Engine Shudder (UK Red Flame) 1983
Thirsty's Calling (UK Red Flame) 1984
Double Life EP (UK Red Flame) 1985
DAVE GRANEY WITH THE CORAL SNAKES
At His Stone Beach EP (UK Fire) 1988
DAVE GRANEY WITH THE WHITE BUFFALOES
My Life on the Plains (Fire) 1989
Codine EP (UK Fire) 1990
Originally from Australia, the Moodists are graduates of the thump'n'grind
school of gothic punk. Combining dense metallic bass and razor-sharp guitar
riffs with singer Dave Graney's demonic growl, the band is capable of
a most unholy din. Although dark and ominous, the music can at times be
The seven-song Engine Shudder is not the Moodists at their most effective.
The tracks are devoid of coherence and slip readily into redundancy. Only
"Gone Dead" hints at a
promising future, thanks to Graney's layered vocals and Chris Walsh's
Thirsty's Calling is a remarkable improvement. The addition of a second
discordant guitar and judicious production makes this music for nightmares.
Setting vocals and guitars further back in the mix, the rhythm section
comes into its own on "That's Frankie's Negative" and the standout,
"Machine Machine." Grimly primal, this music breathes life into
forbidding alter-ego, a region where many dare to tread and few prove
The Moodists' reign of terror continues on the six-song EP, "Double
Life". Bass and voice are up-front this time, giving the tracks full-bodied
menace. "Double Life," "Six Dead Birds" and "Can't
Lose Her" are wonderfully desperate songs and by far the Moodists'
best to date. Following the EP, the band underwent personnel and label
changes, returning in '85 with the "Justice and Money Too" single
light, bluesy pop augmented with strings and piano. They may have
lost their venom, but not the ability to craft stunning tunes.
Like the band's late work, Graney's post-Moodists output ditches the aggression
and concentrates on tasteful, literate songcraft. At His Stone Beach finds
Graney (backed by a
group that includes ex-Orange Juice/Aztec Camera guitarist Malcolm Ross
and Moodists drummer Clare Moore) making the most of his limited but expressive
voice on four
impressively crafted new tunes.
My Life on the Plains is a resounding fulfillment of the promise hinted
at on the preceding EP (the contents of which are included as bonus tracks
on the album's CD). The fascination
with frontier Americana suggested by the cover motif is reflected in haunting
originals like "I'll Set the Scene" and "Robert Ford on
the Stage," as well as thoughtful reworkings of songs by Gene Clark,
Gram Parsons and Fred Neil. There's also a spooky version of "The
Streets of Laredo." With a new combo that reunites the Moodists'
rhythm section, the music
is supple and textured, providing a perfect vehicle for Graney's increasingly
accomplished writing and singing.
The Codine EP is five tracks from a live-in-the-studio Australian radio
broadcast the Buffy Sainte-Marie title tune, the trad folk standard
"Jack of Diamonds" and three from Graney's solo records. With
My Life on the Plains' pianist traded in for a pedal-steel player, it's
worthy addendum to the album.
Altricia Gethers/Harold DeMuir
Trouser Press magazine (Ireland)
cover design by Dave Western
Welcome Strangers: Rare
Stories of Great Australian Albums
The Moodists EPs ~ Take the Red Carpet Out of Town (1986) & The Moodists
By Christopher Hollow (originally ran
in Rhythms magazine)
The Moodists were renowned as Australias best kept secret at the
height of their powers. Its a status time hasnt
changed. These days theyre only ever mentioned in whispers and footnotes.
In the latest in the ongoing Welcome
Strangers series Christopher Hollow unearths the last two UK recorded
EPs forgotten gems from a forgotten band.
Before Dave Graney became the Golden Wolverine, the Savage Sportsman or
the El Supremo King of Pop he was the big haired, cherub faced lead singer
of the Moodists. A band with all the ingredients for cult status
a great name, a good look and fine songs. Their records were made with
grand notions and they meant it all.
Unfortunately, so far the Moodists are all but forgotten. The annuals
of rock history have dealt out aces and eights. At best theyre a
footnote when discussing the later success of Graney and Clare Moore.
