of Spector on the album, and so strong a Ramones’ stamp, one puzzled over why they bothered to wheel the aging boy-wonder out of retirement to produce the damn thing. if you saw the Ramones when they toured Aus­ tralia last year, you’ll know they aurally assault, rather than perform for, their audience. Although I did not see any of their Australian shows, I was surprised that almost everyone who saw them seemed disappointed. I began to wonder what people had expected. Their five studio albums have been, if nothing else, consistent, and the two shows they have done in New York over the past few months have been very faithful to the style, spirit and sound of their studio work. Perhaps their seminal role in the British punk movement had given people grander expectations. (It was the Ramones tour of 1976 that started the British thinking in a new and faster way — although the safety pins came from another American, Richard Hell — so he claims, and, having seen him, I believe it.) The Ramones’ first LP was one of the first pieces of vinyl evidence that something new was going on over there on the other side of the world, although the album itself was regarded as a Joke at the time. And indeed it probably was. It certainly cast the mould tor the way the Ramones were to be treated by the press, and the sort of image that was to be created out of contact with the rock media. We learned that Da Brudders were dumbles from Oueens — one of the tive New York City boroughs, and certainly not a classy one. We discovered (very quickly) that they couldn’t really play alt that well — but that their songs were simple and above all FAST. The Ramones also had a very strong visual image— - almost as strong as that df Kiss, the Village People, and, lately. Adam and the Ants. Like all these bands, they transcended the rock’n’roll image. But they did it by actually wearing it —tattered jeans, leather jackets, worn T shirts and shades. The name, the music and the ’look' ail added up to cartoon Character, and the Ramones became contenders for inclusion m some latter-day Archie and Jughead comic ~ or at least characters that got left out of the Oobie Gillis TV show because the producer didn’t want to offend the viewers, tn a business where yoi» blink and you find a whole new set of faces and sounds (witness the Village People In their ‘New Romantic’/punk kit — it’s a sombring

OF H P thought) the Ramones have remained unbelievably the SAME. Not only are the hair-cuts, the jeans, the T shirts and the shades the same, but so Is the set. Pausiftg only to say “We are the Ramones — you heard tf first right here", Dee Dee Ramone exhibits the breadth of his arithmetic knowledge, and they launch into RockWftoH Radio, swiftly followed by Do You Wanna Dance and Blltzkreig Bop. At first i thought they’re going to lull the crowd into aYalse sense of security with these old faves, then hit ’em with the new sound. But the next number, a new song dedicated to, "anyone who’s a musician", was Indistinguishable In style from the rest of the Ramones’ oeuvre. There were going to be no chal­ lenges tonight —• might as well get Sucked Into the maelstrom. The band rampaged their way through their classics’ — / Wanna Be Sedated, Beat on the Brat (where the giant plastic baseball bat made its appearance), Rockaway Beach (named after a real, beach here in New York), Teenage Lobotomy, Cretin Hop, Pinhead (with Joey Wietding the Gabba Gabba " Hey sign), Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, and their usual covers, Surfef Bird, California Sun —• and Let’s ; Dance, a fifties number revived by the Silicon Teens on their LP, Music for Parties. The sound Is . absolutely appalling, loud to the point of distortion. The Ramones’ sound Is made up of three simple components. There’s the drums, there’s the vocals, and there’s the rest— r and at times these three elements get out of synch. In spite of ail this, the audience goes crazy, and, as the 60 minute set beats Its frenzied way to the end, those right up against the stage seem to rise higher and higher (perhaps on the bodies of their dead and fallen comrades) until there is a wall of people almost as high as the band. For this young, basi­ cally suburban New York audience, this is obviously a transcendent experience. As for me, well, I had fun. But I could not help thinking "how jongt can these guys go on doing this?". After seven years, five studio LPs and a doublo live efforts they still have not made the big break out of New York and Into Middle America, and one would have hoped that they would start to consider some modlfjcatlons, some small refinings perhaps, in order to more deeply touch the^soui of American youth. The Ramones certainly have some of the necessary equipment. In many ways, they reflect American kids very welL There Is a lack of individuality in this country, in spite of the fact that they don’t .have to wear a school uniform. Perhaps they have all spent too much time watching TV, and are now just pale shadows of the ‘types’ of kids you get In television series. And the took alike Ramones are a perfect reflection of this anonymity. The new Ramones’ album. Pleasant Dreams, with its Two-Tpne/Costello fifties —• throwback cover, is, however full of surprising developments, it Is, Joey tells me when I catch up with him, his favourite of the brothers’ waxings. Producer Graham Gouldman worked really well with the band, teaching them plenty about studio technique, as well as adding some musical Ideas to the songs themselves. Gouldman’s pop credentials are almost as impres­ sive as Phil Specter’s. As well as a long series of hit singles and albums with 10CC, his song-wrItIng credits include sixties gems For Your Love, recorded by the Yardblrds, Bus Stop, done by the Hollies, and No Mi/k Today, a hit for Herman’s Hermits. Joey, whose conversation is iiberaily sprinkled with “ you know" and "like” -— common American speech habits (deleted from the following account) —• described the making of Pleasant Dreams^ **Me and Graham worked really closely on the album, and communicated well. I'm not a great 10CC fanj: but I think the guy Is really talented. He helped us

work in a lot of things we hadn't thought of before -" like new bass lines, and little drum breaks in a song where before we had just played it straight, all the way through. We had all the arrangements before we went into the studio.'but he added little things, but little things that make all the difference." Gouldman was in the middle of an enforced 10CC lay-off — the result of a car accident that put partner Eric Stewart out of action — when he got involved with the Ramones through the friendship of both parties’ managers. Joey says Gouldman got a lot out of the Ramones' sessions too. rethinking,his former perfec­ tionist studio attitudes when confronted by the Ramones’ over-riding interest in getting a ‘live’, spontaneous feel to their albums — trying to get each song down in one or two takes. Although the LP is almost exclusively the product of the musical marriage of the Ramones and Gouldman, the name of Sparks’ Russel Mael appears In the credits. "Russel’s a friend of mine." explains Joey, “and I think he’s a unique singer. There’s a song on the album called Don't Go. and to me it was kind of like a Four Seasons’ song. I felt It could really use an extra high voice, so Russel came In and sang with me. t think it worked out great.” Songs on previous albums have been credited simply to ‘The Ramones’, but on this new release, Joey and Dee Dee are named as the song-writers. "I think it makes it more legit., somehow --- and it was sort of time," Joey says diplomatically. " While we did write in various combinations, like one big happy family, over the first few albums, as time went on. I tended to write by myself and so did Dee Dee. So this is just the way it -had to be." Joey disagrees that the Ramones have maintained a consistent sound over their albums: “I think we are constantly branching out and experimenting, but we do have our own ‘sound’. It’s really where you take that sound that makes it different, and I think we are always workihg — In other musical styles.” While there have hardly been any scandalous revelations in our conversation thus far, Joey Ramone is nothing like the dumb schmuck he’s been made out to be by the music press. I wondered if he found the image of the Ramones as brainless New York wideboys annoying, but he seems to take a pragmatic approach to this twisting of the truth: “ I think some people really don’t understand what It’s about, and have misconstrued our intentions. The British press seems to be divided between those who understand what we’re doing, and those who sort of twist it. When it comes to them, I just don’t take it seriously. A lot of rock writers seem to be on ego trips, Intent on making a name for themselves Instead of offering constructive criticism. It’s so much easier to destroy something — I mean, any asshole can rip a band apart, i don’t take it' too seriously.” In 1980, the Ramones travelled the world, covering just about everywhere they could think of where rock’n’roll could be played, but this year, Joey says, they plan to concentrate more on the U.S.A. Does he feel the Ramones can reach those conservative Middle American audiences? Sure! “In New York,” he says, “It’s really trendy. The rest of the country Is, to me, the real world. If you can win Boise, Idaho, that’s when you know whether you can do it or not — you know what I mean? Most of the music around today Is just formulated crap, and, in fact, that’s one of the reasons why we started playing ourselves — to try to put some freshness and fun and excitement back Into msusic. I write really everyday iyrics — about experiences or things bn the street, things in the news — things that are real. And things that are fun? But not just about ‘this girl’ or ‘she broke my heart’, but things that people might want to change, do something about." I decide tb avoid asking about iobotomies, sedation, glue arid beating on the brat, and try to weasel out of him some juicy dirt on Phil Spector. As with every other question, Joey has plenty to say, but all of it is very carefully selected. Although he assures me that “everything you hear about Spector is true" and working with him was “crazy", collaborating with Spector on End of the Century was for Joey “the best experience I ever had in a recording studio. We wanted it to be a 50/50 collaboration, rather than a Phil Spector album, and I think It worked pretty well.” The Ramones’ vocalist is Involved at the time of this conversation with a bunch of film students who are, he says, helping him put together video clips of three of the songs on the new disc. We Want the Airwaves, The KKK Took My Baby Away and It’s Not My Place (in the Nine to five World}. Rather than use film concert footage of the band, Joey has written story fines to go with the Ideas of the songs. I ask him about Danny Fields, the band’s first manager. Although Fields no longer handles the band, Joey explains that Fields is a pretty cluey guy, having had a hand In ‘discovering’ many performers including The Doors, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Iggy says that when Fields worked with the Stooges, he wanted them all to take ‘Stooge’ as their last name. None of the band would be in it. Did Fields make a similar suggestion to the fledgling Ramones? “No,’’ Joey assures me, “It was the band’s Idea." As fashions come and go, do the Ramones ever feel they would like a change from their leather and denim? "When the band first started out and we were thinking about how we should look, all around us were the dying days of the glitter bands,” Joey replies, “We cerwnly didn’t want to look like that, and we also wanted to be ourselves — to look natural and not be pretentious. And t/iaf was how we dressed. I’m proud of our image and style. Not many bands have something that’s their own. Since we started looking the way we look, just about every kid you see on the street Is wearing a leather jacket and a T shirt — whetherit be a Led Zepplin T shirt or a Black Sabbath T shirt. And it’s not just the kids, T-ook at the Queen album cover —- there they all are in black leather jackets. It’s a great feeling!" While there may be no surprises In store in the Ramones’ wardrobe, their new LP, Pleasant Dreams, is worth checking out. Musically it’s much more diverse than its predecessors, and probably much closer to the spirit of the late flfties/early sixties surf/beat group music that Inspired Joey Ramone — but with that familiar Ramones sound to give It an eighties kick.

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TH E SH IFTY SVENGALI Malcolm McLaren Advocates Demolition o f the Work Ethic As The Wav To Solve The World’s Woes, Reminisces about Anarchy In The UK, And Generally Seems To Be Up To All His Old Tricks Again Verbals: Chris Salewicz

♦ “ Y1 0o u’re very efusive.” I tell Malcolm McLaren when he finally slinks into the room for our third scheduled rendezvous following two previous last-minute cancel­ lations. “Elusive?” he mur­ murs almost to him­ self, wrinkling up his pert mouth as though disliking the taste of the word and slinking his slight, shadowy frame into a sofa in an upstairs office at EMI Records. “I don’t know about th a t. . . Shifty, more like,” he decides after a moment, as though his uncon­ scious has taken over and is sign-posting the true nature of the one individual most re­ sponsible for the fun­ damental changes undergone by British music and youth cul­ ture since 1976. The highly intelligent Malcolm McLaren is so much like an older ver­ sion of his former ward John Rotten that a short time with him makes it apparent to how large an extent this sophisticated Chelsea shopkeeper must have become a crucial role model for the only just post­ adolescent John Lydon of Finsbury Park. One feels that In Rotten’s ostensible loathing for the man

who carried out the combines the two. As often sexually ambi­ we’re about to leave valent task of manager EMI Records to spend towards him, there may the rest of the evening well lurk the hurt of in a pub. Bow Wow Wow guitarist Matthew confused love. Physically similar in Ashman asks his man­ height and build, they ager if he will pay his each have the same phone bill. Not today, pinched, petulant says Malcolm, he his mouths out of which doesn’t have issue voices not unlike cheque-book with him. that of a Kenneth Wil­ As we eventually exit liams with a couple of the pub, however, notches of campness McLaren realizes he’s left behind his brief­ removed. McLaren, though, is case. Annabella obe­ ultimately a far darker diently rushes off to get it for him. “That figure than Rotten. Even so, the en­ was a close one,” he thusiasm with which breathes a sigh of re­ he carefully turns all lief. “I thought I’d lost cheque-book conversational subject my matter round to the there.” One has the impres­ subtly disguised ob­ sessiveness of his sion this is but the tip Bow Wow Wow sales of the bullshit. I can pitch is amusingly en­ never really believe dearing. This is the Malcolm, incidentally, Jewish rag trade en­ when he keeps insist­ trepreneur side of Mal­ ing that the idea of The colm McLaren, the 60s Sex Pistols was not to showbiz figure who make money. After all, maybe wasn’t just in­ isn’t he always arguing dulging in a piece of the case for gold? The other side of clever ex-art student wit when he rented of­ him, of course, is Mal­ fices in Denmark colm McLaren, the Street, London’s one­ talented creative man­ time Tin Pan Alley, out ager - who - is - really of which to manage more - of - an - artist The Sex Pistols. Lis­ than - the - people tening to him is like whose - careers - he hearing a market stall­ cares - for. Indeed, in holder with a good line between insisting he’s in saloon bar anec­ a salesman, Malcolm is dotes rather than being busy insisting what an in the presence of a artist he is. In many catalyst that started a people, such claims are a danger sign, a social revolution. He’s a bit of a liar, warning of a tendency and a manipulator, of to onanistic selfcourse. Sometimes he indulgence.

r o r the Macchiavellian picture of himself that he por­ trayed in The Great Rock’n ’roll Swindle, Malcolm McLaren simply utilised the truism that conspiracy theories are far easier to construct retrospectively: “ It was very difficult to make a film about The Sex Pistols without Rotten. The device used eventually was that I had to tell a story. I had to be a narrator of some sort. But make it entertaining, nevertheless. So while we were in Brazil I devised the idea of The Ten Commandments — the ten lessons. “ So we based The Great Rock’n ’roll Swindle around the idea of The Great Train Robbery. I just started with Biggs and worked my way backwards from that. “ With The Sex Pistols really you just learnt as you went 10 Roadrunner

along, and you made yourdecisions. But each decision that was made was one in which to heighten the chaos.” Malcolm McLaren is a very seductive, amiable figure — but then, so’s The Devil.

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>orn in London thirty-four years ago into what he describes as “ a thoroughly middle-class background” , Malcolm McLaren quickly developed a fondness for rock’n’roll. This was nurtured by visits to shows by early great rockers like Eddie Cochran and Billy Fury, the latter Larry Parnes-managed artist being a particular love that he attempted unsuccessfully to further in film in the late 60s during his days as a student at art school in Croydon. (A song included in early Pistols rehearsals, incidentally, was

Fury’s “t)o You Really Love Me Too” .) By then, however, McLaren had for some time been disillusioned by the output of virtually all rock’n’roll perfor­ mers. Not until one fateful day in 1973 was this passion to be re-kindled, the result of a visit to his Kings Road clothing shop, then titled Let It Rock, by none other than The New York Dolls. “ It took the Dolls to really turn my head around,” he told NME’s Nick Kent in 1976. “ I mean, one d a y . . . I’d never heard of ’em before. . . but they all trouped into the shop in their high-heeled shoes and I was immediately very im­ pressed by the way they handled themselves. There were all these Teds ’anging around thinking what the hell are these geezers doing here? But the Dolls didn’t care at all. David Johanssen just went ahead and tried on a drape


jacket while Johnny Thunders was over by the juke-box looking for some Eddie Cochran records. . . I was really taken aback.” The ultimate result of this epiphany-like experience was that in 1975 McLaren journeyed to New York to take over for some six months the management of the New York Dolls, attempting to slow the final disintegration of that seminal outfit via the injection of a new, radical image: “ With the Dolls I did the whole thing — red vinyl, Chairman Mao, end of the Vietnam war. I’ve always related music to clothes. It’s the way I’ve always worked — the same with The Sex Pistols, and now with Bow Wow Wow. “ Actually, the new shop. Worlds End, is probably the most successful to date, in terms of the fact that it’s taken on very, very quickly — I think because the clothes have been understood by more people right across the age groups. There’s not really a generation gap in those clothes. “ You should be able to get anybody wearing pirate clothes, if you can get across those clothes’ politics. That’s often very difficult just on a visual level, so you have to blurb it and'blag it. That it’s very nice having songs. You can get those songs to exploit the ideas and tie them in with the visual, so you can get an identification going about that visual and mal^e the clothes have a certain purpose.” McLaren’s philosophy of rock’n’roll management seems firmly rooted in the guiding hand behind the early British rockers: “ I don’t know Larry Fames, but I must respect him . . . for sure! Very clever, what he did. In fact, he was British rock’n’roll for the first six or seven years. He was the guy who got all those artists from Tommy Steele to Billy Fury, and gave them their names and got them record deals. “ I did attempt to get something like a stable of artists going, but it never lasted more than four weeks because I could never give the personal attention that all those groups desire. But I did put The Damned together and I tried to get Chrissie Hynde playing with Nick K e nt. . . “ But in the end, the jealousies are too horrific. . . Rotten wouldn’t have any other bands involved . . . No way! I often remember The Buzzcocks, The Slits wanted me to be involved with them, but I couldn’t give them the attention because The Sex Pistols used to go berserk. Jealousy, I suppose, which is always a problem with groups — part of the ego thing, you see. “ It comes out more with performers — singers — than with musicians. Musicians are a different breed. Singers are never very musical in rock’n’roll — they’re more to do with an act. Annabella’s a character, Johnny Rotten was a character. Johnny Rotten was a poet, a very, very good poet, and an actor: he wasn’t really a tough guy, he wasn’t really very rotten. He was quite a good boy, in many ways, but he could act out the bad boy. “Always a difficult figure, though. He probably spoke about three words to Steve Jones in the entire two years. Difficult character. Needed enormous personal attention. Very important to him. “ I probably broke up the relationship because I was refusing to be that sort of father figure that I think he wished. Being probably too artistic myself, I never wished to adopt what I suppose Larry Fames really was to Billy Fury, ‘McLaren contradicts himself, as he often does,’ or Brian Epstein to The Beatles. I think I’m too interested in ideas myself. I’m not interested in nurse-maiding. I’m not a manager in that sense. “ People tend to think I’m a very sharp businessman-type manager, but I’m not really that at all. I’m much more of an artist. I’m able to draw out the best, and make the artist as vociferous as I can, but I prefer to mis-manage. Because in the context of a culture like rock’n’roll you are forced often to make people do things that they wouldn’t otherwise dare. “And in young people that’s one thing you can do by demonstrating your authority and confidence. Which I’m very good at: I’m a good salesman, a very good salesman.” He reverses his function yet again. “ I can sell an idea to an artist very well. “ So I gain that confidence from them. Although they might think an idea is a bit off-the-wall, they’ll accept it because I sell it to them so hard. Anyway, as far as I’m concerned it’s deliberately off-the-wall for the purpose of making them vociferous. Maybe they won’t direct the idea in the same way that I might want them to, but I know the idea will go inside them, and something will happen, and the idea should make the whole band a very uncertain force in terms of the structure of a normal rock’n’roll band. “ If you work in a record company it’s the band’s music, they think, that scores. As far as I’m concerned, it never is. I think the music is something you have to say is there. “ But what else have you got to say! What are you going to say with the music? You can sound like Dire Straits, I don’t care. When you say that a band is good musically, I always say that’s death. All I know is that as The Sex Pistols grew more proficient musically, in many ways it was their death. “They refused to be stars,” McLaren moans, reinforcing the suspicion that he is really something of a voyeur, “they wanted to be musicians. And that was also down to the fact that they became cowards as to their own image, especially Rotten. It makes you more careeristic, that attitude. When you’re a star, you’re less careeristic, because you have to be more dangerous as a person.” But how does McLaren deal with such a paradox, because he has created the situation whereby Rotten, for example, was looking at himself in such a way? “ That’s always the problem, isn’t it? You have to keep making him believe in chasing the moon. “You know,” he adds, “that it’s impossible, but so what. If that volcano erupts, it erupts. But Rotten wanted to make sure wisely: in that respect he’s much wiser than me. He wanted to plan and prepare, and make certain if it did erupt he had many safeguards. I was always trying to tear away those safeguards, because I wanted that eruption, and (laughs) I wanted to create all sorts of mayhem. “ But if a band becomes successful through the sense of its ideas being so vociferous and exciting that it cuts through all the dross that’s around them, then if it sells records, that’s your bonus. The Sex Pistols never sold many records.”

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ilS is pointed out by one of his more recent management clients, Adam Ant, Malcolm McLaren himself has an exceptional singing voice. Indeed, filmgoers will recall his touching performance of the one-time Max Bygraves hit, “ Hands” , in The Great Rock’n ’Roll Swindle. The vocal tutor who served as singing teacher to a

considerable number of the class of 1977 apparently felt the manager had missed his true vocation after one occasion when John Rotten failed to turn up for a lesson and McLaren filled the vacancy created by his errant charge. Notwithstanding his lyrical contributions to Bow Wow Wow, McLaren claims to have never felt any great urge to personally tread the showbiz boards: “ It’s something I’ve never really considered. I guess I might’ve done in the 60s, but in the 70s I was a fashion designer and I’d been through eight years of art college. I’d become a bit more philosophical than just someone who’d want to be a performer onstage. I like to just put across the ideas. “ I’m not an actor. I think you’ve desperately got to want to be an actor and get on the stage. I don’t have that desire. “ People who do it are often very insecure people. They really need to direct their egoes in that way. But the danger is that apart from that, they often have nothing else, no reason for doing it. I try to put in a lot of content.” His love of romantically seditious phrases like The Creation of Chaos is, of course, thoroughly in keeping with the deliberately perverse manner in which he delights to operate. “ I’m always perverse, of course.” he agrees, matter-offactly. “You have to be in this medium, otherwise you’d go mad. Because there aren’t a great deal of talented people, and you don’t feed off that many ideas. Perversity is the only thing that keeps you alive and gives you a good critique. “ You’re dealing with a very low level of creativity in the music business, on the whole. The man who sits in his office marketing records is not a very creative man. He’s very uninterested, much of the time. “You have to deliver every ounce of creativity on a plate to a record company and hope that within there’s some little seed that they miss that is . .. the true poison! That the thing they miss is ultimately the most horrendous thing they could ever have! “ Like when I made that record ‘C-30’ . . . When I came to EMI they actually didn’t know what that song was about. They only listened to the beat. I suppost that’s me being a good salesman. I knew that if they knew what the song was about, I wouldn’t get the deal. So the trick was only to play it once. Most A&R men are not lyricists. They only listen to the beat. The music is the beat. “ Well, the beat was a good beat: tried and tested — the Burundi beat. Which obviously was fresh in comparison to all those 4/4 rock’n’roll beats. I knew that’s all they’d listen to, and they’6 hear a girl’s voice and she’d sound rhythmically interesting. “And also it was me,” he adds a little smugly. “ EMI wanted to recover the credibility they’d lost with The Sex Pistols — they’d lost an incredible amount of artistic credibility amongst the kids on the street who still pay some kind of loyalty to record labels. So I got that deal in two hours. They told me to come back in half an hour, and I walked round the corner. “ It was only a week later when the promotion people started circulating the lyrics that they realized what was going on. And that record would never have come out on EMI — and I think the contract would’ve ended — but very luckily the radio plugger grabbed a couple of white labels as soon as they came up from the factory and, thinking he’d got a hot item, went down with them to Radio One straight away. And it was played on one programme on Radio One, and suddenly everyone was interested amongst the DJs. “At EMI,” he continues in hushed, conspiratorial tones, “the thinking was, ‘if we don’t release it, will it look like an “Anarchy In The UK”/Sex Pistols situation? That was why it was released. But even so Richard Skinner, the DJ, announced he was making it Record Of The Week, and EMI rang him up and asked him not tool’ “ So when Sheena Easton’s single was selling less copies and doing better in the charts, we realised something was going on. The English charts, incidentally, are probably the most corrupt in the world. All the top boys in the EMI like John Bruin go to the same Freemasons Lodge. . . “ It happened the week of the Jubilee as well, of course. ‘God Save The Queen’ was going out of the same factory as the Rod Stewart record that they put at number one and we were selling five records for every Rod Stewart one. Ridiculous!” Notwithstanding the essential selfishness behind Mal­ colm McLaren’s anarchic vision, one has sympathy towards him for the way in which he’s been hounded by the British Establishment. The Sex Pistols, of course, came up against the very core of the English system. The group was kicked off EMI, claims McLaren, because of the financial misfortune the company was even then experiencing, the result of a vast investment by its medical equipment division in a whim of Lord Shawcross, The Bodyscanner. Desperate for overseas sales, the com­ pany’s top men, says McLaren, were horrified at the damage they believed was being done to their economic chances by Sex Pjstols outrage tales appearing in the likes of the South African Daily Rand. “That’s the reason we got thrown o ff. . . Though they didn’t realise the catastrophic effect it would have on the name EMI on the street, and how important that idea of the street was. “Anyway, two years later,” McLaren continues, with some satisfaction, “ EMI was on the verge of bankruptcy. “ ‘But apart from that they were out to get us in England! No question of that. It was in the same vein as that guy John Miller - who used to be a bouncer at The Vortex, incidentally - who went out and kidnapped Biggs. What’s that all about? That’s Thatcher! It’s part of her campaign. The right arm of the law. I’m showing you I can bring back a fugitive that the Labour government couldn’t. “ I know England can be as venomous and vindictive as that. But I think for The Sex Pistols themselves that was a totally new experience. It was like a complete waking up. Such an education. Sometimes it was happening so quickly that they couldn’t grow up with it fast enough, and Rotten had a lot of trouble in understanding truthfully what was going on. He never really understood the evil that was behind those things. He’d take your word for it. It seemed better for his image at times, I think he felt. It made him seem very powerful. But he never really understood. Not sufficiently, anyway. I think that’s where his problem lay. “ But I was often warned by people inside the record business that the time would come when I would face trial on some charge. Whether it was by the use of Rotten as a pawn - which I think it was ultimately - or whatever, the

time was coming . . . “And then it did happen, and it was very, very worked out, and they had me with my trousers down very quickly. But they only got me on technicalities, and when they wanted to go up to the Old Bailey and put me up on fraud, they didn’t have enough. I can’t prove it, but I think Rotten was used and got confused. “The record industry’s a little bit like Hollywood in the 50s. It can’t move with the times. Technology’s overtaken them. People can tape records off the radio. They have no need to buy records, and there’s a certain disloyalty to the star that was created by Punk Rock.”

