Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mark C Halstead - Before And After Love

Mark Caulfield Halstead - more affectionately known quite simply as Marko - released this album through W Minc in 1994. No-one really payed too much attention to it at the time, and people still haven't really taken the time out to discover this (still in print) album.

Marko's career began in the mid to late 1970s Brisbane. And like many of his musical peers of that era, he found himself playing guitar in a host of punk bands centered around Roma Street's Curry Shop and away from pub venues. The unrecorded The Disposible Fits and the Fuji Angels are but two. An early artefact from his punk/new wave days comes from an unaired TV pilot centered around Brisbane music called Exposure. His band the Hostages were featured alongside JFK & the Cuban Crisis, The Repairs and Ninja Skil (featuring a very young Charlie Owen). This excerpt from the 1981 show is the only studio recording made by this band. The featured song is the Halstead composition Tremble; recorded at Basement Studios in Roma St by Colin Bloxsom.

By 1983, he joined Tex Deadly and the Dum Dums with fellow Fit Cyril Culley when the band moved to Sydney. Marko's tales of wagon wheels and other past curios are written in good detail in Clinton Walker's Stranded book. An example of his song-writing at the time is documented on the 1st Beasts of Bourbon album in the form of the closing track from The Axeman's Jazz, Ten Wheels for Jesus.

[Photo by David Macpherson of Tex Deadly and the Dum Dums l-r Tex Perkins, Greg Wadley, Des Johnson, Marko]

Marko also played in the Kingswoods and Kingswood Trio around this time who existed between 1983 and 1986 released a couple of singles, namely Purty Vacant, which appeared on a FABRICLIVE mix CD put together by DJ John Peel. The trio - Peter Kroll, John Downie and Halstead concurrently played in the Pineapples From The Dawn of Time.

By the early 1990s, Halstead moved to Melbourne where was an adjunct member of the McComb-led Blackeyed Susans and their trio offshoot on vocals and mandolin; and appeared on the bulk of their All Souls Alive album. He also played alongside Graham Lee in the Paradise Vendors, performed in the Disappointments, sang on Robert Forster's I Had a New York Girlfriend album, et cetera.

And of course, he's a part of the current Triffids touring troupe, offering what Rob Snarksi described at their recent Brisbane show as a 'man mountain' with his rendering of Bury Me Deep In Love.

I could go on forever with this biography, but I won't. The aim here was an attempt to bring this album to an audience who may not be aware of who he is, and why this album might actually be worth sinking your teeth into.

This album came out when alt-country was still wondering whether Townes or Earle was better than Guy Clark. Even his appearance on the Ernie & Denise show didn't seem to cement the fact that this man's baritone is a national treasure. And due to its lack of commercial esteem, Before And After Love remains as his only solo release after being a vital conduit for so many musicians and bands since Australian punk's first wave.

Try it out here, but I highly suggest buying this album seeing that's easily available.

Here's a video filmed at the Standard Hotel in Melbourne for Whiskers in the Sink; a song written about his old musical cohort, Cyril Culley.


Unknown said...

lovely writing. fond and factual. he is worthy of more attention, no doubt.