This unique solo acoustic post-punk/new-wave EP is the ninth release from James’s newly unearthed, previously unreleased archive, Lost Songs from the Rusting Shed of Disappeared Guitars.
We called this, ‘1978’ because that’s the year James bought an electric guitar, began to look for musicians to form a band and started writing songs with new wave rock’n’roll in mind. That winter, 2JJ music presenter, Gayle Austin invited James onto her popular evening show to perform some of the new work - and this is the result: solo acoustic versions of brand new songs James would use to build an early version of the Agents the following year.
“It was great to be able to record these. It was all so immediate. The first four tracks were written in the couple of months leading up to this show and this was the first time some of them had been heard in public. Australia’s Just A Suburb of the USA went on to become pretty popular – as live rock’n’roll and also as an ironic comedy about the ever increasing cultural dominance of American iconography, fashions, movies, etc. etc. I still get requests for it; Jean Lewis performed it on one of her tours; and this is the first time it was recorded.
“As for the other songs, Outside Boys was immediately taken up by folk at gigs who seemed to identify with it, in a post-punk kind of way; Unemployed Boys & Girls speaks for itself and seems to work as a solo acoustic rock track, so I’ve led with it; Interstate Love Affair still speaks to me and I’m finding myself liking it a lot...and indeed, as I recall thinking at the time, why not have a post-punk/new-wave country song...?
“I Smoke Money, was a spontaneous ‘in concert’ addition on the night because it was a favourite with audiences, and because I’d never previously recorded it solo. The only other recorded version was with The Roll Your Own Ragtime Cabaret band a couple of years before. And you can hear that on my Comedies, Absurdities & Satirical Imaginings album.
“And, to return to Australia’s just A Suburb of the USA for a moment, I made my first band recording of that song just a couple of months later with Wasted Daze, who generously agreed to help me out with the transition from solo acoustic work. What a terrific band. The playing is just phenomenal. The James-with-Wasted-Daze (plus Alistair Jones on piano) version will be released about a week after this album, so by the time you read this you may be able to check it out too. It’ll be on an EP called, simply, James Griffin, which I originally released on Vinyl in 1978.
“I do hope you enjoy these songs…. and I hope too that you’ve already found Gayle Austin’s current show, Curved Radio on 2SER out of Sydney. It goes to air on Sundays at 11.00 pm and is streamed nationally and internationally. She continues there the groundbreaking and inspirational work she began at 2JJ.
You can find out more on the 2SER website
And if you’d like some more info, here’s 2SER’s biographical note on Gayle and her great, inspiring contributions to radio:
Gayle Austin was Australia’s first female rock dj. As founding members of the innovative government sponsored 'underground' radio station Double J, Gayle and her colleagues set the template for the national FM station, TripleJ. Over sixteen years, Gayle's on-air presence, programming and production skills made her a radio icon, an inspiration for subsequent generations of broadcasters. Gayle holds a BA (Hons) in Media, Communications and Critical Cultural Studies from Macquarie University, and is currently working on her PhD at Sydney's University of Technology.
1978 is available from James's Store
The complete work is available digitally as one single 18 minute track from Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Music, Tidal, Groove Music (Microsoft)