1) AN INTRODUCTION
I arrived in Melbourne five months ago.
Every city has something to attract and repel. Melbourne has the
disadvantage of being isolated, cut off from the rest of its country by
Australia's sheer size... not to mention the rest of the world. Sometimes,
it feels like you've stepped off the planet's edge. Others, it's like living
in a Labour ideal of 70's England. Everyone cheats on the (low-priced)
public transport. Everyone takes forever to complete the simplest of tasks.
Everyone dislikes anyone with graces and airs, and everyone hates especially
Sydney and London. Fair enough. I don't like those centres of commerce and
tourism, either. I decided on Melbourne for one simple reason. When I first
arrived here on Brunswick St, five years ago, I felt like Jimmy Stewart in
'It's A Wonderful Life' running down the street yelling 'Merry Christmas
everybody' to startled passers-by. It was the height of summer. I could not
believe the vibrancy of the live scene, the enthusiasm of all around for
I still can't.
Since I've been here, I've discovered that this vibrancy is down to a
few, cherished individuals - shops, labels, bands. The usual. It quickly
became apparent to me that Melbourne draws strength from its isolation, for
it gives its artists an opportunity to flourish, away from the prying eyes
of the outside world. It also means that when bands from the outside world
visit they are all the more special. One of Melbourne's leading lights is
clearly Au Go Go Records - both the record shop and label. I'd been aware of
Au Go Go for some years now, picked up the odd exclusive Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion and 20 Miles import, was aware of their involvement with seminal
Australian garage bands like the Scientists and the Moodists. Why, I'd ever
ear-marked them as a possible distribution outlet for my (now in hiatus) UK
Recently, I've been regularly visiting their record shop in Melbourne's
central business district, borrowing CDs from Pat Honaghan for my weekly
Roots of Punk series on local community radio station PBS (co-hosted by
Cosmic Psychos drummer, Bill Walsh). And every now and then, the rumour of a
new Jon Spencer/Calvin Johnson collaboration or Spiderbait CD or new Make Up album arriving on the label, makes me feel slightly less cut off,
floundering. Here are people who understand the primal urge in all us punk
rockers to go out, dance and have a damn good time.
Good sorts, these Au Go Go people.
2) AN E-MAIL
Date: Wed, Sep 1, 1999, 4.56 PM
Joel. I know this is going to look pre-meditated in the light of what
happened recently... but it's really not. I have a major problem this end,
writing the article. I set aside the whole of my final day before my trip to
New Zealand to write this article for you - and typed up all my notes, wrote
a brief history of Au Go Go, compiled the recommended records list, filled
in some background detail from the day of the interview... and settled down
to the (always arduous) task of transcribing the interview tapes conducted
with three of Au Go Go's leading lights.
Guess what? The tape's fucked. Of the three, Scotti is just audible,
Fionna barely so... and Greta sounds like she's speaking from the other end
of a mile-long wind tunnel on a blustery winter's afternoon. Only worse.
This leaves me with a major problem, that I am unable to complete the
article to the deadline set. I feel very bad about this, cos I don't like
letting people down - especially not cool folk such as yourself and Au Go
Go. Let me know what's best - preferably before I leave tomorrow morning.
3) THE INTERVIEW
The Au Go Go interview takes place on a windy, crap August day. There ain't
much to recommend Melbourne in the winter, except the fact the temperature
never drops below a certain point. Today is like walking through Manchester,
England on a particularly grim Saturday afternoon. Wind howls, whips up
pages of yesterday's Age strewn across Swanston St and sends them hurtling
against the sides of slow-moving trams. Wind whips up and lashes at the
windows of Au Go Go's spacious office just off Little Bourke Street. Inside,
giant Russ Meyer and Blues Explosion posters sit proudly on the walls next
to facsimiles of Warhol's Campbell's Tomato Soup screen-print and Cramps and
Snout flyers. The usual cheerful jumble of half-opened CD boxes,
three-year-old computers and mattresses (Greta is thinking of moving in
shortly) clutter the working area.
It's a space very similar to many other independent record distribution
companies' spaces - although Au Go Go's is markedly cleaner. I begin the
interview by asking the three people present what it is they do at the
PP: Who are - and what do you do?
