DAVE GRANEY & THE CORAL SNAKES : At His Stone Beach EP (Fire 12", 1988).
Dave Graney - droll lounge-loving troubadour, safari-suited cowboy punk, laconic Renaissance man, eccentric Australian icon, etc - formed legendary post-punk band The Moodists in 1980 from the debris of Adelaide-based outfit The Sputniks with long-term partner / drummer Claire Moore, & Steve Miller, later drafting in Chris Walsh (The Negatives, The Fabulous Marquises) & ex-Fungus Brains guitarist Mick Turner (a member of The Dirty Three nowadays), to concoct the anomalous mid-'80s leather-clad ex-pat scuzz triumvirate of Engine Shudder, Thirsty's Calling, & Double Life, bagging themselves a gone-in-a-heartbeat Creation Records' contract into the bargain, before discreetly disbanding eight years later:
"We lived & played in the derelict, bohemian Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda & when we travelled to Sydney, we played almost exclusively in the derelict, bohemian inner city suburb of Darlinghurst. In Australia, the suburban pubs were where you went to pursue a career in music. We only played the inner city venues. We never even really tried to venture any further. In essence, most of the inner city crowd all came from the outer suburbs & didn't really want to go back. In late 1983 we moved to London where we spent the rest of what was our career... Our friends & contemporaries were The Go-Betweens, The Birthday Party, The Laughing Clowns, The Triffids, The Died Pretty, The Beasts of Bourbon... Our first shows in the U.K. were opening for The Fall & The Go-Betweens. I would characterise it as more of an inerior, mythological trip we were on. All the music we heard & the magazines we read were imported. It was all exotic & so very far away. I loved living in London & touring in Europe. It was dramatic & exciting. I learned so much & was able to dive into my obsessions & interests: pulp crimes books & rock music. Saw lots of great live music. I landed in 1983 with £70 & spent 40 on a leather jacket. I never intended to return to Australia but ultimately didn't have the right heritage or visa to stay."
When The Moodists formally fractured in 1987, Graney, Moore & Walsh briefly renamed themselves The White Buffaloes & released their comprehensively shunned My Life On The Plains LP, wherefrom Graney's Buffalo Bill-indebted raconteur-persona slowly began to evolve. Resting place of the classic "Robert Ford on the Stage" & the unassumingly lovely "Girl In The Moon" - still two of my absolute favourite Graney songs - its covers of Gram Parsons, Fred Neil, & "The Streets of Laredo" must have sounded resolutely alien alongside Surfer Rosa, Isn't Anything, Viva Hate, & Daydream Nation. But I wouldn't know because, like virtually everybody else, I was too busy dribbling over Hairway To Steven to give it the time of day (sorry, Dave). The White Buffaloes were pre-dated by a formative & equally short-lived incarnation of The Coral Snakes - featuring ex-Orange Juice / Josef K guitarist Malcolm Ross (who'd appeared in The Moodists' terminal line-up with O.J.'s David McClymont) & Rudi's Gordy Blair on bass - who only managed to record a solitary e.p. for Fire Records in 1989 before visa issues finally forced Graney & Moore back to Australia. Produced by Barry Adamson, At His Stone Beach's four croon-fronted piano-led songs similarly made little-to-no impression. At this point, Graney maintains, he was largely concerned with becoming a writer for other artists - preferably female vocalists - which perhaps explains why this germinal clutch of songs sounds so different to The Moodists' well-established vernacular? Though Graney's major breakthrough followed a couple of albums later with the reformed Coral Snakes' Night Of The Wolverine LP in 1993, it's My Life On The Plains, & particularly At His Stone Beach, that I still pluck off the shelf most frequently.
Reportedly, Graney is currently supervising the digital release of the acoustic demos for Night Of The Wolverine & some unreleased late-period Moodists recordings. Let's see what happens.
Je te tire mon chapeau: The Beige Baron at Brown Noise Unit.
● Another life flashed before my eyes