Lethal Weapons - 1978 and Melbourne Punk

Lethal Weapons LP-Front Cover 1978.jpg

Here are my original liner notes for the 2007 CD reissue on Aztec of the seminal 1978 compilation Lethal Weapons, a snapshot of a year in the history of Melbourne punk/new wave.

Lethal Weapons

By Ian McFarlane © 2007

The tale of Suicide Records is encapsulated in this one album and its three singles all issued in the first half of 1978. Suicide was an attempt from within the mainstream rock music industry to capitalise on Melbourne’s emergent punk/new wave scene. The label was launched with a great deal of fanfare and commercial aspirations but within a year it had collapsed in a heap. So let’s be honest here: while Suicide was an opportunistic business scheme it was also a failed scheme.

Essentially Lethal Weapons (Suicide VXL1 4072), issued in May 1978, was a snap-shot of a time when the Melbourne scene circa 1977/78 was undergoing a process of change; for music fans of my generation that transformation proved to be a very exciting prospect. I was fortunate to have seen the whole thing unfold, having turned 18 in 1977. There was an air of great expectation present, the seeds of punk and new wave sown elsewhere were beginning to flower with young, new bands emerging and trying to find their own voice.

Lethal Weapons gave some of those young bands a say and even if the results weren’t exactly earth shattering it was a start. Nevertheless, the fact it was released as the original UK punk/new wave scene was in its death throes has always been proof for the nay-sayers of the album’s lack of relevance in the greater scheme of things. Possibly true but that’s missing the point. At least we have this album as a tangible artifact of such an idealistic venture.

The man behind Suicide was Barrie Earl, a gruff, burly, bolshie kind of self-styled entrepreneur who always wore cowboy boots. He’d been managing bands since the late 1960s, having ventured to the UK on a couple of occasions as a manager, taking The Cleves over in 1971 and then Mississippi in 1974. Following his English exploits he was back in Australia in 1977 with the idea of starting a label. As he was getting Suicide off the ground, by all accounts he’d regale his young charges with tales of hanging out with the Sex Pistols and the like; some took it in as gospel while others sniggered behind their hands. As he picked up Melbourne bands Teenage Radio Stars, Boys Next Door, JAB and Negatives, others such as News (nee Babeez) resisted the Suicide lure while Young Charlatans and Tsk Tsk Tsk simply couldn’t have cared less.

Earl managed to get Mushroom Records head Michael Gudinski and the likes of Ray Evans and Philip Jacobsen interested in the label, all signing on as company directors. Gudinski, however, was unwilling to put the Mushroom name to the product so Suicide was set up as a subsidiary company with distribution through RCA who threw a lot of money into the venture. This included a good deal of promotion; teaser ads and then full-page adverts in Juke and RAM, the two main rock music magazines of the day. Melbourne-based Juke also gave the label and bands a lot of press coverage with a decent number of news items and articles. RAM (based in Sydney) tended to be more analytical, as the pieces written by Richard Guilliatt (“Sign to Suicide or suicide to sign?”; 2 June 1978) and Miranda Brown (“Oz Punk Suicides”; 6 October 1978) show.

Both magazines reviewed the album, with generally constructive editorial comment. Writing in RAM, Andrew McMillan stated the good with the bad, “...Not as disastrous as many sceptics would have believed …some numbers have been touched up by executive interference …there’s a good slice of dross and the cut isn’t the best …as one of the very few Oz new wave albums around, it’s at least a reflection of the (generally) depressing state of the art here …given the standard of The Saints and Radio Birdman in ’76 it’s depressing to realise most bands here are just starting …With a lot of improvement they can claim parity with the state of the wave in the UK and USA …”

Late night TV rock show Nightmoves got behind the album with a positive review, and both Teenage Radio Stars and Boys Next Door scored appearances on ABC-TV’s flagship pop music show Countdown, quite a coup for such young acts. Molly Meldrum was very enthusiastic about TRS in particular. RCA also ensured the album got placed in record shops far and wide. I bought my copy at the local record bar in suburban Glen Waverley the week it came out. Estimates vary but seems the album sold at least 5,000 copies, possibly even 7,000.