Buried deep on the resumes of producer Victor Van Vugt and Dirty Three
guitarist Mick Turner. A vague memory for anyone who can visualise W.
Minc Records mogul Handsome Steve Miller flaying away at a Flying V guitar.
Yet the band lasted six, seven years releasing two albums, a mini-LP,
three EPs and a fistful of singles. Their best wont be denied.
The career of the Moodists can be roughly split into two halves. The first
lasted from 1980 to 85 featuring Turner and the distinctive bass
playing of Chris Walsh. The second with Malcolm Ross and David McClymont
from Scottish pop group Orange Juice on board, lasted barely a year.
The nucleus was Graney and Miller who all hailed from the South Australian
country town of Mt. Gambier. In the late 70s they went Adelaide (where
they hooked up with Clare Moore) before moving to Melbourne in 1981. Here
bass player Chris Walsh and guitarist Mick Turner were added and they
put out two singles and a mini-LP on Au-Go-Go before relocating to London
on signing with Red Flame.
The Moodists early sides like Where the Trees Walk Downhill, Gone Dead
and the Thirstys Calling LP are hard, raw, and driving. Paradox
rock musically ambitious yet consciously crude. Literate songs
interpreted inarticulate. Brooding, insular and petulant. Anyone interested
in the band usually picks Thirstys Calling, released in 1984, as
the essential Moodist effort.
"Thirstys Calling was the first record we made for Red Flame
after they signed us and summoned us to the U.K," explains Clare
"Fortunately for us the label put us into a great studio. So for
the first time we could make an album that sounded the way we wanted it
to. Chris's bass sounded like it was being played with a saw. As everything
seemed to come together for this album, I guess it is the one everyone
remembers. It was also more readily available although it didn't have
a local release here."
"The first side of Thirstys Calling is good," says Dave
Graney. "My favourite Moodists track is Double Life (title track
of second album from 85) but I can't stand my voice on most of the
early tracks. I was always trying to sound like Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop
or Alan Vega. I'm singing in registers that are really forced."
In 1984 RAM magazines Marie Ryan described Graney singing That Frankies
Negative from Thirstys Calling.
"Dave Graney thrusts his hips lasciviously while crooning the sorry
tale of Frankie and his negative into the mike clasped in his left hand,
his voice astride a wall of crashing guitars and thunderous drums. Its
a mean, snarling sound, but Dave looks about as threatening as an ice
cream vendor, the cherubic face and mop of curly hair totally contradicting
any sexual tension or danger that the gyrating pelvis might connotate.
"Jim Morrison" shouts a lank haired youth to my right, partly
in derision and partly in admiration. The audience don't quite know what
to make of the Moodists and that in itself is a homage."
The Moodists didnt appeal to a particular audience like the Birthday
Party, Hunters n Collectors or even the Scientists. To be a Moodists fan
was an individual thing. An admiration you didnt blurt out. Detractors
at the time saw the Moodists as poor cousins to the Birthday Party. Graney
playing Sancho Panza to the quixotic Nick Cave. However, hindsight shows
the Moodists hold up better. Less affected and less connected to the time.
"Thats a pretty generous view," Graney says. "I really
think the Birthday Party were much more coherent, confident and connected.
We ran on a different kind of energy, sullen, unspoken, interior, inarticulate.
Occasionally we hit on things that really rocked. Like the Birthday Party,
we were always experimenting with song structures. We were relentlessly
modern in attitude.
"On the records Thirstys Calling and Double Life all the songs
are two or three chords. There are no key changes, no choruses, and no
solos. It was all performance and energy. The later period was a move
into more classic songwriting and arranging. In some ways the early stuff
was more "modern" in that we were always looking for ways to
express things, in some ways its really old school, like a blues aesthetic."
The later period followed the departure firstly of Turner before Walsh
headed back to Australia too. In August, 85 they were the first
Australian band to release a record on the Creation label a 12"
EP called Justice and Money Too. The replacements were guitarist Malcolm
Ross and bassist
Dave McClymont from indie pop group Orange Juice (fronted by Edwyn Collins).
