Monday, May 16, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #123

Here's another NW4NW entry from the "Hidden Gems Just Waiting To Be Rediscovered" file: Brisbane, Australia's The Riptides.

Between 1978 and 1983, The Riptides released four outstanding singles, one excellent mini album, and one fantastic full-length LP that essentially collected everything on one slab o' vinyl.  Despite a rabid fanbase and at least two comeback albums, they sadly remain under-appreciated today.  Here's me doing my part to, hopefully, help right that wrong!

At the time calling themselves The Numbers, Mark Callaghan and his band's first release was a three-song 7" called Sunset Strip.  A raw and ragged affair, the punchy, punky tunes were catchy despite their stripped-down, bare-bones sound.  Only 500 copies were pressed, making this a truly difficult-to-find collector's item.  There existed another Aussie band calling themselves The Numbers at that time, however, so - after a minor shakeup in personnel - Callaghan renamed his band The Riptides, and reissued Sunset Strip in a remixed/remastered edition of 2000 copies.  The lead track, "77 Sunset Strip," caught on like gangbusters, and defined The Riptides' surf-twang/power-pop sound.  Quickly thereafter, the follow-up single, "Tomorrow's Tears," proved just as popular locally and reinforced that musical direction.

Their first venture into 12" vinyl was 1981's 6-song mini album Swept Away.  The lead single was a stomper called "Only Time" that fell only slightly short of the mark set by "77 Sunset Strip" and "Tomorrow's Tears."  The Riptides were still playing solid material, but the frustration caused by lacking a big breakout record was becoming evident.

1982's "Hearts and Flowers" single, sadly, was a misguided attempt at that commercial success, and lacked the punch and personality of their previous efforts.  About the same time, the full-length The Riptides album hit the shelves, neatly combining the existing material with newer stuff. The Riptides' moment in the Brisbane sun was over, however, and in 1983 they called it a day.

Four years later, a live album, The Riptides Resurface, appeared to some acclaim; four more years passed before a reunited Riptides issued the comeback attempt Wave Rock.  But it all been done before, and again The Riptides faded into history.

Presently, none of The Riptides' material is in print, but everything from "Tomorrow's Tears" on shows up with fair regularity on eBay.  There is a present-day Canadian band called The Riptides, so be aware if you go looking and make sure you've got the right band.  And if you ever find a reasonably-priced copy of The Numbers version of the Sunset Strip EP, let me know!

For today's entry, we celebrate The Riptides with their first three singles: "77 Sunset Strip," "Tomorrow's Tears," and "Only Time." Enjoy!