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hen the first stories emerged last autumn about Chicken magazine, it appeared that Malcolm McLaren was getting up to even more bizarre tricks. The tale was that he was about to launch, with backing from EMI, a child porno magazine in which Annabella would be featured heavily. “Chicken wasn’t hard-core porn, or even nudes. How would we get something like that in the shops? “ My original idea was to print a magazine and put the cassette on the front of the magazine, and so shove it into newsagents. So you could introduce Bow Wow Wow to a much larger audience, rather than putting it in a little corner of a record shop and have it disappear because it’s too small. The non-visual aspect of cassettes is a bit of a problem. “ I thought that all the songs were very sexy, because they’d all come out of the idea of a sex picture I’d been writing at the time in Paris, which is how you have songs like ‘Sexy Eiffel Tower’. 1felt they should all be put in the context of a cheesecake Playboy-type magazine. 1 wanted to come up with a most audacious title, so I thought of Chicken because of its paedophiliac connections. “ I put it to EMI, and they agreed to sponsor it, and I was getting Sony to take ads. It also had Young Scientist Of The % a r, with him doing a whole approach to technology and the idea of the work ethic going out of the window, and the possibility of generation gaps beginning to be destroyed, the old idea of teenage rebel becoming unfashionable, the fact that your old man of fifty could be as big a baby as you at thirteen because he might be out of a job after working in Rolls Royce for thirty years, in the same way,” he continues, apparently not considering the financial imprac­ ticabilities of his suggestion, “ as there’s no point in you at thirteen going to school when you can stay at home and work in video with your old man.” The project was stymied, says McLaren, after EMI executives got to hear of an Arena TV programme that was being made around the launch of Bow Wow Wow: a film crew had been present at a photo session for the magazine, at which one of those extremely youthful models had burst into tears after a film camera-man came up to within about six inches of her face for a close-up: “ It got blown up out of all proportion, and EMI got worried, and voila: they stopped everything. A very stupid move, because had we brought out the magazine that cassette would have been a very, very big hit. “ You know, you’ve got this New Romantic movement and Spandau Ballet and Stray Cats and all those bands, but ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’ wasn’t the record that was making it - ‘C-30’ was that record. To me that epitomised everything new. “ I must say, though, that Adam had great tenacity. He’s a very hard-working guy. He took everything I said verbatim, and he sold the idea as best he could. And he did it, even though he’s only Gary Glitter, really. “ But Steve Strange, Spandau Ballet, Stray cats . . . I just don’t see it. Because what I always turn round and say is that in the end I really do believe you have to have a foundation. I don’t think people are fooled anymore. “ I mean, Spandau Ballet!?!? A bloke dressed up in a kilt!?! What are you talking about? Who are you kidding? “ If you’re talking about New Romantics, you’re talking the way for a new non-working class, and probably this society is going to be the first to acknowledge the fact that we have lost the industrial revolution. In fact, we lost it fifty years ago, but now we’re owning up. Thatcher, you can’t make us feel bad about not having a job. In fact, we’re going to feel alright about it. And we’re going to demand the technology to help us understand the mechanics of how to work the communications medium so we can begin to start a new lifestyle. “That can be The New Romantics. A reason to exist. That’s the real clout. “ I worked very hard on that lyric ‘W.O.R.K.: N.O. HAH NO! NO! MY DADDY DON’T . I tried to get a video made at British Leyland. I wanted to do the Mini Metro plant, like Jean-Luc Godard. Very Mao-istic, with all the robotic plants to be going round in the background of Annabella. “ I wanted to get it on Top Of The Pops with very big slogans like Godard used in Made In USA: DEMOLITION OF THE WORK ETHIC! Do it as a very hard-core, brutal slogan, and make it a big up. Make it as choreographed a dance routine as possible: Busby Berkeley at British Leyland. . “ Get that across. Then you can say New Romantic!”

X

he difficulty with which Malcolm McLaren is dealing with Bow Wow Wow is that he is working within guidelines which he himself has laid down with The Sex Pistols. He has become hampered by his own previous iconoclasm. Particularly on ‘W.O.R.K.’, and as a live outfit. Bow Wow Wow is a very, very good group. Perhaps a great group. Even so, they just don’t possess those extremes of class and style with which the Pistols sneered at the whole world: reduced it to its most basic terms. Bow Wow Wow is Annabella as a Helen Shapiro for the 80s, backed by three very competent musoes in the former Ants. Also, somehow, Malcolm attempting to hype up en­ thusiasm for a known factor like technological evolution as a means to flog the group seem just a little seedy. Not quite second-rate, but almost . . . again, though, it’s a selfinduced problem: Demolition Of The Work Ethic seem so obviously the follow-up to the original brand leader in showbiz-created social revolution. Anarchy In The UK. Besides, the trouble with Malcolm McLaren is that no matter how many excellent scams with which he’s come up, there is still the overriding sense that basically he’s a pretty dodgy individual. Roadrunner 11


iV' 7U -W’

Nuvo Bloc — An Exercise in Accessible Esoterics Thornbun

To a lot of people, the ‘alternative’ Adelaide scene went through a period of bright creative growth back at the beginning of 1980. New bands came to the fore, trying out and gaining acceptance for some novel concepts. The best of these was the bunch that started this renaissance, a 6 piece combo by the name of NUVO BLOC. A core unit consisting of ex-Term inal Twist singer/guitarist/ synthesist Peter Tesla, guitarist Ted Thornbury, late of Lemmy Caution, and singer/ synthesist Vonni, was joined by bassist Nigel Sweeting, Nick Filips on sax, and then by eX'U Bomb drummer, Roy Efzinger in November ’79. From the start, their unique synthesis of both musical and personal styles created strong impressions on those who saw them. They gained immediate airplay on 5MMM with Peter’s ‘Funtim es’, and played at many of the station’s shows, which led some cynics to consider them the station’s pet band. To my mind, that was a pretty unfair judgement be­ cause NUVO BLOC just hap­ pened to fill a gaping hole in the Adelaide scene at the time, and simply connected with a lot of people very quickly. Musically it was nigh on impos­ sible to pin them down; they ranged from ftie pop/rock stomp of 'Fynf/mes', across pseudo-ska in ‘KBvin and the Rest’, through the tongue-in-cheek political pokes of Taw n Cocktail’, to the discordant shrieks of ‘Brave New Mind’. Constant experimentation within the band led to the increased use of a drum machine in order to achieve different textures. The original core had in fact used one extensively during the initial stages of writing and it wasn’t until Roy joined before playing live, that real drums were used. Actually, the band had almost constant equipment/sound problems live, but these were sorted out to some extent by the help of one Susi Ramone. Their presentation was always intriguing, with the lighting being handled imaginativeJy by Phil Jacobs. When doing a show, NUVO BLOC always worked

more closely with their crew than any other band I know, and this attitude carried over when they trimmed down to a trio. Half way through 1980 they recorded Ted’s ‘Atomic Fiction’ with engineer Jim Barbour for an independent single release. A strange choice for a first single, it com bines a basic V elvet Underground-type riff, an intru­ sive synth overlay, an eloquent clarinet solo, and Vonni’s won­ derfully mannered vocals into a song that is relentlessly catchy, surprisingly so considering that ail its hooks are in the music. When this was finally released towards the end of the year, it was backed with two songs- — Peter’s ‘Ratsrak’, which is basically a pop sing-a-long, and ‘Kidney X-Ray’ by Ted and Vonni. It immediately zapped up Triple M’s chart and also created strong interest in the band interstate. Towards the end of 1980, vari­ ous musical/personai differences led to the band deciding to split down the middle, with Vonni, Ted and Peter retaining the name Nuvo Bloc. After the last perfor­ mance as a 6 piece at Triple M’s 1980 New Years Eve bash, the remaining trio shut themselves away amid much speculation as to what would surface. First indica­ tions o f what was to come materialized in the form of a 4 track demo, again recorded with Jim Barbour. Once again Triple M gave them strong airplay and the new m aterial gained positive reactions from the public, in spite of the novelty of the concept and overall sound. For NUVO BLOC were now almost totally electronic — they use guitar, guitar synth, keyboard synths, sequencer, syncussion and drum machine — but they played concise, tightly arranged songs with strong, distinctive melodies and powerful, emotive vocals. Initially, there were prob­ lems with the live side of things; a combination of nerves, sound problems (new, unsympathetic mixer), and the usual equipmenthassles led to the first few shows being pretty untogether affairs that left many old fans and new listeners either undecided or dow nright hostile. The stage set-up with its central table stacked with synthesizers etc., seemed to have a marked effect on people; some it appealed to, others it intrigued, and still others

it repelled. The material that could be sifted through that early mess was nonetheless very promising. There were some old songs heav­ ily re-arranged, but there was a whole bunch of interesting new stuff that was to evolve as the band adapted to their new ap­ proach. The public was first convinced of the trio’s viability as a live proposition when they gained a residency at a new Adelaide late night venue. Performance. This was a place something like Mel­ bourne’s Jump Club, but not as well done, and it gave NUVO BLOC a chance to settle into their new format on a regular basis. It was around this time that the perennial sound/equipm ent problems started to stabilize with the help of ex-Bloc Roy Erzinger’s mixing prowess, and the eventual return of their ailing sequencer, which had packed up just after being purchased. At this stage, the band played a gig at the Alma Hotel that proved the concept a workable one. The trio played tightly, the equipment (including a new drum machine) all functioned as it should, and the crowd was d efinitely im pressed. NUVO BLOC gained their broadest ex­ posure after this when they sup­ ported Flowers (sorry. Icehouse) at Adelaide’s prestigious Festival Theatre in May this year. Despite a severely truncated set and no sound check, the band went down well with the young crowd, getting demands for an encore even as the house lights came on. The structure around the band underwent a few changes follow­ ing this show. Problems concern­ ing the drum machine and to do with the general flow of a perfor­ mance led to the decision to move the unit off stage, and to the drafting of friend Urszula into the role of ‘programmer’. From a playing point of view this proved to be a successful move; providing improved dynamics to the songs and giving Peter, Ted and Vonni a chance to talk to an audience between songs. Some observers thought the band should now be considered as a 4 piece, but Urszula always mainta' "^ed that she was part of the support crew, which by now contained Roy’s replacement Ruthven Martinus, as well as Phil Jacobs’ continued involvement in lighting. It was then too that NUVO BLOC became involved with Polymorphous Pro­

ductions, an Adelaide live agency. This served to take some of the load off Ted, who had been handling the booking side of things until then. Other managerial-type decisions were, and still are, handled by the trio as a whole. This new structure around the band provided them with a firm, loyal group of people sympathetic to their needs and ideas. It was this working unit that visited Melbourne for two shows recently, the first at The Ballroom in St. Kilda, and the second the fo llo w in g night at the E lec­ tromania show at Melbourne Uni. Both were ‘showcase’ gigs to some extent; the debut perfor­ mance at The Ballroom being the better of the two from the band’s point of view, because the next night was definitely a production­ line job, (with 8 bands on the bill) and the old faithful equipment failures surfacing at the most inopportune moments. I’ve had reports that few new (to Mel­ bourne, at least) bands get the sort of ecstatic reception that greeted NUVO BLOC that first night, and that that show has now gained the status of an EVENT. Very pleasing indeed for the only band surviving from that 1980 period who continued to work in the once again depressed Adelaide scene w ithout com ­ promise. Which brings us up to now and the news that, with what many consider dreadfully bad timing, NUVO BLOC have decided that after almost two years of constant work, a break from the road — and from the rigid concept of a ‘group’ — is necessary for the continued creative growth of the component parts. The lay-off period is sup­ posed to last for about 6 months, and Peter describes it as a time during which “the physical entity of NUVO BLOC will be stretched beyond the usual lim itations applied to that sort of thing,” after which the band will return to the road in some shape, size, colour or form. Being a sceptic about such things, I have my doubts. There are however, reasons not to write NUVO BLOC off your list of going concerns, not the least of which are the trio’s considerable a rtistic achievem ents. They brought shape and cohesion to a form whose other practitioners all too often hid a lack of substance, swing and soul behind thin

avant-garde’ pretentions. The only band in their vicinity who even come close in terms of human warm th is E ngland’s British Electric Foundation (and their Heaven 17 alter ego) but in my opinion even they lack NUVO BLOC’S scope and versatility. The breadth of vision evident in NUVO BLOC’S songs is amazing. Their field of operation encompasses the anti-drug abuse driving rock of ‘Western Drugs’, the orchestral sweep of ‘Living Brigade', and Ted’s straight-faced delivery of the light-hearted ‘Dangerman’. With them from the old days is of course ‘Atomic Fiction’, as well as ‘Funtimes’, which is “ a direct comment on both sides of the whole unemployment shtick” , and the alienation shuffle’ incarnate, ‘Brave New Mind’, even more grating than before. Some of these — and others, of course — will probably appear on an inde­ pendently released cassette (Through Adelaide independent label Smash and Grab) in the near future. During the next few months, the 3 members certainly won’t be idle. Peter, who has the most finelytuned pop sensibilities of the three, intends moving to Mel­ bourne soon in order to “further insinuate” himself into the music industry in general, and to record some of his material on a solo basis. Vonni’s aims for this period are certainly diverse; she intends to become involved in, and pro­ duce, meditational music, write music for a ballet for which she will also do the stage design, learn the didgeridoo (!!), become more in­ volved with other women musi­ cally, and continue to work with Ted on various projects. Ted’s goals seem simpler — he wants to improve his playing skills and pursue avenues of development not in easy reach within the restrictions of a working, touring band. Whether or not NUVO BLOC pull themselves together in time to capitalise on their considerable strength of vision before the rest of the world catches up, obviously remains to be seen. If they are not to be unjustly relegated to the realms of historically interesting failed experiments, I suspect that they will have to work out their individual devils fairly quickly, be­ cause the memory of that fickle beast, the public, is notoriously short.

Elijah Bailey pix Steve Keough

vnnnie Rollan

12 Roadrunner

1


HISTORY OF THE TRIFFIDS On the night of November 27,1976, a tape was made by Alsy Macdonald, playing a single toy drum, and Dave McComb, playing acoustic guitar. The multimedia group ‘Daisy’ had come into being. Daisy went on to make several tapes (mainly of origi­ nal material) — The Loft Tapes, Rock’n’Roll Accoun­ tancy, Live at Ding Dong’s, Bored Kids, Domestic Cos­ mos, Peopie are Strange Daisy are Stranger, Steve’s, and the seminal punk work: Pale Horse Have A Fit. They obtained conventional electric instruments and employed the help of musical acquaintances Phil Kakulas, Andrew McGo­ wan and Julian DouglasSmith. They sang songs about cats, cheesecakes, hotels, gardens, and ruthlessly satirized everything they saw. Daisy did paintings, sculptures and poetry, and wrote a book named Lunch. They were tinny and quirky, obsessive and manic, versatile and productive. They were also immensely unpopular. Indeed, they suffered continual taunting, harassment and general extreme non-support from be­ loved schoolm ates, and the party-goers who saw the group perform. The members of Daisy grew to hate their audience. They still do, and this hate is an integral part of their music. Daisy split up towards the end of 1977. Phil, Dave and Alsy bought new equipment (totalling $1000), wrote new songs and rehearsed. They launched into 1978 as Blok Musik, with their famous Blok Musik tape. They

received modest but welcomed press attention. They played their music at the February 18 Garage Concert and at other parties. They got bottles and chunks of ice

JEREMY JOY (McCOMB) jeremy joy, elevator boy came home at night, turned on the light jeremy joy, elevator boy “don’t forget’’ he said, and he made his bed. he picked up a ticket from the laundromat he combed his hair he patted his cat he straightened out the mess in the kitchenette suite, he cleaned out the grill, he made it all real neat.

Chorus; Don’t call us, we’ll call you, in fact we’ll just ignore you. Open up and feel the joy of lust. Don’t call us, we’ll call you in fact we’ll just ignore you Stay at home and leave the joy to us. jeremy joy, elevator boy woke up in Perth, greatest place on earth jeremy joy, elevator boy slipped work for the day collected his pay. he looked out the window at the falling snow nowhere to talk to, no-one to go. The Christmas lights on the river bled skyscraper green to neighbourhood red. (Chorus)

thrown at them by drunken audi­ ences. In April they played at the Leederville Town Hall Punk Fest, alongside Perth’s punk rock con-

P a rt 1

tingent. But, as usual, no-one lyrics have always been a bit off centre. I don’t agree with a lot of danced. After that they went home and the experimentation that a lot of m etam orphosised into Logic. current bands are into, like Within a day they changed their monotony and discordance, I minds and metamorphosised into don’t think they do it very well. TheTriffids. MM: You usually talk to the The following is an interview audience between songs. with THE TRIFFIDS singer DMcC: Yes, but I’d like to do it songwriter David McComb: better. I hate bands that take two seconds between songs, that’s MM: Are you going to Sydney? the idea of professionalism, the DMcC: Yes, about Boxing Day. idea they’ve got from disco, fading We’re going for two months, and if one song into the next, so it feels we’ve used up all our money by like each song gets louder and then, we’ll come back to Perth and louder. You’ve got to not patronize play. people, even though there are MM: Do you think your songs are some fans that just want bands to grounded in romance? get up on stage and say ‘we love DMcC: No. I’d hate to see them you’ and ‘rock and roll’ between grounded in anything at all. I just songs. try to write songs that are emo­ MM: In Perth you have a warm live tionally powerful in some way or audience. In Sydney you’re going another, and that often ends up as to have to win them over. romance. My favourite music is DMcC: It’ll be great fun. Because music that affects me emotionally. although we’ve got a warm audi­ So that would be my aim, to ence here there’s so many people convince myself and other people with prejudices and preconcep­ that this song is not just a little tions against u s . . . playing in hobby. Lately 1feel less and less Sydney will be like wiping the slate happy with romantic songs gen­ clean; it’s going to be great. erally. I can see The Triffids doing MM: People seem to enjoy danc­ more political songs. ing to Triffids music. MM: I’d say you do political songs DMcC: Yeah, but for the first year in the sense that you write emo­ — nothing. I just got so frustrated. I like the idea of dancing, but I tional songs. DMcC: Yes, well . . . kind of never like to have people feel that romantic but that’s fair enough, it’s they have to dance. There’s a lot politics. T here’s one song, of people who come to see us who M .G.M ., which is about how just sit and listen. Telling people to people can’t kiss naturally. The dance — it’s despicable. song is about how people have MM: Is all triffids music built been taught to kiss by actually around the lyrics? watching a m ovie. . . I find love DMcC: I try and make it a combi­ interesting, it’s so illogical, 1 can nation of music and lyric, an irony never tell how much of it is between happy music and de­ self-suggestion, ambition, brain­ spondent lyrics, like a contrast. Most of the songs that have washing, and how much is real. MM; How do you see the relation­ earned us a reputation as a ship between your lyrics and the bouncy pop band don’t contain the happiest of lyrics, but even the music? DMcC: The lyrics are more ad­ most despondent songs aren’t venturous than the music. The taking it too seriously.

MM: What about lyrics as poetry? DMcC: I think they’re two sepa­ rate things; it doesn’t matter if they coincide, but I don’t want to learn to write in the poetic tradition. Being a poet and an artist have got so much unnecessary, loaded shit that goes with them. I don’t think of it as writing poetry. It’s using a very rough framework of meter and rhythm, and in that respect it’s in the tradition of poetry, songs and ballads. Music is great be­ cause it can have the same effect but it’s so much more accessible. MM: What do you read? DMcC: Oh, quite a lo t. . . but as far as the music’s been influenced by i t . . . like The Outsider (laughs) it’s quite true you know, that’s the great thing about that novel. I’m sick of reading fucking European stuff, the whole European tradition of Berlin and Vienna and th a t.. fuck that, I live in Perth, and The Outsider is like that, exactly the same feelings I get here. It really struck a chord . . . like, I still read N.M.E., but I don’t like a lot of things it’s done. Some people see it as a lifeline, their connection to the real things that are happening overseas, which may or not be right. I think it uses a lot of people, rather than them using it. I think they convince themselves that they’re free thinking, but unless you can use it critically what’s the use of it, just like the Womens Weekly. MM: Well David, would you like to wrap this interview up? DMcC: Oh, alright then. A lot of the songs are about people who feel sorry for themselves that shouldn’t, all gloom and doom and wallowing in it. I think some people working in pop music can convey gloom and doom with no reserva­ tions very well. It’s mock tragic, whenever we get sad we can never take it completely seriously.

MICHAEL MULLANE

Rosdrunnor 13

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but the slow numbers from East Side Story. Did I say there was a lot of sweat? High­ lights? W ell. . . it was all so good, but I guess Pulling Mussels {From The Shell) (who else but Difford would have used the sexual refer­ ences of mussels as a theme for a song?), Separate Beds (another superb, true-life drama). Someone Else’s Heart, Piccadilly and Is That Love had a slight edge. That is, until, they ripped into the encores. Messed Around allowed Carrack to give the piano a really good work-out, and Goodbye Girl was delivered at breakneck pace, with Tilbrook finishing up singing on his knees. It was really one oUhose shows. The crowd hung around

afterwards instead of making the usual speedy exit and, inside and outside, elated fans compared experiences. If you find all the above doesn’t jive with your view of Squeeze, do have a closer look (and listen) at East Side Story. In the pop music arena. Squeeze form part of The Big Three, just behind Elvis Costello, and just in front of Split Enz. Don’t let them become another Graham Parker and the Rumour, songwriters and performers with intelligence, wit and, above all, heart, that become for­ gotten in the mindless rush to embrace the mediocre foisted on us by a bunch of cold­ blooded money-men.

