Monday, 3 August 2015

City Ram Waddy - Revelations: EMI Custom Records 1979


Coming soon on Wallaby Beat Records:

The Screaming Abdabs / City Ram Waddy LP (WBRX-2603)
Recently unearthed, previously unreleased 1978 recording by Sydney punks The Screaming Abdabs on side 1, and two raw/rare/remarkable 1979 solo records by Abdabs drummer Richard "City Ram" Waddy on side 2. The City Ram Waddy 7" sets a benchmark for primitivism in Australian DIY, while the City Ram And Ja Mystics 12" achieves propulsive Suicide-like repetition. Astonishing. Pressing of 500 copies, with 100 on pink vinyl. Includes a Spurt fanzine insert that folds out to a massive poster with detailed interviews, photos and press clippings.


The case of City Ram Waddy is among the most vexing of the Australian punk era. Who was this guy? What on earth was he on about? How does he fit into the grand scheme of Australian DIY? Why can't I find copies of these damn records?

The full Richard "City Ram" Waddy story can be found in a lengthy interview that will accompany our next release, an LP collecting Waddy's two exceedingly rare records from 1979, plus eight previously unreleased tracks by his former punk band, The Screaming Abdabs (stay tuned: the Abdabs' amazing story will follow in its own post). In short, Waddy heard the Sex Pistols, ditched his high school blues band, and landed behind the kit with The Screaming Abdabs in early 1978. The Abdabs were done by the end of the year, prompting Waddy to pick up a guitar and launch an improbable campaign at solo punk stardom. The result: two almost non-existent records (EMI Custom pressings of 100), each containing drastic reinterpretations of the classic rock canon rendered unrecognisable by an overloaded cassette recorder mic (the City Ram Waddy 7") and clean, pro-studio minimalism (the City Ram And Ja Mystics 12"). The 7" sets a benchmark for primitivism in Australian punk, its shit-fi murk rivalling that of any DIY home-recording of the era. So reviled was this record that it was deemed unsellable by the only Sydney shop to take consignment copies; those records - up to half of the pressing - were unceremoniously dumped in the bin by a helpful employee (a young Roger Grierson from the Thought Criminals). The follow-up 12", recorded at EMI with Waddy on bass, achieves preconscious moments of sparse, propulsive Suicide-via-Jah-Wobble aggro. A few copies were sold on the streets of Sydney and London, but most were given away to industry contacts who, by and large, filed them in the same place as the aforementioned Sydney record shop.

Both records have homemade, photocopied insert sleeves with odd typewritten rants and then-topical local references (we are especially fond of the design credit to Brian Westlake on the 7"). Both records also make bizarre allusions to "conservation of sexual energy" that recall Jack D Ripper from Dr Strangelove, though as you'll read below, the true inspiration was even more astonishing. And both records are amazing, left-field oddness from a genuine iconoclast, the kind of noise from nowhere that makes us foam at the mouth.

What follows is an edited transcript of an interview we conducted with Richard Waddy in early 2015, the full version of which will appear as a fanzine/poster insert in the upcoming LP. Our gratitude to Richard for his enthusiasm and for being the best of sports.

Richard Waddy with The Screaming Abdabs, early 1978 (photo: Stephen Best)

Your solo stuff, the City Ram material, were you doing that at the same time as The Screaming Abdabs?

No, no I wasn't. I wanted just to be a drummer. I joined another couple of heavy punk bands in the inner city after the Abdabs, one was called The Proles, I remember. Like "proletariat", it was very politically oriented, like a very communist sort of band. Political science students. And then I got sacked from that band, they wouldn't even have me! So I really wanted to get some product, but I realised I couldn't work with people due to my attitudes. And I thought, y'know, "Stuff it, I'll become a solo act". And I tried to gig around, but I didn't even own a motor car. I tried to gig around Paddington in Sydney, Oxford Street before Oxford Street was really gay. It was pre-gay, it was more punk, I thought. Anyway, it was too hard, I was making no money. But I got all my money together and went down to EMI and said, "I want to make a single like the other punks". I wanted to stay punk. And they said, "Well, you need a couple of tracks". I think I recorded that original one on like a cassette recorder or something. I can't remember, but it was something like that.