Even people who trumpet the Moodists gloss over the line-ups last two
EPs. Perhaps its because they represent the bands most commercial,
accessible tunes the closest Graney has ever come to writing a
classic Moodists 3-minute pop track. Perhaps its because Turner
and Walsh were
both seen to be integral to the early sound. Perhaps by that stage the
Moodists were out of fashion. Whichever way you look at it both Take the
Red Carpet out of Town and the Moodists (aka Someones Got to Give)
are forgotten gems from a forgotten band. "These two EPs were
moving towards the kind of music Clare and I would put together in the
Coral Snakes period," Graney says. "We were also hanging around
with people like Epic Soundtracks (Swell Maps/Crime and the City Solution)
who was a total record collector and belonged to this funny international
Brian Wilson bunch of obsessives who all traded "Smile " era
cassettes. This is all before the cd re issue/ box set fetish revolution.
All these influences suddenly seemed to flood in. Like a ship with a big
hole in the side."
picture Wayne O'Farrell
The title track to the 3-song Take the Red Carpet
Out of Town EP sounds unlike any other Moodist recording. It strikes a
richer, deeper sound compared to the wired, trebly feel of the early output.
An excited brass arrangement propels the track while Graney hits his distinctive
vocal style delivering his already unique lyrical outlook.
"We played the song with Chris Walsh in the band and then changed
it with David McClymont on the bass," Graney explains. "Chris
was such a central part of the sound; he was impossible to replace so
we started to pay more attention to songwriting and arranging. Louise
Elliott, who we knew from the Laughing Clowns, did the arrangement. She
was a great player and a wild bohemian."
The b-sides were Everybody Dont Tell Her and the traditional Jack
of Diamonds a song that had been transformed in the mid-60s by
San Francisco folk-psychedelic group the Charlatans. "That was a
track we were pointed towards by Epic Soundtracks," Graney explains.
"Probably on a tape he gave to me or Steve. It seemed so mysterious
and arcane." In later years Graney frequently referred to the band
in interviews and photos.
Its the direct link to the music Graney and Moore later produced
with the White Buffaloes on My Life on the Plains.
Released on the Tim/Abstract label in October 1985 Take the Red Carpet
Out of Town meet with little reaction. The 4-track EP that quickly followed
in February 1986 was simply titled The Moodists. Again it failed to garner
much attention but showed the band crafting twisted pop songs.
The opener Hey Little Gary was written about "all these rockers at
the time from privileged backgrounds trying on some badass clothes for
a few summers. There lots of them around." Another track It Takes
a Thief featured lines like "Youre a type and so I am/So lets
two famous brands go
for a ride" while Somebody to Love is a delicious melding of wild
guitar, funky drumming and Graneys lyric. (I went down to the
station in the rush/All those faces came at mine/Somebody to Love).
"I really like Somebody to Love for the lyric, the arrangement and
the playing," he says.
"Steve is playing really well and so is Malcolm Ross. The ending
is really dramatic."
The great, lost hit single off the set is Someones Got to Give
a brilliant, timeless track cased in an intriguingly elastic arrangement.
Moore sings backup as Graney implores "if I could only put
a face to my troubles."
"Someones Got to Give was really heavily arranged by Steve
and David McClymont," Graney says. "I, of course, always had
too many words for one song. We were just feeling our way to something
One of the reasons for the ageless feel on the two EPs is Clare Moores
drums. "I was going for a "Bonzo" Bonham drum sound,"
she admits. It was achieved despite most records of the time being swamped
with horrendous 80s drum effects a hallmark of the era that taints
many great records. Somebody to Love is the only track to feature a slight
hint of the times with some 80s sounding handclaps (actually sounding
good). "Our contemporaries like the Go-Betweens and the Triffids
all had to deal with that shit more than us," Graney says. "They
all had producers insisting drum machines and programs absolutely had
to be used. No one was paying attention to us."
Having no one pay attention at this time proved too much for the Moodists.
By mid-1986 it was over. The way Moore remembers it there was no big fight
just frustrated resignation "there wasnt any band meeting
to decide it."
"We ran out of gas," states Graney. "Steve was tour managing
the Triffids a lot, going away with them. Their success and easy engagement
with the UK business seemed to be a trick we could never manage. We were