FRESHLY SQjUEEZED “ Hot town, summer in the city.’’ Those lines, and the ones that follow in that Lovin’ Spoonful classic, could only have been written to describe summer in New York city. Around about the end of June, the temperature climbs up into the eighties and moves inexorably upward through the nineties in the two months that follow. The sun melts the soft black surface of New York’s already heavily cratered streets and, if you stand still long enough, you find yourself embed­ ded in the shiny goo of the road. The sickly sweet smell of urine, always part of the city’s ambience due to almost total lack of public toilets, becomes a promi­ nent, all-pervasive odour, especially in the subways, which are nightmarishly hot and claustrophobic. During the day, the city’s concrete soaks up the heat and makes sure things stay hot throughout the night. It’s a fierce heat, the kind that seems to suck the breath from your lungs, forcing you out of your apartment and onto the stoops and sidewalks. Against this unlikely backdrop, and perhaps as a gesture of defiance, diehard romantics are selecting from the endless array of soundtracks, the music that for them will forever evoke the summer of ’81. For this romantic, in this summer, it just has to be those British paragons of pop. Squeeze. Summer for them has been a long string of sell-out dates across America, an enormous amount of favourable press and a superb album. East Side Story. Two things make Squeeze a great, though sadly unre­ cognised, band. Firstly, Chris Difford’s lyrics (he’s the funny looking one with the odd, deep voice). This man can give even Elvis Costello a run for his money on lyrics (and doesn’t let himself go overboard on the puns, as Costello sometimes does). Throughout the first three Squeeze albums, Difford has been refining his skills in this area. There have been some gems — most notably Up The Junction, from the second LP, Cool For Cats — but nothing as consistent as this latest outing. Apart from Costello, who has a more subtle sensibility (one which allows him, for example to explore the connections between romance and fascism, and give all his romantic ditties a nastly little twist), there is no-one who manages to so eloquently ex­ press the exhilarating mountain-tops, the comfortable/boring plateaus and the desper­ ate pits that attend affairs of the heart. Add to such lyrics the classy vocal chords and deft hand at melody writing of Glen Tilbrook, and you have the magic that is Squeeze. Their history has, however, been a com­ edy of errors — remember when they toured Australia and someone mis-spelled their name as Sqeeze on the posters and T shirts? Their first LP was produced, for some in­ explicable reason, by John Cale, who com­ pletely missed the point. Then Squeeze hit big with the ‘novelty’ single. Cool For Cats — again, not really representative of the band. Over the past year, they moved from man­ ager Miles Copeland, who, they felt, was too involved with the Police to give them adequate support, to a brief liaison with Costello manager Jake Riviera. Then some­ one had the crazy idea to produce a record that was actually two ten inch discs, with a side produced by each of the following — Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds and Paul McCartney. The only song to survive from this latter plan is the Edmunds-produced in Quin­ tessence, that opens side one of Squeeze’s latest platter. For the rest it’s all Elvis Costello and his producer, Roger Bechirian, in the knob-twiddler’s seat. So it’s not surprising that the album that East Side Story reminds me most of is the latest Costello offering. Trust. Both have a refreshing musical diver­ lARoadrunner

sity, unusual in these days of radio ‘formats’, when rules for players state that a homogeneous sound, readily accessible to a label (‘heavy rock’, ‘R’n’B’, etc), must be maintained throughout. On East Side Story, you find the country ballad. Labelled With Love, the heavily or­ chestrated Vanity Fair (on which a real or­ chestra substitutes for the band), the rocka­ billy number. Messed Around, the almost Middle Eastern F Hole and the ‘simple’ pop of Is That Love. Although the band has had no trouble getting America to come and see them in action, the album has not exactly been burning up the U.S. charts, reaching about 60 and then slipping back down. Part of this must be due to the ultra-conservative American radio which does react uneasily to records with more than one style of music on them. This was the reason, according to the owner of the New York Ze label, why the first Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ LP — a dizzy mixture of reggae, disco, rock, calypso and more — was met by radio silence. And the choice of single from East Side Story was certainly not the best shot. Temp­ ted, the one song featuring the vocals of PaulCarrack, replacement pianist for jokester Jules Holland, who left Squeeze last year, was the first single. Apart from the fact that it is yet another voice, further confusion for those who find it hard keeping up with the presence of two vocalists, already!, it is rather slow. A much better choice will, in fact, be released as the second single. Is That Love may, just may, drag that LP screaming back up the charts. The last time Squeeze passed through New York it was the dog-days of the northern winter, and they were travelling in rather fast company. It was still the honeymoon stage of the Costello/Riviera/Squeeze saga, and most of the set they performed as openers for Costello was still made up of that other lost masterpiece, Argybargy. Some new strategy was obviously being employed. Glen Til­ brook was attempting to ‘project’ himself as a ‘frontman’, and, although I had to admire his pluck, he wasn’t exactly Mick dagger, and seemed awkward in the role of a would-be. This time around, however, apparently free of such show-bizzy ideas. Squeeze get down to the real business the moment they step on that stage. I saw them in an ultra­ suburban venue in the New York borough, Staten Island. The capacity crowd, including a larger than normal proportion of girls, went bananas and sang, danced and sweated lib­ erally all over each other. (One couple kissed literally ALL NIGHT, and looked no further than each other’s eyes.) A couple of oldies. Another Nail In My Heart, and Take Me, Tm Yours, kicked off the set, and it quickly be­ came apparent that Paul Carrack is a much better keyboard player for Squeeze than Jules Holland. Holland is just such a good player that he had to be there all the time. His piano pizzazz was far too elaborate for the songs. Carrack is a competent player who does not need such ferocious ego exercising, and is as concerned about the spaces he leaves as the spacgs he fills. While he does not have Holland’s vaudeville sense of humour, he does the job and lets the cherubic Tilbrook get on with romancing the crowd — which he did just right this time. His voice alone is enough to make the funny business start happening in the knees, but he looks pretty good these days, too— just about right for a pop idol. Chris Difford has no neck but plenty of heart. Outside he looks a bit like a failed gangster, but inside, he’s every matinee hunk that ever graced the screen rolled into one. Drummer Gilson Lavis, sporting some evil-looking black leather gloves, keeps as tidy a beat as ever, and John Bentley, a puta­ tive John Travolta, with his dark, slicked-back hair and groovy moves, handles his share on the bass. Throughout the night. Squeeze plunder the best from Argybargy, and treat us to all

KID CREOLE AND THE COCONUTS Meanwhile, though, back in New York, another bunch of rom antics are smooching to the beat of a different drum. Kid Creole and the Coconuts, New York born and bred, are treading the boards in support of their new disc. Fresh Fruit in Foreign Places. The theatrical allusion is apt, because the Kid and his cohorts present a show rather than a standard rock gig. The album itself covers the enormous musical variety that is found on their first LP, Off The Coast of You, but, in some attempt to help tunnel-vision reviewers and radio program m ers swallow the mixture, these twelve songs tell a story— the tale of Kid Creole’s search for his one true-love, Mimi, who has left him in New York and disappeared. The Kid (a.k.a. August Darnell, alumnus of the tough Bronx school of life, and founder member of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band) sets sail, singing: “ Believe me, I know/When you leave New York, you go/ NOWHERE” . Along with Sugar-coated Andy Hernandez (a.k.a. Coati Mundi — another member of the erstwhile Savannah Band) and the trusty Coconuts, Kid Creole searches for the faithless Mimi, through exotic locations, and even more exotic musical styles. On the way, they explore disco, funk, calypso, cha cha, rock and Latin rhythms. Darnell and Hernandez not only cover all bases when it comes to writing music but pull out all the stops in lyric writing as well. On the previous Kid Creole album, songs like Mr Softee (about impotence — “ Don’t you make an issue over something that’s as small as this” ), Dario (“ Dario/Won’t you get me into/Studio 54” ) and Off The Coast Of Me (“ I’m taking a trip off the coast of you” ) revealed Darnell as an ironic and humorous lyric writer, and there are some hysterical

lines on Fresh Fruit. Take Gina, Gina (“ Gina, Gina/He’s just a ski instructor/What kind of happiness can this union bring?/He’ll consumate his love yodelling” ) and Table M anners (in which sexual conventions merge with table etiquette and create some good puns). In In The Jungle, Amazons intend to mate with, and then eliminate, the Kid and his crew. “ I don’t believe in propagation,” sings Kid Creole, “Just to achieve cafd au laition.” August Darnell claims a long-time obses­ sion with movies and musicals of the thirties and forties, and it is this which turns the current Kid Creole and the Coconuts set into more of a Broadway show than a conven­ tional rock ‘performance’. The epic journey begins when a light illuminates a tacky globe of the world slowly turning stage right. A woman in a white uniform stands near it at a mike, while the band fills the stage behind her. She ‘raps’ an introduction, setting the scene for the subsequent adventures, and the lights come up on a crowded stage of pirates and sailors. Vocalist Lori Eastside, who looks like a latter-day Carmen Miranda, and the Coconuts, three women who can dance, sing — and lo o k . . . w e ll. . . exotic — join the crowd. Kid Creole and Andy Hernan­ dez make up the ship’s complement, and the cast launches into Going Places. Using connecting ‘raps’, which allow for costume changes (August Darnell must have the best collection of ties in the world) and stretch out the material a little to make a complete show, the above crew works its way through all the songs on the LP, leaving out only the big ballad, a real heart-wrencher called / Stand Accused. The sophistication of the music, and the entertainment on stage tend to mesmerize the audience, who stand transfixed rather than moving in time to these seductive rhythms. This certainly doesn’t seem to faze the band, who having actually rehearsed this show, should be gratified by the attention.


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This tropical music feast is the product of the successful collaboration of two extremely gifted composers and arrangers. Darnell and Hernandez could just as well be writing hits-to-order for,other people — or stage musicals, for that matter. A commitment to extending, changing, and mixing up as many

rock performer, read from his “ BasketbalL Diaries” and received two very different, types of responses. While some people applauded wildly, others, wary of a career built on turning the pathetic reality of heroin addiction into a glamorous w a y , of life, pointedly refrained from clapping. The cream of avant-garde music was present in the form of Steve Reich and Phillip Glass with their ensembles. Guitarist Glen Branca performed and there was a five piece trombone ensemble. From the clubs came the Bush Tetras, the Raybeats, D.N.A. and Lydia Lunch with her new band. Performance artists included Laurie Anderson, whose ‘performance’ happens to be musical. De­ scribing her music/presentation would take me about another page to fully do it justice. For me, she was the highlight of the whole event — simply astounding! She has a single, O Superman, on the independent 110 Records, a New York label, which, if you can order it through your import shop, is a must-buy. There are rumours that she may be in Australia sometime soon, and even though she will probably get stuck away in some museum or gallery, Laurie Anderson is well worth seeking out. Her style of electronic music reveals all the postKraftwerk poseurs for the copyists they are. Surprises included Todd Rundgren, intro­ duced as a pioneer of video art, who accompanied himself on twelve string guitar The most unusual collection of people while he sang three protest songs — he even gathered here recently for a two night announced them as such. (Don’t tell me benefit for a venue called The Kitchen. there’s about to be a protest song revival!) Held in Bonds (the cavernous, There was even a rumour that the Rolling psychedelic palace where the Clash Stones would appear on the second night, and indeed Mick dagger was in the audience, played during the recent furore), the two dagger showed up at the press box where nights brought together New York’s free grog and celebs were in abundance, but avant-garde art world and the more the lackey on the ‘door’ didn’t recognise the experimental edge of the club scene, as famous.face and Mick had to slum it among well as a few unannounced extras. The the humble folk on the floor. The shows proceeded at a manic pace Kitchen itself is located in SoHo (which is the area of Manhattan, South of Houston with impressive organization, and each act Street), right in the heart of art/loft was only on for about 15 to 20 minutes, with a territory. Over its years of operation, very short gap in between. This meant constant and varied stimulation, and that if government funding and committed ar­ something did not take your fancy, it was not tists have made The Kitchen a focus for going to be there for very long. The mix of art all kinds of esoteric and not so esoteric and club scenes meant an odd combination art forms. ; ‘ of well-dressed wealthy art patrons from It was an embarrassment of riches that Manhattan’s upper East side and the scab­ stretched both evenings into marathons of rous demi-monde that sleeps by day in grotty endurance for the viewer. Programmes down-town squalor and haunts the clubs by started at,8pm and were supposed to finish at night — both groups being introduced to 2am. In fact neither night ended before Sam. things they would not normally see. And, in a Imagine almost any kind of entertainment, town where it is difficult to excite such jaded and it was there. There was video art and cynical culture consumers, at least two (including some efforts by Brian Eno), dance nights of 1981 can be remembered for their groups and poets — Jim Carroll, poet turned uniqueness and generous spirit.

musical forms as possible, allows them free ;reign for their abilities, and brings to the narrow confines of rock’n’roll an explosion of all the old guidelines and. boundaries. The addition of a sophisticated sense of humour and a good dose of style, makes Kid Creole and the Coconuts a band apart.

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Two of England’s top new bands split in the last couple of months of 1980 — The Human League and Dexy’s Midnight Run­ ners. In both cases new bands were formed with the addition of different players. But in this case DONALD ROBERTSON talks to members of both splinter splinter parties — Martin Ware, ex-Human League and now one half of the British Electric Foundation and one third of Heaven 17, and Archie Brown, lead singer of the Bureau, the band that contains 5 of the Dexy’s who did a runner.

NOT JUST ANOTHER LAMB CHOP *■

The Bureau: Archie Brown

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Archie Brown, voice ofThe Bureau, speaks out! Archie Brown, lead singer with the Bureau, recently phoned the Adelaide offices of WEA Records. He was expecting to speak to Donald Robertson. Instead, and to his surprise, the voice on the other end belonged to record company promotion person, John Dreimanis. ‘He isn’t here yet. We were told you’d be calling at 6.00 p.m. and it’s only twenty to . . .’ Browne sighed inwardly. These record company promo­ tional devices — talking to some dumb schmuck half the world away who wouldn’t know the difference between West Bromwich and Aston Villa. The line from his band’s first single drifted through his head as he put the phone down. ‘It’s only for sheep,’ he hummed as he waved to Chrissie Hynde in the hotel bar across the other side of the reception area. The Bureau were supporting the Pretenders on the national tour leading up to the release of Pretenders II, and everything was going pretty well. His band, most of them refugees from Kevin Rowland’s Dexy’s Midnight Runners, were going over pretty well with the Pretenders crowd, many of whom remembered the golden years of sixties soul/R®B that the Bureau had resurrected from the mists of history. And Yeovil, which was where the tour had reached, part of the final leg leading up to the big one at Hammersmith Odeon, was very pleasant. Set deep in the rich Somerset countryside, appreciably warmer than the grey industrial Midlands they had travelled through earlier in the week, and a place where you didn’t really feel the chill winds of mass frustration and anger that had been sweeping through England’s cities in this summer of 1981. Ah, well, may as well give myself a hair of the dog he thought, as he went through the door of the bar. What was that stuff those locals had been drinking last night? Wadworths Six X, that was it. DR: John, who you were speaking to before said that you’re on tour with the Pretenders at the moment. AB: Yeah, that’s right. We’re doing 15 English dates with them then we go to America where we play 76 dates. DR: (incredulous) Seventy six??? AB: (drily) So we’re working quite hard. That’ll finish around Christmas time. DR: Do you want to just briefly explain how the Bureau was formed? I am aware that five of the band were in Dexy’s Midnight Runners last year, but I’m not too sure about yourself — you weren’t part of the original Dexy’s were you? AB; Me and Robert James the guitar player are out of a band call the Up Set. We heard about the split in Dexy’s, decided this is what we’d like to do. So that was the nucleus of the band — the five Dexy’s and Rob and me. We came over to Birmingham in January — the band hasn’t been going very long. But it’s coming together now, especially on this tour; the live thing, which is very important, is just starting to get into gear now. DR: Well, if you can get the sound that you get on ‘Only for Sheep’ in a live situation, then I’m sure it’d be a pleasure to see you. AB: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s an eight piece band so it’s a helluva sound. DR: Your first album is coming out soon, is that right? AB; Yeah, we’ve recorded it already — it’s just a matter of waiting until October to release it. We’ll release another single firs t. . . Because the first single didn’t really do that well in England. We need to try one more single in England. 1 think the album will be released in Australia about the same time, or even before — DR: Yes, it’s being released here next month — AB: And it may come out in America before too, because we’ll be touring. If ‘Only For Sheep’ is a hit there, as it looks like it could be . . . it’s doing pretty well in Australia isn’t it? 16 Roadrunner

DR: Yes. AB: We’re pretty surprised that it’s doing so well. DR: I think one of the reason’s it is, is the film clip — T.V. really dominates over here. AB: It’s never been shown in England, that film. The record never became a hit. In England you have to have a hit record before they’ll show your film clip. It’s crazy. You can’t use a film to promote really. Different approach altogether, knowarramean? DR: That’s a real shame. AB: Europe, Australia, and the States of course have all seen it. DR: Some of the developments in video, particularly from English bands over the past year or so have been quite stunning. Have you seen the Visage ones? AB: Yeah, yeah. Our’s were made cheaply though. The next one we’ll be able to spend more money, so it should be better. ‘Only For Sheep’ was made in one day, that video. Just with a few people, that the photographer arranged. DR: Is ‘Only For Sheep’ representative of the band’s sound? . AB: It is, to a certain extent — I think the newer material is changing. I think ‘Only For Sheep’ is quite . . . oddly enough, I wrote ‘Only For Sheep’ for the Up Set. Which is before the thing of Dexy’s — but it does sound, the horns sound like Dexy’s. But I think, as the band’s developing, we’re moving a lot further away from that now. Into a lot more sophisticated horn sound. Still very dominant b u t. . . more subtle, less sort of brass — bandy if you know what I mean. DR: One of the forms of music that seems to be coming back into vogue in England is, like Kid Creole and the Coconuts, that kind of swing, almost swing jazz. Is that an area that you might perhaps explore? AB; Well, I don’t think we’re going to do that but because that’s basically/'ev/VaZ/sT I’d prefer to go forward really. In England, everybody’s been looking back so much just lately, that I think the music has really suffered. You know, I think that, things like the blues revival, funk revival all kinds of revivals going on, and now, to a certain extent, a Bowie revival; I think you need to forge ahead really. We’re obviously going to use things from the past but we’re trying to include them in the music rather than going for a whole new style. We intend to be around for a long time — not just a passing fad. DR: It seems to be an aspect of the English scene that people who have original ideas can operate in and be successful in the music scene — whereas it seems very hard for original music to penetrate the American music monolith. AB: Yeah, that’s true. But I think the scene over here is definitely dying. I think perhaps elsewhere it’s ready to happen. America perhaps is where things are going to happen a-new again. Talking Heads are having a phenomenal influence over here at the moment. They’re influencing more people than anyone else. The funk revival has been influenced by them — Spandau Ballet’s latest single is almost a Talking Heads soundalike. It’s not the English bands leading the field, as they have done for the last five years with the new wave. I think that’s definitely true. Which is one of the reasons we wanna go to the States — to see what it’s like. DR: Do you consider yourself ‘new wave’. AB: Yeah, I suppose we are in a sense . . . We obviously come from the roots music, American black music is what our roots are. But we are new wave in that I don’t think what we’re doing has actually been done before. DR: It seemed one of the reasons Dexy’s made such an impact was that they had a very definite manifesto, towards things. Like the press . . . it seemed a very uncompromising attitude. Do you think that was one of the reasons they broke up? AB: I think . . . yeah, not so much that the attitudes were disagreed with but it became sort o^posturing. I think that is why the band split. Because it became just words, not

action any more. I think after they made the album people got disillusioned with everything. You have to act out what you’re saying, as well as saying it. Knowarramean? DR: Yeah. What do you think of Kevin Rowland’s new Dexy’s Midnight Runners? AB: It’s good — it’s probably better, because with the old Dexy’s you had a whole lot of characters, all with their own ideas — that was probably one of the reasons for the split as well. With this band everybody can get their oar in. The writing is quite spread, things like that . .. it’s a lot more healthy atmosphere to live in. It’s horses for courses isn’t it? He’s got exactly the sound that he wants . . . even though I don’t think his band is as good as the old Dexy’s, but I think he’ll do very well. He’s got a single out now that’s a hit. It looks like he’ll continue. He’s a very determined bloke as well. DR: With recent events in England, the street riots etc., how important do you think music is in the general scheme of things? AB: What, to do with the violence? DR: Not specifically to do with the riots, but all those kids who’ve been burning and looting, how much effect do you think music is having on them? I mean to me this summer is almost like the punk soundtrack come to life. AB: Well, I don’t think so; I think it’s more to do with loads of kids having no money. The rioting thing has become a bit more like a looting thing. Like ‘I need a new stereo’. (Laughs) You can get away with it really. There are certain riots that happen because of police aggression, like in Brixton — I live a stone’s throw from Brixton right? And a stone’s throw from Peckham — there was a big riot there. But some of them .. . like Netting Hill’s a real middle class area, y’know? It’s people getting out there and smashing the place up. Lots of white kids. I mean there was one riot in Liverpool which was all white kids. So it’s nothing to do with . . . in fact the only racist riot, white against black, was in Southall, in London. Which was Pakistanis and Indians against skinheads. National Front. That was a really sick situation. The other ones are just people saying they’re not going to stand for certain things anymore. People thinking, well, this is the only way we can react. Things are pretty grim — especially for young kids coming out of school. And even kids that are employed are employed for tiny amounts of money, on some kind of Government scheme thing. where they only get paid a bit more than the dole. It’s not permanent, only ilv six months, I mean that’s not a job, not really, knowarramean? DR: What do you think will happen in England over the next six months say? AB: I think the riot thing will just coo! off really. I think England’s to o .. . how can I put it? .. . conservative for it to get to the point where everyone’s going bananas. About the music though — the music obviously affects young kids, but I don’t think the music actually has an effect on that. The punk thing was a violent thing, to a certain extent, but it was also saying, ‘get up and do things’. I don’t think people take it literally. DR: Would you see your music as more a release of tension for the audience rather than something to whip them up . . . AB: I reckon our music’s pretty aggressive actually. DR: The lyrics to ‘Only For Sheep’ are pretty aggressive. AB: Yeah. We want people to . . . to give them something definite to hold on to, ideas rather than just wishy washy stuff y’know? In a lot of ways that is similar to the idea that Dexy’s had. Obviously the people in Dexy’s believed in what they were doing. The reason they left was that they felt they were conning people. Our beliefs are the same, we’re just putting them across in a more natural way. You can talk and talk and talk, but the music’s gotta be, eventually, the thing. Get through to people, y’know? Hmmm, that wasn’t too bad, thought Archie as he replaced the receiver. Wonder what it’ll look like in print?


FIRST ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BRITISH ELECTRIC FOUNDATION

■H;.-'i Heaven 17: Glenn Gregory,

and Martyn Ware.

Ian Craig Marsh

DR: Do you want to explain a bit about the British Electric Foundation, what it is, what its function is? MARTIN WARE: O.K. It’s basically a production company that myself and Ian (Marsh) set up when the Human League split up. The intention is to do different types of music within the confines of the production company instead of being tied down to just one group, and one group image. We tend to think that if one project is unsuccessful we can abandon it and start on something new. So Heaven 17 is the first project associated with the B.E.F. I don’t know if you’ve heard ‘Music For Stowaways’ over there . . . DR: No I haven’t but I have heard the album . . . MW: Ah, yes, that’s like an abbreviated version ot Music for Stowaways which was a cassette only package. It was designed for Stowaways so there was no point in putting it out on vinyl at all. (N.B. ‘Stow aw ays’ are the snappy little cassette machines with the ultra-light headphones that you see people wearing walking down the streeet...) DR: Have you any other groups or manifestations apart from Heaven 17? MW: No other groups at the moment but we are planning two other B.E.F. releases, album releases, before the end of the year, which’ll mean in our first year of operation we’ll have released four albums. The first is going to becoming out about a month after the Heaven 17 album - that’s a compilation of tracks from the period immediately before the Human League was formed. The second one is coming out just before Christmas and that’s an album of cover versions called Music of Quaiity and Distinction, which is going to have different vocalists on it. It’s going to have 4 tracks sung by Glenn (Gregory), one sung by myself, and possibly. . . I don’t know if you remember Sandie Shaw? DR: Yes. MW: Well, we’re going to get her to do a version of ‘Be My Baby' by the Ronettes. DR: Oh, fantastic! MW: And probably. . . I haven’t contacted him yet, but I’m a good friend of Gary Glitter and I’d like him to do an, at this stage unspecified, cover of an Elvis Presley song. DR: Wow, that’d be amazing! MW: 1 think he’d be perfect for it. He’s just about reached the right proportions! (Laughter) MW: (Cont.) And a couple of other vocalists who we haven’t sorted out yet. So that should be an interesting album. We’re also planning to release an E.P. at Christmas of the kitschest kind of Christmas caroly type songs, like Nat King Cole with ‘Winter Wonderiand’ and Dean M artin. . . electronic versions of those for the Christmas market. So we’re going to be pretty busy. DR: Have you got your actual own studios or do you . . . MW: Yes, we’ve got our own 8-track studio. It’s only really adequate for recording the basic tracks. We have to go into a 24-track to mix and finish off tracks. DR: Are you going to be producing any other acts apart from Sandie Shaw and Gary Glitter? Within the context of B.E.F. MW: We plan to, but at this tage we’ve got our plate full with what we’re doing. At the beginning of next year we’ll be taking a month off in some hot foreign land, possibly even Australia, and when we come back we plan to produce other acts. DR: Have you actually played live as Heaven 17? MW: No. We don’t intend to, unless things take off dramatically. And even if they did I think we’d probably .. . form a band around Glenn without myself and Ian actually playing live. We’ve got so many other things to do that it would be impractical of us to go away for three months. Unless it was abroad of course, and then it’d be sort of like a busman’s holiday.

