In Foster’s Care - Deathwish (Buttercup Records)
Before late ‘70s punks The Chosen Few (the Australian version - not the Michigan band containing Ron Asheton and James Williamson) there was Deathwish, a party band that festered in a barn on a family farm on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsular. The Chosen Few would go on to make a mark on the Melbourne underground scene, releasing a particularly collectable EP, but here’s where it all began.
The album's named for the beer that fuled the band and these are rehearsal tapes from 1976-77. No polish, lots of covers and some amateurishly played. But for all the rough edges, you can hear there was certainly something there. The back story’s also pretty good and is told in guitarist Ian Cunningham’s liners.
Deathwish fell in with Radio Birdman on their 1976 blitzkrieging of Melbourne, following them from show to show and even riding with them in the Birdvan. They got to hear a pre-release tape of “Radios Appear”. Drummer Cal McAlpine pointed out what he thought was a mistake on one of the songs (apparently much to Deniz’s Tek’s displeasure) but feathers couldn’t have been too ruffled; the band was invited by Birdman manager George Kringas to come to Sydney and play the Oxford Funhouse.
Fate intervened: Unhappy with the paltry proceeds from a school dance, Deathwish played before their Sydney trip, one of their guitarists quit and the band fell apart. They regrouped but too late to play with the Birdmen. Iain Weaver’s recruitment as singer prompted a change of name and the rest is history.
This LP’s significant for an early version of “There’s A Lot Of It Going Around”, one of The Chosen Few’s best songs. There’s a clumsy but spirited version of Blue Oyster Cult’s “The Red And The Black” that shows Deathwish and the Radios were coming from similar places before collapsing.
Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and the 5’s version of “Rambling Rose” snuggle up to nascent originals. That’s Lobby’s version of “Whole Lotta Shaking’” (mistakenly called “Shakin’ All Over”) you can hear. The “Search and Destroy” by Deathwish sounds uncannily like Radio Birdman.
These recordings were used as a promotional device and is reputed to have been a favourite party tape when passed around Radio Birdman’s inner circle.
The Chosen Few could play a bit. Deathwish were still learning. It is what is - two tapes recorded at rehearsals in a barn - so adjust any expectations.
It’s on vinyl only and Buttercup have packaged it nicely with a colour insert and on a green pressing. Just 300 copies so don’t delay.