Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Gatekeepers


Peter Jetnikoff - vocals, guitar
Greg Wadley - bass
Ian Wadley - drums

Another one of Brisbane's phantoms, the Gatekeepers. This band began around 1983, containing various former members of the Pits, the Swirl and the Dum Dums. Around this time, they released an 11 track cassette, Cosmic Street - of which two of its tracks appeared in the 1984 cassette compilation Leaving Home for the Party on the Roof.

The early line-up featured Greg Gilbert (aka Des Johnson) on drums, and Margo Hoyt on keyboard in addition to Peter Jetnikoff and Greg Wadley.

Fast forward to Melbourne in 1988, and the Gatekeepers exist as solely as a recording venture, releasing Indoors/Ogre/Silence in that year and a single Saturday/In This House in 1990. In addition to the cassette album and vinyl releases, the Gatekeepers appear on various SPILL cassette and CD compilations (Happy Still from SPILL Compilation One is a must-hear) well into the mid part of the decade, as well as a track on the Brisbane-based Malignant label collection Fuck the White Race from 1994.

This single was released on HWS (somewhat of a precursor to SPILL, who also provided a catalogue number to the first self-titled EP by Small World Experience.

In addition to the Gatekeepers, Peter Jetnikoff and Greg Wadley recorded many cassettes and CDs as the culture-jamming group, New Waver. Their lossy story can be found here.

Greg's brother Ian has played in a host of bands since the early 1980s, and his story can be seen over here.

Curiosity Shop

Judge and Jury
Scene of the Shame

Pat Ridgewell - vocals, guitar, organ
Noel Mengel - bass, vocals
Greg Wadley - drums

In Brisbane during the early 1980s, there was this slew of bands bursting forth onto the scene; from the bands who played at the Queen's Hotel in 1978, to the bands of the Silver Dollar in 1980, the 279 Club of 1981 and the Atcherly of 1982 and so on. Just as venues opened as quickly as they had closed in this golden era of Brisbane music (1978-1982), bands exploded and imploded at a rapid rate. During this time, the Go-Betweens released two albums recorded outside of town, Xero did a 12" 6-track mini LP, while other bands got as far as a cassette or a couple of singles. Some never made it outside of the Ann St practice rooms.

By 1983, the Go-Betweens had well and truly skipped town. The Pits (after a serious amount of shows in 1982) imploded. As so did Xero. The Dum Dums moved to Sydney to only break up shortly after, and Antic Frantic bettered that by heading off to London. Punk in Brisbane moved away from the '77 English model, and leaned more towards American Hardcore influences.

On the other side of the coin, Indie Pop's flag was being waved by the likes of Tangled Shoelaces, This Five Minutes and the newly formed Pits expatriates, the Gatekeepers. Adding to this small list of like-minded bands were Curiosity Shop.

Unlike the aforementioned, Curiosity Shop hailed from Toowoomba...

Whether or not this band is indicative of the Toowoomba Sound is anyone's guess. What's true is Curiosity Shop's lone 45rpm single from 1984 Judge and Jury/Scene of the Shame is a superb slice of indie pop, left abandoned by blogging music scholars until now.

Curiosity Shop were on the Cubbyhouse imprint. This label (created by archivist, film-maker, sound recordist and all-round DIY pop genius Peter Macpherson) also released numerous titles by the Pits, Tangled Shoelaces and This Five Minutes. And Cubbyhouse was also a fanzine running from 1982-84 - much like the life of the label.

The two notable members of this Toowoomba band are Pat Ridgewell and Noel Mengel. Ridgewell around this time played as an adjunct member of This Five Minutes, who by 1986 had mutated into Dog Fish Cat Bird. By the late 80s he played guitar in the Holy Ghosts, and from there he formed his own songwriting vehicle, Small World Experience - who still exist to this day, albeit hermetically. Noel Mengel on the other hand is now the senior music editor for the Courier Mail.

I found this single by chance in 1995, just after I had discovered Small World Experience. I have not seen it since.

