These never-previously-heard–in-public first recordings by James Griffin and his band, the Agents is the eleventh release from James's archive of lost (and now found) songs.
Recorded at Studio 221, Sydney, 1979
Cover photography, Oliver Strewe
Cover design, Richard Lewis
"When I decided to form an electric band, after five years of performing mostly solo, I saw it partly as an opportunity to make some different kinds of songs. So I tried to visualize the new songs as little movies: filmic vignettes and short dramas shot on location, in which each verse (and sometimes each line) is one scene, pivotal moment or character description. I tried to make the lyrics as cinematic as possible.
They're all set in inner Sydney, somewhere between Glebe, Chippendale, Redfern, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Ultimo, the Haymarket, Kings Cross, Central Station, Wooloomooloo, Pitt Street, George Street and Circular Quay. And, in a way, they could all be sub-titled, 'Midnight In The City'. And the protagonists are in that midnight decade: old enough to drink legally and young enough to believe that the night-life is all the life one needs. I do hope you enjoy these little movies of those up all night, midnight days. And as for the sound of the songs, I'm still liking that free-wheeling, unadorned sound the Limousines/Agents had in those early months. It makes me smile, and it feels right for the stories the songs are telling."
1n 1979, in between two East Coast solo acoustic tours, James began forming an electric band (initially called James Griffin & the Limousines) to play the repertoire of new wave songs he'd been writing since the previous year. The Limousines toured to Northern NSW and Brisbane and did a few shows around inner Sydney, initially with guitarist, Peter Coutanche, and then (after Peter left to join X) with Gypsy Dave Smith on guitar. The Limousines became The Agents not long after Kydric Shaw took over the lead guitar slot in the spring of '79. Just before the name change, the band went into the studio to record five of James's new songs, pretty much in one take, live to tape.
Although these songs remained part of The Agents repertoire for a year or more, the band decided not to release them and didn't make their first record (the 7" vinyl single, Suburbs Of the Heart) until a year later, in 1980. The first thought that struck us, here at Bridge Between Music, when we heard these tapes is, 'what a pity they weren't heard at the time….'. Luckily, though, the energy and excitement the Limousines/Agents generated, at gigs, and in the studio that day, is still alive: on tape, and now, digitally - so it's with great pleasure that we can, at last, make these 'lost' Agents recordings available.
1979 is available from James's Store.
All tracks available digitally from Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Music, Tidal, Groove Music (Microsoft) from Sept 1st 2017.