So you basically recorded the first City Ram Waddy single at home?

Um...I think I did. I'm not sure, but I think I did, and that's why with the second record I said, "That was so terrible", so I paid for studio time either at EMI or another almost-as-good studio. But the whole punk thing was DIY for us amateurs, art school students and junk. So what I probably did was recorded on a cassette recorder and brought it in and said, "Can I have a record made please? How much is it?". They said, "A gazillion dollars!". So I gave them the cassette and they said, "Give us your money, kid", print print print, thank you EMI, thank you City Ram!

"CITY RAM WADDY...QUICKLY BECAME AUSTRALIA'S MOST INFLUENTIAL BAND. THEIR UNIQUE ARRANGEMENTS DEVELOPED THE CITY RAM BEAT WHICH IS TAKING THE CONTINENT BY STORM"

There were only a hundred copies of that first record, right?

Absolutely right. That's because I had no money. I didn't know what to do. I had no manager - my managers were all weird, right? There was Ian [Hartley, manager of The Screaming Abdabs] of course, who was one of the straightest shooters of the lot, but I had guys who were managing City Ram who were straight out of the political wing of Long Bay gaol! So it was desperate times, it was desperate to get this political statement out there.

What was the political statement you were making?

Well, I don't know! At the time I think we were in some sort of psychosis as young communists or something! I don't know, anyway the manager, it was all his thing. Well, it wasn't all his thing, but it was like, "Make money out of this, man". And I’m going, "Yeah, okay man", all I can do is, I'm a drummer who's trying to play guitar and sing a song and get some kind of...It was, "Okay okay, we'll make it what we can with what we've got", which wasn't much. Punk!

You did the City Ram And Ja Mystics 12" after that.

Oh yeah. It was sensational, it was a real sensation because it was a media saturation promotion. It went through the magazines internationally, and it went through the pop magazines. It didn't make a hit, but as promotion...lathered upon these kind of promotion and advertising agencies, they were keen to hear more of this weird crap! But not overly keen. Conservatively keen.

[laughter]

"THANKS TO THE PRISONERS WHO WORKED THE UNDERGROUND AND WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE LONG BAY RIOTS. THANKS TO THE HEROIC DRUG SMUGGLERS WHO PRESS ON FOREVER FOR THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM"

And how many copies did you press?

Okay, probably about a hundred again. Possibly, yeah. Because I took them to England, and I distributed them again, not trying to sell them this time, but just using them as promotional material.

Wow, you weren't actually selling them?

No, because there was no money in it. I didn't have the sales team, or the advertising, or the distribution to make a go of it. I needed some more money. I wanted to go to India, and I wanted to go to Europe, and I needed some bread to buy a share in a commune or something. I'd grown up a little bit.

[laughter]

One thing I've always wondered about is the spiel on the cover of the 12" that says, "City Ram the mystic rocker from Adelaide...". What was that about?

I was born in Adelaide. It was kind of like a little salute to where I was born, 'cause they weren't getting much product out there in the punk world, and I thought, as my mind must have worked in those days, "Oh, instead of being another Sydney band, if they don't like me I'll see if Adelaide does". Well, they didn't like me either! But you can see the marketing ideas. Trying to get some spin-off, and some kudos in lieu of cash, and getting record contracts and all that normal straight sort of mainstream ambition of every guitar kook in the world.

So your aim with the City Ram records really was just to get a record deal?

Exactly. I was trying to get a hit record just like Johnny Rotten. But I knew I didn't want to be like Johnny Rotten, I wanted to be a competitor to the Sex Pistols or any of them, and make money!

City Ram Waddy, late 1978
(photo: Bruce Tindale)
What was the reason that you recorded covers, rather than your own compositions?

Well, really I'm not much of a poet. I studied short story writing later to try to get the gift of the pen, but I had no talent. And these cats had written these okay songs, fairly easy to play, and I thought, "They're okay tracks, quite catchy", and I put my own little City Punk spin on them.

You certainly made those songs your own.

Yeah, and that's the best I could do as a product, really.