Greta: 'I'm Greta and I don't have an official title. I cause the most mess.
Everyone else spends most of their day trying to clear up my mess.'
Fionna: 'I'm Fionna and I came to Au Go Go temporarily three years ago,
under the stipulation I was only going to work for two months.'
Scotti: 'I'm Scotti and I just do bits and pieces around the place. Fit this
to that. I came here in '88. We all do lots of different stuff.'
Fionna: 'That's the beauty of small labels. You're not bound into one
PP: What does a typical day in Au Go Go consist of?
Greta: 'We're unusual in that we all like to turn up for work very early.'
4) PANDORA'S BOX
There's a box of Au Go Go CDs in my (one) room, lying on top of random
detritus - a shoulder bag, a mobile phone operator's manual, copies of
Rolling Stone (Australia) and local street press Inpress, discarded press
releases for The Clash and Michael Hutchence. This box has been my own
special secret for the past five weeks: it has nurtured me past the fifth
review of Gary Moore (solo) and Leann Rimes for amazon.com, it has born me
up when I've been dejected and wondered what the hell I'm running from, in a
country so far from home. The card on top reads 'Au Go Go Records. 2 Floors
What a cool slogan!
The names on the CDs intrigue and inspire me. There are so damn many.
There's cutie US band Cub's 'Mauler, A Collection Of Oddities', the girls
oddly parading in their bikinis on the back sleeve... the hi-octane Japanese
garage 'Tokyo Trashville' collection hidden beneath a disgusting cartoon...
Thrill Jockey's 'In Flux Us' compilation looking all intense and
foreboding... rock revivalist band The Hellacopters' 'Disappointment Blues',
pretending to be all knowledgable with a carefully-placed guitar on the
sleeve... Squidboy's 'Drinking Songs' , now mysteriously disappeared... an
old Mudhoney single, a Venom P Stinger single, the occasional Man Or
AstroMan? album... Magic Dirt's fierce, hostile and melodic 'Life Was
Better', the band all crammed into a car on the sleeve they're off to pick
magic mushrooms... a bonanza Spiderbait package... J.Church's incendiary
My head swirls and takes several back-leaps. How can there be so many
cool people around, so close at hand and yet hidden from view? Is this what
is known as 'alternative'? Is this the soul of music I've been searching
for? I can't believe that any of these records sell enough copies to justify
the printing expense on the sleeves, let alone keep a company like Au Go Go
solvent and running for over 20 years, but obviously they do. That's so
The CDs continue to tumble out of Pandora's box...
There's The Chosen Few's classic 'A Root And A Beer' retrospective, the
band looking like yr archetypal soulful pub band on the cover (check their
awesome song, 'Living Proof That Adelaide Is The Arshehole Of The
Universe')... the Lord High Fixers' wild garage blues 'When The Revolution
Comes'... Snout's genre-leaping 'Circle High And Wide'... the odd Blues
Explosion CD, more Magic Dirt... archetypal Aussie-fun punks The Meanies'
'10% Weird'... The Onyas' fat and ugly 'Six!'... more Snout, the Tomorrow
People... Midget, Electric Frankenstein's down-home bluesy 'Rock'N'Roll
Monster'... Nursery Crimes, Sugar Shack... a few more local compilations...
Whoah! Slow down there, Au Go Go folk! How can you expect one humble
critic to assimilate 20 years of good, good music in just a few short weeks?
5) A HISTORY, VERSION ONE
Au Go Go was started in 1979 by Bruce Milne and Philip Morland, looking to
support a fledgling independent Melbourne scene. 'Things were starting to
happen overseas,' explained Bruce to RAM magazine in '86. 'We were reading
about all these bands like Ramones and Sex Pistols, who looked like you
wanted to look. They weren't wearing kaftans and putting out records with
Roger Dean covers, they were wearing jeans and leather jackets.' So Milne
got involved with managing young bands, publishing a fanzine and releasing
records. Au Go Go's debut release was the 'Overnight' EP from Two Way Garden (a sparse, intricate 60's-influenced punk band)... and over the next three
years was responsible for the debut releases from no less than 25 Australian
'I didn't actually pay for the first 12 or so,' Bruce explained. 'It was
more a process of getting the records distributed, and creating an
impression of a Melbourne scene.'
