michael charles - The I-94 Bar
Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers
+ The On and Ons
Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney
Saturday, 5 November 2022
Photos by Vic Zubakin of Look Sharp Photography
The 1980s was in many ways a dire period in music: if you look at the charts or are forced to endure a few re-runs of “Countdown”, you’ll agree. Mainstream music was based on synth and a chorus pedal, gated snare and re=recordings of “Funky Town”. And there was fucking Phil Collins and his drums.
The padded shoulders and “eat the poor” mentality that saw the rise of the trickle down economics of Reagan and Thatcher. Whenever I see any sentimental recall of the ‘80s, I run the other way. The exceptions lie in pockets of underground music
Sydney particularly reacted against the culture of Ken Done tea towels and pastels and third rate sounds. We real street music with some of best bands in the world, many of whom you could see live for five bucks.
Just as then, we still have a Sydney underground music scene in 2022. We can still see shadows and glimpses of the past and talented young bands who have been handed the baton.
A slew of previously unheard tracks from short-burning but bright Sydney band Shy Impostors is about to be released on Citadel Records, to coincide with the band playing a one-off reunion in support of the Sunnyboys’ Sydney show on February 4.You can pre-order your copy here.
Shy Impostors were active in 1979-80 and their ranks included future Sunnyboys Richard Burgman and Peter Oxley. Fronted by singer-songwriter Penny Ward and also featuring drummer Michael Charles (Lipstick Killers, Screaming Tribesmen, Mick Medew & The Mesmerisers), they played infectious, raucous and melodic pop music.
In February of 1980 the band recorded seven songs at Palm Studios, Sydney. Two of these tracks, “At The Barrier” b/w “Seein' Double”, were posthumously released late in 1980 on Sydney's Phantom label. The other five languished in the vaults.
During 2016 all seven tracks were restored from original master tapes and mixed by producer Jason Blackwell. The resulting self-titled CD is a long overdue retrospective giving yet another intriguing insight into the formative years of Sydney's post Radio Birdman indie music explosion.
Captain Fast (P Ward) (3:08 m:s)
At The Barrier (P Ward) (2:57 m:s)
When Night Comes In (P Ward) (3:22 m:s)
Sweet Defender (P Ward) (1:55 m:s)
My Sin Is My Pride (The Astronauts) (2:32 m:s)
She Can't Win (P Ward) (2:31 m:s)
Seein' Double (P Ward/M Charles) (3:32 m:s)
Strange Flash – Studio & Live ’78-81' – Lipstick Killers (Grown Up Wrong!)
There’s no doubt that the Lipstick Killerswere in a class of their own when they stepped out of the shadow of Radio Birdman and onto Sydney stages. With sensibilities inherited from the import racks of White Light Records and the frantic energy of the Oxford Funhouse, they mixed stuttering power and rawness with a sense of theatre and an appreciation of the ridiculous.
The Lipstick Killers had a lineage going back to Funhouse denizens the Psychosurgeons, and the physically confronting Filthbefore them. If Birdman’s birth marked the Ground Zero for Sydney’s underground scene, the Lipstick Killers were heading a fast-following platoon whose ranks included Shy Imposters, Kamikaze Kids and The Passengers.