Fascist Groove Thang MW: I really like the idea of ‘Fascist Groove Thang’ becoming a big protest song. ‘The new Bob Dylan’ (laughs). DR: I thought it was the first electro-pop song to have pointedly social/political lyrics. MW: Strangely enough originally it was intended as a satire on the glibness of most black music lyrics. Surprisingly, they are potent. When we actually came to read i t . . . when we first wrote it though we were falling about laughing . . . we had to stop recording the vocals cos we were laughing. When you actually read them on paper they’re a lot more forceful than perhaps we originally intended. And now it does actually work — I wouldn’t deny it.

DR: How did that actually do in England? MW: It got banned by the BBC. It got to No. 42 in the charts, we were booked to do ‘Top Of The Pops’ but the people who arrange ‘Top Of The Pops’ wouldn’t have anything to do with it because of the controversial nature of the lyrics. Also they wouldn’t play it on Radio One, in the daytime. Which is what you need to get a hit. It wasn’t even an official ban —- if it had been an official ban we’d’ve got more mileage out of it. It was like ‘not the done thing’ to play it. We were virtually struck off certain playlists, we found out later on. Apart from that it would have done very well indeed. In fact its more a millstone around our necks over here now, we’ve released two singles since then, but they always quote ‘Fascist Groove Thang’ at us. ‘They will never surpass this high point’ — I wish we’d never bloody released it!

Human League DR: Do you mind talking about Human League at all? MW: (High pitched laughter) I was just going to say — you’re the only one that’s not said that yet! We’ve just done three other interviews and they’ve all said, ‘well, do you mind talking about Human League?’ Exactly the same. DR: There seemed to be a veiled kind of bitterness in some of the interviews I read after the split; I can’t remember if it was you being interviewed or the other two. MW: I’d say it was slightly less than veiled. (Laughter) Rife with bitterness, more like it. DR: Do you still feel that way? MW: No, not really. We did at the time because there was quite a bit of acrimony involved in the split. But now we treat each other in a fairly civilized manner. No problems about hitting each other over the head. We have to share the same recording studio anyway . . . DR: I actually got the (new) Human League single, ‘The Sound of the Crowd’ at the same time as the second Heaven 17 single, Tm Your Money’ and to my ear they were both cracking good singles. MW: Oh yes I agree . . . I mean their latest single is No. 3 on the charts this week. They are breaking it very big now. If their next single’s a good one, there’s a good possibility they might even get to No. 1 with it. We’re not arguing because back catalogue sales of our albums are doing amazingly well and that’s all money for myself and Ian.

England DR: Do you live in London now or do you spend most of your time in Sheffield? MW: We spend a lot of time in London. My girlfriend and Glenn’s live together in the same house in London, and all the promotion work has to be done down here. The only time we have to go back to Sheffield really is when we have to record. We ll probably move at the end of the year, down to Sussex or somewhere on the South Coast. I’d like to move abroad but it’s so expensive. I’m fed up with Britain. DR: That’d be a fairly common feeling there I guess. MW: Y eah. . . yeah. It’s Margaret Thatcher I think. Especially for anyone who thinks about their politics. DR: It’s interesting, as sort of detached observer, to watch the music papers, and the music as well, becoming more political in England over the last two years. MW: It’s not a sort of snobbish political awareness either, it’s more direct. A lot of these ska groups a re . . . for instance the Beat brought out that ‘Stand Down Margaret’ single.. . DR: I haven’t heard the Specials’ single ‘Ghost Town’ but I read somewhere that it was like the ‘God Save The Queen’ of 1981. MW: Very good single. IT"s, the lyrics are very good and very evocative and very . . . very accurate. For the times.

Australia — Land o f Opportunity DR: Forgive me if I’m wrong but the B.E.F. album I heard didn’t have any vocals on it at ail — is that right? MW: That’s right. The ‘Music For Stowaways’ that it’s based on — you walk around the streets with your Stowaway strapped to your belt — DR: Oh the Walkman! MW: What, they call them ‘Walkman’ over there? DR: That’s right. MW: The idea is . . . it’s just mood music basically. That was the idea behind it. It was basically cashing in on the newly found Stowaway market. We were going for a sponsorship

deal with Sony for it — but that fell through. Myself and Ian have always been interested in film soundtrack. We’d/ove to do a film soundtrack, but no-one seems to want to give us the job! Which I find quite astonishing because I think we’d do a really good job. DR: Is that because the British film industry is pretty. . . fucked? MW: Well, yeah, the British film industry isn’t exactly thriving at the moment. DR: Maybe you should come to Australia — there’s plenty of films being made out here. MW: This is another good reason . . . We were seriously considering moving to Australia — about a year ago. I mean we still are. It’s still under review. Because I think the music scene over there is very interesting — not so much the bands from there b u t. . . there seems to be less cynicism. I mean the charts are very, very cynical at the moment. They’re just flooded with these ‘Stars On 45’ compilations at the moment. The singles charts are so nostalgia orientated at the moment that I find it very depressing. And I don’t think it’s quite that bad in Australia — I might be wrong. The films coming from Australia lately are really good too. The weather’s better. DR: That’s for sure although it’s windy and raining at the moment. MW: Really! DR: It’s the middle of winter. MW: Yeah well it can’t be much worse than here.

Videos, Tapes and Video Discs DR: Do you have much time for anything apart from writing and producing? MW: Not really. My main recreation is videos. There’s a lot of pirate videos in Britain. You can get virtually any film you want. Right up to a month old ‘Superman //’ was actually out on pirate video before it was on in the cinemas. I like that. DR: You like the breaking down of the order? MW: Yeah, I do actually. DR: What about things like home taping. You put out a tape. Bow Wow Wow did it. Island have that ‘1 plus T cassette which has one side blank. . . seems almost like coming to terms with it. MW: If the record companies could find a way of stopping it, they’d do it immediately. No qualms about it. If they could find a legal way of doing it. The point is — I don’t think the artists are bothered. And it’s them, really who are losing a lot through it. Because it does diminish album sales greatly. An album’s 5" pounds a time in Britain. There’s not much incentive really for buying an album — it’s much easier to tape it. And I feel the same about videos as well. I can’t understand people who buy video tapes. I think it’s silly. And also, just while we’re on the topic I think video discs will be an enormous flop. DR: Yes, I can see that. The hardware is just so expensive. MW: The only think that I think they’ll be useful for is this business where you can store individual frames, something like 38,000 individual frames on a video disc and you can freeze each one. For something like encyclopedias and things like th a t. . . an entire set of encyclopedias for 6 pounds, or whatever a videodisc costs, and have it really good quality on a video screen. That seems like a good idea to me. But apart from that I can’t see any practical application for them at all. When you’ve got tape that you can reuse.' Sony researched it for 10 years, and pulled out 2 years ago. So I don’t think there’s any question that they’re not gc^ng to take off. on.

Technology

DR: Can I ask you a curly question? MW: E r,. . . go. (laughs) DR: What do you think of technology? MW: Technology? DR: Mmmm. MW: In what sense? Do you mean the progress of technology? DR: The progress, the use of technology. MW: I’m e r . . . I’m e r . . . in favour of more. It’s the old argument about reducing manning and distributing leisure time. Which because of the perverse nature of companies will never happen . . . as it should do in ^ perfect world. Companies will not reduce the working week to 30 hours or 25 hours to provide everyone with full time employment. They’ll just continue at 40 hours so they don’t have to pay overtime. So there’ll be an increase in unemployment all over the world. DR: Well it’s already happening in the Western world isn’t it. MW: It’s just terrible in Britain. It really is. It’s much worse than people abroad think. DR: Oh, it’s pretty bad here too. It’s eight percent in this cfoto MW: Really? DR: Yeah. Australia’s got less people but the percentages are the same. MW: W e ll. . . I didn’t realise that actually. DR: It’s something that people don’t say about Australia. Australia’s seen as the promised land and all that, but there’s half a million people on the dole. Getting back to what you were saying; do you think it’s the way technology is applied, or mis-applied that is perhaps more the problem . Becquse there are those who would say that technology is inherently evil. MW: Oh, no, I don’t think it is. Human nature is inherently evil perhaps. Technology, if applied properly can only do good.

Roadrunner 17


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The 8 8 ’s : Holding All The Keys by Ronnie Raver Hundreds of pubs. And hundreds of bands. All dreaming of their chance at the big shot. Musicians learning, practising in rooms all over the land. Different combinations. Settling on a line-up, writing songs, learning songs. The background to a band, any band, is long hours, sweat and toil. Hundreds of bands. Hassling for gigs. Saving up to record. Looking for a manager to cut through the crap. Playing in ridiculous places to disinterested punters. Strings breaking, P.A.s blowing up, cars breaking down. Earning peanuts. Fringe territory where the pickings are lean. One band. One room. The Eighty-Eights play at the Manzii Room in the heart of Kings Cross every Tuesday night. There is what is known as a ‘vibe’ about them. Crowds are building and coming back for more. They are being called a real musicians band i.e. one that can actually play (it’s not always necessary y’know). There’s an album too, ‘Top of the World’. It’s on Result Records, Sebastian Chase’s label. A single that lead to a law suit. (She’s in Love With James Bond.) How many keys on a piano? You guessed it. The Eighty-Eights are Maurice D ’Abruzzo (guitarI vocals), Larry Van Kriedt (guitar), John Bartram (drums) and Kent Jackson (bass). RR: Most bands start from a partnership or even a solo effort. How did you meet? Larry: Well Kent and I started playing together in a seaman’s bar from ten pm till two am, to sailors from all over the world and prostitutes aged 45 and over. All races and colours. The colour of their blood was always the same. It used to spill nightly. Then there was the flying doorman trick, down the stairs and onto the street. RR: Which street? Larry: Main Street. In Newcastle. Kent: Yeah! The main drag. The venue was called Zorba’s Tavern. Larry: Then one night we were up there. My father was up playing with us. I don’t know what he was doing there. All of a sudden some guy came in. A left handed drummer. He changed the kit around and had a jam with us. That was how we met John. He and Kent just went berserk. We started playing 'Evil Ways' in half time, then we did a punk version. We went berserk on it. John: At that time I had just arrived back from Canada. I was working at the Newcastle Workers Club where I met Larry’s father; we all played together and I joined the nucleus of that band. We also played with a guy from N.Z. a black guy. So we got into improvising. Funky type things. Improvising on all of Stevie Wonder’s tunes. Maurice: Yeah! It was really interesting. I used to come along to watch sometimes. I was playing with another band at the time so I’d go along after playing and see them. They played kind of known stuff then build onto it. Couple of verses then a chorus then off onto a tangent that suited them. They drew heaps of people. It was unique in the sense that they were really entertaining. Usually better than the song was to start with, and certainly very different. .They jammed on top 40 tunes. The bass and drums went hell for leather on a progression of some kind. RR: When did you decide to join the band Maurice? Maurice: About a year after John joined. I’d been watching them for a few months. John: Then I left the band for three months and rejoined. At the time we had a lead singer called Peter Grant. We were a five piece. Kent: When John left we had another original band. Didn’t work in Newcastle though. Ya had to be playing covers to work in those days. John: For the three months I left, I worked in a club backing artists. Cabaret stuff. Reading charts and that sort of thing. Maurice: Newcastle had just discovered rock and roll at that time. Or was it heavy metal? Anyway we were doing originals so we didn’t get much work. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Larry: So we slogged it out for about twelve months or so, writing and rehearsing originals. Then we thought of this incredible name. The Motels’. That name created some interest from Sydney. Chris Murphy drove up to see us

on the strength of the name The Motels’. He made us an offer so we took him up on it. Then we had a name problem ’cos someone else had gone and used it and got a hit. So we had that fucking name problem again. We went over a few, like the ‘Drunken Millionaires’ and ‘The Flying Quadraplegics’. Maurice: ‘Gentle Nazis’! Larry: We went on to Queensland to work along the Gold Coast and changed our name to ‘Eighty Eights’. At that time we started to get more serious about our work, in terms of song writing and attitude. We were playing safe for acceptance sake, then we got more confidence and our set changed dramatically. In fact nobody knew who we were when we returned. You know. New name, new songs. We wrote ‘Light Year’ and ‘Millionaire’ up there. (Qld.) John: Then Chris Murphy offered us a deal which we didn’t take. It was a bit heavy for our liking. Then after that we were incredibly de-vibed. We went from six gigs a week to one, sometimes two, which put us into financial difficulty. So we used to go out and glue posters after shows ’till six am. Up ’til we met our manager. Maurice: He said, ‘fame is just around the corner.’ No. he just introduced us to Sebastian Chase (Result Re­ cords). He suggested we record a studio EP to help us in the market place. Then we might be able to charge an extra hundred dollars for a gig in Wollongong or something. So we went in there with all these demos and played them to Todd Hunter. He suggested we do an album ’cos we had hopes of songs he liked. The session went really well so we started working on an album. We did it in bits and pieces over a pierod of time. Meanwhile we got a live EP out of a performance at Chequers. And a single down. The live EP came about when the Reels were doing a ‘live to air’ for 2JJJ. We didn’t even know that we were being recorded. Polygram set it up ’cos we’re both through Polygram. RR: Were you happy with the live recording? Maurice: Yeh. It was alright. We sounded pretty rough in parts. Fairly heavy really. But it was OK. That was September ’80. We were a bit different then. John: As time went by we became more musical. That was where we were heading as we got tighter. Rather than being a circus act or jumping around. We all just play on stage. RR: How did you go working with Todd Hunter? John: Well, we were a band who hadn’t had much experience at that sort of thing. He hadn’t had much experience himself so it was pretty good for us all. We all learned a few things. In the time he had and the budget he had he’s done a really good job. Well I think he’s done a great job. Maurice: We did some one month and some the next. That’s why it’s got such a live sound. We did most of the songs in one take, then did overdubs for vocals and stuff. Then mixed it. John: For our next album we want to do it in a couple of weeks. Next time we will have more time ’cos people have got more confidence in us now so they’re prepared to spend more money. Maurice: After the release of the single the band suddenly became better known and we had started touring by then. We’d done Melbourne and Brisbane, and all up and down the coast too. So we became more confident, not only from a musical point of view but also in managerial decisions. So we decided to manage ourselves by dealing directly with the agency and the record company. That is presently where we stand. That is the machinery behind the album at the moment. RR: You were recently involved in a legal case about your ‘She’s In Love With James Bond’ single. What was the verdict? Maurice: Well we ripped off about a twenty second guitar riff (from the Bond theme) so the publishers are claiming 100% of the royalties, which smells a bit considering we wrote the lyrics and the rest of the music. Anyway United Artists and our publisher will sort that one out. It fitted really well into the song. It was just a fun tune and a fun song. It worked well live so it became a single. We think we should give them 25% or something, but 100% is a bit greedy. We only borrowed about twenty seconds or so of that twangy riff.

RR: It said on the press release that you are originally from San Francisco Larry. Larry: Yeah. My dad played sax there while I was growing up so I learned to play the string bass at school. Then I started to teach myself guitar after hearing bands like the Byrds and the Doors ’n Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles. They were what I was listening to on radio and that sort of got me going. Then we moved to Australia and I met Angus Young. We started playing together and formed a band called AC/DC where I played bass for a few months. It wasn’t really my bag though. The only recording I did with them ended up as a B-side to something, which I never got paid for. Then I worked as a musical instrument repairer. I was apprenticed to a repair shop in Sydney. At the same time as my apprenticeship was happening my father told me about a band in Newcastle so I took my holidays and went to see what they were about. I chucked my job in and played guitar with the band who already had work. So we toured for two weeks up the coast and in Brisbane then we broke up. I hung around Newcastle for a while where I met Kent. RR: How did the tour with Cold Chisel go? Larry: Well funny you should mention that ’cos we worked with them years ago on odd occasions. The first time we worked together was at the Bondi Lifesaver before they had a record contract. Actually, before Maurice was in the band. We always got onwell with them so when they did the last tour before leaving for wherever they are now. They asked us to do the support. Maurice: We did our first gig with them at the Brighton (on the tour) then on the way to the Wollongong support I had an accident in my car so we had to cancel the rest of the tour with them ’cos I broke my nose and couldn’t sing. RR: How do you find touring other cities? Maurice: We find Melbourne is very receptive towards us. We enjoy playing there. Brisbane is a bit sleepy. And Sydney is picking up really well now. RR: You’re about to do Adelaide for the first time. Do you know which venues you will play yet? Maurice: Yes. New town. Great! I like doing rooms that we haven’t done before. I think we do the Tivoli. People comment on it being a good room. I’m looking forward to it. Good rooms are fairly rare when you do the small venues with small or no staging facilities. RR: John, You’re also fairly well travelled so the bio goes. John: I left Oz at 20 to go to England. Because my parents are English. Then I went to South Africa and played. I lived in Johannesburg for about 9 or 10 months to check out the music scene there. But I ended up playing the white man’s music. I had to because of the apartheid thing. You weren’t allowed to entertain a black person in your flat. To talk to a black person you needed a permit and if you were caught more than a couple of times, well I was caught twice and they threatened to take my passport from me so I thought I’d better toe the line or I’d be deported. Also if you are deported from a country for political reasons, or for any reason it can become difficult to get in and out of other countries. So I went back to England where I studied under a guy called Max Abrahams who had taught the drummer from the Shadows and Stuart Copeland from ‘Police’. Then I met and married a Canadian in England and moved to Canada. At the same time I was in a rhythm section so whenever Herb Ellis or Barney Kessel or people like that would come to Canada it was cheaper for them to employ me than to bring their own musicians. In between jobs I would go to New York to study at a place called Woodstock at the creative music studio under a guy called Carl Burger. We had different musicians come in, people like Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJenet, Tony Williams, all different sorts of people and they would come and be your teacher for a week. You’d sort of go through jam sessions with them, talk to them. It wasn’t like a big theory echool as much as practical playing and learing to live with the masters. Playing with them, watching them play. Then I went back to Canada and divorced my wife for love of music. Sounds corny ha. From there I returned to Australia and met Larry and Kent.

Roadrunner 23


As some reg u lar readers may re ­ member Keith Shadwick waxed long and lyrical about the ComSat Angels in March of this year. Since that time the band, Mic Glaisher (drums), Steve Fellows (guitarl vocals), Kevin Bacon (bass) and Andy Peake (KeyboardsIvocais) have released a 12°° E.P. (not as yet released in this country) and as Keith details, are about to release a second L.P. Over now to Keith & the Comsats; situated in “a lousy little basement in Maida Vale (London)”

C O M SA T ANGELS K.S.: How long had the band been around when you made ‘Red Planet’, the first single? Andy: About two to three years. We’ve been going about four years now. K.S.; Have the aims changed a lot in that time? As a band? Steve: We never had specific aims, musically. K.S. As a band; a project? Steve: Not as a specific project — didn’t want to be big stars. We always wanted to make albums and all that. K.S.: The songs themselves were the point of the band, then? Steve: We do it because we enjoy the music so much, mean, it’s really banal. It sounds like the sort of thing people used to say in 1972 or something. It’s true, so why deny it — we’re not a fashion group or anything. K.S.: ‘Independence Day’ — did you recognise that as something which might get you noticed when it came along? Steve: It was just a song. I thought it was a good song, but nobody seemed to think like that. Kevin: It seemed like the best choice. K.S.: But ‘Total War’ came out first? Mic: That was an introductory thing, an E.P. Total War’ was on the A-side — they were all recorded at the same time as the album, but it was released as an introduction to the band, with three tracks in all. Steve: Of course, the album was released nine months later, so it was a bit old by then — we had a lot of new songs that we wanted done. Kevin: Some of those songs are two years old — I mean ‘Independence Day’ is quite old. It’s the old style of the band. K.S.: That disparity of style was a point of interest on the L.P., though. Steve: We were only half-formed . . . Kevin: It was quite natural because there was such a backlog of material going back a few yers, whereas now all the stuff is no more than a year old. All the new stuff is much more unified, sound-wise. We didn’t decide on it — it’s just happened to go one particular w a y . . . K.S.: So how did you find live work, then? You came to live work at a later stage. . . Steve: Live’s always funny, ’cause we’re not extravagent in behaviour. Steve: We try and look at it like the music — what’s it doing, what’s it supposed to do, and what’s the best way to do it. We found that by looking at it in terms of its function, like with the music, then we do it the way we think it ought to be. Mic: We get misunderstood onstage by the press. They think we’re some sort of high-pressure pop band, but we’re not — we just, like, exist — we never said anything about being particularly visual, we just want to play postage. Andy: Sometimes we get references to ‘modern young men’, or, ‘pale faced, black shirted young men with copies of Kafka under their arms’ — quite a strange thing to s a y!. . . Steve: Especially regarding our ages. K S.: What are they? Steve: Well I’m 26, Mic’s 27, Andy’s 25, Kevin’s 21. Andy : He brings the average down! That’s the only reason we got h im !.. . K.S.: Any of you go to art school? Andy: That’s where we met up. Steve: We spent all our time at art school talking about getting a band together. K.S.: Where does the band’s intention, or direction, come from? Did it come from somebody waking up one morning and thinking ‘this is what I want’, or from just what songs were written when . . . ? Andy: Steve and I got together because we were interested in similar types of music to play. That was ’74 or ’75 — American stuff, plus English stuff like Soft Machine and that. Then ’77, Pere Ubu. Steve: It was a kind of a mixture of all those things, but it was always songs. K.S.: What happened when you heard Pere Ubu? Steve: Well, personally — I became aware of the pos­ sibilities . . . K.S.: Had you heard Beefheart before that? Steve: Yes: that stirred something — the guitars always appealed to me; I couldn’t get over the way he played the guitars on some of the tracks on Trout Mask. Mic: Steve’s put his finger on it — we were getting at the feeling of those things, the sparks of originality in what went before. It’d be nice to be involved in something that is probably as refreshing as the other things. Andy: We came to it as fans as well as players. Steve: We’ve never been straight rock and roll. K.S.: Are the four songs on the E.P. indicative of the direction on the L.P.? Steve: Yes. K.S.: There seems to be more depth of sound, and the lyrics seem to be more allusive or elliptical than before. . . 24 Roadrunner

For Those Who Have Faith . . Steve: Back to the drawing-board then! I hat s not my in­ tention, except ‘Eye of The Lens’ . . . more simplification. But ‘Gone’ is really straight. K.S.: That’s my favourite at the moment. Mic: I’m glad you said that because it’s the one I’m going off. Steve: Different numbers have a different life. On the first L.P. some came up later on — I noticed that myself. K.S.: ‘Waiting For a Miracle’ I caught onto late, and ‘On The Beach’, apart from the drums — whereas ‘Real Story’ was something that fascinated me theJirst time I heard it. Especially the opening part, and in the choruses — those chords. Steve: The very first part of that song I wrote was those chords. Andy: I think we were thinking in more pop ways when we did that L.P. than we do now. A lot of that is a very pop L.P. Steve: We still think in pop ways, though. Good tunes, catchy and instant. We want accessibility, certainly. Andy: It’s a different way — it works more from a continuous mood, the part of it — it works over a basic feel. K.S.: A lot of it seems almost Indian in the way you’ve use the instruments, with drones, on one chord. Steve: It was originally called ‘Drone’, that song. Rather than change notes, we thought we’d change power. Andy: I still think the songs sound simple — we haven’t gone over the top in putting things in. It’s still basically live. Kevin: You still have to make an effort with it, though. Andy: There were certain things we couldn’t achieve the way we were playing around the time of the first album, just by our own disciplines we couldn’t achieve. We had to change in order to get the sensations from the music. Steve: The first album’s a bit tense. Kevin: We didn’t go all the way. K.S.: I think the production is excellent on the first album. Mic: The bass has been landed with more importance in the next album. I relate a lot to the bass in the new material — I think we all do. ‘It’s this year’s thing’! . . . In fact it’s allowed me to be a bit more undisciplined now that Kev’s playing parts which allow me to step out a bit now and again, which on the first album, it seemed like everyone was stepping out around me.