After becoming involved with eight issues of a cassette magazine 'Fast
Forward' in '81 - during which time Au Go Go was put on hold - Bruce was
joined by Greta Moon in '82, and the label became more focused. Releases
included The Moodists' self-descriptive brand of garage and Perth's
Scientists - a band whose raw, open-throated sound many credit with being a
seminal influence on the Seattle garage/grunge scene of the late 80's.
During the remainder of the 80s, Au Go Go continued to release many
local bands' records - the Zimmerman, the Hollowmen, the Stooges-inspired
Dogman, the fuzz blues of Sunset Strip - and towards the end of the decade,
started to license product from American labels like Blast First, giving
Australian exposure to bands like Sonic Youth ('Sister', Daydream Nation',
'Evol', 'Bad Moon Rising'), Butthole Surfers ('Locust Abortion Technician',
'Hairway To Steven'), Big Black, Dinosaur Jr, Lemonheads and Mudhoney...
Since then: What has happened at Au Go Go?
6) SOME RECORDS (ONE)
Clumsy transcription of Greta, Scotti and Fionna's comments on some
favourite Au Go Go releases, 18/10/99, part one.
JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION: Mo' Width CD (ANDA 166, 1994)
Greta: 'The first Blues Explosion record we worked on. What can I say? It
Fionna: 'The first time I saw Jon Spencer live all I could do was stare. So
many people walked out after seeing him, despite having paid $30 to see
Beck, because he was so incredible.'
Scotti: 'Manic record with some of the most crushing guitar distortion ever
put to tape.'
THE MOODISTS: Engine Shudder 12' (ANDA 026, 1982)
Greta: 'Our first 12' release. An incredibly compelling live band. Dave
Graney was overly dramatic on stage at a time when people simply weren't.
The Moodists played this wonderful, passionate music composed of melody and
hard, tough rhythm lines. I can remember Dave swaying across the audience
and hearing the great Australian cry of 'wanker!'. Australian crowds have
become more tolerant since, but back then the Moodists would play very
powerful, moving music to people who simply didn't understand.'
SONIC YOUTH: Sister LP (ANDA 060, 1987)
Scotti: 'Back then, to help promote these bands, people would be forever
making cassettes and passing them along to friends. There was a constant
trading of information across opposite sides of the world. People in bands,
and around bands, all communicating through their love for music. That's how
a lot of the stuff came over to Australia.'
Greta: 'I saw Sonic Youth in Japan and was amazed by their adulation, the
way they were almost deified because they were from New York. The Japanese
are so into every facet of popular culture - nothing goes unexplored. Sonic
Youth were showered with soft toys when they played there.'
Scotti: 'Just seeing Sonic Youth in Prahran with the screwdriver stuck
through the guitar strings...'
BIG BLACK: Songs About Fucking LP (ANDA 064, 1987)
Greta: 'When Big Black first came out to tour, it was incredibly exciting.
They were awesome - so powerful, so precise, so creative. They came out with
the absolute minimum of luggage; just their black suits, nothing else. Steve
Albini was so inspiring - his intelligence, his attention to detail. He
became very entranced with the idea of a bugle. So he bought one and
insisted on driving back and forth across Sydney Harbour Bridge, heralding
with his bugle. It became part of their on-stage show. There was this one
concert in Sydney which just went on and on and on. Out the front, there was
a country band singing these most incredible, political torch songs -
fronted by a lesbian with a beard. And it wasn't just a small beard, either!
The live shows of Big Black and Sonic Youth had a tremendous impact on the
Melbourne scene because at that time in Australia there weren't many
SNOUT: Circle High And Wide CD (ANDA 236, 1998)
Scotti: 'An Australian album of pop perfection and creativity. Taking things
from former harmony heroes and boldly placing it up there for us to melt
Greta: 'We've been working with Ross [Snout's main songwriter] for some
considerable time now. This album is full of incredibly crafted, beautiful
songs. When I think of Snout, I think of Ross coming into the office with a
new tape - and each time he's got a new instrument on it, like a cornet.
