Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The Sunnyboys-S/T (Mushroom 1981)
1981 Dedut LP and Undisputed Classic From the Australian Greats, The Sunnyboys.
Short-lived but incredibly influential, Sydney's Sunnyboys were one of the first 1980s Australian bands to bridge the commercial gap between inner-city hipness and a wider audience. Coalescing from the ranks of several inner-Sydney bands whose brief existences spanned the turn of the decade (more on that later), they bobbed their heads up on an exploding music scene with a debut EP on the Phantom label. Mixing gritty '60s-influenced rock songs with the "wise beyond his years" melancholic lyricism and exuberant pop hooks of songwriter-guitarist Jeremy Oxley, they almost immediately signed to a major label and hit national status with their self-titled debut album.
Jeremy, Peter and Bil were brash country kids from the Kingscliff coast of Far Northern New South Wales. Richard was from Wagga Wagga, about six hours south-west of Sydney. Jeremy Oxley's prodigy status is beyond debate - a prolific songwriter in his mid-teens, he was also a budding artist and a national junior surfing champion - but this was a band every bit a sum of its parts. Jeremy's brother Peter (bass) and their schooldays bandmate Bil Bilson (drums) formed a formidable bedrock. Guitarist Richard Burgman, slightly older than the others, was a sharp foil to Jeremy's warmer guitar tones. He had cut his musical teeth after coming to Sydney with the Kamikaze Kids (whose ranks contained future Flaming Hands vocalist Julie Mostyn) and the Shy Impostors (fronted by Penny Ward and containing Peter Oxley on bass and Lipstick Killers/Screaming Tribesmen Michael Charles on drums).
The Sunnyboys' debut show in 1980 (a paring with the Lipstick Killers) was a runaway success and they never looked back. Their shows were packed-out from the beginning. Promoters bragged of being the one who "broke the Sunnyboys" in pubs all round Sydney. This was a band that, for once, earned the tag "hard-working". The explosion of the Aussie pub live music circuit and availability of venues was a factor, but more telling was that every Sunnyboys show were an exercise in sweat, always packed with delirious fans with as much energy as the band. These were good times personified and the soundtrack to countless Australian adolescents' growing up.The Sunnyboys' signing to a major label only accelerated the hectic workload. Hit singles ("Alone With You" and "Happy Man") followed. The Sunnyboys were literally everywhere. A gruelling live schedule was only interrupted for the recording of their second album (the underdone "Individuals"), and from that point on the relationship between band and label started tailing-off. The difficult second album was clearly rushed. The label appeared not to know what to do with the band. A move to England to record what would be the final studio effort, the compressed and slightly awkward "Get Some Fun", left the band no happier - and one step closer to an eventual split. Unbeknown to all, there was another dark and irresistible force at work....
Two live albums and a best of have appeared since the band ground to a halt in 1984, but with the release of This is real- a double CD on Feelpresents that showcases all the A and B sides, rarities and a host of live tunes - has the full story been told. A 10,000 word booklet accompanying the disc lifts the lid on Jeremy's slide into schizophrenia and the toll that the disease, and road pressures, took on the Sunnyboys. The story is told sympathetically and from first-hand perspective and it's clear that no-one saw it coming. It also puts stories of Jeremy's erratic behaviour after the original break-up in perspective.
(text From: www.i94bar.com)