But you do have your own little lyrical turns in there, like the poems about celibacy on the first single, and the allusions to "conservation of sexual energy" on Double Adaptor [a reworking of Dropout Boogie by Captain Beefheart]. What's that all about?

That was sort of like trying to market the yoga experience through a punk format. Like, that basic essence of yoga 101 through a punk marketing format. And that's how I was going to be a millionaire.

[laughter]

After the City Ram 12", you headed overseas again.

Yeah, that's right. I took samples to the UK to try and crack it there. It's a hard market to crack, the UK. I had some limited smiles, but mostly rejections, as usual. Virgin Records were rather sweet, one or two others, but no real interest. You're the only people to ever show a deeper interest!

[laughter]

How long did you stay in the UK?

A year in the UK, a very, very, very hard year in the UK. I couldn't get a gig, I couldn't get an amplifier, I couldn't crack it at all. I got one night as a guest DJ at the Electric Ballroom with The Beat, I think, when they were just starting out. They were great, ska. Everyone was a skinhead at that time down there. The skinheads took over and they virtually adopted me, put me on a direction, a more professional, conservative direction. But still groovy, man. So I continued in the vein of music, but not so much bizarreness, more Anglo. More European, more straight rock or something.

Did you do any recording while you were there?

Nah, by then I was broke. I had to be liberated by Mum and Dad, back to Australia.

And did you continue the City Ram thing back in Sydney?

No, I went into rehab for like three years. I couldn't do anything, I didn't want to know about music. I had the classic rock and roll breakdown. And it took about ten years to come back. And I couldn't crack the scene because by then I had a reputation as a flake, or worse. I was really sick and I needed some money, so I actually became a gardener for about eight years, and then I went up north and lived in a hippie commune in about 1991. I also played football, rugby, and I wanted to play first grade but I only played fourth grade. So you see, I was on a health kick. No punk, no music!

[laughter]

One last obvious question. The name City Ram – where does it come from and what does it mean?

Well, there was a chant, one of those yoga chants, and the two words sounded like "City Ram". They weren't, it was "Sita Ram", about this god and his wife getting it on. I didn't want to get on the wrong foot with the Hindus, so I changed the words a little bit and made them more aggressive, which was probably in retrospect a very negative movement. But I'm tarred and feathered with it at the moment, and I'll probably be stuck with it for my working life.

It's a great name.

Yeah, yeah. I think it's right up there with Megadeth!

[hysterical laughter]


Walking The Dog / Poem
(from City Ram Waddy 7" Revelation/EMI Custom PRS-2610 1979)


Double Adaptor
(from City Ram And Ja Mystics - Project X 12" Revelation/EMI Custom PRS-2674 1979)


Some copies have the words "PRISONERS", "LONG BAY RIOTS" and "DRUG SMUGGLERS" redacted by hand

Friday, 8 May 2015

There's Life In The Old Wallaby Yet

Despite all evidence to the contrary, Wallaby Beat is not dead. Shortly we’ll have some exciting news to share on the label front, and there'll be new posts to follow after that. In the meantime, like us on Facebook for more regular updates and additional bits and pieces that haven’t appeared on the blog.

Now, here's a cool Ulsers flyer.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ulsers - Remember Them 7" reissue and Forget Them LP available now!

Ulsers are go!

Read below for the skinny on the Remember Them 7" reissue, as well as the Forget Them LP of archival, never-before-released material. They look and sound great - we couldn't be happier with how they've turned out. Both records are pressings of 500, but we'll have 100 coloured vinyl copies of each available only through our Big Cartel site. We trust that Australian customers and internationals who are keen on the limited versions will have already clicked the shit outta that link. For non-Aussies who don't care about coloured vinyl, the black vinyl versions will be carried by Easter Bilby and Florida's Dying in the US, La Vida Es Un Mus in the UK/Europe, and NAT in Japan.

To reacquaint yourself with the mystery and majesty of the Ulsers, revisit our interview with Terry Wilson from August 2012.


Ulsers - Remember Them 7" (WBRS-2601)


500 copies. 100 on white vinyl, available only from Wallaby Beat.

