After nine albums of previously unreleased recordings, we’re pleased to announce the digital re-release of James’s first record, the self-titled EP, JAMES GRIFFIN. This groundbreaking DIY Independent EP is the tenth release from James’s archive.
The band on the record includes musicians from some of Sydney’s most popular punk and post-punk groups, including Wasted Daze, The Kamikaze Kids and X, making this EP a significant historical/cultural moment as well as a jewel-box of exciting songs.
Originally recorded and published in 1978 as a 7" vinyl disc, JAMES GRIFFIN quickly sold out and has never been reissued. Since then it’s only existed as a rare and collectable Australian independent record, but all four tracks are now re-mastered and available on-line via i-tunes, Spotify etc.; can be heard/streamed on James’s YouTube Channel and/or purchased here, from James’s store.
“I was incredibly lucky to have the help and support of all these great musicians (there’s more info on all of them below); but here, I particularly want to acknowledge Wasted Daze front man and guitarist, Terry Wilson. Terry is not named on the original EP sleeve and has never been previously publicly acknowledged as having played on the record. He wanted to remain anonymous at the time because he was talking to someone about record deals, but you can hear his fabulous guitar driving Australia’s Just A Suburb of the USA and in some of the great playing on I Smoke Money. Terry is a great Australian musician. Before Wasted Daze he sang and played flute and guitar with the hugely successful and influential progressive rock band, Tully; sang in the original Australian production of the rock musical, Hair; and later, was part of numerous other inner city groups including The Original Battersea Heroes, the Doyle Wilson Band and the Magnetics.
“The energy and spirit of Wasted Daze were big inspirations for me when I first began thinking about what my own electric band might sound like and be: they were just so exciting live! So I’m glad this new release has created this opportunity for me to thank Terry, Phil and Daryl for all of that....
Recorded/engineered by Rick Turk at Honeyfarm Studios, Sydney, 1978
Cover Photography & Design, Ian King
The independent record scene in Australia came at just the right time for me. I’d been writing songs and performing in Sydney for about three years and suddenly I could see a pathway to getting music recorded and released. Low cost eight-track studios were springing up all over the place, and Rick Turk’s newly created Honeyfarm studio was just right.
The core of the ensemble on the EP is the rhythm section from, Wasted Daze, who were playing all around inner Sydney in those years – in pubs etc., but also at dances and benefits, of which there were many: at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds fine arts workshop, Balmain town hall, Paddington town hall, Sydney Town Hall, and so-on….and they were a great band, a rocking three-piece: Terry Wilson (guitar, vocals), Phil Cogan (bass, vocals) and Daryl McKenzie (drums).
All three had been playing with various much loved inner city groups since the late ‘60s, were very experienced, gifted musicians and were incredibly kind and generous to me when I asked them if they’d consider playing on my record. Really, they didn’t have to, I was just another fan who went to their gigs....
The other great electric guitarist on JAMES GRIFFIN is Peter Coutanche. I’d already worked with Peter in The Roll Your Own Ragtime Cabaret, then he went on to play with the Kamikaze Kids and X...and later, in the ‘80s, we got together again in The Subterraneans. On this EP Peter’s innovative slide guitar is a highlight of I Thought It Was You On The Boulevard.
And of course the songs wouldn’t sound as they do without Alistair Jones’s piano (and on I Thought It Was You On The Boulevard, piano accordion).
Alistair, a musician and song-writer/performer in his own right, also worked with singer/icon Tiny Tim, and the artist, Martin Sharp; toured with Slim Dusty; and did many shows of his own in Sydney and Melbourne. I met him via the Melbourne band Captain Matchbox – and he generously agreed to play on the record too. I look forward to everyone having the opportunity to hear Alistair’s inspired piano, particularly on Too Hip To Stumble (& Too Straight To Fall), but also the rocking rhythm and solo parts on Australia’s Just a Suburb...and...well, let’s just say all the piano playing is great....
When I finally got to make a record it wasn’t easy to choose just four songs, but these were the ones that seemed to reflect the mix of my live shows and the enthusiasms of the wonderful supporters who regularly attended those concerts:
Australia’s Just a Suburb of the USA was a brand new song, written earlier that year. I first performed it solo on Gayle Austin’s radio Show on 2JJ, this was the first time with a band.
Too Hip To Stumble (& Too Straight To Fall) is a favourite from the year before. There’s an acoustic/electric version with Paul Dengate (electric guitar) on my Redfern Nights album, but this was an opportunity to present it as a piano ballad – a happy decision as it turned out.
I Thought It Was You on the Boulevard and I Smoke Money were perennial favourites at my shows in inner Sydney. There are several versions of I Smoke Money on various archive releases. I like this one, but I also encourage you to check out the one on Comedies, Absurdities and Satirical Imaginings with me and the Roll Your Own Ragtime Cabaret Band. It was the first recording, made the year I wrote the song, and it has a special kind of feel, only possible with that group.
The James Griffin EP 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)