Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Been listening to this ad nauseum the past few days, something prompted quite obviously by the documentary of its making aired last Saturday night on the Great Australian Album series on SBS (that's a national government TV station, for you foreigners). I'll admit, I didn't totally get my head around the greatness of the Saints and this platter until my mid 20s. The title track was something I heard week-in/week-out on Rage as a teen, and I could certainly get my head around such an obviously likeable and immediate piece of music in my punk-addled brain, and my older brother - one w/ much less of a cultural cringe than myself - would flog the LP to the point of osmosis when I was growing up.... but, it didn't really click for many years.

That moment happened when I was 25, working in a music warehouse and found myself to be in easy access of the cheapie twofer of their first two albums and a workplace stereo. The iconoclastic nature of the Saints' brilliant first two albums hit me like a thunderbolt. The urgency, the anger, the hostile individualism all coalesced and nailed it right home like few rock bands at the time ever could. Great music aside (and that is why you should listen to them), the context of the Saints, like many terrific bands treated like dirt in they hey-day, adds beautifully to their myth: teenage misfits making a racket in Joh's Queensland in the mid '70s (one must add that such an environment was comparable to, say, Alabama ca. '63 or South Africa ca. '76) hit the big time for roughly a minute in punk-mad Blighty, hit the skids upon arrival once the Limeys take offence to the colonials' distinct lack of fashionable style; band releases 3 excellent and disparate albums and calls it quits.

Almost a mirror image of the similar tale of Radio Birdman, another band completely misunderstood during their day and who are, like the Saints were a year or two back, about to be inducted (or were? Has this happened?) into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, a trophy about as worthless and hollow as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammies (and it is basically an Australian version thereof). Radio Birdman have about 7 or 8 songs I really like, though I've heard too many people carping on about them over the last 20 years to care too much. I have friends in Canada and Europe who put them in the same exotic basket of great '70s underachievers as Simply Saucer, Pink Fairies or Rocket From The Tombs, though for an Australian I find them to be about as exotic as a Detroit native would find the Stooges. That certainly doesn't mean I dislike them, though for me they can't compare to the greatness of primo '70s Saints. Hey, some people dig the Stones more than the Beatles and vice versa; I'm a Saints guy, though come back to me in a decade and see how I feel about it then.


MRow said...

Methinks if RADIO BIRDMAN stood in for the STONES, then the SAINTS most definitely played that KINKS-ian role in relation. But then this begs the question: who acted as the BEATLES?

Anonymous said...

alot of great rock'n'roll came outa Alabama, circa 1963!