The Album Shortly after this interview, I dropped in on the sessions for the L.P., at Polygram studios near Marble Arch. It was near the end, and the day was spent putting Steve’s vocals down. I did intend taking notes, but I ended up abandoning the idea, and instead laid back and let the music take over. If anyone should think that the 12 inch E.P. has power, just wait till you hear this, bud. Most of what was being talked about in the interview above was being musically spelt out before me — the new depth of sound and punch in the band, the sparse vocals, the unity within the songs and playing. On one particular piece, one which I can remember the verse and choruses very clearly but not the title, there is a beginning between the synth and guitar where everything else is supsended and the whole thing unfurls through the beautiful shifting of tones. And when the chorus comes, ‘see his face/see his eyes/full of trust/so unwise’, the twochord motif on the synth, backed up on guitar, tears you

right open. Speaking of loose playing made powerful by mixing, this was evident with the putting down of the vocals. Steve was in good form, and things were first-taked quite often, even if they seemed rough. Then doubled-up. Then played back, me wondering what it’d be like with all those rough edges. Well — it sounded all the better for it, just with no mixing at all. Which is quite surprising, really. Just very powerful. The album will be dangerously good when it’s released.

The Gig To finish all this off, I saw the band a couple of weeks later, playing in a large nightclub in Charing Cross Road packed full of the rather large cross section of youthful humanity the band has picked up as a following. The room was big, two-tiered, and the stage artfully-lit while the dance floor was raked with hundreds of little spotlights switching on/off in wild patterns amongst the crowd. The ComSats came onstage and kicked their set off with ‘Real Story’, which suffered a little from unresolved sound ba­ lance problems, though the chorus came over loud, tough and clear. After that nod to the first L.P., it was straight into a brace of the new stuff, including ‘Gone’ and ‘Eye of The Lens’ from the 12 inch E.P., and I for one was aware that this was no ordinary gig. It wasn’t the sort of thing where you got excited, yelled, cheered, hoped for your favourite songs and all that. It was more of a complete event, and everything seemed tied up within those four intense, very hard-working figures onstage, and the music coming out, and the lighting which obscured as much as it revealed, and suddenly everything was just that little bit bigger than life and you knew that tonight was gonna be unforgettable. The stuff from the new L.P., unannounced as such and just played by the band like the rest of the songs, brought things up to such a level of intensity, the bass and drums filling the whole room with thrust and presence while the guitar, vocal and keyboards added the searing cuts and interpolations, whereby you really didn’t care what hap­ pened next, because this was real bliss in music. It’s why you go to concerts for years, leave empty-handed, and go back anyway. It’s what concerts are supposed to do to you. This one did it, alright. Even when they came to songs you knew, like ‘Waiting For A Miracle’, you didn’t just replay it against the original in your head, looking for imperfections and cock-ups: this time, you re-lived hearing the song for the first time, with all the shivers of excitement intact. And, towards the end of the set, they did ‘Total War’. It was spellbinding. I can’t really express it any better than that. In fact I’m a bit at a loss for words to talk about this whole gig, and it feels dumb to just keep raving, hoping that a few phrases might stick and give the right impression by chance. It might sound terribly naive to say it, but this gig was one to treasure, in your head, keep it alive for when you’re old and all that sort of old toss. Can you hack it? Well, I think I’ve spread enough words over enough paper to have served the present purpose and disposed of my obligation to both sides of the sandwich I’m the current meat in. The media sandwich. If you haven’t got the mes­ sage (i.e. go out and buy ComSat vinyl, now), then you don’t want it. So I won’t bother you any more. Turn to another article, try it on for size, and then take your pick. The choice is always yours.


Because your ears hove brains

Roadrunner 25


The barroom is functional. There are laminex tables, too-bright lights, stray office workers with beer guts and m oustaches and hearty laughs suitable for football conversations propping up the bar; but it’s a refuge from the bone chilling wind that blows between the old buildings on M elbourne’s Spring Street, and maybe it’s a preferable place to home in the suburbs. John Dowler is another after-w ork drinker, but he doesn’t fit into the surroundings very exactly. He’s sitting self­ consciously alone in a leather jacket and with his familiar hair­ cut, a beer and an open paper­ back (Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities” ) as he waits for a journalist. A static situation .. . “ Don’t concentrate too much on . the past” , Dowler advises, but it’s his past rather than the limbo with - mild - expectations that he presently finds himself in that will inevitably dominate this conversation; this man, after all, is a prime example of that sub­ species known as the journalist’s musician, a breed with easily defined characteristics. They’re usually articulate underdogs with a romantic streak and a prefer­ ence for music that fits into what Julie Burchijl once pricelessly de­ fined as “ rock’s rich tapestry.” In Australia, you can include the likes of Paul Kelly and Marc Hunter in the category; else­ where, take your pick from a long list that numbers Lou Reed, Tom Petty, Willy de Ville and any number of Others whose commercial achievements don’t always match the amount ,of fascinated attention they receive in print. And though D ow ler’s achievements, either musically or in terms of lifestyle excess, hardly match those of such paradigms of the type aS ex-Box Tops and Big Star frontman Alex Chilton; (of whom J.D. happens to be a Gonfirmed admirer) there are certain muted parallels\ ap­ parent; the slashes, of colour contrasted with the long stretches where nothing much has happened, the misplaced energy and the burden of what may have seemed an eternity of cult status. John Dowler joined the circus about eight years ago when he was in Europe expanding his education in a time-honoured tradition. While in Amsterdam he met a pair of contemporaries with vaguely sim ilar musical tastes. One of them was a re­ served guitarist-singer and Dylanphile named Chris Langman, the other was Tony Murray. It was the era of the Roxy Music breakout and Lou Reed’s initial solo outbursts — “ Langman actually got to meet Reed in Amsterdam by getting drunk and bursting into his dres­ sing room . . . ” , and the three returned to Adelaide together, determined to form a band that wouldn’t be caught up in the cobwebs of post-hippie boogiedom. With the recruitm ent of guitarist Rob Kretchmar and a prickly, super-inventive drummer named Graeme Perry came Spare Change, a band glowing with a fitful, never quite realised glamour and promise. 26 Roadrufiner

“ Originally, we were just dong covers — Reed, Dylan, MC5, then Tony M urray wrote one song and then another, but it was a really slow process. It took us months to learn The Big Beat." The Big Beat was Tony Murray’s delicate anthem to the joys of dance pop,, one of those nagging songs that always de­ served to be a classic hit but has rem ained determ inedly obscure despite the recordings of it made by Spare Change, Parachute and Young Modern. It was the first flowering of Spare Change’s unique writing sensi­ bility and a self-awareness that encouraged the band to remove themselves to the big city. In the wake of the m inor revolution w rought by Skyhooks, M el­ bourne seemed like the place most likely to give them a ,hear­ ing, and the Carlton scene was gearing up for its period of maximum creativity. O utfits like the Bleeding Hearts and the Millionaires (with other Adelaide exiles like Martin Armiger and Steve Leeson in their lineups) were charting new paths for the neurotic art song with an energy that would have made them cause celebre's had they the fortune to be playing Max’s Kansas City rather than dives like the Kingston, but for Spare Change, the grass was hardly as green as it appeared. Spare C hange’s approach was hardly a common commod­ ity in A ustralia or any other locale in 1975, though their in­ novations have been shamefully ignored by the school of thought that holds the ramalama mental­ ity as being the only significant new music movement to appear locally in the middle years of the dead decade. The neglect may be understandable, given the endearing w im piness Dowler and cohorts displayed, and neither did they possess the tri­ bal paranoia necessary to with­ stand the indifference of a music industry which at the time was gripped in a reactionary suspi­ cion of any form ' of rock’n’roll innovation. Nevertheless, Spare Change did manage to prick up a few ears as they slogged around the pubs and signed with an alert independent label. Champagne Records, but before their prom­ ised album could be recorded internal strains were beginning to show. On stage, Dowler was playing the role of the foppish would-be star to the hilt and it was a stance that obviously an­ noyed his fellow musicians as much as it alienated some audi­ ences “ Halfway through recording the album I left the band. We’d been getting on each other’s nerves and there was a stupid incident — in Whyalla of all places — where I walked off stage early because I thought we’d finished the set. The others brooded over this, decided I was being a pain in the arse and was eventually asked to leave. Then they realised they couldn’t handle the vocals in the studio by themselves and I came back to record them, just reading lyrics off pieces of paper. Then that was it — no more Spare Change.” The album "Lonely S u its", was eventually released in 1979, too late to be anything more than a reminder of strange days. On the cover the band pose in

sepia tones, wearing their best outfits: dream images a long way from the reality of inner-city squalor and uncaring pub gigs. Musically, it was intermittently successful, hampered by an ec­ centric mix from producer Gil Matthews that placed the bands most potent asset, Graeme P erry’s drums, into the background. The song titles — Boulevard, Let’s Get Rich To­ gether, a cover of John Cales Ski Patrol, are attempted evoca­ tions of a high life fantasy. “That whole European thing was one of the reasons I don’t like my vocals on the alburn ^— I was never very good at singing with a plum in my m outh’’. Nevertheless, Dowler’s choirboy singing allied to the selfconscious lyrics, particularly on the four brilliant songs by Tony M urray that are the album ’s core, give the album a rococo atmosphere of pop artificiality that’s matched only, in a very different way, by the Boys Next Door’s “ Door Door” among Au­ stralian new age records. The rem nants of Spare Change found them selves

washed up on the inner Mel­ bourne circuit,, but carried on with a name change to Parachute with the recruitment of Rick Grossman from the now defunct Bleeding Hearts. “ I was really surprised when I saw them — they were a lot tighter and harder than Spare Change. Tony shifting from bass to keyboards really helped th em .. .. ” With a repertoire of Spare C hange’s greatest hits plus promising additions the superb Grossman-Perry rhythm section and plenty of am bition. Parachute deserved to make it big, but they were held back by both circumstance and the lack of a confident frontman/vocalist. It was a flaw accentuated by a tendency, as ,Bob Kretchm ar said, to “come on paranoid and wimpy with surburban aud i­ ences.” And in 1978, short hair and Patti Smith badges weren’t the kind of stylistic trademarks likely to endear a band to a musical establishm ent still relieved at avoiding the contamination of punk, while the tiny new wave

audience that sniffed contemp­ tuously at Two Way Garden and the Young Charlatans for being “ laid back” wasn’t about to sup­ port a band . playing Dylan obscurities and melodic songs about suburban neurosis. Parachute sank back into the dreaded status of being a musi­ cia n s’ band, and the interest displayed in them by Ross Wil­ son, who produced a trio of revamped Spare Change songs for them (two of which recently turned up on the recent Missing Link “ Melbourne Club” compila­ tion) wasn’t enough to stave off the inevitable break up. Perry, Grossman and Kretchmar joined Eric Gradman, Langman joined the first, fondly-rem em bered version of the Dots and Tony Murray, understandably d is il­ lusioned, retired from music completely. John Dowler, meanwhile, had also retreated, back to Adelaide and the formation of the first band for which he’d had total responsibility. Young Modern’s career has been well enough documented — the sleeve notes provided by num ber one fan


. . ■ ■ ..-v .M n n Modern

P ^ T etI c Algra

Stuart Coupe to the “ Play Fas­ ter” album are the bestplace to go for detail — but two years after the band’s breakup, Dowler can look back with some objec­ tivity on a brave attempt to bring pristine pop-rock to the masses. “The big mistake was proba­ bly going to Sydney and joining up with Dirty Pool management. In Adelaide I was managing the band — everything was under control, we were making plenty

of money, but in Sydney, be­ cause it was compulsory to have big PAs and light shows, we soon ran up an enormous debt.” “ No one in Sydney liked Young Modern, but because Dirty Pool had so much power we could work as much as we wanted.” I suggest to Dowler that Young Modern might have stood a better chance of survival had

they based themselves in Mel­ bourne rather than in the har­ bour city’s headbanging waste­ lands. “ I think it would have worked out better — we always had a much better reception here. It got to the point eventu­ ally that the only enjoyment we had in playing was when we came down to Melbourne — it would be like Christmas holi­ days. Young Modern just we­ ren’t loud or fast enough for Sydney. It was a bit ironic, though, because originally all the guys in the band were high school heavy metal m usos.— I had to get them to play impossi­ bly lightly before it sounded like pop at a ll. . . ” Once again, Dowler changed cities: this time, he went back to Melbourne. “ I’d got married, and the pressure was on me to get a steady job — plus the lifestyle w asn’t doing me any goo d.” Back in the spiritual home of Adelaide beat music emigres, however, the temptation to get another band together proved too strong. The result was Talk Show, an abortive reunion of Dowler, Langman and Kretchmar, supported by X-Ray-Z drumm er John W ilkinson and former Romantic Nick Seymour. With expectations running high, they played a debut gig at the Crystal Ballroom in front of a packed audience and fell flat on their faces. “The trouble with Talk Show was that there was too much hype before we started playing and we weren’t ready — we improved later, but the damage ws done. Then the rhythm section left — we re­ hearsed for a while with Graeme Perry on drums but nothing came of i t . . . ” Talk Show did do some re­ cording: four songs produced by Steve Cum m ings. (For ar­ chivists, they were the old Parachute favourite Leaning On My Car, F orbidden Street, Leaps And Bounds, and The Ballad Of Good And Evil — the

latter three being songs cur­ rently slated for the next Paul Kelly album.) “ We recorded them on some left over Jo Jo Zep studio time. I was totally drunk when I put on the vocals — they weren’t very good. There was talk of releas­ ing them on Au Go Go, but nothing’s happened so far.” The Talk Show episode did give Dowler a reborn taste for making music of a more sophis­ ticated nature than that he’d been playing with Young Mod­ ern and after a brief and unpro­ ductive liaison with the remnants of notorious Kiwi popsters Marching Girls, he decided to go it alone. In late 1980 he assembled a pick up band consisting of the perennial Graeme Perry, past and present Dots Paul Gatsby and Tim Brosnan and Tony Mur­ ray to record a couple of in­ sinuating pop songs. My Face and Catholic Girls. Subsequently he’s signed a production deal with Melbourne video maker Ron Brown, and he’s spent July and August recording a clutch of songs that include Chris Dyson’s Playboy and a number by Mel­ bourne writer Ron Grainger cal­ led Cul-De-Sac. Martin Armiger is producing, several major labels are displaying a healthy interest in the project and you could see a John Dowler album by early next year. M eanwhile, th e re ’s another project, a four piece band called Everybody’s So Glad, which in­ cludes guitarist Steve Pike (for­ merly of the Shots, who later became Au-Go-Go band AEIOU) who has been develop­ ing a promising writing partner­ ship with Dowler. “ I want to keep the band as a fun thing and not fall into any of the traps that brought down Ypung Modern. I’ll be keeping it separate from the recording.” “ This time around I’d really like to do it properly. Just to get a record on the charts. . . ”

One month later; Saturday afternoon at famous Carlton venue fallen on hard times. M artini’s, and outside the w eather is still dism al. The weekend before, Dowler had played a one-off reunion gig with Young Modern in Adelaide: another piece of the past laid to rest. Everybody’s So Glad hit hard and fast, driven by a muscular rhythm section and Steve Pike’s staccato power chording. This is obviously the grittie st band Dowler has ever sung with and his careful, drawling vocals sometimes seem to get slightly lost in the rush. There’s no doubt about the quality of the songs — they kick off with My Face and get better: there are tense pop dynamics on Normal Love and Give Me More, a suggestion of more complex emotion in the more atm ospheric My Widow. The one cover version, the obscure Yardbirds rocker, Little Games, is probably the most superfluous song of a short set, and even given the prevailing rough edges, there’s something excit­ ing going on here. What’s more, there’s a special kind of soul, a kind that hasn’t been heard in this town since Chris Worrall and Chris Dyson departed from the Dots and thq Saints took themselves back to Europe. It’s the kind of sound that has nothing to do with horn sections and screams, but rather with jangling guitars, a passion­ ate beat, allusions to something half forgotten. The audience is small, and fairly uninterested: few people in this town know who Everybody’s So Glad are, even fewer of them are here this afternoon. But by the end of the set a few people are dancing, and the world seems a slightly warmer place. John Dowler is back on stage doing what he does best, and maybe, for a while, th a t’s enough . . .

SINGLES GOING STEADY

The Singles are a band I have always rated as highly likely to make it big. Of course, justice is rarely done and I’ve waited in vain. As far less talented bands, with vastly inferior songs, have climbed towards the top rungs of Syd­ ney’s rock hierarchy, the Singles have remained lan­ guishing in the doldrum s, playing that first spot at Selinas or the G overnors Pleasure, just as they did last year. And I’d say this state of affairs exists through very little fault of their own. In fact I find them one of the most charming pop groups around. They tread that same general trail forged so admirably by the Buzzcocks and the Underto­ nes, and though they haven’t quite scaled those dizzy heights of popdom there is every suggestion their best moments are still ahead of them. The Singles are young, and

despite the slow progress, ex­ tremely enthusiastic. In Andrew Campbell they have a very fine song writer: he writes his songs like a primitive artist paints a picture, all naive and innocent. The songs are inhabited by characters from broken homes, children whose fathers have died, boyfriends whose girlfriends have left them lonely and despairing. And he approaches his picture painting in song with a passion. “ A lot of what I write is fantasy. I’ll put myself in the position of someone. And if I want to write a song about something that hasn’t happened to me, I just sit down and pretend it has.” And to complete the picture, Andrew is possessed of a fine sense of melody. Campbell has always written pop songs, even in the beginning when he played in a band called the Broken Toys. They sprang from the old Grand Hotel scene circa 1977/78 at a time when punk ruled O.K. and pop was very uncool. That put them very much out on a limb, but when the Broken Toys split, the Singles kept up the

tradition. In their first incarnation, the Singles featured Andrew on guitar and vocals, Tony Cook on drums, Jeff Smith on lead guitar and Rod Brunei on bass. Earlier this year. Rod and Jeff left, to be replaced by Steve Thompson on lead guitar and Andy Richards on bass. The split obviously sucked a lot of the energy out of the group and only now are they beginning to hit their straps again. Says Andrew: “ I’m really enjoying playing live this time around with the Singles. I feel the band is a lot stronger as a unit, as well as the music being a lot stronger. The band is working a lot better now because we have four members all wanting the same thing, whereas before there were only two.” But they still have that charac­ teristic Singles effect of seemingly imploding rather than exploding when they get on stage. In a way, it goes with their innocence and naivety. It seems natural that they look more to themselves than the audience. I find it a most endear­ ing feature. I’m quite sure their

loyal one or two hundred fans do also. But that very fact could be standing in the way of further advancement. Andrew is hardly in the mould of those “ Yeah alright, are you having a good time, right, get down” type of front man. But a bit more audience/band contact could help make the Singles a little more accessible. “ People often say that to us and we are really thinking a lot more about presen­ tation these days.” And that seems true. You can definitely sense the growing con­ fidence the band has in them­ selves. It’s become more obvious in their last three or four gigs and th a t’s a good sign. Steve Thompson nandles lead guitar more than adequately, and as Andrew is playing less guitar these days than he used to, I suggested he may put it down altogether and concentrate more on being a frontman. “ I could never put down my guitar. It’s like my security blan­ ket.” And what of maybe adding another member, keyboards for instance. “ No, the only time we’d use another instrument would be if

one of the band members played. I could play keyboards or some­ thing and still sing.” 1 think they are pretty deter­ mined to keep things minimal. As far as recording goes, they play virtually live in the studio. They want to make sure they can play live, how their records sound at home. To date they’ve put out two records “Love of Loves” and “Someone That I Knew” and whilst both were neat little pop records, neither captured the charm and subtleties and under stated power of their live perfor­ mances. I hope they get back in a studio soon because there is a definite progression evident in their newer songs. The innocence and naivety is still there, but the suggestion is there that the songs are getting heavier. Says Andrew, “A lot of the innocence perhaps was due to my age at the time I wrote those songs. Now I’m prob­ ably thinking a lot more about what I write. Now 'maybe I’m growing up in the world.” Go and see the Singles fast and grow up with them.

Scott Matheson Roadrunner 27


y So

Hi-teck wankish whizzkidry gives me the runny resistors. I’m tired of seeing quarter-w itted salesmen selling instrum ents and ideas, constructed by half­ witted company techn i­ cians, to a captive market of desperate artists and gullible ‘would-be’s’. This whole business is a lot sim­ pler than we make it! Like, making music CAN be fun, and technology can be open and well used. It’s just a matter of bypassing preten­ tions and throwing our ideas around, getting the info, ac­ ross the marketing gap. Therefore, this column WON’T be an International Musician in-depth spec, sheet, nor will we have any of this ‘Ooh-Aah-lt’s-a-newtoy- for- the- rich- kid s’ crapola. I’m relying on you, the garden variety RR read­ ers, to lend a hand with extra info, and ideas to supple­ ment my loose-knit obser­ vations. Whilst strolling thru the latest attempt at a ‘new products’ presentation, laughingly refer­ red to as the Melbourne Music Exhibition, it struck me how inefficiently most ‘producers’ and ‘distributors’ operate (even in their own terms), leaving the ‘consum er’ bluffed, conned and badly educated. Don’t these clods realise that if they got their shit together and took more notice of what we need, more ‘units’ would change hands and better use would be made of the rampant techno cracy it seems we’re stuck with. As usual, it comes down to a problem of MONEY — to get as much for as little as possible and to have the financial/ musical context to put it to maximum use. Brian Eno talks low-tech sense when urging synth. users (or indeed any instrumentalist in the ‘rock/ pop’ arena) to experiment more with how sounds are treated after their initial production. Graphic equalizers, echo/ 1 reverb devices, chorus/ flanging effects and distortion units should be obvious stock-in-trade, not considered frilly extras. Using this

28

Roadrunner

rationale, for a minimal budget, one can generate a veritable host of useful noises. The sm allest electronic sound source of much value that I’ve come across lately is Casio’s VL-Tone, a calculator/ single-note synth. hybrid, for $89. Thrown into a reasonable analogue echo (Ibanez or Boss), after being pushed thru a small graphic equalizer (e.g. Boss — noisy but bearable), the VL-Tone can afford an array of fun sound-shapes unbelied by its diminutive appearance. This odd little creature is a cream plastic unit about the size of three cigarette packets, with a liquid-crystal display screen, and an assortment of touch switches, compressing a large number of functions into minimum space. Small black and white lumps pretending to be keyboard keys double as digits and functions for the calculator section, while the calculator’s memory also oper­ ates as storage space for the most variable of the ‘syn­ thesizer’ sounds. And marvel of marvels, this little dude also incorporates a sequencer cap­ able of remembering 100 notes (and their lengths) and a drum machine that attempts a useful snare’ sound, but also in­ cludes a frustratingly highpitched bip-bop (attempting to be bongos). As is often the tendency when companies are testing a new market with a new idea, Casio have ventured in with what is initially a toy or novelty. This particular toy has an odd set of limitations, befitting its hybrid nature. The actual tones are quite good, especially if the output is fed into a decent amp., but the drum machine is too tonally ‘cute’ for use in any ‘serious’ context. You’ll also run into problems trying to get the sequencer and drums to stay in time, as you can’t directly start and stop the melody with the drum beat. This makes each of the 3 repeat cycles slightly more ‘out of sync’ — a problem that’ll no doubt be rectified when Casio bring out their first proper synthesizer. But back to the Exhibition. As much as I am still a great fan of Korg’s MS-10 synth (the best snorty bass sound

around), and the versatile but monophonic MS-20, the ancient attitudes and weak demonstra­ tion techniques employed by Korg representatives were em­ barrassing in the extreme (if I’d wanted groovy old Wakeman licks I would have thrown up on his last album). It was enough to send any discerning synthesist (beginner or otherwise) scurrying for the Roland booth where one was at least bom­ barded by a rich wall of wellused devices. Korg’s latest attempts to enter the ‘over-2-grand-blgpolyphonic-machine’ market also failed miserably when put up against the programmable versatility or Roland’s JP8, the Prophet 5 and the Oberheim OB-Xa. While dwelling on dis­ appointments, the monolithic Fairlight “ Computer Musical Instrument’’ came out looking a bit too complex for its own good. Making a machine capable of turning Kim Wilde into a washing machine (or vice versa) doesn’t necessarily sec­ ure its place in the Hall of Fame. It does nothing for rock’n’roll that a host of other less expen­ sive instruments can’t do (less expensive than $25,000 excludes very few pos­ sibilities.) At the other end of the scale Casio again make their pre­ sence felt. Every musician or dilettante dabbler with $180 to spare should invest in some­ thing like the MT-30, an 8-note polyphonic keyboard; 22 tones, good sustain and vibrato ef­ fects, and overall, a midget that makes many Roland ‘organ’ attempts redundant. At $600, the slightly more versatile 201 or 202 is worth checking out (full size keyboard, 50 basic sounds), but is not quite the direct value for money as Its little sister. An extremely important piece of information concerning the MT-30 (and the even smaller MT-10) is that these cheap ICpowered machines can be eas­ ily modified. These improve­ ments have been pioneered in Australia by Rob Whittle (c/o 42 Yeneda St., North Balwyn) and the necessary details are avail­ able on request. Possible mod­ ifications include; a 2-octave drop switch, tonal variations, envelope controls and even more adventurous modulations

possibilities. Obviously I’m sold on the little buggers but don’t let my bias deter your curiosity. On the next floor up (moneywjse) the Moog and Sequential Circuits people have at last screwed their brains on the right way and come up with new products that are sensibly priced, well designed and also fun to use (an essential point missed by most technocrats). The unit of most immediate interest is Moog’s ‘Liberation’, giving keyboard manipulators mobility and sensitive control formerly reserved for pluckers of 4 and 6-stringed things. Yes kiddies, this is the marvellous device used by our beloved Devo in recent film clips. It’s as easy to use as a guitar, but not tied to any guitarish limitations/imitations. The Liberation is, at the same time, a monophonic and simple polyphonic synth. The real fun begins in the control section. Your left hand is given 3 small rollers to vary filtering, LFO modulation, and the extent of keyboard ‘force’ effect. Further up the neck is a useful glide strip and a couple of switches for automatic glide and ‘force’ (off/on). All in all, enough goodies to keep mind and fin­ gers moving in no mean fash­ ion. The other mentionables in this under-$2000 range are Moog’s fully program m able ‘Source’ ($1700) and the ‘ProOne’, little brother to Sequential Circuits’ legendary Prophet 5, both of which will have to wait until next issue. For extra info on any devices mentioned ear­ lier, contact: ORBITAL MUSIC, 503 Pittwater Rd., Brookvale, N.S.W. 2100 (Moog, Seq. Circ., & Ober.) DYNASOUND, Swanston St., Melbourne 3000 (Korg, Ro­ land, Moog, Seq. Circ., & Ober.) REGENT MUSIC, Grenfell St., Adelaide 5000 (Roland, Moog, Seq. Circ.) TREDREA MUSIC EXCHANGE, Gouger St., Adelaide 5000 (Korg, Moog)

(Special thanx to Specialty Enterp. (Adel.) for the loan of the VL-Tone).


m

question this begs. This isn’t their best effort,

New Age Steppers: My Love (Statik being a bit low on attack, but its got a chorus 12")

One step outside normalacy that’s for sure — reggae/funk mixture (heavy brew) vocals veering on and off key (or maybe it’s the music . . . this is . . . disorientating.) Super dub-break is something to hold on to before the slabs come crashing back against each other — a big sound all around. Impressively esoteric.

