A truly fine album, capturing the sound and look of their generation, excellent musicians, well crafted songs and excellent live. I remember the paisley shirts, stove pipe pants and pointed boots. A time when rock had grace and style. Enjoy this one.
The Stems formed in Perth, Western Australia in 1983 and played music that was heavily influenced by 1960s garage rock and 1970s power pop. The band broke up in 1987 and then reformed (twenty years later) releasing a new album in 2007.
The band, with a new drummer, David Shaw, on board spent most of 1986 touring to promote their EP, including national tours supporting The Flamin Groovies and the Hoodoo Gurus, and also seeking a label deal. Mushroom Records signed the band and the band booked into Platinum Studios with producer Alan Thorne at the end of 1986. The recording process didn’t go smoothly and stretched from the planned one month to three, with a new producer brought in to complete the record. At First Sight, Violets Are Blue was released in 1987, their first recording for the White label. The album debuted at Number 1 on the Australian alternative charts. It also received national and international critical acclaim and would be one of the best selling Australian albums of that year despite the lack of commercial airplay in the corporate FM dominated 80’s. Leaning toward a stronger pop sensibility the album highlighed the talents of Dom Mariani and Richard Lane as skilled tunesmiths of the guitar pop genre. The album was nominated in the top 100 Australian albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and the title track "At First Sight" remains a bonafide Australian classic. 1987 also saw the band embark on another national tour, appearances on national television – including playing the final episode of Countdown and the lead single "At First Sight" making the Young Einstein soundtrack. The band seemed to have the world at their feet, an album which went on to become the third top Australian album of 1987. Following the success of the album there was an increase in interest in the band from overseas, particularly in Europe.
Unfortunately, in October 1987, on the eve of a six week European tour the band mysteriously disbanded. Dom's explanation was:
"I was not very happy with the way things were going towards the end of the Stems. We got quite big, and there are the usual problems that happen with that. People tend to drift apart, there are internal conflicts, egos going wild, and bad management was probably the major factor that contributed to the Stems breakup."
Mathews offered a similar explanation
"In the end it was total burn-out. By the time the band broke up, all of us had had enough. Any of us could have quit at any time. There was also this pull to do other stuff away from the band.