Lethal Weapons-Advert 1978-LoRes.jpg

Aside from the music, the most striking thing about the record was that it came pressed on milk white vinyl. Indeed it was advertised as “Australia’s first White album!”. It was also issued in a Limited Edition promo run on black vinyl, although very few copies of this have ever surfaced. It appeared on cassette (VXK1 4072), with the last tracks on each side swapped around in order to accommodate the tape running time. Also, the cassette cover featured the strange caption ‘Power Pop at their best’. Someone got their grammar mixed up that day: should it have been ‘Power Pop bands at their best’ or ‘Power Pop at its best’?

The UK label that Earl probably tried to emulate was Stiff Records. The Stiff guys had a way with slogans (“Today’s sound today”, “The world’s most flexible record label”, “Pure pop for now people” and “If it ain’t Stiff… it ain’t worth a fuck” being the most memorable), and Earl came up with his own approximations such as “Modern music for modern people” and “Revving towards tomorrow today”. Musically Earl also seemed to want to operate in the same ballpark as Stiff, initially pushing Suicide as a punk label, then new wave and finally power pop as the year progressed.

One of the other positive aspects of Suicide was that Gudinski’s Premier Artists booking agency picked up the bands and Earl began putting on Suicide bands package nights. Throughout March and April, Bananas (St Kilda) put on a series of weekly Punk Nites while Bombay Rock (Brunswick) put on regular New Wave Nites, where you’d get JAB, Teenage Radio Stars, Boys Next Door and Negatives one night and maybe X-Ray-Z, Teenage Radio Stars and Boys Next Door the next week. The package nights had petered out by May, but by then most of the bands were getting supports slots to major bands, or their own headlining gigs.

Nevertheless, the impetus had dissipated by October when the label quietly folded and by the end of 1978, only Boys Next Door were still functioning as a group. While they later transformed into the more outré The Birthday Party, at least a few other popular bands emerged from the Suicide debacle, including Models, James Freud & the Radio Stars and Sacred Cowboys.

  White Label reissue (1983)

White Label reissue (1983)

There was still enough interest in 1983 for Mushroom’s White Label to re-release the album (L-27112). Pressed on black vinyl this time, it was a bit of a cheap affair with the original gatefold jacket replaced by a single cover with inner sleeve. Also, by then the original artwork had been lost and a particularly second-rate replication of the bleeding revolver was slapped on the front cover. So, in the wash-up, what exactly did Suicide deliver?

The Bands

Teenage Radio Stars

Teenage Radio Stars were one of the star attractions of the Suicide venture (alongside Boys Next Door) with Earl taking a great deal of interest in their affairs as self-appointed manager. He was obviously grooming them for mainstream stardom and in a way they had the most commercial potential.

The band originally formed as Spred during December 1977 when James Freud (real name Colin McGlinchy; lead vocals) and Sean Mantelpiece (real name Sean Kelly; guitar, vocals) recruited two members for their punk rock band to be, Graham Magnet (real name Graham Schiavello; bass) and Peter Pip (real Peter Kidd; drums). Freud was such a rock chameleon (some would say an imitator) even back then that he went from being a Bowie lookalike, with the full make-up, to a wannabe Johnny Rotten almost overnight. Their first gig was playing at Punk Gunk, New Year’s Eve 1977, alongside Tsk Tsk Tsk, Babeez and Boys Next Door.

The original venue for the concert (a church hall) was cancelled at the last minute, so the four bands set up on a footpath in Faraday Street, Carlton. It was a defining moment for the emergent Melbourne punk/new wave scene, a real street gig for a street-level movement. Earl happened to be in attendance that night and latched on to Spred and Boys Next Door immediately. A swift name change to Teenage Radio Stars for Spred and the band was underway. Freud and Kelly had already worked up a set of basic punk tunes, including the likes of ‘I’m Dirty’, ‘Knife in the Back, ‘Didn’t Know I Loved You (‘Til I Saw You on the Dole)’ and ‘Australian Aristocracy’. They may have been unashamedly derivative but they were hilarious into the bargain. Freud’s lyrics to ‘Australian Aristocracy’ went something like: “Wake up Australia/You’re fucked Australia/You’re so bent Australia/We hate you Australia… and we don’t care!”. A real hoot.

