Various Artists

Do the Pop!: The Australian Garage-Rock Sound 1976-1987

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This isn't quite a compilation of highlights of Australian punk rock's first decade, though in some respect this two-CD, 50-song set dovetails with that concept. It's more an anthology of a strain of alternative/underground rock that flourished in Australia after the onset of punk. As the title indicates, there was a good deal of garage pop influence from the '60s and '70s involved, though it wasn't as faithfully imitative as the American garage revivalists of the '80s, or as arty as the paisley underground groups. Only one of these tracks has really achieved international recognition as a significant groundbreaker, and that's the very first cut, the Saints' "(I'm) Stranded," the 1976 recording now acknowledged as one of the first punk records. Plenty of other names that populated obscure fanzines in the late '70s, and then college radio play lists in the 1980s, are represented too: Radio Birdman, the New Christs, the Scientists, the Hoodoo Gurus, the Lime Spiders, the Screaming Tribesmen, Died Pretty, the Hard-Ons, the Eastern Dark, the Exploding White Mice, and the Celibate Rifles. Radio Birdman and spinoff bands are especially prevalent, and there are a couple of tracks by obscure bands whose lineups included Hoodoo Gurus (Dave Faulkner was in the Victims, and Brad Shepherd in the Fun Things). There remain plenty of artists that even most alternative rock collectors might be unfamiliar with, from the Psycho Surgeons and Johnny Kannis to the Psychotic Turnbuckles and Decline of the Reptiles. Generally, these are energetic punk-pop hybrids with the emphasis on the punk half and trash-swampy pop traits of the blend, admirably brash but often rather samey-sounding in their brazen guitar riffs and aggressive vocals. There are some tracks that fall well outside the prototype, like the Stems' mix of power pop and the folk-rock of the Byrds on "At First Sight"; the raw edginess of the Victims' "Television Addict," which more than most tracks has an early British punk influence; the Passengers' "Face With No Name," which recalls early Blondie (and it's nice to hear a woman's voice in the midst of all these studs); or the Sunnyboys' two tracks, which sound inspired by those morose mixes of folk-rock and '60s garage heard on much of the Pebbles series. The 28-page booklet offers detailed rundowns on all the tracks, albeit in eye-straining small print.

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