I'll say, 'I didn't know you could play the cornet,' and he'll reply, 'I
couldn't. I thought I'd just try...' Musical dexterity is the phrase that
comes to mind.'
Fionna: 'Discovering Snout and Ross has been such a joy. Seeing people turn
up on a Monday night in LA and being totally blown away by them... I haven't
met anyone who doesn't like them.'
VARIOUS ARTISTS: A Collection Of Texas Garage Punkers CD (ANDA 198, 1997)
Scotti: 'There are two guys competing with each other to see who can play
their music loudest, and one of them is playing this Texas compilation.
Well, they skip from track to track, increasing in noise when all of sudden
the Texas guy's back windows blow out! That about sums this record up.'
Greta: 'We had a lunch for this in Austin, around the time of South By
Southwest, in a tiny transvestite bar with swing doors which could hold 40
people comfortably. People were crammed onto ledges, on the bar, in corners.
It was so crammed that every time something happened on stage, people would
be hurled through the swing doors, straight out into the street! The music
had become a physical force.'
7) ANOTHER E-MAIL
Date: Sat, Oct 26, 1999, 12.59AM
Fuck Buck Cherry. They're the new Guns 'N Roses, Neil. You know that, they
know that, even their record company knows that. It's not a compliment. Fuck
That'll teach me. I did have too much time on my hands, but writing 100
CD reviews in under two weeks will cure that - as will doing a series of
phone interviews with, among others, that scary London Jewish duo who made
'Kaddish', the album which attempts to contextualise the effect of the
Holocaust on Europe in the present-day through use of music and images.
Fucking scary music, too. How am I going to fit in my Au Go Go feature now?
How am I going to explain what makes them special is the luminous quality
they appear to have inside - their obvious enthusiasm for music, the way
they keep on going whatever. It's something I don't understand: although I
seem to be writing mostly for no money nowadays, surely everyone's main
motivation is always money. If I had money what wouldn't I do... well, I
wouldn't need to borrow from their shop and find 30 different ways to say
nothing about the same anonymous records. Only the other day, I found myself
reviewing another record on Au Go Go - that new collaboration from Jon
Spencer and Calvin Johnson. My fellow critic at The Age slagged it off,
saying Calvin can't hold a country tune... completely missing the informal
textures and its grand sense of dub tradition, the way everything is so free
and loose. I like the record, it reveals that even Mr Spencer doesn't mind
occasionally letting that veneer of NYC cool slip and revealing his
frailties. I like it when people are human - if I didn't I'd be queuing down
the fucking Park to see the Eurythmics alongside every other mug.
Have you noticed how that Sugar Ray single is a complete rip-off of the
Nips' classic punk-pop single "Gabrielle"... someone should tell MacGowan.
Whatever. Tomorrow morning I'm interviewing Strummer - and all I want is the
answer to one simple question. Did punk rock die the day Joe Strummer
strapped on an electric guitar? I'm going to have to tackle this Au Go
Records article soon.
8) AN EXCERPT FROM THE AU GO GO USELETTER (JULY EDITION)
Yes - it's July and this is the freebie shop Newsletter for the li'l ol'
record shop smack bang in the city centre called Au Go Go records (that's
us). For those who are into Skool Holidaze - welcome to them as well, and
let's begin with some song lyrics. The following comes from Sydney's mighty
Splatterheads, circa mid-90's, and a song entitled 'Fish Biscuit' (from 'Bot
'Sweet little pretty ran away from the trouble we saw it all through the
peephole, she carried her belongings in pair of purple stockings and her
head in a fishbowl, I caught her walking backwards with a dead bunch of
flowers and a feather in her waistband, talking to the birds about the
places she was going in the ads on the newsstand, saw lost pretty, gone
pretty gone yeah. All her free movie passes burned up in a house fire that
no one could of started. Well they fired up the incubator, almost an
incinerator laughing about the wallclimb, swinging round the tree house
swinging like a loud trout it's donuts for the last time. Sign says back
later protoplasm gladiator see you in the jelly rack, couldn't really miss
it with the number on the biscuit, I'll be there when the eggs hatch, lost
pretty gone pretty gone yeah when of a sudden said the stripper with the
rotor button waiting for the big bang. Brown suit hot flush, married to a
toilet brush that's doing up a condo, a world famous monkey told me how to
knit a bridge across a river that don't flow strange thing piece of string
waiting for a wedding ring that bought a weasel meat hall and the lone
kipper I saw naked in the tub went and moved into a pinball. I'm really gone
really gone yeah and a little birdie told me all the insects in the world
are goner decorate my conscious.'