I’d been mates with Kelly and Freud at high school and was their first drummer in our little garage band, Sabre (also called Nebula at one point) when we were 16-years-old. I used to watch Teenage Radio Stars rehearse at the time and, despite a certain amateurish level of musicianship to start with, they were a very tight band even at such an early stage. Kelly and Freud, in particular, already had their sights set on being major rock stars. As soon as they signed the Suicide contract they went into the studio to record demos. TRS emerged with at least one finished song, ‘Sweet Boredom’. They also picked up gigs at venues such as Martinis (Carlton), Council Club (Richmond), Paradise Garage (Carlton), the Whitehorse Hotel (Nunawading) and as part of the Suicide Punk and New Wave nites at Bananas and Bombay Rock.

Soon after that the rhythm section left (later joining La Femme) to be replaced by Pierre Voltaire (real name Peter Sutcliffe; bass) and Dave Osborne (drums). This line-up recorded their Lethal Weapons contributions with producer Les Karski. Suicide issued the single ‘Wanna Be Ya Baby’ b/w ‘Sweet Boredom’ (103139) in May. ‘Wanna Be Ya Baby’ is a terrific bubblegumish glam punk song, ostensibly a rewrite of The Vibrators’ ‘Baby Baby’ but Kelly recalls it was only years later that he realised when Karski had taught him to play the song’s plucked guitar riff he’d actually adapted it from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ instead. ‘Sweet Boredom’, in my opinion, is the best track recorded for the whole Suicide affair. It’s a compact example of ’78 glam punk with chunky riffing from Kelly and a suitably brisk pace.

By the time the album also appeared in May, and the band got the offer to appear on Countdown, the rhythm section had changed again with Mick Prague replacing Voltaire (who joined JAB) and Mark Graeme (real name Mark Harvey) replacing Osborne (who joined Fastbuck). The band dressed up to the nines for their appearance, with Freud playing a Gibson Melody Maker guitar in addition to his lead vocal duties. TRS was one of the first punk bands of the day to score an appearance on Countdown.

By that stage, Freud had dropped the punk threads in favour of leopard skin pants and garish jackets for a new glam influenced look and direction (more akin to Marc Bolan and David Bowie than the Sex Pistols or Iggy Pop). TRS had also started getting more prestigious gig supports to the likes of Cold Chisel, Skyhooks, The Sports and John Paul Young and the All Stars. By June, Freud was declaring to Juke magazine that:

“We did it (became a punk band) to create interest. There was a demand for punk bands in Melbourne ’cos there were hardly any of them around. We thought we could make a bit of money and get some gigs. When we started Teenage Radio Stars we played very basic dance music, deliberately letting ourselves fall into the punk format. We had the choice of continuing to get nowhere or give ourselves a chance to get some attention… Yeah, I think the punk thing has well and truly run its course now.”

Clearly Freud had set a new agenda and by early August had ousted his mate Kelly from the band. Tony Harvey replaced Kelly who immediately joined a new band, Models, with three ex-members of JAB, Ash Wednesday, Johnny Crash and Voltaire (quickly replaced by Mark Ferrie). After establishing a significant live presence on the local new wave scene, Models went on to sign with Mushroom Records. TRS became Radio Stars, then briefly James Freud’s Ego, but by the end of 1978 Freud had broken up the band. He formed a new band James Freud and the Radio Stars and had a hit with ‘Modern Girl’ in 1980, then went to the UK to record an album under the aegis of Gary Numan. Following a year spent down and out in London – after the album was scrapped – Freud returned at the beginning of 1982 with the express purpose of rejoining Kelly in his band Models.