Monday, August 23, 2010

XERO 4ZZZfm Live to Air at the Cement Box

Love and Anarchy
Behind the Chagall
24D Pelaco
Every Kiddy Gets a Prize
Crazy Eddie
Photo Tattoo
Just a Night at Another Party
Blue Lagoon
3 Squared
The Girls

Irena Luckus - voice, keyboard, guitar
John Willsteed - voice, keyboard, guitar, bass
Steven Pritchard - drums

This CD-R was originally released on the Ten of Cups label in the late 1990s. Apparently I was the only person who ever put an order in for this.

This 4ZZZfm live to air from July 1982 at the University of Queensland's Cement Box theatre sees Xero in one of their many line-ups which Brisbane post-punk outfit had from 1978 to 1983.

John Willsteed and Steven Pritchard from the Cement Box show. Photo by Peter Macpherson

Hated by certain scenes, and adored by others, Xero were one of the few bands who survived and played on through the swift changes of trends which Brisbane endured during the post-punk years (1978-'83). Xero (initially spelled as Zero, then Xiro among many others!) has a long and winding history, involving at least a baker's dozen worth of line-up changes and half as many styles. [More on that in another post on early Zero]

This set sees Xero play through a selection of originals mostly written from 1981 onward, with the oldest song in this set being 3 Squared, performed during their 1979/80 line-up which featured guitarist/vocalist Michael O'Connell, formerly of the Apartments and future Go-Between Lindy Morrison. Blue Lagoon was a song which later appeared in Willsteed's post Xero/ZIP outfit, Machines That Walk.

This particular line-up of Luckus, Willsteed and Pritchard first played in August 1981 in support of the Cure at the request of Robert Smith. Steven Pritchard formerly played with the Swell Guys among many other bands.

The band left behind two cassette EPs, Half the Profits and Religious Wars, and a 6 track 12"mini-LP Lust in the Dust. They also appeared on Fast Forward issue 006. Unofficially, there was a cassette floating about in the early 80s called What Xero Don't Know Won't Hurt Them Tape! featuring sessions from the two cassette EPs, and a single track cassette with their cover of Supernaut's I Like it Both Ways - Xero's submission to 4zzz's Tribute to Australian Rock.

In terms of the digital age, two tracks from Lust in the Dust appear on the essential Chapter Music release Can't Stop It! and 4ZZZfm's 25th anniversary compilation, Behind the Banana Curtain. Both of which at the time of writing are out of print.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Upside Down House - I Once Was, I Once Knew

Photo of Upside Down House in 1981, taken by Lisa Walker. From Clinton Walker's book Inner City Sound.

Australian Independent music journalist/champion Clinton Walker described Upside Down House in his book The Next Big Thing as,

"Of all the rightfully labeled 'Darlinghurst Bands', among them the Frontier Scouts, Upside Down House maintain the highest profile and deserve the most attention. The group was originally formed by bassist Ben Wallace-Crabbe after he left Laughing Clowns, and although that influence is residual, Upside Down House have evolved into something of a peculiar character. As shambolic as anything else, Upside Down House have a sort of medieval quality that's rich and enchanting."

Aside from this mention of the band by Walker in the book's postscript, precious little is known about this band; at least by me anyway. Here's what I do know...

Guitarist David Farrell originally played in the Brisbane punk band the Same 13 (ca. '78-'79), fronted by Ed Kuepper's younger brother Wolfgang. Farrell is of course the younger brother of Bob 'the Block' Farrell who was the original saxophonist of the Laughing Clowns; not to mention one of the Flat Top Four who sang backing vocals on the Saints rendition of Kissin' Cousins on side 2 of (I'm) Stranded.

Kathleen Stewart, David Farrell, Nick Burton, Fiona Macgregor
and Ben Wallace-Crabbe. Venue unknown. Photo by Bob King.

In 1978/'79, Ben Wallace-Crabbe played bass in a Melbourne band with drummer Jeffrey Wegener called the Love, alongside his cousin Dan Wallace-Crabbe. It was Wegener who suggested Dan join the Laughing Clowns he formed with Ed Kuepper, and thus appearing in the band's first line-up in 1979 - staying with the band until the early months of 1981. Ben plays on Laughing Clowns, Sometimes... the Fire Dance and Laughing Clowns 3.

