Sunday, 9 October 2011

Nervous System - Pied Piper 7" no label 13195, 1981

Readers with well-worn copies of Inner City Sound will know Nervous System from the tantalising description "raw, arty neo-punk", accompanied by artwork resembling a rejected SPK single sleeve. "Neo-punk" is evocative but, 30 years after the fact, a little ambiguous. The translation in the Who's Who of Australian Rock - "hard-edged new wave" - is more specific, but misses the mark somewhat. We prefer the summary of an anonymous 2JJ announcer: "More Joy Division than Joy Division".

Nervous System's core members - Anthony (vocals, guitar), Emmanuel (bass), and two Jameses on synth and sax, respectively - were arts students attending the same Sydney college in the late '70s. A year or so after the band's formation, drummer David completed the line-up. Throughout 1980 and 1981, Nervous System played a total of 13 shows in Sydney and Newcastle, supporting the likes of the Laughing Clowns and the Go-Betweens, as well as the usual M-Squared suspects at that label's residency at Brownies (the Paddington Green Hotel). The band recorded the three songs comprising their single at the M-Squared studio (see recent entries on the Sheiks and Seems Twice), prior to playing a final show supporting Models at the Trade Union Club. The 45 - an EMI Custom pressing - was released posthumously in December 1981.

Saxophobes should not be deterred by that instrument's appearance in the line-up, the honking being limited to just three notes on one of the tracks (the best one at that: Rendition). The Joy Division influence is pervasive - Rendition, for example, has overtones of Transmission, but elements of Unknown Pleasures are present throughout. Small touches, like the use of tremolo on the guitars, and indeed the sax, add some necessary points of differentiation.

Worthy of note is the single's excellent sleeve, a screen printed oversized envelope, with the band's name hand-written on the front and a contact address stamped on the reverse. It's a cover almost guaranteed to confound the condition-OCD afflicted collector - not only is it subject to the tattiness common to oversized sleeves, condition is further compromised by the envelope being sealed with the record inside. The precision with which original owners cracked the seal varies considerably.

After Nervous System disbanded, various members played in Idiom Flesh, 3 Musketeers and the Loop Orchestra. A 1985 Nervous System single (Stranded / Islanders, on Art & Graft Records) is the work of an entirely different Melbourne band.

Pied Piper [Download]


Last Avenue [Download]


Rendition [Download]

2 comments:

bazzil said...

I used to own this years ago... sold it for $20, Thanks for the chance to hear it again!

brown0gx said...

Dont forget the "one stop shopping" tracks from Nervous System "Bertolucci" and "one"