Wasted Daze

Wasted Daze really was the odd band out here. Basically a Sydney R&B outfit, the fact they covered two Bo Diddley songs (‘Roadrunner’, ‘Mona’) gives a good indication of their background. How they came to Earl’s attention in the first place, and why he thought they’d be appropriate for Lethal Weapons, is open to debate. Maybe being an energetic live proposition in the early days of punk in Australia tipped the balance in their favour; I mean these guys really could play. Indeed their two contributions here, with prominent slide guitar, are closer in spirit to Teenage Head period Flamin’ Groovies than anything else being tight but loose in that genuine proto-punk, R&B/pub rock tradition; they just stand out like the veritable dog’s balls.

In 1975 singer/guitarist Terry Wilson and drummer Daryl McKenzie were playing swing blues with Leroy’s Layabouts. McKenzie was a real journeyman drummer having started in the 1960s playing with R&B bands The Showmen, Five Just Men and The Squares, before moving onto the 1967 Sydney psychedelic soul scene in bands like Big Apple Union, Dr Kandy’s Third Eye and A Love Supreme, changing tack again with Starving Wild Dogs (1968), Quill (1969), Jeannie Lewis and Gypsy Train (1970) and others. Bass player Phil Cogan had also started out in the 1960s with the Richard Wright Group and Southern Comfort. Nothing much was heard again from Wasted Daze once the album appeared; Wilson and McKenzie continued to play in bands well into the 1980s.

JAB

Unlike Wasted Daze, JAB was perfect for Lethal Weapons. This Adelaide band started out in 1976 as a three-piece experimental outfit comprising Ash Wednesday (bass/synthesizer/other strange noises), Bohdan X (guitar/lead vocals) and Johnny Crash (drums, vocals). Their early influences included the likes of the Velvet Underground, Eno and Bowie plus certain German electronic bands such as Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust and Can. Along the way they added a guitarist called Boris (who was later replaced by Bobby Stopa) and with the advent of the punk/new wave era began to take on a brasher punk stance.

JAB was part of the first wave of new bands on the Adelaide scene, alongside The Dagoes, Young Modern, Black Chrome, Sputniks, The U-Bombs, Warm Jets and The Accountants. Bohdan even had a solo single, ‘Time to Age’ b/w ‘You Got Soul’, issued on the Tomorrow label (MA-7203), but they found it necessary to move on and relocated to Melbourne at the end of 1977, perfect timing to be swept up as part of the Suicide package.

They certainly played at many of the Suicide gigs around town and they always looked tougher than everyone else, in particular when it came to Wednesday’s brooding, don’t-fuck-with-me stage demeanour. Still, at the time there was some contention that JAB really couldn’t play very well, often being out of tune and shambolic in the live situation (they probably were but I thought they were okay); nevertheless, they acquit themselves admirably on their two tracks here.

‘Let’s Go’, in particular is a manic blast of punk attitude and Wednesday throws in the kind of Enoesque synthesizer squall that he’d perfect during the early days of his next band Models. ‘Blonde and Bombed’ has a bizarre, almost calypso undercurrent (thanks to Crash’s drum feel) while Bohdan’s monologue (delivered in his best Cockney accent) is hilarious.

Pierre Voltaire (ex-Teenage Radio Stars) joined on bass in May 1978, freeing up Wednesday to concentrate on the keyboards, but three months later the band broke up. Bohdan joined the remnants of The Chosen Few to form Bohdan and the Instigators; he later issued several solo records and became a well-known DJ on community radio station 3RRR-FM. Wednesday, Crash and Voltaire linked up with Sean Kelly (ex-TRS) to form Models. Wednesday was later in the Metronomes, Modern Jazz, Crashland etc, while Crash was drummer in Sacred Cowboys.

The Survivors

Another out-of-town band that got swept up in the Suicide vacuum, The Survivors featured three Brisbane boys with impeccable credentials. Bruce Anthon (drums, vocals) was the proprietor of Rocking Horse Records, the essential import/punk record shop in the Brisbane CBD. Anthon was also on hand as the first, temporary drummer for the embryonic Go-Betweens when they formed in late 1977. Anthon had met Jim Dickson (lead vocals, bass) over the counter at Rocking Horse and they discovered a shared love for The Who, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things, The Kinks etc. The Saints had only just signed to EMI when Anthon and Dickson decided to form their own band on the barren Brisbane independent scene.

