Sunday, July 31, 2011

Batswing Saloon - Harold and Maude

Brisbane in the late 80s in a musical sense didn't have a terrible lot going for it. Clusters of bands featuring musicians from the early 80s and before soldiered on, or left defeated by the mid part of the decade. Those who stuck around made some brilliant cassettes and fewer made (cassette) albums. And then there's vinyl.

You have to remember that in the post-punk landscape of Brisbane that aside from Xero, no one put out a 12" record; Go-Betweens and Saints not included in this argument. Likewise with the Riptides. I'm speaking about the ones who stayed here, stuck it out (as in the fact they didn't move to Sydney) and did the odd tour of the southern capitals. And who did it independently. Lust in the Dust came out in 1982. The iconic 4zzz compilation LP State of Emergence appeared four years later and the He Dark Age album, The Dog's Breakfast was four years after that! What you have in the middle of that are cassette albums. Small runs for an audience and one for 4ZZZ's music library.

Talk about torrid times.

And so a awful lot of boring bands dominated Brisbane music during the mid to late 1980s and many of them released 45s to remind us of how dire it all was. Some dove in and did 12" EPs (Ironing Music spring to mind) but when you look at a discography of Brisbane independent music from 1978 to 1990, there wasn't a lot of vinyl commitment going on and reasonably-priced CD pressing was still a way's away. There were more than two, but less than three dozen or so independently-released 45s between 1978 and 1982 and then the momentum suddenly went pffft!!!

So when you look at singles released between 1983 and 1988 and speaking of bands outside of the punk-stroke-hardcore realm, there's only a handful of truly listenable titles that came out locally.

Yes, there was Bent Records who released bands like the Lemon Fabs on wax but I'm speaking of quality independent music here. Note how I didn't include any 4IP or FM 104 compilation LPs a paragraph or so back.

So among the piles of terrible releases (and let's face it folks, there were a lot of them!), here's a good one, and Batswing Saloon's sole release Harold and Maude/Split Level World displays the treble-laden Brisbane of the 1980s at its primitive best.

Sydney might've had Matrimony, but Brisbane had Batswing Saloon. A little less post-punk, but making up for it with a lot more twee.

Batswing Saloon were probably (okay, certainly) the first all-girl Brisbane band to put out a single, though Zero undoubtedly hold the mantle of being the first all-girl post-punk band at some early point. This came out sometime in early 1989 or maybe even late 1988, almost three years after they formed. It was produced by Ian Wadley who was at that time playing in the Holy Ghosts and Small World Experience; and who by this time was already a veteran in Brisbane indie music terms.

Drummer Sue Holman also played in Cut, a band featuring guitarist Eugene Carchesio of the Holy Ghosts and Steven Grainger of Closest Thing (a trio with Eugene). No one went on to do anything else, except Michelle Bowden who played in another all-girl band in the early 90s - Gravelrash. The band's original singer Anne Dellar was in Die Neuen.

Harold and Maude is the opening track from disc 2 of 4ZZZ's 25th anniversary CD, Behind the Banana Curtain.


Unknown said...

I remember seeing them at the Uni rec club in 88 they blew me away there wasn't a lt going on in the music scene then but what a shimmer of light being an all girl band

John Rudduck said...

I remember seeing them at the Brisbane Uni Rec club in 88. They were amazing and a shimmering light in the band scene back then