Great stuff - and the music rips as well! And what about this little gem
on the box at the moment:
'Where are my socks?, if I don't get those socks I'm out of business. Did
you check all your stocks? There's no socks in my stocks! Check down by the
docks... I'm at the docks - there's no socks, I've checked every box,
there's no box full of socks... forget about socks, I just saw a fox! We got
locks, we got frocks... no frocks, not woks, no locks... just socks!... Did
you get your clocks?' Aah yes - as you can see - too many square vision late
(All words by Scotti)
9) THE MECHANICS
PP: How has Au Go Go survived so long?
Greta: 'By being cheap and nasty. We don't have many overheads. Money can
sometimes be a consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not to
release a record - but usually, if we love something enough, we'll find a
way round it. We'd only not release something only if we felt it meant we
couldn't honour our other commitments, not because we were frightened of
losing money on that release.'
Scotti: 'That's part of the challenge. How to interest the Australian public
in a band like J Church from Iowa.'
Greta: 'Our releases sell between 30 and 30,000. I can't tell you who the 30
is, because that would be discouraging. But Spiderbait would be the latter.
It's a lot for a small country. It's impossible to say how many you need to
sell to break even - it depends how much promotion is happening on, how much
it cost to record, where it's going to be released. I can remember wandering
round London in the early 80s, trying to get shops to take Scientists
records. The Onyas once came in with a record that cost just $300 (Aus).'
Scotti: 'We enthusiastic and just hope that our enthusiasm rubs off on other
people. We're very proud and manic about the way we go about creating the
label's discography. We like to keep things ticking along. We like to find
new, wonderful ways of making things happen without ever having to worry too
much about the monetary side.'
10) SOME RECORDS (TWO)
Clumsy transcription of Greta, Scotti and Fionna's comments on some
favourite Au Go Go releases, 19/10/99, part two
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Tokyo Trashville CD (ANDA 181, 1994)
Greta: 'On my first trip to Japan, I was fascinated by the people we met -
and the talent in so many of the bands. We came across so many people who
were simultaneously academic and passionate about music - and had such an
knowledge of almost every form of music you could think of. They'd take this
sophisticated understanding of music and regurgitate it in their own forms.
Wonderful. All those influences being taken in and spat out into something
different and seriously fucked-up.'
MAGIC DIRT: Signs Of Satanic Youth CD (ANDA 167, 1994)
Fionna: 'The Geelong/Detroit, industrial working class, connection. Magic
Dirt have a real youthful frustration to their songs.'
Scotti: 'Their first major show was supporting Sonic Youth. Raw, untamed,
Greta: 'Four Australians who've walked in after a day at the beach, picked
up a guitar and decided to have a play. 'We've had a surf, we've had a few
beers, let's do it!'. Reminiscent in a weird way of couples rolling round on
the sand, hands up jumpers, outer suburbia, small town Australia.'
THE MEANIES: 10% Weird CD (ANDA 186, 1994)
Scotti: 'They used to put together their own bills at this 300 capacity
place in Collingwood. They've played a lot of all ages show - they'll play
anywhere. They paved the way for a lot of Australian punk bands who
followed. Their live shows would always be memorable - self-mutilation,
people crashing into drum kits...'
Greta: 'They've probably sold more T-shirts than any other band in
Australian history. The Meanies have an energetic live show, with great
snappy pop songs.'
VARIOUS ARTISTS: Wonder From A Quarter Acre CD (ANDA 226, 1998)
Scotti: 'Eight Australian bands show their colours. From the serene to the
Fionna: 'It was a record we put out at a time when we were looking at a few
bands from Melbourne, one from Tasmania, one from Sydney. We wanted to work
with all of them, but that was impossible - so we did a compilation.