Dickson was already something of a musician identity having been bass player in Brisbane’s #1 rock act of the day, Railroad Gin. Time for a re-think and Dickson and Anthon found a willing accomplice in Pete Townshend fanatic Greg Williamson (guitar, vocals). The band’s live repertoire comprised almost all covers (for example, ‘Midnight to Six Man’, ‘A Legal Matter’, ‘Everything’s Alright’, ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ etc) with just a smattering of originals.

Given the lack of gigs on the early Brisbane punk/new wave scene (where The Survivors probably rubbed shoulders with The Leftovers, The Numbers, Razar, The X-Men and precious few others), it’s a credit to their determination that the guys forged ahead. They released their own independent 45 on the Real label, ‘Baby Come Back’ b/w ‘Mr. Record Man’ (RR1000) which appeared in December 1977. They had even recorded it at Window Studios, where The Saints captured ‘(I’m) Stranded’. The Survivors also toured interstate, making two trips to Sydney and penetrating the deep south by arriving in Melbourne just as Suicide was emerging. It seems that Anthon handed a copy of their single to Greg Macainsh who was acting in an informal A&R capacity for the label. Obviously Earl knew a good thing when he heard it and slapped the two tracks on the LP.

Not really a punk band, in truth a classic power pop outfit The Survivors sound is absolutely riveting on their two tracks. Mixing irresistible melodies and barely-in-tune harmony vocals with diamond hard 1960s influenced guitar hooks and a whomping back beat, ‘Baby Come Back’ and ‘Mr. Record Man’ are a pleasant contrast to the seriousness of some of the other tracks. ‘Mr. Record Man’, in particular, is a joyous ode to being in love with music. The single got reissued on Suicide in May 1978 (103181) to little interest.

The Survivors broke up later in the year. Dickson joined The Passengers in Sydney before heading to the UK where he joined The Barracudas. He later worked extensively with The New Christs and The Deniz Tek Group. Anthon and Williamson formed The Credits, issuing one single ‘It’s You’ in 1979. Received wisdom is that The Survivors got ripped off by Suicide, and Anthon certainly has no fond memories of the whole episode. Still, I’ve always thought they added immeasurably to the strengths of Lethal Weapons.

Boys Next Door

Like TRS, Boys Next Door had played at the seminal Punk Gunk gig, but they’d been around since 1975. Nick Cave (vocals, acrobatics), Mick Harvey (guitar, vocals), Tracy Pew (bass, vocals) and Phill Calvert (drums) were all students at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs when they formed the band. Initial inspiration came from British 1960s R&B/pop (Them, The Who) and 1970s glam rock (David Bowie, Roxy Music), plus a few American icons (Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Ramones). They’d already started gigging by 1977 – Keith Glass used to put them on at the Tiger Lounge in Richmond as support to his Keith Glass Band (KGB) and they’d played Martinis in Carlton etc. – but within a year they were cutting a swathe through the thriving alternative new music scene centred on inner-city Melbourne.

They probably never considered themselves to be punk as such, and the closest I can come to describing Boys Next Door’s sound at that stage is new wave power pop. Harvey had the buzz-saw guitar happening but overall it was a polite attack, the rhythm section had yet to perfect that grinding drive and Cave was still getting to grips with his idiosyncratic vocal technique. They were a close-knit bunch though; when not playing gigs you’d see them around the traps and they’d walk everywhere in tight two-by-two formation, looking surly. They might wear regulation new wave gear but next time you’d see them they’d be decked out in drape coats and shirts featuring alien-like molluscs painted on them, perfecting that whole them against us vibe.

By 1978, their live set was pretty varied; they were always bringing in new songs but ‘Masturbation Generation’, ‘Sex Crimes’, ‘Conversations’ and ‘Boy Hero’ featured prominently alongside covers of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ and Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’. It’s no surprise they got swept up in the Suicide vortex; their three contributions were already well honed but perhaps lacked the necessary bite that fresher material may have inspired. Nevertheless, as the reigning kings of the scene they got the second Suicide single, ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ b/w ‘Boy Hero’ (103140) and also scored an appearance on Countdown.

