Antipodean 'soul music'* - The Saints

Compare this track with any other English 'punk' tune from 1978, say the Buzzocks 'Ever fallen in love'  and you get a sense of the essential temperamental difference of the two countries (Australia and England). Last Christmas, when staying in Brighton, I watched the 'silly antics' made manifest in the TV specials; with all that jolly banter and reindeer pullovers - the countdown of 70s joke songs, including one from Slade - and felt like I'd landed on Mars.

Formed in 1973, by a group of working-class boys in the (then) tropical backwater/police state of Queensland, the Saints were headed up by two mercurial greats - the self-important singer, Chris Bailey (who uses adjectives like 'Byronic' seriously) and one of the all-time musical legends and innovators, Ed Kuepper, who later went on to much greatness with the Laughing Clowns and with his solo work.

But as one observer put it, theirs was a 'marriage made in hell'. 

The band pressed 500 copies of their first record, the 1977 (I'm) Stranded sent 400 or so away, including a few to the music press in London, where a Sounds reviewer nominated their track 'single of this and every week' ...

Australian media picked up the story and the boys packed their bags.

The critical (and popular) savaging the band met in the UK is just another story that infeststhe white colonial mindset in Australia forever keen to take on the role of abandoned child (recall how the English betrayed 'us' at the fall of Singapore, how they ditched us when the country entered the Common Market, never forget how they tested nuclear weapons from 1956-1963 at Maralinga; the same desert region the Australian government imprisoned asylum-seekers three decades later). But I digress.

Listen to this track again; listen to that swampy grunt of the horn section and the guitars, lifting this music into another realm, pushing punk music into an entirely new direction, as the All Music site notes with the 'tempo changes; horn charts; keyboards and R & B accents'.

Their first Saints record included a cover of a tune made famous by Elvis ('Kissin Cousins' and a 1965 song from the Sydney garage rockers, The Missing Links, 'Wild about You' other cover choices by the band included songs from Ike and Tina, Otis Redding and ... Connie Francis). Such a range of influences can be heard in their music: the depth and instrumentation and the layering - ergo my labelling it 'soul' music.

And while the Saints, like any important band, is unique you can see a link between them and Radio Birdman (of course) who were re-inventing 1960s US surf rock in Sydney, but also earlier less known Australian groups from the 1970s, such as Chain.

And then with bands drawing on the legacy of the 1970s punk legends - the Saints and Radio Birdman - filtered via the king-hit of Bon Scott era AC/DC you end up in my formative musical milieu, with bands such as Powder Monkeys reinventing the creed.