Monday, June 18, 2007

SPLASH 30

Only two left now... Today it's a podcast on Australia and New Zealand. These countries have produced some great groups through the years, though there haven't been that many new bands lately. The Zebras is one exception of course. Both Australia and New Zealand were very important for pop music in the 80's and produced respectively the Brisbane sound and the Dunedin sound. The former is represented here by bands like The Go-Betweens and The Lighthouse Keepers and the latter by Sneaky Feelings and The Bats. The two labels of note here are Australian Waterfront (which, like Rough Trade, was also a record shop) and Flying Nun (which was modelled on Rough Trade amongst others) in New Zealand of course.

The Tender Engines – Clinging to the Wreckage
This was one of the bands that made the Summershine label so great. It's one of my favourite labels and just like Bus Stop and A Turntable Friend it should be placed right up there with Sarah Records. This song, from 1990, was the group's first single and the second to be released by Summershine.
Even As We Speak – Stay With Me
This is from a Peel Session they did during their first trip to the UK, to promote the release of their album Feral Pop Frenzy in 1992. It never appeared on record, I think. Peel was a big fan of the band and they managed to record four songs, borrowing equipment from other Sarah bands. Jim Kavanaugh, ever the fan of ozpop, has a compilation of the band's pre-Sarah singles scheduled for release on his Egg Records sometime this year.
The Masters Apprentices – War Or Hands of Time
Australia produced quite a few good beat and garage groups in the sixties, as the second Nuggets box proves. This group was perhaps the most successful in their apprenticeship to the masters of fuzz on the other side of the world. This song is from 1966.
The Sugargliders – Tightening Our Belts
This is a demo that I got from Olaf, so I don't know where it came from apart from that. A google search turned up dry - maybe he can enlighten us?
The Apartments – Help
Australia was pretty big when it came to powerpop and garage revival as well, as any readers of Sideroom 7" Singles should have learned. This song I found on Beat For Two though, and it's a 1979 single.
The Sunnyboys – Alone With You
Probably the best Australian revival band? This is the 7" version that came out on Phantom in 1980.
The Lighthouse Keepers – Wheels Over the Desert
Here's another Australian band from whom we're also eagerly awaiting an Egg compilation. I still only have the band's first album Tales of the Unexpected from 1984, but judging from "Springtime" that was on the latest Egg sampler there are some great stuff lurking in the vaults. This is the opening track from the album, and one of the best on it.
Widdershins – Now You Know
As the The Lighthouse Keepers turned into the Widdershins after 1986, they may have lost an amazing bassist, but the music also became increasingly jangly in a Smiths kind of way. And Juliet Ward's voice had never sounded better! This song is included on the Egg retrospective Good Songs, which in fact includes everything the band ever recorded. It originally came out on a Waterfront 7" twenty years ago.
The Orange – What's In a Name?
This song was part of Jim Kavanaugh's Australian extravaganza on Indie MP3 a few years ago, if you remember that. He said himself that this was the most obscure contribution, and there is very little information about this band. Apart from the fact that it's from a Flying Nun 12" released in 1986 there's not much else. There's another release listed in the Flying Nun catalogue, but there are doubts as to whether it actually exists.
The Easybeats – Sorry
Thee Australian freakbeat group! They moved to London in 1966 and became the first Australian band to score a big international hit, with "Friday On My Mind" in 1966. But this single from the same year, which is included on Nuggets II together with "Friday On My Mind" has at least as much hit potential if you ask me. They where definitely the Beatles of Australia and created an 'Easyfever' that could even rival Beatlemania.
The La De Das – How Is the Air Up There?
This band was The Rolling Stones of New Zealand then. The song is a Blues Magoos cover and was their first single with proper distribution. It made them the biggest pop group in New Zealand, which they remained until moving to Australia in 1967.
The Smoke – No More Now
Another New Zealand garage group, that like The La De Das, The Chants R&B and The Bluestars (on SPLASH 22) is included on Nuggets II. But this one might be my favourite, with its psychedelic guitar parts and overdriven bass. That's probably a result of it coming out one year after e.g. "Friday On My Mind", which means in 1967 when psychedelia hit full on. They're not to be confused with the seminal Britsh group with the same name.
Sneaky Feelings - Pity's Sake
The birth of Flying Nun was a response the growing scene in Dunedin and Christchurch. The centre of this scene was The Clean, although everybody played in each other's bands. There's a quite comprehensive study of the Dunedin sound on the excellent In Love With These Times. After the original bands like Toy Love and The Clean split up, several new bands were formed and four of them ended up on the Dunedin Double EP from 1982: The Chills, The Stones, The Verlaines, and Sneaky Feelings. Each band had one side, and this is the first on Sneaky Feelings' side.
The Bats – Boogey Man
The Bats were formed by Robert Scott, the bassist of The Clean, after they split up. They're my favourite band on Flying Nun alongside The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience. This is a jangly single from 1991, that was also included on their third album Fear of God.
The Go-Betweens – Eight Pictures
What can you say? The most important band from Australia, right up until last year saw the end of the reformed duo of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan. Nothing short of death could stop them. This is one my favourites, and it's from their first album Send Me a Lullaby. It was also the first Go-Between's album I heard, after buying it at a record fair in the nearby town when I was at a festival in Sweden. I brought it all the way back home, put in on the record player and was overtaken by the fractured pop songs coming at me from the speakers. I quickly learned to love it, especially "Eight Pictures" and "It Could Be Anyone".
The Cat's Miaow – Smitten
This band has been a relatively new discovery for me, but when I finally got around to buying those two Library compilations I realised that this is one of my favourite bands ever. The Cat's Miaow was the best of the many indiepop bands in Australia in the early 90's - like Hyroplane and Huon e.g. You can get this song on Songs For Girls to Sing from 2003.
The Lucksmiths – Don't Bring Your Work to Bed
This was probably the first Australian indiepop band I discovered though, around the time Why That Doesn't Surprise Me. I remember they were actually on tv in Sweden, on the music programme Musikbyrån. I went to see them live in Malmö at the wonderful Young Alive and In Love club, although I was probably under-age! But it was the best show I'd ever been to at the time. I even wrote a song about it. Every song on that album is a favourite and I can't resist singing along every time I put it on, but anyway, this is one of them.
Girl of the World – 3000 ft.
Bart Cummings was one of the founders of The Cat's Miaow in 1992, but he'd been in other bands previously. For example Girl of the World, and this is the b-side of their third single.
Ups & Downs – I Wonder
Another classic Waterfront release was the Ups & Downs' "In the Shadows" from 1986. But the b-side is simply unbelievable! To the band's credibility, their name comes from a Flamin' Groovies song, and they even had the honour of supporting them on their 1986 tour. I'll let this song end today's podcast.

SPLASH 30
Kaleidoscope Worlds Away

3 comments:

Monkey Ba´stard said...

Very well said about Go-Betweens. One of my favorite bands of all time, I couldn't begin to explain how much they've meant.


http://monkeybastard.blog.com

dumbmagician said...

The Orange, of course, was Andrew Brough's band before Straitjacket Fits and Bike. He was the poppier songwriter and sweeter singer in SF. The Orange did just the one FN EP. (The Smoke from NZ? Run-of-the-mill garage. Again: Check out the U.S. band.)

L said...

Incredible collection. Thanks so much. - LD