ES E.P.’s, Mini-L.P.’s Maxi-singles and other Non-conformists. The Jumpers: Galimatias Amoureux E.P. (Polymorphous) It gradually dawns on one that there are NO guitars on this E.P. And what’s more, it doesn’t matter. Bass and drums interlock efficiently and there’s enough colour and shade in keyboards sax and vocals to give the Jumpers a lean but wholesome sound. The music is ska/reggae based, lively on ‘Everytime I look At You’, written by bass player Michael Hope and Good lyrics admir­ ably sung by a slightly breathless Cathy Tune. A good catchy song, well arranged, catchy melody — all the ingredients iri fact of a commercial success. That’s not all either — Me No Send’ leans the chunky side of bouncy — the underproduction gives it a loose sparse feel that is not at all unpleasant. There’s a throaty, almost bluesy touch to Cathy Tune’s self-penned ‘Anytime’ — the music muted in the background. The music is at its most skeletal on ‘Girl and Toy’, a love song of sorts courtesy of keyboardist Jim Bowden. Effective and affecting. This is no pale pastiche; the Jumpers have moulded their influences marvellously.

The Jam: 4 Side Effects E.P. (Polydor) Very definitely a collectable item this one. Three bona-fide classics Eton Rifles’, ‘Going Underground’ and ‘That’s Entertainment’ (one of the ten best songs ever written by ANYONE) and one near-miss in ‘Start’. The perfect introduction to the Jam for those with modest budgets. Watch out though — you’ll get addicted!

The Dance: In Lust (Statik 12") With a name like th a t. .,. yup, beefy bass beat, filling funky fingerpoppin’ feel. Street­ wise jive, so hot it hurts. Git down and you’ll be with it. Ah, New York, New York.

you could hang a large hat on and might just wriggle onto the airwaves. If it does — watch it go.

Serious Young Insects: Trouble Un­ derstanding Words (Native Tongue)

Serious Young Insects seem to be unable to make up their mind whether they want to sound like the Jam or the Cure. They fall somewhere uncomfortably in the middle. Still Normal Seven Inchers give ’em time — they’ve got 3 million years of Kid Creole and the Coconuts: Me No evolution to go through to catch up with the I Pop I (Ze) rest of us (tee hee). August Darnell makes it quite clear on this, the Coconuts Australian vinyl debut, that you ‘will hear him out!’ And the pleasure is all ours Rockers Time in this steaming slice of salsa. KC & the C’s UB40: Don’t Slow Down (Dep) UB40 plough the deepest groove of I are Latin; they’re Caribbean, they’re New York street; they’re 30’s potted palms; they’re anyone in reggae. Deep and straight and hot’n’humid, slick’n’sassy. Tropical beat, smooth. They have a sound of their own and this is a song with that sound. Sounds good oiled and supple. Darnell’s imagery is as colorful as his to me. shirts. Rapping street warrior style slides, in the most sinuous manner imaginable, into a Third World: Dancing On The Floor high incomparably sweet chorus, and then (C.B.S.) back to the tale. A disco/reggae hybrid which sounds as Boy, this single is so good. I LOVE it! slick as souless as most black American LIT T L E M U R D E R S music used to be. Soft and flabby.

Eddy Grant: Can’t Get Enough (Ice) Smooth again, but avoiding the trap of slushiness but by virtue of a tight arrange­ ment and the compelling delivery of Grant. A mover rather than a groover, but no raver. Clever...and catchy too.

Sirens

Lyrics and vocals are the stand out on this debut single for all female Adelaide Band Foreign Body. Natasha Koodravsev wrote and sings this innocuous sounding song, but there’s real bite in her tale of Hetero-love gone oh-so-wrong.

Kate Bush: Sat In Your Lap (EMI) Kate verges on Nina ‘Histrionics Unlimited’ Hagen territory on this one. It’s got modern ‘Tribal’ drums and is generally wild and uncontained and not at all mannered. A step ahead for Ms. Bush.

Pat Benatar: Fire and Ice (Chrysalis) Ms Benatar rocks out in the time-honoured tradition. Nothing particularly wrong (or strong) about the song, but it’s her perfor­ mance that makes this a cut above the norm. Controlled power (vocal) chords and a hint of darker passion than the lyrics explain. Immaculate.

Back to Basics Ruts D.C.: Dangerous Minds: (Virgin) Far from it.

Angelic Upstarts: Never Come Back (EMI) It won’t be too long.

Motorhead: Over The Top (Bronze) Faintly invigorating in very small doses.

Belle du Soir: E.P. (M squared) Garage - art.

The Professionals: Join The Professions (Virgin) Don’t make me larf!

Mother Goose: I Can’t Sing Very Weil i (Parole) Elton John goes cabaret.

Little Heroes: Last Number One (Giant) Little Murders: ‘She Lets Me Know’ (Au-Go-Go) Little Murders, on the other hand, have no doubts at all about who they want to sound like! Glorious sixties Pop! Hard drivin’! Guitars! Whoa — whoa choruses! Shit, with the Sunny Boys in Sydney and the Dagoes in Adelaide, and now these chaps from Mel­ bourne, there’s a bloody full scale pop renaissance happening right under our very noses! And about time too is all I can say. Excellent single.

Foreign Body: Gang Land (Good Bunch)

A song of delicate poise. Set against an ethereal, alien atmosphere — after the holocaust the first thing you will notice is the siience. It’s an oblique angle from which to view the end of civilization, but a novel and dreadfully intriguing one. The edge to which w e’re hurtling where suddenly the last number one in the world has lost all its meaning — along with everything else. A minor classic of the S.F. rock genre.

Donald Robertson.

Dagoes: ‘Ten Years On’ (Phantom) And talking of the greasy ones, if you weren’t one of the Chosen Few who man­ aged to snap up the double E.P., ‘It’s You’, then this is your consolation prize. Damn fine it is too, and worth every penny. Imagine — owning a piece of living history!

Allfliters The B-52’s: Mini-L.P.)

‘Party

Mix’ (WEA

Funny, I thought all the B-52’s songs were perfect for parties already. But obviously not — an update of history was obviously in order. The ‘cute’ vocalizations are intact but everything else has had a bagful of elec­ tronics thrown at it. ‘Party Out Of Bounds’ and ‘Private Idaho’ are given fairly hefty injections of funkability, but side one closer ‘Give Me Back My Man’ is a trifle on the tedious side. ‘Lava’ is tough and taut and treated. ‘Dance This Mess Around’ is bony and verging on the desperate while ‘52 Girls’ seems almost un­ changed. One for M arxist dancers everywhere.

Allniters: Made A Monkey/ Allniters are Allniters/ ‘Round the Bend (Green) Ska, if you hadn’t heard. There’s some­ thing boring about the B side but ‘Made A Monkey’ is hard and driving — relentless in its attack (Sydney ska? Well, yes!) and the theme song is sloppy as all good theme songs should be. ‘Made A Monkey’ is just beaut though. Have a listen.

The Undertones: ‘It’s Going To Happen’ (E.M.I.)

How come it hasn’t happened before here for these high flying Irish pop masters? is the 29


garf Willoughby, pic. Eric Algra.

Thoughts On The First Australians The other week I saw No Fixed Address for the first time. If all things were good and just, they would surely be the most popular band in Au­ stralia. To my mind, they are. already the best. So what are their chances (given they are neither footballers nor tennis players) of achieving the suc­ cess they deserve? Consider the racism which is the very pillar of Australian society and make up your own mind. Forget the fact that this a band of four Aborigines and what you’ve got is a group with immense talent. Superb sin­ gers and musicians, great song writers with a stunning sense of melody and a sound, a hybrid reggae, perhaps more a bluesy/ska, all making for some of the most danceable music you would ever be likely to hear. Against a background of 200 years of repression, as bad as any native people have suffered under any colonial power, the whole thing assumes almost epic prop­ ortions. I find them both inspiring and tragic at the same time. And what makes them inspiring - the fact they continue to struggle against seemingly insurmounta­ ble odds, (police harassment, agency and venue reluctance, perhaps downright bigotry) also makes them tragic. I was left thinking, why should they ever have to sing about fighting for their rights in the first place? How can

Australia possibly go on denying the first Australians their Nation­ hood? t think it is quite significant to view No Fixed Address against a background of current events. The controversy rages in New Zealand over the Springbok rugby tour. It rages at home over landrights in Queensland. The North­ ern Territory Government wants to introduce legislation aimed at jailing people for 6 months when they’ve been convicted 3 times for drunkeness in a public place. If that doesn’t sound racist in itself, consider the whites drinking in their white pubs and the blacks who aren’t allowed alcohol on their reserves. You soon realize they’ve not much choice but to drink in the park across the road from the bottle shop. And while our great white leader heralds himself abroad as the hero of black Africa, our own back yard sinks to new levels of squalor. Consider these facts. The infant mortality rate amongst Aborigines is three tim es that amongst whites. Prevalence of trachoma, leading eventually to blindness, is fifteen times greater in blacks than whites and in areas of the North­ ern Territory and Western Au­ stralia, 77% are affected. Leprosy amongst Aborigines in the Pilbara and the Kimberleys is the worst in the world. Syphilis is up to 27 cases per 1000 compared with 2 per 1000 for white Australians. And don’t forget Aborigines sur­ vived a healthy 40,000 years in Australia before Europeans ar­ rived armed with a veritable pan­ theon of diseases.

Sydney band Tactics are a rare example of a band singing with com passion and intelligence about our national guilt. I quote from their song “ Buried Country’’. “ Memories of baited flour from the small bush birds fly up carried away by the sacred hour. ’’ At Roma in Queensland late last century, almost the entire Aboriginal population was wiped out with poison flour. Echoes of more recent times and our own poison king from Alice Springs. It is almost hilarious that Roma, with such a history of harmonious black/white relations, should pro­ vide Queensland with its Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs.

His name is Ken Tomkins and he is an avid racehorse owner, mil­ lionaire grazier and National Party member for Roma. He has all the qualities I admire in a man. He was also responsible for an­ nouncing Queensland’s new deal for Aborigines - 50 year leases. Farmers would only just be happy with a fifty year lease. This is a nation of people we are talking about. What follows is Mr Tomkin’s reasoning on the subject. “ 1 just say I’m not satisfied at this point in time that Aborigines can handle these mortgage documents, mainly because it is only a document and it could be worth $2000 and you have to pay off a certain amount each year. I

don’t know how the Aborigines would handle that. In 50 years, on evolution, they could be quite a different proposition from what they are today.” Good old Ken claims he is not a racist. Perhaps he is just a fool. Those are only a few of the facts. See No Fixed Address and get the full story. They play re­ ggae, true, but for them there is no Jah, there is no vision of deliver­ ance to Ethiopia. This is home and their Babylon is all around them. That gives their music a desperate edge and when their drummer takes up and plays a didgeridoo against that tough electric back beat, you’ll be left drained.

SCOTT MATHESON

. _ ^ ••^•v*%**v**.**. •

• • • • • • • • A®

The Cure Festival Hall Brisbane August in Brisbane traditionally sees the annual exhibition (I think it takes place over Easter in Sydney) which for students like myself means ten days work for a return of about six hundred dollars. A welcome deposit to a rapidly descending bank balance. Now, for what seems to have become another annual event in August, The Cure venture 12 thousand miles from their home (south east of London in the Surrey coun­ tryside) to perform a string of shows in the antipodes. L^st year’s shows were more than satisfactory and as such I was keen to see the return of the band that has been so influential in this country. The tour this time round was on a slightly grander scale (complete with psychedelic light show that would have cost a pretty penny I’m sure), and in what must have been an unprecedented (in this country at least) move was accom­ panied by a movie — The Cure’s own piece of self-indulgence entitled Carnage Visors. Although my employment at the Exhibition prevented me from seeing the movie, friends, who were fortunate enough to have arrived on time, were far from impressed.

30

Roadrunner

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As we parked the car a block or so away from the hall we could hear the band just starting up. It had just turned 9 o’clock. As we thankfully picked up the tickets that the promoter had kindly left at the adjoining booking office the first song was grinding to a halt. Although I didn’t recognise the song it sounded familiar, but then so many of The Cure’s songs do. Our seats were superb. Up in the gallery with a birds-eye view of the proceedings. After standing up all day at work I wasn’t all that keen on jumping around with the mob down the front. Bliss. Although I had played it frequently before the 1980 tour, the appeal of the Seventeen Seconds album only really dawned on me some three months later. . . so it was on this tour that the songs from that album were firmly locked in my subconscious. I was only hoping that they hadn’t abandoned the bulk of that material and replaced it with the newer songs from Faith. I wasn’t to be disappointed. The catchy guitar intro of “In Your House’’ sparked immediate response, and Indicated that the majority of the audience (like me) were familiar with Seventeen Seconds. As the band worked through the song the audience seemed to be content to sit back and be overwhelmed by Robert Smith’s gloomy obsession. In my mind the song sometimes missed Matthieu Hartley’s taste­

ful keyboard playing of last year. Neverthe­ less it worked well. “At Night” , the song that took the ‘Most Improved’ award of 1981 was also Simon Gallup’s chance to shine. The recording on Seventeen Seconds surely left a lot to be desired, but Gallup alternating between bass and keyboards gave the song a new lease of life. What would be a Cure show without gems like “Fire in Cairo” or “ Grinding Halt” ? Or “ 10.15 Saturday Night” for that matter? The latter was magnanamously received and I must say it was good. The arrangement of “ Fire in Cairo” was much the same as last years, but even more up temp if that’s possible. I still prefer the original, but it was a nice gesture anyway. Most people, and I suppose I would include myself, seemed to be quietly disappointed by the new songs lifted from Faith that have Robert Smith moving over to keyboards. The notable exception was on ‘Primary’ where he p l^ e d an old Fender twelve string guitar. Sitting back in the well worn Festival Hall seats, the implications of the 1980 hit single, of being “ lost in A FQREST” , suddenly began to dawn on my cranial recesses. After working for a week with 150,000 people all madly rushing in as many directions one does tend to get that “ lost” feeling.

The concert concluded but it wasn’t without low points. The indulgences of a re-arranged “ Jum ping Someone Elses Train” were only just excusable, but more of the same in the sequel “Another Journey by Train” (the encore designed to stop people calling for more) wasn’t. The most enlightening aspect of the material covered from Faith was its relation­ ship with the earlier songs. There are, at present, three quite distinct periods in the Cure history, and although I prefer the pre-Faith Cure, it would be wrong to suggest that the newer material is not of any significance. In essence, the depressive themes that haunt Faith are no different to those on Seventeen Seconds. Maybe they are a little more advanced, but where the difference lies is in the beat. While Seven­ teen Seconds was inherently quiet by com­ parison with “3 Imaginary Boys” underneath it was a catchy, danceable melody that is sadly missing on Faith. This was borne out in no uncertain terms in the concert setting. Sure, the new material allowed for a well paced set of quick, medium and slow numbers, but where do we go from here? Maybe another suicide . . .

David Pestorius


John Cale Vic Godard & Subway Sect Modern English The Lyceum, London. Taking advantage of the fact that he’s got an excellent new album out on A&M (Honi S o it... ) and that he hadn’t played in the capital for yonks, John Cale easily filled the Lyceum to capacity with old fans, the curious, and the odd J.J. Cale fan, no doubt. We arrived in time to catch the last bit of Modern English’s set — which was monotonous and drab and nervy and all that sort of thing (great name, though), then settled down as Vic Goddard & The Sub­ way Sect came on. Vic himself was a cool-looking Dude, almost the illegitimate result of a union between Bobby Darren and Al Bowlly, singing deadpan versions of “All The Things You Are” or “I Got Rhythm”, or occasionally in­ dulging in a bit of what used to be called “jump” music forty years ago (the precursor on the negro side to rhythm & blues). He and his band were vastly entertaining, striking every pose in the book and generally convincing the crowd that even a bossa-nova could have a bit of bite under the right circumstances. By the time they finished I was sincerely glad to have seen them. One can’t say that about supports at major con­ certs too often, can one? Ok, now for the big stuff. After the usual courteous interval of two and a half days, the lights dim­ med, Gale’s band came onstage and proceeded to rock the shit out of an old tw elve-bar form ula. Everybody was looking for Cale. He wasn’t ready to spring the trap yet. The band cooked, then a fig­ ure in all-black bounded out ac­ ross the stage playing bass guitar, turned, and began singing into the mike. You still couldn’t see his face, because that was com ­ pletely swathed in black with two little holes for the eyes and one for the mouth. Added to that was an old green tennis eye-shade. One up to John Cale. Yes, is really was

quite breathtaking: and then you realised he was singing “ Walkin’ The Dog” , playing bass too, and the whole thing became almost overwhelming. After the guitarist’s solo and a return vocal chorus, Cale decided to up the ante once again and, leaving the regular ■bassist to hold down the pounding rhythm, stepped up for a solo, holding and twisting notes, getting the thing howling and throbbing. If it wasn’t for the four strings on the neck. . .but really, the whole thing was extraordinary, verging on the outrageous. After all, just consider in your mind’s eye for a moment a hooded black figure with white eyes staring and mouth pouting, playing a wild bass solo up front of guitarists, sax, keyboards, all on “ Walking The Dog” , of all things. Anyway, enough of that for the moment: the band bludgeoned their way through the second and into the third song before 1 knew what the hell was going on after that intro, and Cale was singing “ What You Gonna Do” and it seemed so appropriate at that moment in time, the crowd around me wondering what the fuck to do because this was so powerful, compact and monolithic; what had happened to nice Mr Cale of Helen of Troy and all that sort of old toss, when really he’d been like this all the time and didn’t any­ body remember “ Gun” or “ Chic­ ken Shit” or well, what the hell was going on anyway who cares, this is the sort of noise you could get lost in forever. That was what the first three numbers came over like. And the fourth was a beauti­ ful, complex ballad, with Cale seated at an electric piano after ripping off his balaclava. With the band in a hush behind him, that voice rang out clear and plaintive through the auditorium, and sent shivers through you. It was “Hedda Gabbler” . That song got missed a little bit when it first came out, on the Animal Justice E.P. but there was no way it could’ve got missed at this concert. Heartened by all this rushing success, Cale tore off into some more heavy material, this time with the Americal backing band coming progressively more to the fore. And that was the point where

some of the gloss started to wear off a little, which was a pity, really. Cale was giving more time and song-space to the lead guitarist, •who could play very well, and scream along with the best of them, but who basically was just another hot guitarist playing scream ing solos, yo u ’d hear somewhere before more than once. Not one of them reached the point of excitement Cale himself had effortlessly opened up with the first mumber. All it did was make everything incredibly loud. Cale decided to wind 'up the concert in a rather quaint way, as­ sociated more with swing bands than rock & roll, and that was by playing a medley of songs (hardly hits) from all over the place in his career. It didn’t really work, as, I mean, what’s the point in playing “ Pablo Picasso” if the crowd can’t hear a single work of the vocals? And so we followed the band through it all and up to the end, feeling curiously detached. Wanting to believe in it all but not f quite being able to. Then it was encore time and we all went mad, and Cale played' Ready For War off the “ Sabotage Live L P and everything sounded brutal and manic and you were glad you were there again. But that ended and another encore started up. just as brutal and just as full of cliche’d guitar violence and it was time to leave At least, that s how I saw it and I m only reviewing this concert, so who cares'^ All I can say is that I love the man s music. I enjoyed parts of this gig like crazy, but it could ve been so marvell­ ous. . .

