Sunday, 12 August 2012
The Bent Elbows - St. Lucia Road 7" EMI Custom 13152, 1981
Wrong, wrong, wrong. We try to make a habit of not being wrong, but sometimes the mistake was made long ago. This one hurts because I owned this record in the early '80s and purged it almost immediately, deeming the band too suburban, too MMM, too rocky. Ugh, how wrong could I have been.
Fast forward thirty years and a copy of this showed up in an online auction out of all places, Midwest America. Oh no, I thought, another pissweak record being pimped as KBD. But the listing had sound clips and over the next ten or so minutes, well, that's when my walls really started to crumble. Behind rocky vocals is a band coming across like a Brisbane powerpop band, the aesthetic choices being highlighted by short, tight guitar solos, and lyrics about the ups and downs of drinking and enjoying your youth.
Apart from the good time feel what I really like about this record is the stripped back production. Although these guys were aiming to be Oz Rock stars, in the studio their sound was like any other mid-fi inner city sound recording, relying on feel and not modern studio trickery. Given the antiseptic sounds of so many similar bands from the era who "made it", we're left with a what-could-have-been reaction to the whole genre. Bent Elbows, maybe with the aid of the credited "alcoholic adviser", got it right.
So to the songs: St Lucia Road is about the band's home, the road leading from Toowong out to the University Of Queensland at St Lucia, and now renamed Sir Fred Schonell Drive. References are also made to another local landmark, Hawken Drive, Rec week (the first week of the University year), and not dropping out before 4ZZZ's third Joint Effort; Free-way Connection is about joining your friends for a piss-up down the South coast; the plaintive Scoring Sugar is an ambivalent drug song; and the probable highlight - Chip On The Shoulder Boy, the great Queenslander affliction writ small. Here the protagonist is picking fights at the R.E. (Royal Exchange Hotel at Toowong), talking big while on the sauce - one great line "Woodstock is over, throw your beads away".
Band history here.
Knock the top off a cold one, bend your elbow and have a listen.
St Lucia Road [Download]
Free-way Connection [Download]
Scoring Sugar [Download]
Chip On The Shoulder Boy [Download]