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The Saints -

I'm Stranded

Date: 1977
Release: Captain Oi! #129
Cover Art: view / download
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London, 1977. Its year zero of the revolution, hippy-love is out, teenage angst in. A new breed of bands are smashing it up, blasting out a mean racket known as punk rock. Its a violent break from the past—as the kids gets busy kicking in the door, hoping that the whole rotting Establishment comes tumbling down. The Sex Pistols are banned from the radio, and that’s exactly the point. Throwing a brick never felt so damn good.

Now rewind several years, to a remote and seedy corner of Brisbane, Australia, where singer Chris Bailey and guitarist Ed Kuepper are busy prototyping an aggressive, stripped down, raw rock sound that would later come to be called punk. As their 1974 demos (compiled on The Most Primitive Band In The World) demonstrate, the Saints rocked in the punk vanguard long before the arrival of the Sex Pistols, Dammed, Buzzcocks, Clash, and Ramones. Their music—an irresistibly ferocious Stooges meets Stones late ‘70s roar—won them a staunch local following, but no record deal. Their demos were rejected by EMI Australia, and their gigs were frequently broken-up by the Queensland police. The band realized that if they were to stand a chance, they had to get themselves out of their provincial cage to find a more receptive audience.

In 1976 they self-recorded and released their debut single, the devastatingly catchy “(I’m) Stranded.” Banned from Australian radio, the band took matters into their own hands, mailing out copies of the single to some open-eared rock journalists in the States and the UK. Not surprisingly, the single completely blew the minds of the British music press, with one rave review even going so far as to call it “the single of this and EVERY week.” The loud buzz surrounding the band also rattled EMI’s Aussie execs, with higher ups in the London office furiously ordering them to sign at any cost the band they had so recently shunned. In a storm of apologies and ass kisses, the newly signed Saints were quickly ushered into the studio, and a follow up LP was rush-released in 1977.

Twenty-five years later, both the album and the single are still a devastating listen, loaded with the same irresistible power that allowed “(I’m) Stranded” to sweep up the UK charts in that eternal punk summer of ’77. Comprised largely of unpolished demo tracks that the Saints never intended releasing, (I’m) Stranded has all the intense purity of a band hell bent on making a racket, regardless of its commercial viability. From the first anthematic chorus of “(I’m) Stranded” to the last blistering chords of closing track “Nights in Venice,” this cheaply recorded album crackles with a contagious energy almost entirely missing from today’s super-produced punk records. This rough and raw record is so unstoppable that even its pair of ballads, “Messin’ With the Kid” and “Story of Love,” do nothing to slow it down. If anything, these two songs add nuance and balance to the hard-fast set, with Kuepper’s mean blues-drenched guitar (“Messin’ With the Kid” pretty much lifts the opening riff from the Rolling Stones’ “Sway”) and Bailey’s youthfully snarled lyrics of discontent making them quintessential punk laments.

Heretically mop-topped and unfashionably dressed, the Saints followed their smash single from Brisbane to London, only to find their great hopes of success dashed by punk’s emerging fashion fascism. Almost as soon as punk ‘officially’ began, an influential cadre of London musicians, hipsters and journalists formed what amounted to a punk rock style-police state. The style-police showed zero tolerance for non-conformists, relying on the bully pulpit of the British punk press to excommunicate all those who didn’t tow the line. Then as now, the movement squandered much of its vitality on style over substance, consuming itself in senseless battles over what is and what is not ‘punk.’ Unwilling to follow the dress code, the Saints quickly ran afoul of the punk elite, and their superb second album, Eternally Yours, was almost automatically ignored and rejected. In a bitter twist of irony, the London punks had become just like the conformist society they were rejecting, failing to see that the Saints refusal to wear their uniform was one of the most totally punk moves of the day.

Time has helped right these sins against the Saints. Australians today worship the band, holding them in as high esteem as any other native sons who ever rocked the continent. And most serious fans of the genre would now agree that (I’m) Stranded stands as one of the single best punk albums of all time. One thing is for certain—compared to the current crop of derivative punk bands, the Saints deserve to be enshrined and worshipped.

Players:

  • Chris Bailey – Vocals
  • Ed Kuepper – Guitar
  • Kim Bradshaw – Bass
  • Ivor Hay – Drums
  • Kym Bradshaw – Bass

Tracks:

  1. (I’m) Stranded (Bailey/Kuepper) – 3:25
  2. One Way Street (Bailey/Kuepper) – 2:54
  3. Wild About You – 2:38
  4. Messin’ With the Kid (Bailey/Kuepper) – 6:05
  5. Erotic Neurotic (Bailey/Kuepper) – 4:11
  6. No Time (Bailey/Kuepper) – 2:45
  7. Kissin’ Cousins (Starr/Wise) – 2:04
  8. Story of Love – 3:14
  9. Demolition Girl (Kuepper) – 1:45
  10. Night in Venice – 5:49
  11. Lipstick on Your Collar [*]
  12. River Deep Mountain High [*] (Barry/Greenwich/Spector)

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One Response:

  1. davy -

    you said the saints never intended to release this album,and also that the tracks were demos thats nonsense my friend this album is the one in my collection that stands out because on the 12th of july 1976 the saints went and recorded all the tracks on the album in one day,i know this to be fact because chris bailey told me.the reason its so good because of the rawness the energy that that album has, has never been equalled,and i`m stranded wasn`t their first album it was a live album called the most primitive band in the world.

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