Keith Shadwick

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PERTH: POST MELTDOWN Winter really controls per­ sonal mood doesn’t it? Here in Perth it has rained for the last 40 days and nights — could it be somebody’s trying to tell us something? Perhaps the Lord is so pissed off by the “ scene” in Perth that He’s repaying us in kind? I don’t think things have been this bad for ages. Apart from the usual political blues (employment, prices, union/m anagem ent squab­ bles and silly politicians) the temperature and rain, there is a real dearth of things to do here at the moment. Good bands are in miserable supply. Venues which feature these bands leave (generally) a lot to be desired. People are so bored that they are turning to fashion to enliven their pathetic lives with the result that there is an abundance of people sticking together and comparing clothes and “ Fashion accessories” . AHH! Isn’t it great to see all of these tribes round the place? The answer to that rhetori­ cal question is emphatically NO! Just another example of how people are manipulated by media. It is summer in . London at the moment and the poms are getting into “ mutant disco” , and various degrees of tribal funk cum tropical disco cum free jazz. In fact some of the albums coming out on import from this area of music are quite reasonalbe — Contortions Lydia Lunch, Lounge Lizards, Defunkt, Kid Creole, ESG — notice anything about all these bands? Yep, they’re all American. And don’t the Poms just love it! However, when this is transposed onto Australian culture the results are a bit ridiculous. It’s just a little cold to be wearing safari khakis, pith helmets and leopard skin bathers with optional “ warrior” warpaint, and feathers, shells, teeth (probably collected from the last Quick and the Dead gig) etc. I The Manikins latest line-up is [based on the idea that “ Fashion Fades but Style is Eternal” . Ad­ mirable sentiments, but when it is realised that it is the new Manikins that are saying it, the idea is

frankly laughable. The Manikins are Perth’s Village People in the way they have changed their image in order to “ progress” . The only difference is that they have changed the sound of their music as well as their clothes, attitude and songs. Ithinktheideathatyou don’t necessarily change image to progress was proved by the legenday Scientists, and is upheld by Perth’s best band (currently), the Triffids. The increase in the Manikins popularity has been out of sight, but old fogeys like me who remember what this band used to sound like are all disap­ pointed in them . Another old favourite and Perth’s answer to the Heartbreakers (Thunders not Petty), the smack/junky Rockets, have changed little in terms of song content, but I can’t bear listening OR dancing to them anymore. Perhaps it’s the John Lydon in me that rejects this form of “ Rack’n’Rawl” ; of the mid­ seventies variety that is, but I can’t stand th eir blatant pro fes­ sionalism and their perpetuation of the rock’n’roll star myth. It costs too much to see these bands these days; I don’t think that they’re worth it and they show their contempt for their audience by playing much too loud. Try telling that to a roadie or mixer or “full-on fan” though. They just laugh and make you wonder about your own sanity. Fools, fools! The Plants, their legitim ate heirs, Confessions and Stray Tapes and their Uni student/blitz kid/art school fans are very scarce. The Neutrons play quirky music that is interesting for about ten minutes but gets progressively more rock’n’roll and tiring during their set. Devo meets the Reels, wears silly costum es and make-up and gets laughed at. Might as well go to the circus. Speaking of the Reels, they were a real (ha ha) disappoint­ ment the other night at Adrians, Perth’s “ it’s OK, you’re cool” night club. After giving a lecture on the evils of capitalism and boring old rock’n’roll on 6UVS FM on Mon­ day night, Dave Mason was

sneering and contemptuous on Thursday night. With prompting, he responded to Johnnie Langdon’s heckling by telling him he looked just like 1977. Mr Mason himself had his hair tied up in a bun, sang half-heartedly and couldn’t wait to get offstage after only one miserable bracket. Some people danced and had a good time, but most felt decidedly rip­ ped off. “ Rock’n’roll? Whew!” Other bands in Perth are the Bop-Cats, who play, guess what, rockabilly. Despite Stray Cat, Pole-Cat, Shakin’ Stevens and Shakin’ Pyramid comparisons, this band is pretty entertaining. The Modern Wimps are also quite good despite their skinhead audi­ ence. When are these guys and their school mates, the Mods going to stop any chance Perth has of seeing overseas bands? (Most recent example — The Cure cancellation in the wake of a fiasco at a Jon English perfor­ mance. JON ENGLISH!! The mind boggles at the thought of a Clash concert) With any luck, their tape which contains the brilliant “ Sex and War” song, will be made into a single. This will join the Quick and the Dead’s “Another Violent Night” and the Victims’ “ Television Addict” and “ Disco Junkies” as music to commit suicide by. If only some of the Skins and Mods would . . . Hopefully the proposed union between ex Modern Wimps and Scientist members in the Eastern States will come to something. We have only ourselves to blame if it does, and these bands never see Perth again. That’s about all there is to report on here for the moment. I’ll just finish by saying I like the Fire Engines’ “ Candy Skin” and Orange Juice’s “Simply Thrilled Honey” as British singles If you’re ever in Perth and are bored at about 1.00 am on a Sunday morning, go to the Flight Lounge coffee shop and watch the blitz kids, rockabillies, skins, mods, punks, neu people and other slime hassling the Orange Person Owner for service. It pas ses the time . . .

C. C. Mitchell

TWO STAGES • OVER 40 BANDS & ACTS • OVERSEAS ARTISTS • WHOLESOME FOODS ENTERTAINMENT • CAMPING • RIVER SWIMMING • HANDCRAFT : r iv e r w o q d Fhadtuiihtfir'

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Yukihiro Takahashi, Harry Hosano and Ryvichi Sakamoto: YMO.

Yellow Magic Orchestra ‘BGM’ (Festival) Don’t take this exotic creature as a ‘Pop’ album, even th o ’ the trappings hang in decep­ tive obviousness. Don’t expect these loopy Nippon-type persons to jump thru your particular hoop or hang to a simple

set of linear motives. The sooner we accept mod­ ern Japanese culture as being inherently (yet conservatively) ‘synthe­ tic’, the better we’ll be able to understand our own tangled mess. With this in mind, “ BGM” may not be a monstrously popular offering, but its position as a bridge over culture gaps should not be passed over lightly. You may intersect that there are always culture

gaps and why should they be more important in this particular case? A ‘deep’ philosophical question. Simply put, our two major lifestyle ‘problems in at­ titu d e ’ surface thru ‘technology’ (and its maintainance) and ‘self-image’. As one could easily glean from any light-w eight tourist/instant sociology ex­ pert, the Japanese have ‘solved’ a heap of techno­ problem s by assum ing well-defined and manipu­ lated ‘self-im age’ lim ita ­

funk. These songs are so hard to think about. Not from lack of spite or gesture but the sim­ ple fact is that each album is a hypnotizing motion in its own personal sphere. ACR funks and b(l)eats you into a quasi-trance with its circular rhythm patterns and Kid Creole waltz their way into your heart, then proceed to lift the corners of your mouth, then you! All of a sudden it’s an uplifting, in­ vigorating experience that seems to alienate you from the actual thing that got you there in the first place, the music. Prime example is A Certain Ratio’s ‘Winter HUT, a wily spellbinding piece of ation, struc­ tured so that the hard percussive underlay makes for faultless dance music, whilst over the top odd shakes of various tambourines, castanets, wood blocks, et al are mixed in with some airy, stretched-to-the-limit guitar/ synth lines to heighten the airlessness. Other end of that is a swaying, swivelling bastion of the purest Kid Creole has to offer — all crystallized into'/ Am ’. One minute thick and steaming, the next it thins out via some simple pop strains to a finely boned creature up on its tip toes doing all it can not to wilt A Certain Ratio under its own self-generated miasmo. Its T o Each” form is immaculate — sweet, rushed, careful (Factory Import) yet reckless. Such a self awareness level! Gets me high! Kid Creole and the Coconuts ‘Fresh Fruit From Foreign Places’ starts off Fresh Fruit From Foreign Places with a pace normally reserved for things like (Ze) tornadoes with ‘Going Places’. What we have here is a similarly swirling pot pourri of punctuated trumpet tones and piano drops which is suitably followed in ‘In The Jungle’, a Whoeee! Funk It! sixties theme song tainted to its highest Jive so close and shake it out. Bein’ points with such an invigorating spice and mes-mer-ized by all this short, sharp lively nerve. Cymbals shakin’, wood blocks juice, these long driving pulses. Funk. tappin’ — it’s all a gas, sure as can be, it’s a What a word. That rhythm! That beat! pair of flaming loins. ‘Animal Crackers’, That honky black thang turned meanwhile is busy tokin’ jokes and smokin whichever way but from the dancefloor. rasta sized spliffs. Where there’s smoke there’s fire — I can hardly breathe in here! A soft carol of strings, bird singing and Both these records warrant their own per­ sonal reviews, but this is more fun. It’s almost swooning vocals courtesy Monsieur Darnell too much really, but then, it’s all so hard to and his Coconuts spoil everyone listening in and the only thing left to say is, ‘I Stand resist. Give it to me in one or double doses. Accused’. Inevitably a Carmen Miranda re­ Who cares? Just give it to me. Quite a contrast, actually. Kid Creole with ference sneaks in through the lyrics of the their steaming quiver of tunes that stalk suitably titled ‘Latin M usic’ in a voice similar around from a variety of bases such as a to Mike Rudd’s at his most plainly stated. Of reggae swing and the odd splash of s^lsa course there’s a toreador style trumpet waffling away in the haze with a flexy latin whilst Ratio rock you with their veritable masterpieces of hard and abrasive, yet beat jazzing its way through the dusk. somehow soul wrenching streetwise beat- ‘SchweinereT has a penetrating vocal line

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tions. Altho’ accurate to the point of deceptive transla­ tion, this summation does hint at the position of the Japanese artist. Where else have you the three monster criteria for artistic existence in such close quarters; the classicism of ‘old manners’, the reproduction/pressure of a new technocracy, and a struggling individualism that teeters betweeh integrated rock’n’roll and ‘art for art sake’. Whether or not we appreciate the total extent, YMO are an im portant

mesh of expression and an interface between cultural extremes, inside and out­ side Japan. So how to judge this, their latest communique? For starters, personal reaction seem to vary to extremes — “ It’s too ‘classical’, too limp to make it to the masses” or a “ sellout to the ‘pop’ mar­ ket” . For mine neither hits the mark in terms of what seems to be YMO’s stated and projected views or sim­ ple active appreciation. This is a more diverse offering than either of the previous Aust. releases, but there are direct references to both the bubbling electro-folk anthem s of “ YM O” in “ 1,000 K nives’’ , with its crazily melodic noise jux­ tapositions, and the infecti­ ous hard-edged ‘pop’ of “ Day Tripper’’ and “ Nice Age” in “Rap Phenomena”'. The diversity presents it­ self most obviously in “ Happy End” and “Loom” , the former and second half of the latter being post Eno-esque high fid elity montages. The first half of “ Loom ” is an intriguing aural reference to more technical experim ents (slowly rising tones strict octaves apart) carried out in the 60’s by Luciano Berioz, a European avanteguardist.

tantalizing in its honesty — an effect few ‘western’ ar­ tists can generate. In terms of quality im pression, “ BGM” never falters, even tho’ attaching a title to every song is not the easiest of memory tasks. Several points of struc­ ture and content must be kept in mind in order to take this disc on balanced terms. Even tho’ some denigrating reviewers have referred to the title as standing for ‘BackGround Music’, very little of the album functions as such. Play it loud, or thru good headphones and the rich attack will surprise you. After doing so, take note that much of the percussion and obvious drumming is a well-meshed combination of ‘acoustic’ instruments and the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer — a form idable machine of quality parallel to its ‘human’ counterpart. Also, don’t expect voices that leap out at you in archetypal radio fashion. YMO treat them and their enclosed m eanings as elements subject to careful twisting as much as any other instru­ ment, so you may find translations subconsciously surfacing quite a while after the phrases have slipped beneath the needle. Without being corny, trite, or irrelevant, these Japanese persons take things such as classical beauty and the need to be obliquely honest quite seri­ ously. There is a sense of these facets being held equal to the more obvious concerns of contemporary W estern Pop. But that doesn’t put YMO in the ‘head-in-the-sand’ position (maybe unwittingly) taken by the Blitz-propelled half of the current British music minefield. The Japanese have been forced to learn a lot from the messy AngloAmerican machine and now it’s time we took a little more notice of their w eird/ w onderful synthesis, a monster in its own right.

The album ’s carefully crafted tones and rhythms are further stretched across the stereo horizon by a veritable maze of reverb positions, most effective under headphones. At times my bedazzled ears told me I was bin-aurally held in a room several metres behind me or pas­ sing up thru a corridor dir­ ectly below my left ear-lobe. As a friend noted recently, there’re still miles of un­ explored caverns in the rabbit warrens of psy­ cho-acoustic phenomena. “ Cue” and “ Music Plans” are sketches of personal intention, both carrying a cross-focused set of im­ ages. They transm it a haunting sense of yearning.

which switches throats midway through the anguish. It carries the melody by itself for nearly the entire length of the song whilst the other instruments colour the gaps and pastel the shades giving the song just the right amount of seductive appeal. ‘Gina Gina’ floats lazily over a reggae beat that is spiced casually by a low swung trombone with a total swing sensibility which is ably contrasted by ‘With A Girl Like Mimi’s ’ screaming, tantaliz­ ing structure, tottering hopelessly into my heart. ‘Table Manners’ features hilarious harmony one-two’s and flick blade quick rhythm changes that flex, blur, and toast the night away round a steady whooping middle section. ‘Dear Addy’ is a romantic Splurge of breathlessness which caresses and sedates the listener into an opium induced calm. ‘Musicana Americana’ is an exasperating exercise in unpredictable skyscraper reflec­ tions of strange, fruity rhythms and tongues. Big horn section dipping and pouting, garbled vocals and cowbell pops add more than a dash of local South American dancing and you have the lot. Phew! (Meanwhile back in the cold ...) A Certain Ratio have a vision which stems from a full breathless mind which is anxious to step out, discover, make waves. Though ACR are all urban, they deal with their predi­ cament in a more obtuse, more telling, more strained way than any normal ‘rock’ band. And yet ACR seem so natural, so pure and so utterly a confidential whispering of bruised, hushed funk. ACR are above most. They deal with feel­ ings people would normally either baulk at or fail to even recognize by way of ignorance of insecurity. This is a band which conducts the uncon­ scious of horror, doubt and fear into a more easily digestible form. This is an eerie, ac­ complished and near perfect battering of sounds out to lift the listener, educate through catharsis. A Certain Ratio have re­ established the process pioneered by Greek tragedies and have placed it in the context of a modern world. All the songs are wonderful. Synth lines swirl articulately and ominously. Cymbals, natural and artificial percussion, bass lines that beat like furious African warriors wrapt with a total conviction that yields a beat sus­ tained only in its unpredictability and unique in its wild, harnessed power. Guitar hooks that truly cut, sincerely lift and angrily scythe. Voices of, both alternately and simultane­

Tyrone Flex

ously, hard deep threats and high sweet lap ping harmonies. Add to all this some and things I won’t find for years and you have it — a total combination of individual energies ideas and strengths all contained in a pecul iarly singular whole. Both these records capture, process and redistribute their own, now uniquely struc tured, sparks. Alien by nature though recog nizably human by form. ACR and Kid Creole funk it out — flat out and right out. Take ’em both, kid. Take ’em to the disco where they should be heard.

Craig N. Pearce

R A L P H

R E C O R O

^

F R A N K J O H N S O N ^ S F A V O R IT E S THE RESiWENTS

SNAKEFINGER TUXEDOMOON MX-30 SOUND YELLO : FRED FRITH ART BEARS RENALDO andthe loaf

Various Artists “ Frank Johnson’s Favorites” (Ralph Records thru Missing Link) ATTENTION ALL RALPH FANS AND INTERESTED PARTIES. This is all the B-sides and other wond’rous obscurities your little hearts could desire, well, as many as could be herded onto a single 12 inch disc. This horde of hits includes; “ Smelly Tongues” (a Snakefinger ‘must’), splashes of the inevitable Residents, aural fun with Fred Frith and the Art Bears, Renaldo and the Loaf’s “Meivyn’s Repose” and other choice pieces. Brilliant value — stretch-neck over-the-top party music. EVERY DOME MUST HAVE ONE.

Tyrone Flex Roadrunner 33


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tial. She’s not sloppy as such, it’s just that her jazzy inflections make some words unneces­ sarily hard to discern. These minor an­ noyances considered, PRETENDERS TWO stands as one of the brightest releases this year, containing enough across the board appeal to snuggle comfortably into all sorts of record collections, regardless of the owner’s individual pretentions.

Is I

i I' : ■ f'

Ruthven Martinus

Leo Kottke Guitar Music (Chrysalis)

The Pretenders Pretenders 2 WEA I’ve got a thing about covers this issue, and on the cover of this vinyl delight appears a bunch of very uncomfortable looking bozos who look as if they’re undecided as to who they’re pretending to be.

Once you get past the cover you’ll discover a record which contains music equal to the best that 1981 mainstream pop/rock has to offer. After the sensory (both aural and physical) delights of the first album, I — and half the world, I expect — awaited following offerings with eager anticipation. There’s less of the sheer manic rush this time around, but it’s been replaced by a smouldering sensuality that allows the gorgeous voice of Ms. Hynde (who possesses the worlds sexiest vibrato) to go places previously only hinted at. Plenty of gutsy stuff gets played though. The openers ‘The Adultress’, ‘Bad Boys Get Spanked’, and ‘Message of Love’ (the last single), are all stock Pretenders. The VOICE, the distinctive guitars and rhythm section all combine in that powerful surge familiar already. It’s when they expand stylistically into new (for them) areas that things get most interesting. There’s the tasty horns on ‘Louie Louie’ (no relation), gentle swing on Waste Not Want Not’, and the cascading twists of ‘Taik of the Town’, which made a much stronger single than ‘Message of Love’, but which got ignored by most media persons. Cutest of the bunch though, is Ray Davies’ torchy 7 Go To Sleep’, a trip into Cilia Black territory; the main difference being that unlike Cilia, Chrissie oozes so much desire through her voice that her plea not to sleep alone will doubtless be answered by large rabid hordes. On a more prosaic level, Chris Thomas again occupies the production chair and does a shit-hot job; varied, technically spot on, and not one nuance of the perfor­ mance gets ignored. A couple of gripes . . . Chrissie’s barking (yes, really!) in ‘Jealous Dogs’ is pretty lame, and her delivery makes a lyric sheet essen­

Another fine collection of variously strung meditations by a fin.ely collected musician of long experience. What more can you say? Kottke is predictable, predictably good, pre­ dictably tertaining. I’m not a Kottke buff, and I suspect that such individuals might think this one a little on the soft side, lacking the raw, backwoods feeling of some of his work, but I like it. He doesn’t sing on this one, he plays. It wouldn’t make any difference if he did.

going under the title of music. Everything goes down one step further with ‘Rock ’n ’ Roll Party’ as the following song . . . “ Get my girl and wine (whine)” etcetera. Despair is heightened by “ Sincerity”, a song that manages to sound like an offtake from a “ Stones Session” (bloody horrible). Iggy’s such a good bloke, he takes the fellas to a bar amidst the still hackneyed guitar backdrop . . . “ We’re gonna get a beer, we’re gonna get a beer, but I will return my dear.” A drab picture of the young buck as a mule. Number two side is as puerile. An obligat­ ory serving of trash reggae in ‘Happy Man’ . . . “ I’m in her blood, she fits me like a glove, we do it in the mud.” Such mindless slurrings continue into the automatic pilot ballad, ‘Sea Of Love’, until we reach the quiet but reflective grooves at record’s end. Misguided believers will be very disap­ pointed with the album, but the jolt had to be felt sooner or later. A big red record company sticker hails offensive language on the front, a few fucks so the Daryl’s will buy. Too bad this album wasn’t realised during The Year Of The Child, it would have been a great testimonial.

Toby Ciuechaz

Span

Iggy Pop Party (Festival) A parvenu such as I should not take an Iggy Pop album from the review box. John Doe operates within the realm of retribution. Inadvertently I may have done him a service though, for the album wallows in mildness. A person called Iggy Pop became famous for his des­ perate self-inflictions and his brand of fast music. People cottoned on to Iggy and made him famous while he was in the paying aftermath of his neurosis. Through sanatorium stays he became once more a healthy American, a heal­ thy American plays on this album, that dear readers, is the trouble. Feelings in memory can summon up images of the life-style that was, but the immediacy (muse) of living that life-style is lost. At this precise minute Iggy Pop is offering a recording called ‘Party’. Ten tracks that rhyme the word girl with the conceivable and inconceivable^ a weight lifting session for your cock. An album for the great white obese (fan) which makes Am erican rock’n’roll. Banal macho love songs with guitar machinery (Rob Duprey), production (Boyce and Panunzio) as slick as the limousine that goes with the act. Side one of the recording opens with ‘Pleasure’. The old culinary-sexual compari­ son is played to the squirm . . . “ Sooner or later I’m gonna squeeze you like a tomato, sooner or later I’m gonna peel you like a potato.” Garnished with rockist rehashed fat

Little Feat “ Hoy-Hoy” (W.E.A.) Yet another wonderfully off-beat Neon Park painting stares at you from the cover of this, a compilation of previously unreleased versions of Little Feat goodies and so-so new stuff. I’m ex­ tremely glad this item managed to find the light of day ’cos Little Feat are unique, the best synthesis of good and bad, past and present that America has to offer. It matters not if you consider this stuff passe. Feat’s honesty, incisiveness and sheer emotive force will cut through, anytime you play them. Besides, you can shake your ass to this lot like no-one else. I take it that this artifact has been released as a tribute to the genipus of the late Lowell George and as an alternative to the bootlegs of this bunch that are always surfacing. As such it works very well indeed, different versions (live, studio remixes and alternate takes) of such classics as ‘Skin it Back’, ‘Teenage Nervous B re a k d o w n ’, and ‘Rock’n ’roll Doctor’ are definitely not redun­ dant wastes of vinyl but successful and worthwhile additions to a catalogue already pretty well stuffed with goodies. When Lowell George assembled this bunch of diverse influences under the corpo­ rate title of Little Feat, the lucky few quickly discovered that he had pulled together a unit of exceptional musical strength and integrity. They became the darlings of their fellow musicians and of a large cult audience but for some unfathomable reason, not their record company. In fact, at one stage the whole band was doing session work in order to maintain the hobby that was Little Feat. Individually, the various Feats are great — Bill Payne remains one of the few American mainstream keyboardists willing to make noise on a synth, drummer Richie Hayward delights in leaving holes and im plying rhythms, and as for George himself . . . his slide guitar and vocals can either sear your ears off or rip straight into your heart with a soulfully emotional bite that remains un­ equalled. “ HOY-HOY” is by no means perfect; Bill Payne’s ‘Gringo’ is definitely out of place and Linda Ronstadt’s rendition of ‘All That You Dream’ is limp compared to the original. Also, how this sort of compilation cannot include versions of the classic Lowell George heart-wrenchers, ‘Willin’ ’ and ‘Long Dis­ tance Love’ is inexcusable. As it stands though, this release is a worthy addition to anybody’s collection, either as an introduc­ tion or as an extension, considering it includes extensive notes on the songs and a glossy booklet of pics and ramblings. And I still wonder 'if Lowell George knew that he was writing his own eulogy when he wrote in ‘Rock’n ’roll Doctor’ “Two degrees in be-bop, A PhD in swing. He’s a master of rhythm. He’s a rock’n’roll king.”

Ruthven Martinus

Siouxsie And The Banshees Juju (Polygram) The Boss doesn’t allow reviews that just say This is fantastic, buy it!’ I don’t suppose that you, the seething con­ sumer, would find it all that informative either, but it’s the thought that counts. So, The Banshees display their fourth L.P. Juju, and a touching, overwhelming man­ ifestation it is at that. At any time of day you might find these sounds invading your head, completely unbidden, yet highly pleasurable. The tensions and contrasts are strictly binding, riveting, and captivating. Lots of ’ing’s today. It’s Wednesday. The album starts with the single ‘Spellbound’, which is apt. It’s a deceptively powerful song. While Sioux’s voice is flaw­ less and strong, the backing rises and falls, with subtle guitars being colour for the propelling rhythm, all building to evenness in crescendo. Magnificent sounding chorus. So much is in these songs. Little things come in here and there, and cause transfor­ mations so subtle. Then suddenly, the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as one small added guitar line, or drum beat, your heart does a double-take, and you realise that it’s been pounding progressively harder throughout the song. The haunting ‘Arabian Nights’ comes in somewhere on side one and compels. There’s a kind of familiarity, causing the ears to strain, memory checking. Who knows? The echoed line 7 heard a rumour’ pitted against, and welded to, the twanging guitar and beating drums, building in tension whilst also reaching a point of common purpose, then fading. Something is left hanging, like a rumour. The dominant feature is not doubt Siouxsie Sioux’s voice, and the character controlling it, with The Banshees, whilst secohdary make themselves vital and, hence, on equal footing. The two features play off each other. The persistent drums, the guitars sometimes soft, and at others grinding mish-mash (but always meaningful), all smoothly and delib­ erately accentuate the qualities of that voice, apparently allowing it to hold the whole lot together as one. And it is magnificent. Everything is working to effect. Broken rhythms, tense (taut) aural clashes, under­ standing, all operating toward the same e n d . . . emphasis. Side two starts with ‘Night Shift’, which, whilst quietly raucous, tense, clashing and gnashing, is also flowing. The guitars grind, but the harmonious keyboards soothe (not smooth) the surface, as Sioux’s voice com­ plements and connects. Attack of a subtle and meaningful kind. Following is ‘Sin In My Heart’, which mixes a back-beat rhythm, and reeks of a not overstated, but more emphatic Roxy Music, circa The Bogus Man’. The vocals sound as if in any hands but the experienced they would be hysterical. No easy, temporary road to effect for this one. ‘Head Cut’ grates and beats, and fits in over all, without the endearing qualities of the other songs. ‘Voodoo Dolly’ breaks from the flow, and offers another facet. The Sioux voice incants against drums, and quiet, would be racketous (?) guitar. All the while it gains momentum, becoming less in control, more hysterical, without losing sight of the intent, and therefore never losing its mean­ ing. And so it ends (play it again). This is fantastic. Buy it (steal it, blackmail for it, make your own).

