Between 1980 – 1981 The Radiators had established themselves as one of Australia’s best pub rock bands.
They had released the magnificent mini album (and favourite of every high school boy) “You Have The Right To Remain Silent” (1980) and the long players “Feel The Heat“ (1980) and “Up for Grabs” (1981).
1983 saw the release of their next album, “Scream of the Real”
The straight ahead rock of Cold Chisel, The Angels and Rose Tattoo was alive and well and the soft rock of the Little River Band and Air Supply was (still) successful as was the mainstream pop rock of Mondo Rock, Moving Pictures and others, but, clearly, there was something else going on …
Australia was immersed in new wave stylings …
Icehouse's "Primitive Man" album had gone to #3 (1982), The Models "Local &/or General" went to #30 (1981) whilst "The Pleasure of Your Company" went to #12 (1983), INXS's Shabooh Shoobah went to #5 (1982) and Hunters & Collectors self-titled album went to #21 (1982). New Wave or quirky acts Mi-Sex, The Reels, Mental as Anything and James Freud were popular. Nick Cave was about to embark on a solo career.
With that as a background The Radiators made some concessions to modernity.
There are horses for courses.
And this track does not suit The Radiators.
Enough with the lame metaphors.
The new wave intrusions, here, are minor but it is a slippery slope. Later, the band would adopt more new wave trappings with diminishing returns.
The visual new wave stylings looked inane. These BLOKES do not lend themselves to the gender bending or gender neutral fashions … especially when they hastate to get the mullet or semi mullet cut.
The music on "Scream of the Real", with its new wave nods, also sounded forced and was never wholly convincing. It’s as if someone had session musicians add new wave flourishes to pre-recorded tracks. The production should have been a little more up front and made the sound a little more jagged.
But, despite all of this The Radiators always tried to rock hard and they were always sharper than people gave them credit for.
Of course, bratty and slightly obnoxious they could be but there were some equally sharp observations on Australian cultural mores of the time and a perceptiveness and sensitivity (in understanding if not music) of real people in real situations.
They would probably cringe a little at this statement but the insight is there in their music.
The music and the beat get in the way of what they have to say but the money is in the music and the beat so like Australia’s other great rock n roll social commentators, Skyhooks, you have to listen intently to realise they are sharper than a lot of more heralded musical social commentators.
That they said it at all with a pub rock sound is a testament to their “thinking outside the box”
That it resonated and has the ring of truth is a testament to their smarts, though no one would ever guess.
Tracks (best in italics)
- How Does It Feel – (B.Nichol) – some new wave influences creeping in but not enough to dilute the old school Radiators stylings. Quite good though a fraction too long.
- Sitting In My Armchair – (B.Nichol) – good lyrics done in by some tinkly synth.
- Gravitational Pull – (B. Callinan-F.Parker) – a good pumping beat which would work well live.
- Living On A Razor's Edge – (G. Turner-B. Nichol) – old school Radiators could have used a little more oomph in the production and a little less echo.
- You – (B.Nichol) – quite melodic, by Radiators standards. It's also a little naff but it is catchy.
- No Tragedy – (G. Turner) – the Top 40 hit. A enjoyable song with a Midnight Oil feel and it holds its own.
- Comin' Back For More – (G. Turner) – more melodious Radiators and very catchy, but the synth needs to be replaced.
- Right Before My Eyes – (F. Parker-B.Nichol) – perhaps one gentle melodious song too far though there are elements of early 80s Kinks (and I love them) and the lyrics are enjoyable.
- Don't Call Us – (G. Turner) – a tad to long, or it feels that way.
- Getting Closer – (C. Taglioli) – risible lyrics but good natured.
- Too Much Too Soon – (G. Turner) – I'm sure a lot of people could relate to the lyrics about quick rush relationships … catchy.
Not perfect but there are a couple of gems and a couple of songs that linger …. I'm keeping it.
1983 No Tragedy #27
1983 You #82
Elsewhere – nothing
How Does It Feel
Sitting In My Armchair
Right Before My Eyes
mp 3 attached