Monday, March 21, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #116

Last week's NW4NW entry, The Adicts, were a band that has kept basically the same four-man lineup for the past 30+ years.  This week's band has not been nearly so stable.  In fact, over the past 32 years since their debut gig in 1979, no less than 22 different people have cycled in and out (and, occasionally, back in and back out) of one of Australia's finest musical exports, The Lime Spiders.

The band's founder and mainstay, frontman Mick Blood, created the band originally as a lark, paying tribute both to the acid-dripping psychedelic garage bands of the 1960s, but also to the growing scene of Australian Punk bands including The Saints, Radio Birdman, The Fun Things, et al.  By 1983, The Lime Spiders had broken up and reformed at least twice, and were on their third permutation of musicians.  Nonetheless, they won a record contract at a local "Battle Of The Bands" contest, and released a double-45 featuring covers of two obscure '60s tracks (The Haunted's "1-2-5" and The Liberty Bell's "That's How It Will Be") and two originals that were remarkably accurate renderings of the style, "25th Hour" and "Can't Wait Long."   A follow-up single later that year, "Slave Girl"/"Beyond The Fringe" became an underground hit, and all six tracks were combined into 1984's Slave Girl EP for international release on Australia-based Big Time Records, who had just seen much success exporting another Australian band, The Hoodoo Gurus.

With blazing energy, driving rhythms and Mick Blood's gravelly scream, The Lime Spiders managed to be at once novel and yet very, very retro.  A third single followed in 1985 and paired their own "Out Of Control" with yet another obscure cover, this time shredding Wimple Witch's tempo-shifting acid trip "Save My Soul."   By this point, The Lime Spiders' musical formula was solidified, even if the band itself was not - each single had featured different versions of the band.

Nonetheless, the underground rumble they were creating was loud enough to be heard by the producers of the 1987 movie Young Einstein (anyone outside of Australia actually remember  Yahoo Serious?), who wanted to use "Slave Girl" in the movie's soundtrack.  Licensing issues prevented that, but Mick Blood and his musicians of the month came up with the similar "Weirdo Libido."  That song's appearance in the film brought the band to the attention of Virgin Records (who had released the soundtrack), and by the end of the year Virgin issued the band's first proper LP, The Cave Comes Alive

With it's lead single "My Favourite Room" and another smattering of obscure covers, the album seemed at first blush to be another formula record.  However, bits of personality and creativity shone through, especially in the absolutely stunning "Jessica," which verged nearly into ballad territory!  A simply fantastic record start to finish.  It was followed in 1988 with Volatile!, a record that, while bright in spots, did not quite live up to its title.  The rough edges of the band had worn a bit smooth, and they  sounded tired, especially in comparison to the odds-and-ends collection Headcleaner released around the same time, which recapitulated the first three singles along with assorted tracks from the band's earlier days, both live and in-studio, that were not otherwise readily available.  After a year or two on the shelf, the final Lime Spiders album, Beethoven's Fist appeared in 1990, although the band's moment had passed.

In the ensuing years, Mick Blood has gotten the band back together several times for reunion tours, and interest in the band has been strong enough to see two more recent releases. 2003's Nine Miles High is an excellent career retrospective containing just about everything you need to hear; Live At The Esplanade documents a 2007 reunion gig, with the band charging through many of their best songs.

This week's clips feature The Lime Spiders at their zenith.  First up, the clip for "Weirdo Libido," followed by the video for "My Favourite Room."  Enjoy!

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