By July, they were in the process of recording their debut album and desperately trying to distance themselves from the Suicide scene. Nick Cave told Juke magazine:

“It’s a bad step to make for somebody to attempt to put up a record label that is supposed to be one sort of music. That was probably the initial mistake, although it got a lot of attention because of that. I am glad we signed up (but) the songs we did on Lethal Weapons were written when we were first forming as a band about a year ago. We had no idea what we wanted to be, we just wrote them from our influences at the time. When we were doing them, we weren’t very excited about the songs… and it shows. The songs on that album are nothing really like our music now… When we did Lethal Weapons, I was happy with it ’cos I thought that maybe that’s how we sounded in the studio, but I’ve seen what we’re doing now. I just know the album we’re doing now is so much better.”

Lethal Weapons LP-Back Cover-1978.jpg

Rowland S. Howard (ex-Young Charlatans) joined in October 1978 bringing his distinctive guitar sound and song writing abilities. Door Door (Mushroom L-36931), issued in April 1979, was a transitional album and contained Howard’s ‘Shivers’ now recognised as an Australian classic. By then the Crystal Ballroom in St Kilda, the bastion of all things punk and new wave in Melbourne, had opened its doors and Boys Next Door found a new home, playing alongside all the other young bands of the day. Later in the year they moved over to manager Keith Glass’s Missing Link label and put out the 12-inch EP Hee Haw (MLEP-3). It was a sign of things to come. They’d moved into more abstract pastures, with the simple, shifting song arrangements offset by lots of jagged edges and Howard’s patented, abrasive guitar noise. The influence of overseas bands like The Pop Group, Pere Ubu, The Fall and Gang Of Four had also started to take hold. In February 1980 Boys Next Door transformed into the more artfully malevolent The Birthday Party and left for the UK.

Negatives

Negatives grew out of one of Melbourne’s very first punk combos The Reals (who alongside Boys Next Door and Babeez were the originators of the scene). The Reals comprised Garry Gray (vocals), Chris Walsh (bass, vocals) and Peter Cave (drums) plus guitarist Ian ‘Ollie’ Olsen who only stayed for a month or two before leaving to form his own group Young Charlatans. With the arrival of Michael Holmes (guitar) towards the end of 1977, The Reals regrouped as Negatives.

Negatives had an aggressive, buzz-saw punk sound and I thought they were a good live act when I saw them at Bombay Rock as part of one of the Suicide nights. Gray was certainly willing to throw himself around with much abandon in his role as front man. So it was a surprise when their contribution to Lethal Weapons turned out to be the eerie, mid-tempo ballad ‘Planet on the Prowl’. I use the term ballad with some irony here as it’s a brooding study in psycho-drama with the lone protagonist “driving wild out on the edge of the highway” where “nothing is certain ’cept death to me”. Peter Cave’s rolling drum pattern really pushes the song forward. In a strange way it always makes me think of The Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm’, it has the same kind of effect on the listener.

It’s the most unusual track on the album, certainly the longest at over six and a half minutes. Full of unsettling sound effects and overdubs, most off putting is the sound of producer Eric Gradman’s violin drone. Peter Cave told me at the time that Gradman made his contribution without the band’s knowledge or consent but fortunately it ends as the shouted backing vocals kick in during the coda.

Negatives were probably given the shortest shrift in the whole saga, losing out to the label’s star attractions Boys Next Door and Teenage Radio Stars in the attention stakes. They’d broken up by the end of 1978. Gray went on to further infamy as lead singer for Sacred Cowboys; Walsh joined The Fabulous Marquises and then The Moodists; Holmes joined Eric Gradman: Man & Machine and later The Zimmermen.

