CURRENTLY DELETED - will be back in next few months.
Tales from the Australian Underground - Singles 1976-1989 is a collection of some of the great 45's released during Australia's most prolific independent era of 1976 to 1989. Tales highlights selections from the previous careers of acts like Hoodoo Gurus (The Victims & Fun Things), Gangajang (The Riptides), The Cruel Sea (Sekret Sekret), Dave Graney (The Moodists), Big Heavy Stuff (Ups & Downs), You Am I (The Bamboos), Tex Perkins, (Thug), Dirty Three (Venom P. Stinger) as well as classic early releases from Radio Birdman, The Saints, The Scientists, Triffids, Died Pretty, The Mark Of Cain and the Hard-Ons.
In addition, Tales from the Australian Underground includes a selection of seminal tracks, previously unreleased on CD. Featured among others are Pel Mel, Sunnyboys, Sardine, Psycho Surgeons, The Leftovers, Do Re Mi, The Numbers, Tactics, X and Wet Taxis. Besides offering up an indie "best of", Tales from the Australian Underground gives the listener an insight into the sounds and musical styles that were developed over the highlighted period. From raw rock 'n' roll and punk roots, to the eclecticism of the eighties. All documented in an extensive 36 page booklet and 2CD collection. Essential for anyone serious about their music.
From the same people who've brought Australians umpteen worthy tours comes this compilation of singles from the heyday of Oz indie music (when the term "indie" meant something). And it's killer, in all respects.
Tales is the third compilation of its type in less than 12 months, following the successful Do The Pop (Shock) and Born Out of Time (Raven) collections. That makes for a total of five discs (about 400 minutes of music, disregarding duplicated songs) which is more than enough to fuel your next listening party. But where those marvellous sets mined the "indie hits" (note paradoxical term), this takes a sharp left-turn. Sure, there's representation by biggies like Birdman, the Saints, the Scientists and the Birthday Party, but Tales shines a light into corners the others didn't go, exposing bands like Sekret Sekret, Sardine v, Tactics, Lighthouse Keepers, Pel Mel, Makers of the Dead Travel Fast, Venom P. Stinger, the Riptides and The Mark of Cain.
The guiding principle was that these songs were all SINGLES (remember them?) As anyone with a brain knows, the 7" is the defining thing in music, the "one shot" chance of making a mark. Mark Taylor's sleeve quote that "all the best songs are on singles" is right on the money. Five years in the making, there are 45 tracks here and precious little crossover with the compilations that came before.
Compiler Tim Pittman initially made his mark as booker for the Sydney Trade Union Club, as well as manager of The Eastern Dark and the Hard Ons. Both acts are represented, but there's an idiosyncratic song selection at work that means we hear the Laughing Clowns' "Sometimes (I Just Can't Live With Anyone)" rather than "Eternally Yours", or the Scientists' "We Had Love" instead of "Swampland". The single cut of "This Perfect Day" from Bailey and Co IS the best (play the Harvest label 7" back-to-back with a vinyl cut of "Eternally Yours" and you'll agree. Likewise, X's impossible-to-find "Halfway Round the World" (the flip of "Mother", with Cafeiro on drums) shades the later album version. Both single takes are here.
So what's the rest of the spread? The Triffids are a band I remember from the Trade's first-floor but never got into. "Beautiful Waste" is a reminder that they could soar, without pretension. God's "My Pal" is still the best thing they ever did and Tactics' Television-like piece of sppedy agitation, "Standing By the Window", was never replicated by later line-ups. On the feminine side, The Passengers' "Face With No Name" is still a gem. "I Belong to Nobody" by the Flaming Hands is a reminder that, until they lost their organic feel, they were one of the best bands on Phantom, a label with equal claim to greatness in its early days. Tales is not only a collection for collectors, with most cuts never issued in digital format, but for newcomers, too. The solid sprinkling of higher-profile names sits well with the quirkier ones. For want of a generic term, there's a strong sense of "post-punk" here, rarely descending into noise for noise's sake. It mostly sounds great, considering masters were only obtainable for 13 cuts, with lots of work going in the transfer and mastering stages. A few songs were around on the "Murder Punk" bootlegs of a few years ago, but not sounding as sharp as this.
The incisive and detailed liner notes span 32 pages of the accompanying booklet. Eagle eyes will notice the following line within: "If it's possible to get this one to stick then the gaps will be filed with further volumes". We're holding you to it. Tim - The Barman