Sunday, January 20, 2008

Asteroid B-612 - Forced Into A Corner

Thanks to hank

Throughout the eighties the Australian independent music scene could be counted on to deliver an almost non-stop series of terrific new bands. Every month it seemed like another mind blowing outfit was hitting the boards, and fans were spoiled rotten by the embarrassment of riches available to them if they only knew enough to look.

All that changed in the early nineties. The collapse of overseas indie distributors like Rough Trade and Dutch East India cost many Australian independent labels heaps of money and left them without their main avenues for lucrative export sales. At the same time, Australian major labels suddenly recognized the potential to make money from a lot of the bigger bands on those labels. They began signing them up, and in the process deprived indie labels of the cash they desperately needed to finance signing and development of new groups without existing followings. Coupled with the rise of video poker games in pubs that formerly throbbed with rock and roll bands, and the scene dried up shockingly quickly.

In a classic case of bad timing, John Spittles (guitar), Grant McIver (vocals), Scott Nash (bass), Darren Pierce (drums) and Michael Gibbons (guitar) launched their new band Asteroid B-612 into the collapsing scene, and from the early 90s to this day they would simultaneously be one of Australia’s least appreciated and most accomplished bands. Their brand of rock and roll rests on the same classic Australian reverence for guitar-fueled Detroit mania that drove Radio Birdman, the Celibate Rifles, and the New Christs, but they’ve added their own twist to the recipe. Over the years they have produced a series of albums that are distinctly their own.

In I994 a lineup shuffle provided only a brief distraction, with Pierce and Gibbons departing in favor of drummer Ben Fox and guitarist Stewart Cunningham (see the Brother Brick feature on these pages for more about him). Spring of 1994 came, and again Dave Thomas funded recording of another limited quantity lp for Destroyer. The resulting Forced Into A Corner was even more impressive than the debut – a huger, fuller sound that feels like an army of guitars. Again the record mixes rockers to grinders at about a 2:1 ratio, but this time the guitar hooks on songs like "Edge A Bit Closer", "Plastic", "Which Way", "Can I Touch It", "Danny’s Sister", "I’ve Had You" and "People Like You" are almost staggeringly good. Leavening from "The 31st To The 2nd", "I’m Not For Sale" and "Turn This Feeling Around" makes this an ignored classic of Australian rock that deserves to be honored as much as the greats of the eighties.

Cunningham had joined the band just prior to their recording Forced Into A Corner and as a result his songwriting credits were limited to "Edge A Bit Closer", with Spittles or some combination of Spittles and other band members doing most of the rest of the writing. This would change as Cunningham became more integrated into the band.

Disc 1

Disc 2

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