Sadly, Ben committed suicide not long after Upside Down House recorded their vinyl debut.

Below - Ben with Bob Farrell from the first Laughing Clowns photoshoot in 1979, taken by Judith Dransfield-Kuepper.

Peter Shand - another former member of the Oxley Creek tearaways, the Same 13 had replaced Wallace-Crabbe by the time of recording their single, Salomé.

What else? Drummer Nick Burton and saxophonist Michael Braid were also originally from Brisbane. Vocalist Kathleen Stewart is a published novelist (see left ).

Discographically-speaking, Upside Down House only released only 2 titles in their short life; the EP Mauve Xylophone in 1982, and the 7" single Salomé two years after. Both came out on their own label, Mauve Xylophone (UDH01 and 02 respectively). A promotional video was made for Salomé, which I hope to post in the near future. Both of these titles are ridiculously hard to find copies of, and expensive when found.

Below - the EP Mauve Xylophone, emblazoned with a Polaroid image of Kathleen Stewart, taken by Joseph Borkowski.



The Wonderful Curse
The Massacre of Three Ballerinas
Quincy's Mauve Xylophone
Weird Dessert!


Maintenant and The Wonderful Curse also on the Ink Records compilation from 1984, Beyond the Southern Cross. This 2LP set is quite easy to come by from all good 2nd hand music retailers.

Fast Forward # 10 from March, 1982 features an early and almost English psych- folk rendition of The Wonderful Curse, titled on the compilation as What Poison!. The band were listed on the fabled cassette zine as With A Lie - a name they used for their first few shows; though the band played their maiden performance as Upside Down House.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Perfect Lovers - TDK Noise Rock!

The Perfect Lovers

Jamie - percussion
Rin - voice
Marek - guitar
Donat - kit drums
Adam - bass, tapes
Michael - synth

Playing in a carport in Warry St, Spring Hill with the Perfect Lovers in 2004. The honorable Graeme Cakebread would've recorded this set. I played a variety of instruments (mostly drums) with a variety of different line-ups from 1999 'til 2006. Everybody was skinny then. The band released numerous cassettes, CDs and a VHS video - few of which I actually have. I seem to take pride of other people's recorded output, but never my own.

Jamie did wonderful b&w collage posters and would undoubtedly have everything we recorded. This was his band and the rest of us were like Hitchcock's cattle.

We were the loudest band in Brisbane. Even louder (and uglier) than Misery. The Perfect Lovers more often than not had the plugged pulled for being too loud, if we didn't already blow up someone's PA. We smashed TV sets and equipment, some of us accidentally cut ourselves in the spirit of performance and performing.

We played at the IMA and the QCA. We played in an s&m dungeon in a Gay nightclub. And pink palaces; even a driveway too. Somewhere between 20 and 23 shows were performed; all locally - if you count Underwood. We had no songs and no idea of what we were going to play before our set started. We were a brave lot, but not as brave as our audience.

90s Brisbane outfit Tripod were certainly a heavy influence on the band, as were Throbbing Gristle, SPK and Belinda Carlisle.

Watch this space.


"I may not look like much by day, but at night I'm one hell of a Perfect Lover."

- Jamie Hume

The Same EP

Engineer - Scattered Order
Produced by Scattered Order and the Same

I really don't know a terrible lot about this Sydney quintet, though the M Squared site sheds a little more light than I'm able to provide. I first heard this at Ian Wadley's flat in 1996 or so, and subsequently found this record in Sydney not long after. I have not seen one since.

Like other inner-city Sydney bands around 1982/3 (Wildlife Documentaries, Upsidedown House, Kill the King, etc) the Same display a slight Laughing Clowns influence - trebly thin guitars, saxophone and swift melodic changes; especially on the instrumental This Week's World Outlook. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Qamili i Vogël - the Nightingale of Albanian Song

Mazllom Mejzini, Qamili i Vogël and Ismet Peja (sources unknown)

The story of Qamili i Vogël (Little Qamil) is obscured in depths of Yugoslavia's dark and repressive past - where the cultural and musical expression of minority groups made for a trying expressive experience.