Compilations have always been a big part of what we do at Au Go Go. A lot of
the sounds didn't match each other, but that was OK. It was who we liked,
and who we wanted to work with. It's a great way to encourage bands and get
them wider distribution. Since then, a lot of them have gone on to get
record deals elsewhere.'
VARIOUS ARTISTS: In Flux Us CD (ANDA 228, 1998)
Greta: 'That's the first time we've ever worked with another label on a
compilation of that label's material. It's unusual, because independent
labels are usually regarded as being fairly dogmatic individuals fiercely
protective of their own roster. I love this CD. Its music is wonderfully
diverse. I very much admire the purity of Bettina and the people at Thrill
Jockey. They use a different paper stock for each press release!'
Fionna: 'I remember being so excited discussing the track listing. All the
songs were recorded specially for us. Since then, at least two bands have
toured here - Trans Am and Tortoise.'
THE SCIENTISTS: This Is My Happy Hour/Swampland 7' (ANDA 025, 1982)
Scotti: 'Their label debut from 1982. Both songs stand as benchmark Oz indie
Greta: 'One of the truly great Australian bands. Still something we get
e-mails about on a daily basis. Kim Salmon is the most incredible
songwriter. Live, they were so powerful, so inspiring. Kim would walk on
stage, and he'd be like a caged animal. First time I met them, the drummer
had a white body shirt with purple swirls, and jet-black hair. In 1980! They
had Cuban heels and stovepipe trousers, and people would stare at them in
the street. They had tremendous style.'
11) AN EXPLANATION
Context. Any form of popular music is all about context. Find me someone who
doesn't believe this, and I'll show you someone with no brains. Popular
music is never about a simple melody, a set of pleasant lyrics. What are its
confines, its community, its working environment? Au Go Go has served as a
supplier of a certain strain of music to Australia that would've remained
unheard for a whole lot longer without its existence. How can I explain the
effect Au Go Go has had on Melbourne, without having been part of that
community for years? I can't. All I can attempt to do is try to provide some
sort of frame, some sphere of reference within which to place Au Go Go's
singular punk vision. I do this by citing examples, parallels, the context
of everyday life as it happens.
Au Go Go is similar to other great remote, city-based labels in America -
Dischord, K, Amphetamine Reptile, Thrill Jockey - because of its focus, its
enthusiasm, its ability to create in a near-vacuum. Yet it's dissimilar,
because there is no obvious defining strain of music over the years -
although, in certain periods, you could draw loose circles round certain
bands. The raw, moody garage punk of the Moodists and the Scientists in the
early 80s. The blistering sonic attack of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr in the
late 80s. The fierce, disaffected anger of urban Australian groups like the
Meanies and Magic Dirt in the 90s.
Au Go Go affected me strongly in two ways in the 80s.
1) The label indirectly effected my entrance into the music business.
(Bah!) In '81, I went down to London's Rock Garden to check out The
Moodists. Their support band that night was The Laughing Apple - whose
singer Alan McGee later released my (and his label Creation's) first record,
as a direct result of my dancing to his band at that show. Actually, now I
recount the story, I'm not sure it wasn't The Sound I saw that night, but
whatever... Perception is what matters, not the truth.
2) The Scientists were an incredibly heavy influence on all the Seattle
'grunge' bands circa '88/'89 that I was sent out by the Melody Maker to
cover. I never looked back (or forward) since.
Back to the interview:
PP: What's the secret behind creating an independent label?
Greta: 'Self-belief. Passion to carry you through the low periods.
Creativity, to overcome any monetary difficulties. All nebulous things, but
all very necessary. Also, you should be able to use technology for your own
ends. Be adaptable to change.'
Scotti: 'There isn't a blueprint, a list of do's and don'ts. You need
commitment - and attachment. Attachment to the bands, to the music. Although
the Au Go Go catalogue is vast, there's always been a case of quality over
quantity here. If a record's got itself a catalogue number, it's done a lot
of hard work to get to that stage.'
Fionna: 'It's not until you travel abroad to places like America, that you
realise the depth of knowledge people have about Au Go Go. I have people
coming up and telling me about records that I haven't even heard - but then,
I'm only just older than the label itself.'
