Sunday, 23 December 2012
Systems Go! - No More Xmas, Carol 7" no label or matrix number, 1978
First of all:
Now before you think we've gone all god botherin' on you, let us explain. After the fact that the first 18 seconds blows most contemporaneous "prog" out of the water, the first reason for posting Sister Jan's groovy 1973 reading is that Clare Moore of The Sputniks is apocryphally playing the freaky drums on it! That's not quite the case though Clare did learn her craft under the Svengali-like gaze of the good sister.
The second point of Wallaby Beat interest is that playing on and writing songs on Mead's records was a guy called Arnold Strals. He's presumably responsible for that analogue synth on The Lord's Prayer and the funky drumbeat. In fact he copped the songwriting credit, nice work for words nearly 2000 years old!
Fast forward a few years and, like Moore, Strals appeared in the Adelaide underground. The band was Systems Go!, and while clearly not a punk band, the photo in Inner City Sound hints at a David Lynch-ian otherworldliness, with a touch of Pere Ubu thrown in.
The band released a pretty obscure 7" in 1978, along with a track on the 5MMM compilation best known for the Brats in 1980. As well as Strals the band featured Huw Lewis on lead and slide guitar,
Liduina van der Sman on sax and flute, Adrienne Sach on piano and harmonica, Keith Newman on drums, Vonni Rollan on congas and Nigel Sweeting on bass.
Van der Sman later played with ...And The Native Hipsters in London, before closing the circle and playing with Moore and Dave Graney on 1997's The Devil Drives. Newman had been in The Warm Jets who became Terminal Twist, who covered several of Strals' songs, including Common Knowledge on their EP. Strals' songs are also listed as an influence on Terry Bradford from Greasy Pop band July 14th, in his interview in Underground In The City Of Churches.
Rollan and Sweeting then spent time in new wavers Nuvo Bloc before Sweeting hooked up with Strals and Lewis through the early to mid '80s as Speedboat. You can hear a Speedboat track, Sex Without Grunting, on Fast Forward 11.
Which brings us to the 1978 single. The less interesting A-side of the single can be heard on Left Of The Middle. The flipside though, is a lumbering beast of a song, really hitting its straps in the choruses, where Strals' take on Tom Waits' take on Captain Beefheart will sit really well with your fifth glögg/umeshu/Fosters on Tuesday afternoon.
No More Xmas, Carol [Download]