John Doe

Barclay James Harvest Turn of the Tide (Polydor) A symphonic rock album with a sort of overall theme, the breakdown of the civilisation which allows records like this to happen. As is usually the case, its perpetrators offer no guidance or solu­ tions, simply take a popular obsession and work out a little of their own psyches on it. Well, all right, fair enough, what’s it sound like? Side two is great. The opening track. Death of a City, should have opened the album. The first side lapses under the layers of the band’s orchestrations into a nebulous cloud of ineffective garbage. It all takes place without you noticing, without intruding upon your head at all. The words, read on the inner sleeve, assure you you’ve missed nothing. The second side (except for the second track, Tm Like a Train, which kills the taste of City) does capture the attention, but here again, don’t expect the words to tell you much. The general theme becomes recon­ struction, not of the fallen civilisation, but of the essential relationships between people which are necessary for survival. Who knows, maybe the sequence of these two sides is how IT will happen. The overall message? “ Life is for living, and living is free.” Pretty noises, but I want to know more.

Span 34 Roadrunner


Doug and the Slugs Cognac & Bologna (RCA)

The Beat — “ Wha’ppen?” (Go-Feet)

From the name of the band, and their photos on the back cover, I thought it had to be new wave/punk, probably amusing on first hearing but unsustaining. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Deutsche Amerikanische Freundschaft. “ Alles 1st Gut” (Virgin) DAF are a duo; one German musi­ cian, Robert Gorl, and one American singer, Gabi Delgado-Lopez (resident in Dusseldorf). This, their second album, was produced by Conny Plank of Ultravox’s “Systems of Romance” fame and is quite bluntly minimalist but well bounced — Germanic vocals, crisp percussion and mobile bass lines. For all the simplistic musical references, there is an overall sincerity and integrity that gives “Alles 1st Gut” a strange pull, and it’s no wonder, German patriotism being what it is (not was), that DAF are being invited to various German-speaking gatherings like the Cultural Week in Vienna. While initially a “ straight format” 5-piece band, they recorded one single in 1980 on the mute label, then connected with C. Plank for an album, “Die Klienen Und Die Bosen’’. After personnel refinements, the present duo emerged. Looking like L’Uomo cover candi­ dates, theyproject classic Germanic frank­ ness with cut-to-the-bone philosophical emo­ tion. The current single shows the two-sided coin of DAF’s attitude. “Der Mussolini” is a cut-down “Fashion" (Bowie) with similar fanatic overtones. “Der Rauber und Der Prinz” is the left hand, the shift from victim to involvement. Sensuous stuff. So, in a moment of “cultural” ambience, searchout DAF and see if “ everything is good” .

Tyrone Flex

The first thing you have to understand is that this band is excellent. If most people react to their name as did I, that excellence will probably go unnoticed, which would be a crime, if not a shame. There are no gimmicks. This band gets right into the practicalities of straightforward, tending to a beeswhisker laidback rock and roll. Doug (the Slug) Bennett has a voice a little like Captain Beefheart’s clear, sober, and at all times you can hear the lyrics, which are good and sensible.

Wha’ppen indeed! If you’ve heard the new Beat single “Drowning” (reviewed last issue) you might be suspecting that “ Wha’ppen” is not just an album full of “ Mirror in the Bathroom” clones. Recent single “ Too Nice To Talk To” is thrown in for your convenience, and to flog a few more copies, but you can’t complain about that. Anyway, this album stands up quite nicely on its own.

I must admit, on the first listen of the farewell album by the Scientists I was disappointed — it was only great. It seemect to me to be overproduced. However, subsequent listenings and comparison with the first New York Dolls album, L.A.M.F. and Shake Some Ac­ tion (the album not the radio program) Cool and unhurried, more of a toe-tappin’ increased my enthusiasm and restored than a foot-stompin’ affair — but dance you my Scientists mania to its former fever must — The Beat offer us an intelligent thir­ level. This is a brilliant album.

teen song selection, ranging through the vib­ rant calypso feel of “ Over and Over (then over and out)” and “Soleil Trop Chaud”, the hip-jerking chachaof “A//ouffo Get You”, the Spanish intro to “ Monkey Murders”, dub lingo of “ The Doors of your Heart”, the soulful “ Cheated” and “I Am Your Flag” (the only The first side opens with party time noises song to abandon a reggae base entirely). All and launches into a fast, lucid song called of which goes to prove that the limitations of Laughing in the Midst of it All. The layman’s this type of music are not nearly so confined cynicism which is established here persists as might first be thought. If you’ve become throughout the record. The reflective lyrics, bored with reggae/ska music, or thought it backed by complete but wellmannered never had much to offer anyway, you might music, will occasionally throw out lines like: nevertheless find yourself getting off on this “ I’ve been so long in one place I’m a album. Dis am no spaced-out dreadlocked refugee,” as in Soldier of Fortuned Every R astafarians g ro ovin ’ away for Jah! song is loaded with lines that shine with an (mon-Ed). almost Dylanesque poetry, but free from The Beat are also able to maintain your obscurity. interest on a lyrical level. Of course this type of music lends itself very nicely to lyrics with a Musical styles vary. The balladlike Soldier bit of bite, whether it be the tongue-in-cheek gives way to the 50’s style Too Bad. The of ‘A Dream Home In New Zealand” (“save contemplative Drifting Away precedes the precious moments cortina-ing the fast lane/ more intense If I Fail. As much thought seven extra minutes in your dream home in seems to have gone into the ordering of NZ” ) or “ The Limits We Set” in which the line tracks as into the tracks themselves, which is ‘the only helping hand/you’ll ever be saying something. offered/is the one on the end of your own arm’ is used as a justification for shoplifting. Or It’s late partyish, there are still a few people take the stinging vindication of “ Get-a-job” about, and it’s unnecessary to get any more ‘manufacture rubbish out-of-it than you alreaay are. The energy although no-one can afford it has all been spent and you need something you could make a profit to replenish it, in a recuperative rather than more than anyone deserves invigorating sense. The music is as relaxed so you find you’re left with poison as you’re becoming, slowly it all begins to so you dump in in our water hang together again . . . and so create the kind of problems only radiation cures’ Music by human beings, for people who If you don’t get hold of a copy of this album you won’t know Wha’ppen! occasionally feel like slugs?

Span

The Scientists The Scientists (ln(jepen(jent)

It contains thirteen of their greatest unre­ leased songs, showing their depth of talent and versatility. Maybe I’m prejudiced and still living on past memories of their thrilling live gigs, with and without that special someone, but it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and I’m a forty album a year person. It seems to have everything. Great out and out rockers like Shadows of the Night, Tm Looking .for You, High Noon, Teenage Dreamer and It’ll Never Happen Again, heartrending lovesongs with melody and power — She Said She Loves Me, Sorry Sorry Sorry and the slower songs, which I’m beginning to like more and more — Another Sunday and That Girl. That Girl, in particular deserves to become a classic; here it’s been given the full production (and why not?) treatment with a string arrangement and “ Under the Boardwalk” type acoustic'guitar solo. As a matter of fact, all you Eastern States bands can hang your heads in shame — Cold Chisel, Sports, Australian Crawl — even Mental As Anything. These guys had it all over you as far as I can see, and there were only three of them at the end. The only bands that could challenge them were Radio Birdman and the Saints. And maybe it’s just rock’n’roll, with few new insights or stunning use of synthesiser, sax or drum machine, but this album is joining some of my all time favourites with The Modern Lovers, Mar­ quee Moon, L.A.M.F. White Light/White Heat and Spiral Scratch. Easily my best Australian album of the year so far; I’M still waiting for the Riptides, Go Betweens and third Reels Albums. But till then — do yourself a fa vou r. . .

Adrian Miller

C. C. Mitchell

Because yeur ears hcnre brains

Roadrunner 35


Marc Hunter Big City Talk (Mercury) Marc Hunter has now had a few years and seemingly a few adventures with which to distance himself from the Dragon monster, so you might expect less pressure on him by now to make it on the ‘lead singer goes solo’ level and more on him to make it on his own terms. Even so, from “ Big City Talk” , on which Hunter has written or co-written nine of the twelve tracks, it is not entirely clear if the artiste has sorted out his own direction (or maybe he’s just not telling us).

From past efforts and from the warrior-like cover it comes as something of a surprise to find that much of the album borders on tame. Opening track “ Chemistry & Mystery’’ slips by without Hunter shifting out of first gear, and it is left to track two, the title track, to prod you into taking some notice. Thereafter the songs seem to fall into three or four non-complimentary categories firstly the ‘chart-action orientated’ pop songs Big City Talk’’ and “ Good Guys Never Die’’, (a Hunter/Hewson number which harks back to Dragon days); the rockier “Looking For A Uniform” and “ Friendly Fire” (both co-written with Todd Hunter and Kevin Borich, presum­ ably from their stint together in the Headhunters) and the stunning “ Rock and Roll is a Loser’s Game” . Then we have the cool and laid-back funky AOR tracks, “ Mid­ night Water” , “Angry With My Eyes” and especially “ Slow Down Baby” , all three of which feature Mark Punch on guitar, the last two having been co-written by him. As well as all this the album boasts some fine ballads — the self-penned “ Echoes” , and keyboard player Martin Raphael’s “Love Comes Like A Stranger” which showcases the full passion­ ate strength of Marc’s vocal chords rather nicely. I guess the ballad category would also include the carnival song “ Sideshow” , which I happen to like just fine, altho’ it probably won’t be everyone’s cup of Uptons. The dilemma (if you worry about it that much) inherent in this often flawed but occasionally brilliant album is not being able to decide wliere the guy is at. So much of the material here suggests that Marc Hunter is moving quickly to join the ranks of that highly respected but totally comfortable band of cabaret performers (the like of English, Parkinson, Farnham, Geyer et al) who are all capable of doing something interesting, but don’t make a habit of it. Perhaps a spot on the

Don Lane Show would clinch the deal. Hard as they might try, none of the rockier tracks are strong enough to quash this impression, with the obvious exception of “A Loser’s Game” , which spits and snarls with so much venom you can’t ever imagine this guy being respectable. So how do you place a song like this — proof that Marc Hunter is a fiery talent to be reckoned with, or the last primal grunt of a dying warrior? Which way you going Marc?

Adrian Miller

The Ramones Pleasant Dreams (Sire) Oh bliss. What a way to start the day. Stagger out of bed, set the turntable on ‘Hey Ho Lets Go’, drop the needle. . . Nirvana. Pleasant Dreams. Another album of The Ramones wild and demented vocal pop. The formulas are familiar, but The Monkees never did ‘The KKK Took My Baby Aw ay', and Kim Wilde never will. You may see this as not being relevant, but on top of the story and comment, that song is formula pop perfec­ tion, with its fluid acceleration into the chorus. Joey Ramone’s vocals are the match of many a ‘great’ voice, the backing vocals are of the classic variety, and Johnny Ramone’s sense of his own guitar style and sound treats the song with understanding and subtlety. The Ramones run the constant gauntlet of entrenching themselves too deeply in their own ground, and nobody needs another ding-bat dinosaur, but such is their problem, and they handle it with a certain wisdom. They progress, not in leaps and bounds, but they push ahead. Some things, like the lyrics, remain of a similar nature, but one short listen to the first of their now six studio albums shows the differences. The first two records are perhaps their most spirited and ‘pure’, but the sophistica­ tion gained whilst recovering from the best forgotten third {Rocket To Russia) is reach­ ing fruition. The Ramones are now as complete in their new set of teeth as they were in the sim ple effectiveness of ‘Ramones’ and ‘Leave Home’. Pleasant Dreams carries on from, and adds some to, the last album End Of The Century, produced by Phil Spector. Graham Gouldman, ex of 10cc, has produced this show with sincere sym pathy for The Ramones’ songs, and the sixties-pop roots from whence they came. The vocals are clear, and well rounded with effective har­

monies (Sparks’ Russell Mael adds a (very) small contribution), all with the standard echo/reverb. The rhythm section is perhaps not dealt with as well as old Phil would have liked it — whilst it is to the fore, it sounds a bit thin. But that could be to do with the dominance given the vocals. The ever present Johnny Ramone guitar (helped by keyboards in some songs) con­ tinues to buzz away, but much attention is paid to emphasising the rhythm, sometimes (as in ‘It’s Not My Place’) by means of far less than full power chords. Embellishments are in abundance where, once, you would have been hard pressed to even find a lead break on a whole Ramones album. The best songs would be ‘We Want The Airwaves’, ‘All’s Quiet On The Eastern Front’ with its clattering rhythm, ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’, ‘It’s Not My Place’ (in the nine to five w orld). . . and yes, listing every song title would be a waste of space. The very meaningful word ‘ramonic’ will be listed with definition in the next edition of the New English Dictionary.

John Doe

David Chesworth “ Layer On Layer” (Innocent) Yes, David, you can do it. Some may pooh on this your vinyl debut, but, derivative as much of its contents may be, it beats the hell out of rude noises in St. Kilda bedrooms. For the pessimists, it’s a poor persons “ Remain in Light” , with slabs of Fripp’n’Eno, bizarre Pop/Funk ecclecticism and even a dash of “Metal Machine Music” . On the brighter side, you could have a killer album on your hands if you took out the vocals, tuned a synth. here and there and found a voice that could flow with some semblance of (tuneful) casual grace — it’s probably a delicate point, but a spade’s a spade. I’m not sure if saying so little about “Layer on Layer" is being unfair, but I find holes and gripes scattered about the place and would only end up sounding a right pedant. The cluster of Melbourne cult-scene compatriots who’ve put these funk-woven layers together deserve credit for tying a bunch of 1980-1 undercurrents together and surfacing with a rough but worthwhile memento.

Tyrone Flex

Laughing Clowns “ Reign of Terror” (Crown Prince Melon) (A.K.A. Greatest Hits 1980). An album of leviathan proportions, worth, com plexity, and enjoyment. Pointless is the continuation of words, vital is the abstract. Deft, cool piano, by way of Wallace-Crabbe, opens the recording. The w ind-tunnel behind saxophone plus trumpet is turned on, respectively Parrel and Doyle. Move, Move, we do. A big Laughing Clown sound extends itself without the obvious mechanics, rushes from neon to wharves, from gallows to the contents of the doctor’s bag. Nobody for serial numbers, ‘I Don’t Know What I Want’. Again irresistible brass pat­ terns are to the fore, the lock-in with the rhythm of W allace-C rabbe (bass) and Wegener (drums) is something to wonder over. Is that a voice? Ed Kuepper’s voice, back in the mix but forward. Deadpan and a soul tone, disarming in the nuance, de­ manding on this running path. A speechless atmosphere. Welcome to ‘Clown Town’ where apathy is the dream of luxury . .. “ Throw all your troubles to the wind, life’s not meant to be hard in our town.” In all eight songs this album fearlessly seeks and confronts, to peer into you. Histrionics are avoided. Birthday Party engineer Terry Cohen takes part as an engineer. Be assured, there is no five day diet of ad hoc mime and lament. Only a big push of capabilities, thank God! (not Birthday Party). Laughing Clowns’ display none of the well trodden paths of monotony on this disc, something their live sound takes more of a dashing interest in (two second farts on the French Horn). I could bring up trifles for pickings but that’s pointless. Somehow the album carries the weight of importance with fun time trappings. You can dance, you can be melancholy, you can think, all of these things and more with “ Throne Of Blood. ” The most enduring album released in the last three years. Crime . . . pm 2000 L.P., against yourself if one is not obtained. “The more I see The more I want to be Mr Ridiculous.” Kuepper.

Toby Cluechaz

DOUBLE BARRELLED SUBSCRIPTION OFFER: THE EIGHTY-EIGHTS

AND THE JAM!

What you get? Twelve issues of Australia’s smartest rockpaper The Eighty-Eights debut album, ‘On Top Of The World’ . The Jam’s ‘4 Side Effects’ 12 inch E.P.

Cheques/Money Orders made payable to Roadrunner, Box 90, Eastwood, S.A. 5063

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.Postcode. Offer expires 1st October 1981


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Kim Wilde Kim Wilde (RAK) It’s tempting to see Kim and Ricky Wilde as teenage Carpenters or, even worse, English versions of the Osmond Family, with Ma and Pa all a part of the act/business. But as Chrissie Hynde was heard to assert the other day. The proof of the pudding is in the grooves.’ Now Chrissie might be guilty of mixing the odd metaphor there, but she has a point. However, ‘pudding’ “ Kim Wilde” defi­ nitely ain’t. More a light, tasty quiche.

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“Kim Wilde”, the album, not the person, is basically a lot of lovely fuss about nothing. Pure pop, not purist pop, but music that is nothing, and serves nothing, beyond itself. The type Abba, Chic, Nolans, and occasion­ ally Sheena Easton, have achieved in recent times; and a whole lot of mediocre also rans, from Bucks Fizz to Boney M, have failed mis­ erably at. Kim Wilde, the person not the album, has been called an empty vessel into which has been poured the melodies of her brother and the words of her Dad. But what words! What melodies! What flawless gems of hollow be­ auty! What a perfectly pompous production! And what a voice! What a face! What a vessel! Knowing, but innocent: young, fresh, pure (no hubby in the cupboard like naughty Sheena). A fairly normal, seemingly well ad­ justed, middle class, young woman of 20. A recent letter to the N.M.E. makes the accusation that Paul Morley, who reviewed the album for that paper, “obviously fancies Kim Wilde.” Can he be blamed? Apart from the three singles (masterpieces all), the best track is ‘Young Heroes’. “ We only wanna stay young We only wanna be free.” It’s the best teenage rebellion song I’ve heard in ages, because it’s so frivolous: once you start getting serious about rebellion it can’t be called teenage any more. A fun album. Fun to make and fun to listen . to when you’re having fun. Nowt wrong with fun, lad, in its proper place. What is overplayed and grates on the ear blaring out of car radios and trannies when you’re working or otherwise not having fun can sound just dandy sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Might even inspire a solo turn across the lino. And that’s the paradox of pop. Pop.

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Teenbeat ‘Before Playtime’ (Independent Cassette) Teenbeat. An enigma. An unintentional, underground flash. A flowing; a fluctation of spasms. Every song revolves on a different pivot, the sound is always looking somewhere else — up, down, under the bridge, in the oven, just about anywhere!

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“The Lounge” (Independent Cassette) Eminently danceable, the Lounge employ the usual contem porary methods of musical colouration while re­ taining a necessarily sound, consistent, and interesting rhythm. This cassette, with handpainted covers, in a lim ited edition of 100 (?), seems to have been largely recorded live, and at least captures the energy which live performance demands. The band has progressed over the last couple of years to a confident, controlled matrix of ex­ pression and entertainment value. Behind the program, their medium comments on itself. In this way, frequent similarities to presently popular artists (such as the John Cooper Clarkish “ Custom Credit Stupour” ) come across as dis­ criminative utilisation of available materials rather than desperate derivativeness. Side One contains their more frenetic work, violin and

saxophone establishing a surreal, spectral perspective behind the on edge, fractured leads. “ Carni­ val” is for me the most effective track here, bordering on the manic intensity of Pere Ubu. Side Two begins with the ballad-like “Plenty of Nothing”, and its softer mode is gradually cranked up through “ Fetid Ghouls Lurid” (with its Hawkwindish brass traces) to the familiar neurosis of “ Weapons Deal”. The violin work reminds me of early East of Eden, the way it establishes an irresistible spiral­ ling of energy into almost total abandon. The cassette impressed me more than I had anticipated. You can dance to it, work to it, or listen to it, and expect to be entertained by it for its own sake. Lately I have been disenchanted by the quality of rock’n’roll in Adelaide, but the Lounge have persuaded me to abandon my reclusive habits and step out once again. I believe it cost $5, but you may have to hunt for it. At the time of w riting. Umbrella Records in Frome Street is the only place I know which definitely stocks it.

Span

They’re curious! No sound, ob­ ject or idea is safe from these boys. They’re marauders, eye openers and almost, but never yet, indulgent. They’ve performed with sculptors and have made videos. They don’t limit them­ selves. Life to them is something to skate over and more often than not fall over and into, and all for the sake of finding things out. They’re never satisfied. Not for long anyway. But the truth of the matter is I am, with this tape at least. A lounge room recorded high tech m esm erizing flickpack-pop of eight separate sounds. And the cost — is one blank tape that you send to them (don’t bother with postage — I didn’t). Even at first listening the sound is at worst penetratingly offhand and at best it’s a fusion of dreams, of smiles, of things overlooked and things uncovered. Take the vast spaces covered by ‘Fourth World’ — basically a non perfor­ mance recording by Henry Vyhnal and Terry. It is an invigorating, upstanding encounter of the most sinister implications in ‘Walkab­ out’ (Nicholas Roeg) and the technology from which the narra­ tive tries to, but never quite succeeds in, break away from. ‘Fourth World’ hounds you. Up trees and down river banks. It’s Albert Namatjira gone wee waa. Most rampantly insidious of the

songs is ‘The Twang’ — a number capitalizing on moods of melan­ choly and disdain. Never a pout­ ing sound, but there’s always something there that’s ready to make you stand up and look up at yourself. Of all their songs this is the most likely to instigate one to feel mournful, to look inside one­ self for something shapeless and something hard. This song has a cold fire within it. It burns and it chills — it’s a frozen flambd! ‘Bake My Cake’ and ‘Under A Bridge’ both use Peter Hall’s spurning bass lines on which to lever off. Both flippant, both seri­ ous — both directed towards a point and both succeeding in their aim by way of a simple and unique sound jargon. Along with the singly plausible vocals of Hall come effects such as Terry’s faintly offbeat metal bars, Vyhnal’s succinct violin notches and pitches and the amazing tones of the not so specially adapted rhythm machine. Only ‘I.C.U.’ remains a dubious contribution to the tape. It is basically a memoir of Vynhal’s past. A blatant rock song offhan­ dedly transposed into a Teen Beat environment. There are bonuses to it, as no Teen Beat creation could be totally worthless. It’s just that this song emanates a slight paunch, a bit of an overhanging gut. “Life’s so funny.” The motto of Teen Beat? At least in the eyes of ‘They’re Taking Me Away’ it is. Rather a paradox though, as ‘They’re Taking Me Away’ has more in common with the implications of ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ than the flippant Benny Hill view of exis­ tence a phrase like ‘Life’s so fu nn y’ suggests. For a start there’s Vynhal’s waspish violin buzzing irrita ting ly inside the flowing robes of a collage of voices, guitar and rhythm maker. Then there’s Terry’s humourless

scraping axe flexing along beside it. And beneath it all there’s another of those wonderfully sub liminal catch call bass lines of Peter Hall. ‘Twister’ is a manoeuvre that takes place in the aid of art possibly. Its end is a blatant new placing of ‘Revolution No 9’ in an urban Footscray loungeroom courtesy of a Hall imitated Len nonesque drawl, a spurt of Vyhnal/Terry vocal hoots and a dog named Charlie. Preceding that is the ultimate exciter though It’s a fission! A fusion! A total picture formed with imagination and toughness. Dubwise and simply visionary it dabbles with single notes and long attractive choruses. Wow: it’s a mid afternoon tribal initiation! Let this gas hash of splash pass you by and it could be the biggest mistake you’ve ever made. Oh, and yes, 7 Can’t Find It’ but they have, they have! How such a deluge of self critique ever passed their lips beats me. An odd piece of Pere Ubu non syncopation drift^in and out of the sensual suppleness that occa sionally humbles the songs. You can’t sit still to Teen Beat. LikePiL they don’t exist merely for listen ing. They exist to stimulate. And by way of an unsettled full forward approach they succeed in doing so. Teen Beat are a fractured mirror of images; as are the pictures they give rise and colour to. Teen Beat have a fuzzy fixation with something akin to mood Every song is singalong. Each is an enamelling of an atmosphere felt, more than analysed. Theirs is a natural collection of perceptions that are collated and sensibly displaced. Sensible? Teen Beat? Well, maybe not, but the point is this — Teen Beat are well and primed to burst off the blocks now that the race is ready to be run And the most amusing thing is that they’re their only competitors

Craig N. Pearce For a copy of this tape send a blank C-30/60 tape to: Henry Vynhal, 23 Aberfeldi Street, Essendon. 3040.


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THE POWER & PASSION OF ROCK W ROLL. PAT BENATAR HAS IT ALL. A n explosive debut album , "In The Heat O f The N ig ht", which sold over 1 m illio n copies and included the smash single, "Heartbreaker". A powerhouse follow -up. Crimes O f Passion", which sold well over 3 m illio n copies and featured the classic gold single, " H it Me W ith Y o u r Best Shot". Sold-out concerts. Over 20 awards in just 2 years, including the 1980 Gram m y Aw ard fo r Best Female Rock Vocalist. Pat Benatar has the voice. A nd the songs. Now w ith the release of

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RECORDS & TAPES

Roadrunner 4(8) September 1981