Radio Birdman - Radios Appear
(4 Men With Beards)
England, 1977. Motorhead and their deafening, super-fast, new brand of rock'n'roll were succeeding in doing what no-other UK band could even imagine: uniting the tribes. A Motorhead live show brought out the pub-rockers, the hippies, the hard-rockers, the metallers and the fledgling punks! And never any aggro. That same year, thousands of miles away in Australia, another band was doing the exact same thing with their primal-proto-punk, high-energy sound. That band was Radio Birdman and their debut, 1977 album was Radios Appear.
Although the best-known band of the early Australian punk scene of the late '70s was the Saints, the first band to wave the punk rock flag in the land down under was Radio Birdman (named after a misheard lyric in The Stooges' "1970"). Formed by Australian émigré Deniz Tek (originally from Ann Arbor, MI) and Aussie surfer-turned-vocalist Rob Younger in 1974, Radio Birdman's approach to rock'n'roll was rooted in the high-energy, apocalyptic guitar rant of the Stooges and MC5, sprinkled liberally with a little East Coast underground hard rock courtesy of Blue Öyster Cult. Their first EP, Burn My Eye, released in 1976, was a great record and still remains a seminal chunk of Aussie punk. Loud and snotty, with Younger bellowing his guts out and Tek on a search-and-destroy mission with his guitar, this was a great debut that set the stage for the impending deluge of Aussie punk bands waiting in the wings.
After the release of their debut LP, Radios Appear (the title actually comes from a lyric in the Blue Öyster Cult song "Dominance and Submission"), in Australia a year later, Radio Birdman seemed poised to break Aussie punk worldwide. And although the American label Sire (then the home of the Ramones) was quick to sign them and distribute Radios Appear internationally in 1978, there was a gap of three years before they released a second album, Living Eyes. During that time, dozens of other Aussie punk bands stole their thunder, and Radio Birdman split up almost immediately after Living Eyes was released. Sire never released the record outside of Australia, and Radio Birdman, who should have been the biggest band in Aussie punk, was now a highly regarded punk forefather.
So what about the actual record, Radios Appear. The first important thing to note is that there are two versions of this record: the original Aussie release (10 songs) and the overseas version (12 songs and a far superior running order). It's the overseas version that I'm reviewing as that is the version that is still in print courtesy of 4 Men With Beards. A real bargain at $22.99...
Radios Appear is a fast, hard-rockin' guitar-fueled hurricane. A sonic blitzkreig, it is truly a force to be reckoned with. Truly great, memorable, hook-laden songs with killer titles like "What Gives?", "Non-Stop Girls", "Descent Into The Maelstrom", "Murder City Nights", and "Hit Them Again". The pace hardly lets up at all (save for the still-good-but-not-quite-essential "Man With Golden Helmet"). All this plus one stompin' cover of "You're Gonna Miss Me". Radio Birdman changed the course of Australian rock forever, and Radios Appear is prime (and primal) Radio Birdman. Gritty and glorious. Buy or die. (Lee)
Check out a track here.