Four songs of hilariously obnoxious avant-punk from the living rooms of suburban Adelaide. Originally released in a tiny pressing in 1980, Remember Them was (barely) circulated to friends and acquaintances, finding fleeting local infamy as "the worst record ever made" before disappearing from the collective consciousness for 30+ years.

Remember Them is now rightly regarded as a high-water mark of manic Australian DIY, taking punk rock as inspiration and bludgeoning it with the only instruments at the Ulsers' disposal - guitar, saxophone, harmonica, and cardboard boxes in place of drums. Paired with a slew of shouted profanity and stream-of-consciousness ranting, the result is unlike anything else before or since.

This legitimate reissue - reproducing the original and very rare cover, along with photos and a detailed band history - makes Remember Them available beyond the Ulsers' tight inner circle for the very first time.

Tracklisting:

1. Cabaret
2. Radio
3. Julius Sumner Miller
4. I'm An Italian


Ulsers - Forget Them LP (WBRX-2602)


500 copies. 100 on purple vinyl, available only from Wallaby Beat.

A full LP of previously unreleased recordings from the mighty Ulsers!

The Ulsers didn't manage an album during their loose existence from 1978-1983, but luckily for us, wherever they went a cassette recorder was never far away. Salvaged from the bottom of dusty drawers and long-forgotten boxes in the garage, those tapes survived just long enough for the Ulsers to personally cull their 10 favourite tunes.

Recorded in various Adelaide living rooms in 1981 and 1982, Forget Them captures the Ulsers in full-band mode, i.e. electric guitar, bass and drums. Don't let the conventional instrumentation fool you, though; there is nothing conventional about the sound which ranges from a sped up, punked-out take on their ode to Julius Sumner Miller to the 10-minute endurance test of Nerve Gas (think Flipper with chromosome damage tackling LA Blues). Forget Them's songs are more developed, the vocals more manic and the sax blurts even more spastic than on the Remember Them EP. The band states definitively that it's "better", and we won't disagree.

Comes with full-colour inner sleeve packed with more Ulsers photos than you ever thought possible.

Tracklisting:

1. Alternative City
2. Circumstances Were Conspiring Against Me
3. I'm Not Going To Brighton
4. JSM
5. Take Off Outta Here
6. In Your Eyes
7. I'm Not Going To Stay With You
8. Somebody Loves You
9. Cabaret
10. Nerve Gas

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

It never ends: Hitmen - I Want You, 1980

Hitmen's second 7", I Want You / Tell Tale Heart (WEA, 100129) sees them start the move from the perfect powerpop of the first 7" to the less interesting macho hard rock of the LPs. The band were nothing if not a great singles band however, and all the 45s are well worth getting. It was said at the time that the A-side, I Want You, was inspired by Kiss' 1979 hit I Was Made For Loving You. Hmm, we can't really hear it. Even down the decades that smells like Record Company bullshit, riding off the popularity of that year's hit. Further, we're pretty sure a man of taste like songwriter Warwick Gilbert would have ripped off prime era Kiss, like Deuce, Strutter or Cold Gin, if he was so inclined.

What is true though is that said Record Company were too cheap to stump up for a picture sleeve, so the band had some printed themselves and hand distributed them to at least the Sydney shops.

On the other hand, through WEA's worldwide reach, the single also got issued in Italy (WEA, Y 70005) as part of The Sound Of The 80s series. Both white label promos and coloured label stock copies exist.




There are mentions on the web of a German issue with the same catalogue number but we're dubious to the point of saying it doesn't exist.

What is maybe less known is the alternative version of I Want You which appeared on a K-Tel greatest hits LP called Squeezed Out later in 1980, alongside The Aliens, The Angels, The Reels and, um, Christie Allen. K-Tel mastering renders the song two seconds shorter but it's the same version with a different mix - louder rhythm guitar post-chorus (an improvement) and big '80s sounding drums (sad slide whistle).

I Want You (single version) [Download]


I Want You (Squeezed Out version) [Download]


Telltale Heart [Download]

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Wallaby Beat Live





On Saturday night May 24, the esteemed R.I.P Society label will be hosting a fifth birthday event, at the Sydney Opera House no less.