Scotti: 'The underground network now is great. It's reassuring to know that
people have heard of us, even though we're stuck down in a remote corner of
the globe. Now, we have bands come in and tell us that they were avid Au Go
Go mail order customers 10 years ago.'
12) A HISTORY, VERSION TWO
Excerpt from the Au Go Go Useletter (June edition).
Welcome to June 1999. It is 20 years to the month when Au Go Go Records
issued the debut record on the label ANDA 001 - being a four-track 7' in a
neato poster sleeve from locals Two Way Garden entitled 'She's So Wrecked'.
Following that came another 24 7' singles (ya gotta love the 7') including
three from the Little Murders, two from Clint Small, the Crackajacks, the
Marching Girls, the Zorros, the Moodists (featuring a young Dave Graney and
Clare Moore), a split 7' with Plays With Marionettes and the
brilliantly-titled People With Chairs Up Their Noses (featuring a very young
Jim White - he, the rat-a-tat-tat underhand drum master from the Dirty
Three), the Tuff Monks (being the only collaboration between the Birthday
Party and the Go-Betweens recorded during the making of the Birthday Party's
classic 'Junkyard' album in Richmond), plus Perth's most legendary
Scientists - whose 'This Is My Happy Hour'/'Swampland' remains as one of the
great Australian independent singles.
ANDA 026 was the first 'big size' record on the label, that being the
'Engine Shudder' 12' from the Moodists (who also feature another member of
the Dirty Three - guitarist Mick Turner). From this point on the label
spawned another seven releases by The Scientists, a few 12' EPS from the
likes of Harem Scarum, Frontier Scouts etc... - the label's first
full-length LP and compilation 'Asleep At The Wheel' (featuring 12 bands
such as The Huckston Creepers, Corpsegrinders, Olympic Sideburns, Bumsteers, The Feral Dinosaurs, Painters And Dockers, The Spring Plains - who would later become the Cosmic Psychos... and more!).
Then came two more albums from the Zimmermen and the Little Murders and
onto another compilation, being 1986's 'A Slab Of Vic' - featuring 15 bands
such as The Slaughtermen, Bone-Weevils (who recently played their farewell
show), Behind The Magnolia Curtain (featuring Warwick Brown, later of The
Sunset Strip - Greville Records, and Johnny Nolan - later of the mighty
Bored!/Powdermonkeys etc), Fire Below (featuring a young Mr Dave Steel - who
would later land in Weddings Parties Anything), the Gas Babies
(singer/bassist Russell B later to be found in 'Feed The Dog'-era Bored!
line-up), The Shower Scene From Psycho (recently rejuvenated via Reliant
Records), the Shindiggers, Artic Circles, the Wet Ones and more!
ANDA 045 saw the label's first overseas artists appear - that being the
album 'Now!' from Memphis psychobilly swamp shaker Tav Falco's Panther
Burns, which resulted in the first overseas compilation of wild Memphis
party music 'Swamp Surfing In Memphis' (which we recently got back out there
(All words by Scotti)
13) THE OUTRO
What I have attempted to do in the above 12 sections is to try to put into
words a certain feeling, a certain magic that exists in Melbourne. It's
disjointed, because life is. Life is a series of ups and downs: music often
seems to me to be the least dependable of any of the available crutches. (I
know that a certain amount of whisky will have a certain knock-on effect. I
know that if I don't sleep I become ridiculously hyper-active. I know that
if the sunlight glints through our front room's window at a certain angle,
it will make me happy. I know that I can't fucking stand large congregations
of people, wherever. I do not ever know what effect putting on a certain
record or CD or going to see a certain band will have on my mood. Except,
perhaps, if I play Dexys Midnight Runners... but I digress.) The reason I
love Au Go Go - the people, the shop, the label, the bands - is that they
provide me with more of a choice than most. It seems that here are people
who genuinely care about the music they are providing... and although this
shouldn't matter, it does.
At least, to me, it does.
(At the time of writing this article, Everett True is suffering from the
after-effects of having to review over 150 CDs in a two week period for
various magazines and web-sites around the world.)
© Everett True 2000