1/21/2010

'I Thought This Was Love, But This Ain't Casablanca'

I heard something the other day that I didn’t realize was so seminal. You know I loves me some Australian rawk, but I was not aware of Aussie punks The Saints.

The Saints, who started playing together in 1974, were considered contemporaries of the Ramones, and actually released their debut, (I’m) Stranded, about six months before Never Mind The Bollocks came out. Bob Geldof was even once quoted as saying, “Rock music in the Seventies was changed by three bands: the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and The Saints.”

So how did I not know about The Saints? Who knows. Although once I located their debut disk, some of the songs did sound familiar. Probably I’d heard them and not known who it was. There’s also the possibility that, because the band had relocated to the U.K. by 1977, (I’m) Stranded got lost in the punk shuffle and never got the acclaim it deserved.

By the time The Saints got ‘round to recording their second album, they had started to move beyond punk, which they already thought was becoming over-hyped and too commercial. “New uniforms; we all look the same,” they would sing.

Subsequent albums would take The Saints in a more blues-rock direction and through just over 20 different members. Chris Bailey is the only one to have been with the band throughout their 36-year history. Various members still reunite with Bailey for the occasional one-off reunion gig, although they haven’t released a new album since 2006.

(I’m) Stranded stands as a punk rock benchmark. Listening to it now, I can’t believe this album came out pre-Pistols. The buzzsaw guitars are 100-percent Stooges / Ramones / pure punk raunch. The Saints’ take on “Kissin’ Cousins” turns it into a sleazy incest fantasy far removed from the hillbilly innocence of Elvis’ original. “Night In Venice,” which was the original album closer, sounds like Night in Seattle as it presages grunge nearly 15 years before the world would hear about Kurt Cobain.

This is truly a remarkable album and is as fresh and vital now as it was 35 years ago. If you, like me, have somehow missed out on it, you need to somehow get hold of it and treat yourself to it.

Kissin’ Cousins.mp3
Night In Venice.mp3


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3 Comments:

At 10:09 PM , Blogger The Warden said...

Not sure which album it's on, but their cover of River Deep Mountain High is a real punk masterpiece.

 
At 7:20 AM , Blogger aikin said...

Hey Warden - it's a bonus track on the re-release of (I'm) Stranded. If I remember, it was originally released on an EP or as a b-side or something.

 
At 10:24 AM , Blogger The Warden said...

Aikin: I actually have the song on a great old punk compilation LP called The Rare Stuff, has like 4 Saints tunes along with stuff by Wire, Rich Kids, the Flys...

 

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