Born in the southern urban centre of Gjakova in 1923, Qamil Muhaxhiri singlehandedly created a popular genre of ethnic music within the thin bounadaries of modern-day Kosovo and presented it to not only his people, but to the record buying public at large.

Qamili i Vogël composed, recorded a total of 80 original songs, many of which were initially released as EPs on the Jugoton label in the mid 1960s. His vinyl debut was the first for a Albanian artist to commit to tape for a state-owned recording company in Yugoslavia.

Second to his work as a singer and songwriter, Qamili i Vogël publish books of Albanian folk songs for the public to learn and perform; a concept which was previously unheard of at a time when Albanian was not recognized as a national language in Tito's Bratstvo i Jedinstvo - brotherhood and unity - of Yugoslavia.

Despite these historic firsts, his compositions today aren't copyrighted; his compositional credits are absent from interpreters of his work, and since his death in 1991, Qamili i Vogël's songwriting and compositional catalogue has not seen a serious reappraisal outside of poorly packaged and annotated bootleg cassettes and CDs drawing from his career-long association with the Zagreb-based label Jugoton.

Information on his discography is scattered and blurred, as is any biographical information. Though with the rising popularity of Youtube, many home-recorded videos from the 1970s, state television appearances and a snippet of a career biography have began to slowly appear on the video-sharing website in the past year.

This video offers an interesting biography on his life, detailing his work, starting as a singer for Albanian language radio shows in the fifties, and as a graphic artist for the Rilindja newspaper, amongst other insightful detail intertwined between dedicated music videos which would've been screened on Radio-Televizija Pristina in the 1980s.

And this is not to say that his musical legacy has been forgotten; many artists to this day do covers of his songs in both the recording and performing fields alike within Kosovo and the diaspora. His compositions have lent to a style of music named after his birthplace, Gjakovarë contempoarily spearheaded by the tenor, Xeni.

One particular purveyor of his songs is Ismet Peja, and like a Dardanian Sinatra, treats his arrangements and vocal inflections of what could be only described today as Kosovar standards with a great sense of respect for Qamili's melodies and deeply emotional phrasing.

Peja, along with Mazllom Mejzini (both pictured above) were frequent vocal collaborators who in turn held successful solo careers as vocalists. Qamili i Vogel also sang alongside Sofie Hyseni, Bajrush Doda, Hamide Sadiku and other revered Albanian folksingers of the sixties and seventies.

Qamili i Vogël's group, Hajdar Dushi in 1969
Back row: Sabah Bytyqi, Gongje Qaushi, Bardosh Rudi, Masar Peja
Front row: Mazllom Mejzini, Qamili i Vogël, Ismet Peja

This collection of 23 songs is one of those aforementioned CDs, which I purchased (after a great deal of fishing around various marketplaces) in his hometown in 2007. This set represents a balance of his early work; a minimalist orchestration of ethnic Albanian instruments with violin; and his later big-band orchestral work - adding clarinet, classical guitar, mandola, harmonium, piano accordion, and secondary male vocalists.

01. Hajro Plava dhe Hyseni Zajmi
02 Kënga e Rexhës
03 N'rimishë të Hollë
04 Lufta e Livoqit
05 Ku Po Knojnë Kto Dy Kumrija
06 Dil Njiherë Moj Vajzë e Bukur
07 Prej Shtëpisë Kur Jam Dalë
08 Sina Uba Kjo Punë e Verës
09 Jare Mos Më Shti Moj Me T'ba Be
10 Oh Fletët Tua Moj Drandofile
11 Pash Sytë e Mi Që I Kam në Ballë
12 Kënga e Ymer Rizes
13 Gonxhe Qeli Drandofili
14 Në Pranverë Lulja Në Behar
15 I Vujtun Jam Nëkët Jetë
16 Nagoi Drita Nbreg T'nji Prroni
17 Kënga e Vëlla e Motër Terbeshi
18 Për Herë T'pare Kur T'pash Moj Dije
19 Qofshë e Zezë Dile Proma
20 Kënga e Bajram Begut
21 Kënga e Tërmetit Të Dibres
22 Tridhjetë Ditë Ka Ramazani
23 Kënga e Trimave Gjkakovarë

Listen here