Saturday, January 19, 2008

GANGgajang - The Essential

cheers for tricky

GANGgajang are an Australian band who formed in 1984. The three principal figures in the original lineup were former Riptides frontman Mark "Cal" Callaghan and two former members of popular Australian hard rock band The Angels, bassist Chris Bailey and drummer Graham "Buzz" Bidstrup.

The new band's formation grew out of songwriting and performing sessions the trio undertook for the ABC-TV music-drama series Sweet and Sour broadcast in July 1984. The original lineup was completed by former Aliens keyboard player Geoffrey Stapleton, guitarist Robert James and singers Kayellen Bee (co-wrote "The Heart Plays Tricks" as K Bidstrup aka Kay Bee with Bidstrup and Callaghan for Sweet and Sour) and Marilyn Delaney.

The band gained a solid following around Australia during 1984-85, aided by considerable support from Triple J and Countdown. Their biggest commercial success came in 1985 with the release of their self-titled debut album, which sold over 120,000 copies. The LP included the classic single "Sounds of Then (This is Australia)", as well as the hit singles "House of Cards", "Giver of Life" and "Gimme Some Lovin" (their 1984 debut single, which was originally recorded as a 'demo' in a single take).

In 1987, GANGgajang's music was featured exclusively in the Quiksilver surf movie Mad Wax. The film became a cult surf classic and introduced the band to a worldwide audience. GANGgajang was named 'World's Best Band' two years in a row by the Association of Surfing Professionals.

The group released their second album, gangAGAIN, in 1987, after which the various members pursued solo projects. Over the next few years Callaghan released a solo album and worked as an executive for the now-defunct Festival Records group, Bidstrup played sessions, produced albums and movie soundtracks, Bailey worked with artists as diverse as Jimmy Barnes, Alannah Miles and Nathan Cavaleri, Stapleton formed The Dukes with Sean Kelly and James wrote a book, "The Second Best Book of Disunderstandabilism" and recorded his songs with Wendy Matthews.

They reformed in 1991 (without Bee and Delaney, who had gone on to successful careers in the film industry) and took to the road for one brief tour.

The audience response was so overwhelming it encouraged the band to record their third album, Lingo which was released in 1994 on RooART and chalked up another three hit singles, "Hundreds of Languages", "Talk To Me", and "Ordinary World".

In 1995, the first two albums were repackaged into The Essential GANGgajang, which has now sold over 30,000 on the Shock label. The band also toured Brazil for the first time, playing to over 60,000 fans in ten concerts through nine cities.

In 1996 the Nine Network revived the song "Sounds of Then" for use in its station ID promotion sparking a revived interest in the band's live dates around Australia.

GANGgajang continue to perform across Australia and overseas and in February 2001 the band completed its third tour of Brazil, performing to enormous crowds. When not performing or recording together as GANGgajang each member is otherwise occupied.

Singer Mark Callaghan is General Manager of Shock Music Publishing, drummer Buzz Bidstrup has managed Australian music legend Jimmy Little since the release of his 1999 ARIA award winning CD The Messenger, while guitarist Robert James released his first solo album Suzannah Suite and is now recording a second in between touring Australia in solo mode and with Australian icons Yothu Yindi.

Keyboard player and resident artist Geoffrey Stapleton is now living in Adelaide and preparing his next exhibition of paintings to be called "Oceans and Deserts" while maintaining and developing the band's website. Chris Bailey is working in a wide variety of music cultures in Sydney and has produced an album for singer/songwriter Dave Debs. Bailey also plays in Jimmy Little's live band.

Like several other Australian bands of the period, such as The SaintsThe Church, GANGgajang have a strong following in other regions, but whilst the former acts have their major fan base in Europe (especially Scandinavia), GANGgajang have become very popular in Brazil.

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