Bands playing are:

The Dead C / feedtime / Bed Wettin' Bad Boys / Woollen Kits / Native Cats / Rat Columns / Cured Pink / Holy Balm / Ghastly Spats / Housewives / Constant Mongrel / Half High

More details here.

We'll be playing Wallaby Beat discs between bands. Below is some highlights of Opera House shows in the '70s. We'll be trying to recreate the feel of The Angels getting clocked by bottles at the end of 1979 - read about it in Blood, Sweat And Beers.





Thursday, 6 March 2014

Finch - Out Of Control 7" Picture Records PRS 011, 1973

Finch covering The Eagles is borderline genius, but even better, their balls-out take on Out Of Control out-struts Strutter in the shameless Kiss-worship stakes - at least, it would do if it didn't precede the first Kiss LP by a whole year! The flip sees them bust out a rifftastic original that gets heavy when it needs to and swings nicely when it doesn't. The overall vibe leaves no doubt that Finch were no strangers to the bong, but alas, there are no overt weed references this time around - they were probably too buzzed on sugar and caffeine from winning the 1973 Pepsi Pop Poll (the first prize being this one-off deal with Picture Records. EMI Custom enthusiasts, note the unrelated catalogue prefix).

Things have been pretty quiet around here of late, and updates will continue to be sporadic over the next few months as we concentrate on the upcoming Ulsers 7" reissue and archival LP. More news about those soon.

Out Of Control [Download]


And She Sings [Download]

Saturday, 1 February 2014

C. C. C. - Welcome To Cordial Land LP Starlight, 1976

So what else was happening in Brisbane in 1976? Apart from the unusual score in the Grand Final, orthodoxy says not much and we’re pretty sure that this time it’s right. If you couldn’t stomach 4IP approved cover bands, country, bluegrass or blues then you’d have been making a beeline for Club ‘76 with the rest of the uplifting gourmandisers.

But what’s this? Coming out of the upper levels of the Penney’s Building at 210 Queen Street (now in the mall), the CCC Band released this obscure LP in yes, 1976.

We’ve long been dubious about a Brisbane Sound – a twee, thin shouldered, short-sleeved shirt and short-wearing light pop. Sure, post ’83 there was a bunch of bands that could be viewed as having taken the Go-Betweens ball and run with it (to use a completely non-apt sporting analogy) – Let's Go Naked, Leap In The Dark, Birds Of Tin, Antic Frantic, Dog Fish Cat Bird, Too Green For Summer, Tangled Shoelaces and others. But prior to that the sounds of Brisbane were way too varied for us to find much of a common denominator (world class punk rock aside).  The Striped Sunlight Sound of the first two Go-betweens always seemed a one-off.

CCC though, at least on parts of their LP, showcase a lethargic, sun-affected whimsy that makes us at least reconsider our stance. Songs about cordial, the Golden Circle cannery (which every Brisbane schoolchild visited at least once), lollies and other childhood signposts make us wonder if those mid-80s era bands were actually riffing off copies of this record found at op-shops rather than Send Me A Lullabye and Before Hollywood. Probably not.

Elsewhere on the album there’s some fairly dire electric blues, and some aimless jamming but the charming faux-innocence means it’s mostly likeable. Faux? Well, Eating Snakes is clearly about fellatio. We’ve picked our favourite tracks below. If we’re really stretching our long bow we could posit Lemon Tree, which appeared on the Left Of The Middle cassette, as early minimal synth.


We once thought CCC were one of those bands who had a Department of Education gig touring schools and playing shows. Doing it for the kids, literally. But we can’t actually find any evidence of that, or of anything really. For now P. Richardson, D. Brown, G. Peters and T. Mullooly remain obscure.

Captain Cordial Rock [Download]


Eating Snakes [Download]


Lemon Tree [Download]

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Pupils Of Love - Rock And Roll 7" Rock And Roll Records POL001, 1986

CON: Conventional wisdom is that the first Pupils of Love single came out in 1985. That's well past the golden age, however you choose to define it, and as such this record would probably be maligned by uptight collectors (like us!) if they weren't so busy ignoring it. Well, let's add to the annual incremental Legend penalty - it actually came out in 1986. Gasp!