X-Ray-Z

While X-Ray-Z had its roots in Adelaide pub rockers Rufus Red, the band is recognised as one of Australia’s pioneering new wave outfits. Rufus Red moved to Melbourne in early 1977. Sensing a change in the musical climate the band members adopted a ‘poor image’, renamed themselves X-Ray-Z and set about establishing an identity on the Melbourne inner-city pub circuit. The band comprised Peter Rich (real name Peter Doley; vocals, alto sax, tenor sax), his brother Mike D’Art (real name Martin Doley; guitar, vocals), James Wave (real name James Lloyd; bass, double bass) and Jon Ray (real name Jon Wilkinson; drums).

X-Ray-Z supported US visitor Lou Reed on his October 1977 Australian tour, and then signed to Mushroom for a one-off single, ‘Poor Image’ b/w ‘Sledge Hammer Hit’, ‘Citizen John’ (K-6951), issued that November. ‘Poor Image’ was a chunky pub rocker with a kinetic guitar riff, and the storming ‘Sledge Hammer Hit’ boasted a distinctive punkish snarl.

X-Ray-Z obviously played a big role in the Suicide package gigs at Bombay Rock and Bananas in early 1978, and had probably made enough of a name by that stage to headline their own gigs around town. Their contributions to Lethal Weapons, ‘Three Glorious Years’ and ‘Valium’, are the heaviest tracks here, akin to the heavy metalish guitar riffage of The Dead Boys. I like ’em because they’ve got an energy that goes beyond standard HM sludge. ‘Three Glorious Years’ also features a layered sax sound courtesy of Rich.

Suicide probably didn’t give the bands much breathing space and sense of longevity because most had disintegrated by year’s end and X-Ray-Z was no exception. At least the Doley brothers stayed together but they’d moved on, re-inventing themselves as Popgun Men playing in a hard-edged electro-pop vein. Peter Rich retained his stage name although Martin Doley became Mauri Bund. Dis Naylor (guitar), Andrew Picoleau (bass, vocals) and Errol Senol (real name Errol Selimi, drums) completed the line-up.

Popgun Men issued one independent single, ‘Behind Dark Glasses’, in February 1980. Rich and Bund also contributed sax and synth respectively to Metronomes’ single ‘Saturday Night’ b/w ‘Sunday Morning’ (Cleopatra CSP-22030), issued in May 1980, the connection being Picoleau who was also a member of that band. By mid-1980, Popgun Men had transformed back into X-Ray-Z with a line-up of Rich, Bund, Picoleau and Selimi.

X-Ray-Z played the Melbourne scene until early 1982 after which Picoleau joined Sacred Cowboys. Before splitting, X-Ray-Z had recorded studio demos and live material which the Polyester label combined with the three tracks from the ‘Poor Image’ single and ‘Three Glorious Years’ for the compilation album X-Ray-Z (LUV SEVEN) issued in 1988.

Lethal Weapons originally released as Suicide Records/RCA VXL1 4072 (May 1978)

1. TEENAGE RADIO STARS – Wanna Be Ya Baby (J. Freud/S. Kelly)
2. TEENAGE RADIO STARS – Learned One (J. Freud/S. Kelly)
3. WASTED DAZE – Roadrunner (E. McDaniel)
4. WASTED DAZE – Mona (E. McDaniel)
5. JAB – Let’s Go (Bohdan)
6. JAB – Blonde and Bombed (Bohdan/A. Wednesday)
7. THE SURVIVORS – Baby Come Back (B. Anthon/Survivors)
8. THE SURVIVORS – Mr. Record Man (B. Anthon/Survivors)
9. BOYS NEXT DOOR – These Boots are Made for Walking (Lee Hazelwood)
10. BOYS NEXT DOOR – Masturbation Generation (Nick Cave)
11. BOYS NEXT DOOR – Boy Hero (N. Cave/M. Harvey)
12. NEGATIVES – Planet on the Prowl (C. Walsh/G. Gray)
13. X-RAY-Z – Three Glorious Years (Peter Rich)
14. X-RAY-Z – Valium (Peter Rich)
Bonus Track
15. TEENAGE RADIO STARS – Sweet Boredom (J. Freud/S. Kelly)