Monday, December 26, 2011

The Seven Ballerinas

L to R: Mario, Nigel, John, Billy, Michael
This lineup recorded the single ‘Sometimes I Feel’
written by Michael and ‘Circles’ written by John in Sydney in 81.

Thanks to Michael for putting together this history of what was
a very good band and one of my favorites, over to Michael!

Formed in late 1980 after the demise of local Gold Coast Bands
Ratpack and The Strand.
The lineup was Ex Ratpackers, John Smethurst (guitar and vocals),
Nigel Baker (keyboards) and Mario Spina (bass) and
Ex Strand guitarist Michael Palmer.
Billy Pommer completed the lineup on drums.
After a handful of gigs Nigel Baker left and Billy Pommer
was replaced on drums by John Hippocrates.
Billy later went to Sydney as drummer for The Johnnys.

L to R: Mario Spina, John Smethurst, Michael Palmer and Johnny Hippocrates

Sometimes I Feel became a minor hit on 4ZZZ and also made
high rotation on Sydney’s radio 2JJ as it was back then.
On the strength of that we toured Sydney regularly.
Playing The Manzil Room, Bondi Tram. Governors Pleasure,
Stranded, Carmens at Miranda, The Trade Union Club etc etc.
In Brisbane the venues were rather sparse. 279 Club,
The Aussie National, The New York Hotel, Souths Leagues Club,
Easts Leagues Club. On the Gold Coast we played regularly at
The Playroom and The Jet Club.
And at the Royal Mail at Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast.
The band was very well received in Sydney.

The song Sometimes I Feel was also submitted by the
Engineer who had worked on the recording to 4MMM
to be on their first “Homegrown” LP. A collection of local
Brisbane bands. It was selected.
Be it naive or just stupid ego we were quite embarrassed about it.
I remember sitting in an office at MMM and looking
thought a pile of 45s. Was everything we liked to listen to.
Turned out it was their reject pile for the week.

There was record company interest from Polygram in Sydney
and in mid 82 we went into the studio to record what was to be
our first single but was really the first of many midnight to dawn
recording sessions. In actual fact unbeknown to us the recording
was organised by an AR guy from Polygram who was wanting
to form his own label. We were to be his first release.
Gangajang eventually got the honours.
When we heard the final tracks we were rather disappointed.
The producer had chosen to not work with anything we had
done in the studio and the songs had become too reliant on
his own use of samples and keyboards. It was eventually
agreed by all to forget it. 2 of the tracks from those sessions
“Another Day” written by Michael Palmer and “Falling Tear”
written by John Smethurst are on Youtube.
Listening to them now though I really like them.
The only place the recorded version of Falling Tear was ever
played was when the band appeared on Studio One.
A Saturday morning music show on channel 7.
We were promoting a festival “Summer Jam” at the Surfers Paradise
Raceway in January 1983 and we needed something
new to use as a backing.

You Tube Videos

The band continued playing live and self funded recording. Some of these recordings are on Youtube.

There is also a clip of the band recorded live at the Playroom doing a version of Joy Divisions Transmission.

The band called it a day late 84. Johnny and Mario went on to play in The Bossanova Kids and The Tellers.

In 1991 Michael Palmer and John Smethurst were joined by Chris Bailey (Gangajang and the Angels) on bass and JJ Harris (Divinyls) on drums and they recorded a version of Sometimes I Feel. Our live sound engineer Frank Kerestedjian at the controls in his studio in Sydney. A 10 year full circle.

L to R: Mario Spina, Johnny Hippocrates, John Smethurst
and Michael Palmer


Anonymous said...

Haha! I thought I recognised a young Billy Pommer in that pic...I will have to show it to him as he now lives in my neck of the woods, being St many bands has he NOT played in?