PRO: A fellow by the name of Mark Taylor (we wish it was this one, but it's more likely to be this one) twiddles the knobs here, and manages to avoid most of the nasty studio pitfalls typical of the era. No gated reverb, no metallic guitars, no overt slickness making the whole thing sound anaemic. The fact that some reasonably astute people have mistaken this for a 1981 release (the year Rock 'n' Roll was written, according to the lyric sheet) says it all.

CON: A rock 'n' roll song about rock 'n' roll named Rock 'n' Roll (on Rock And Roll Records, no less) is about the most off-putting thing I can think of at the moment, and thanks to my Facebook feed I just accidentally viewed an uncensored pic of the Big Black "Headache Pack".

PRO: Rock 'n' Roll is great. Golden Memories ain't half-bad, either.

CON: Hound Dog. We made the executive decision that you don't need to hear it, but it is every bit as unnecessary as you imagine it to be - an unfortunate aesthetic choice, for sure. Pupils of Love had two later, easier-to-find 7"s (1987 and 1992) on which you can hear the sound of their aesthetic standards circling the drain ("Australia's only rock 'n' roll sex show". Um, no thanks!).

PRO: The front cover, which places a photo of the band over the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant 45, is an aesthetic triumph. The Thomas Pynchon reference also wins points ("Only pupils of love need be beautiful"), putting them in the company of esteemed Wallaby Beat favourites, the Guest Stars.

STATLER: Boo!

WALDORF: Boo!

STATLER: That was the worst thing I've ever heard!

WALDORF: It was terrible!

STATLER: Horrendous!

WALDORF: Well it wasn't that bad.

STATLER: Oh yeah?

WALDORF: Well, there were parts of it I liked!

STATLER: Well, I liked a lot of it.

WALDORF: Yeah, it was good actually.

STATLER: It was great!

WALDORF: It was wonderful!

STATLER: Yeah, bravo!

WALDORF: More!

STATLER: More!

Rock 'n' Roll [Download]


Golden Memories [Download]

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

3 Musketeers - The Drop 7" Ginsling, 1984


Hello all, here's this season's reindeer turd.

Context - U-Bombs and Nervous System related new wave who decided to get ugly for one song off their two 7"s.

Silent Night [Download]

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Coupe De Ville - Live At Leichhardt Hotel 7" Lost 13468, 1983

In the end there's not many Australian records that qualify as pub rock, by which we mean in the style of Dr Feelgood, Ducks Deluxe and Little Bob Story (all of whom had their vital records released in Australia). You could make a case that parts of the Carlton scene fit the bill, and you'd get some sympathy here. There's one or two Adelaide records and a couple from Sydney, which we'll get to in a moment, but the Australian concept of pub rock is generally beer fuelled dross which just makes us want to glass someone. 

Sydney spawned a couple of bands who fit our more refined view of pub rock - from early years there's the Mangrove Boogie Kings and the Model Husbands, and then there's this one, by Coupe De Ville. Recorded at Leichhardt Hotel, it's pub rock both literal and figurative. The two A-side tracks can be heard below. The original is a decent piece of revved up R&B, and the Flamin' Groovies cover is made unique by some pretty good sax by Pepper, Ted. Side B has a jazz instrumental and a lacklustre cover of Just A Little Bit. 

Coupe De Ville played around for a few years around from 1982 to 1984, making one tour to Melbourne and this one record. Bandleader was Cub Callaway who briefly appeared in the Chris Bailey Saints, and wrote and produced the first New Christs 7". The rest of the band was Brett Stevenson (vocals), Bruce Tindale (Maton guitar, later Decline Of The Reptiles), Phil Sommerville (bass, ex-Hitmen), Joe Breen (drums, later Bam Balams) and Ted and Charlie Pepper on sax and piano. Bailey produced and the record appeared on Lost Records, home of Paralytic Tonight Dublin Tomorrow and The Monkey Puzzle.

Coupe de Ville [Download]


Teenage Head [Download]


Coupe De Ville, a coupe, and a pub.
Melbourne tour poster.