Lost and Naughty in Oceania

Baby Grande: Aussie Glitter Rock Before It Went to Church

Pre-Church glam rockers Baby Grande

In the feverish, lost punk collector world that may be starting to strain for surprises, Baby Grande comes along as another excellent, “Now just hold on there a minute, punk!”

This compilation of previously unreleased 1975 demos kicks off with a thugged riff, unbeknownst glam classic “Pure, White, & Deadly,” featuring sleazy lines like “Desex your eyes” and “Doesn’t matter if you shoot or drink her,” then right into a tune (“Going There and Back”) that uses the “all the young dudes” line like a condescending punchline. And right away, Baby Grande falls right in line with a few other recent HoZac Records archival releases (Razar Boys, The Brats) that have rescued some fine, mascara-lined proto-punk/glitter rock outfits from history’s bathroom stall.

This one stands out though, as it features two primary figures from a future famous band. Singer Steve Kilbey and guitarist Peter Koppes would – not long after this aborted Australian entry into the ‘70s glam rock runway strut – find worldwide fame with the gorgeous ‘80s jangle-pop masters, The Church. It also stands out because it’s really fucking good through and through, well beyond the “Wow, where the hell’d they find this?!” factor.

As the Church proved, Kilbey is an excellent pop songwriter, but the effortlessness of breezy pre-punkers like “Getting Away with Murder” and “Zephyr,“ and such Alice Cooper’d cooze as “Madame Lash” prove that Kilbey could’ve instead taken his talents down – if you’re a Church fan – previously unimaginable hair metal alleys during that decade. Not to mention that Baby Grand, from the otherwise drab, scene-less capital city of Canberra, got to open for AC/DC and were not too far from “being signed,” but you can guess where that went…

The new compilation, out now on HoZac Records

From the hilariously curt liner note interview answers from Kilbey, he may well think this release of long-buried demos might align him with those sordid streets he hasn’t driven down since. Yeah, Baby Grande is – in the best way possible – the kind of band that settled pop stars poo-poo with a hand wave and a “Oh, that was just my first band.” And as us proto-punk fans know, history can often turn that jab into a major thumbs-up.

But fear not, Kilbey! He already exhibits through these eleven tracks that airy, heavens-bound vox that would serve him well on the Aussie charts for years to come; while also deftly sneaking in slyly snotty smacks right where they’re needed. The alt-version of “Pure, White, & Deadly” is even more punky raw; and the smarmy, sarcastic lyrics on the very Bowie-esque “You’re So Continental” and “She Thinks She’s a Diamond,” show a mastery of proto-punk irreverence.

Despite Steve obviously rolling his eyes at the thought anyone would care about his trashy teen act, Kilbey can take solace in that Baby Grande might just add a new, fresh angle to his much more famous band’s rep, as they get out there on their first U.S. tour in a while, where there, at their merch table, will be copies of Baby Grande. But grab one quick, HoZac only made 500 of ‘em!

But again, fear not! We’ve got the premiere of the whole album stream for you right here!

 

 

Check here (http://www.thechurchband.net/ ) for Church tour dates, as they tour on the 30th anniversary of their 1988 classic, Starfish.

 

http://hozacrecords.com/baby-grande/

 

Eric Davidson

Eric Davidson is a freelance writer from Queens; singer of New Bomb Turks; author of We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001, and former Managing Editor of CMJ.

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