Sleeping Dogs Lie
Before Hoodoo Gurus, James Baker and Dave Faulkner helmed The Victims, one of the greatest garage punk bands Australia ever produced, writes TIM SCOTT.
“Read the news the other day/About a boy they threw away.”
The distinctly Australian accent of Dave Faulkner backed by that easily identifiable jagged guitar/bass riff on 'Television Addict' opens this compilation as it did the Victims 1978 debut single. It could well be the perfect punk song but the voice and sound is so obviously not from London, Manchester, Detroit, LA, or New York. It wasn't even from Melbourne or Sydney, but Perth. Leederville, a small inner-suburb where the Victims – Faulkner, James Baker and Rudolph V (aka Dave Cardwell) – formed in 1977. While they released fewer than 10 songs in their two years together in doing so they became the greatest garage punk band Australia has produced. They went on to influence a swag of others from the Hard-Ons to You Am I and Eddy Current Suppression Ring. It's kind of stupid, but the fact that copies of the first 7” (without a sleeve!) sell for over $200 on eBay is testament to their impact and legacy.
This album released on both vinyl and CD by Japanese label 1977 Records (Australian distributor Fuse is handling CD only) includes the single and the 1978 EP, as well as 'Bad Demo', a tape recorded in a living room around August 1977. Apparently the band hate the demo today as much as they did back then, but it isn't actually that bad. The recording is decent and it's interesting to hear songs like 'Horror Smash' and 'Out of My Head' (recorded before Television Addict) where their love of US bands such as The MC5, The Stooges and The New York Dolls was crystallising into a sound of their own.
'Horror Smash', in particular, a Faulkner song about wanting to stay home (“I won't go out tonight”) showcases the bratty, fast-paced but melodic punk the band became known for. Another demo, 'Charlie' – a song about Charles Manson – shows their interest in American culture. They reference everyone from Kojak to Mary Tyler Moore and Dinah Shore on songs like 'Television Addict' and 'T.V. Freak'. From the cracking power pop of 'Disco Junkies' to Faulkner's low drawl on the slower 'I Understand' (which could easily be an outtake from Stoneage Romeos by Hoodoo Gurus) goes to show how great that first EP was.
“They went on to influence a swag of others from the Hard-Ons to You Am I and Eddy Current Suppression Ring.”
Still, one of their greatest songs is the Television Addict B-side 'I'm Flipped Out Over You', originally a song by The Geeks (the band Baker and Cardwell had been members of before The Victims). Indeed The Geeks' original songs formed the core of the Victims' initial repertoire and there has been some conjecture and controversy over time as to who wrote those first few songs. It's interesting to see that The Geeks’ Ross Buncle is credited as co-writer of 'I'm Flipped Out Over You', 'High School Girls', 'TV Freak' and 'Disco Junkies' here.
Liner notes include reminiscences from Faulkner and old flyers for gigs at Perth venues such as The Governor Broome, Hernando's Hideaway and a “New Wave Festival” featuring The Victims, The Veneers, Invaders and Hitler Youth at Leederville Town Hall. Faulkner gives a good account of the small Perth punk scene at the time. I smiled when reading that the charismatic and extroverted Baker (a massive New York Dolls fan of the time who often dressed like them) was often threatened with violence in the insular and conservative Perth of the time.
All the songs from the single and EP, as well as the song 'Perth Is A Culture Shock', were released on a Timberyard 1989 compilation, All Loud on the Western Front, but it's questionable how legit that release was. With the addition of the demo and a folded insert featuring photos and lyrics in Japanese and English, Sleeping Dogs Lie is a must-have for any discerning fan of Australian punk.