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Members include Chris Bailey, vocals, guitar; Michael Bayliss (joined group, 1996), bass; Mark Birmingham (group member, 1979-81), drums; Marty Bjerregard (joined group, 1996), drums; Kym Bradshaw (group member, 1976-77), bass; Richard Burgman (group member, 1985), guitar; Andy Faulkner (joined group, 1996), guitar; Barrington Francis (group member, 1979-81, 1985-88), guitar; Janine Hall (group member, 1979-82, 1984-85), bass; Ivor Hay (group member, 1976-78, 1981, 1985-87), drums; Ed Kuepper (group member, 1976-78), guitar; ArchieLaRizza (group member, 1986-89), bass; Eddie Nystrom (joined group, 1987), guitar; Iain Shedden (group member, 1982, 1984-85, 1988-90), drums; Alistair Ward (group member, 1977-79), bass; Peter Wilkinson (joined group, 1999), drums. Addresses: Record company--Raven Records, P.O. Box 2027, East Ivanhoe VIC 30379, Australia, website: http://www.ravenrecords.com.au.
The Brisbane-based Saints burst onto the scene in 1976 with the release of their first single, "(I'm) Stranded," establishing themselves in the forefront of Australian punk and attracting the attention of critics and record executives in far-off London. Local favorites since their inception, the Saints channeled the feral energy of American acts like the MC5, Stooges, and New York Dolls, anticipating the explosion of punk in New York and London later in the decade. The Saints were regarded by countryman Nick Cave of the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds fame as a seminal influence. "They would come down to Melbourne and play these concerts which were the most alarming things you've ever seen," Cave told Dave Thompson, for a Gallery of Sound article. "Just such anti-rock kind of shows, where the singer [Chris Bailey] wouldn't come on stage, and when he did, he was this fat alcoholic. It was so misanthropic, it was unbelievable, and the whole band were like that. They were so loud!"
Brisbane boys Chris Bailey, Ed Kuepper, and Ivor Hay formed the mighty triumvirate of the early Saints. With few local models besides Australian heroes the Easybeats, the Saints gravitated toward the hard-edged, raw, aggressive sound of Detroit and New York City rock. The Irish-Australian Bailey assumed lead vocals, physically resembling a dissolute, irate Van Morrison. The wan, lean Kuepper had emigrated from Germany, and was a master of the economical power chord. Hay, who resembled Kuepper, settled on the drums. Together they exuded attitude, perfectly in sync with the times as the seismic shift of punk rock was about to overtake the music scene.
In 1976, after years of playing locally, the Saints released a seven-inch single called "(I'm) Stranded," with the B-side "No Time." It became a minor hit in Britain, where it was released as an import, and EMI Australia quickly signed the band. They were soon on their way to London, arriving in early 1977, at the height of the punk era. The Saints' first major show was opening for the Ramones and the Talking Heads in June. Their debut LP (I'm) Stranded was released at the end of the summer. Consisting of the already-released single and eight demo tracks, standout cuts included "Demolition Girl," "Nights in Venice," and "One Way Street." Their raw, unpolished quality helped establish the Saints in the punk community. In an interview with Thompson, years after the fact, Bailey expressed no fondness for that scene. But, he admitted, "If it hadn't been for that scene, I'd probably still be working in an abattoir in the antipodes, so I suppose I should be grateful to it, because it did get us a bus ticket to the other side of the world."
After the release of (I'm) Stranded, Alisdair Ward replaced Kym Bradshaw on bass, and the band recorded their follow-up album, Eternally Yours, in 1978. A departure from the raw slash-and-burn sound of their debut album, the band moved away from punk and toward R&B, including the use of a horn section. This shift from the band's punk roots alienated many fans and worsened the group's relationship with management. In the liner notes that accompany the album's reissue, Bailey noted the band's resistance to being made into a 'pop product'. "In retrospect it's clear to me that the mood of the record was a cynical response to the hype/hypocracy [sic] of the pre fab anarchy of the English punky rock marketing machine."
The album was not well received, but the Saints went on to record another punky R&B effort,Prehistoric Sounds, for EMI in 1978 before they were dropped by the label. Kuepper and Hay left the band and returned to Australia, where Kuepper founded Laughing Clowns and Hay teamed up with the band Hitmen. Bailey stayed in London, retaining the Saints moniker. With the departure of Kuepper and Hay, the original Saints, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist, although Hay contributed to a couple of Saints projects during the 1980s. The sonic assault of the early lineup gave way to horns and folk arrangements. In its various incarnations since then, it has been solidly Chris Bailey's band.
Hay rejoined Bailey to record Monkey Puzzle, the first album under Bailey's sole leadership. Released on the French label New Rose label in 1981, it was available only as an import in the United States and Britain. Reviewing this little-heard album for All Music Guide, Geoff Ginsberg wrote, "Instead of the abrasive punk or Memphisy sound of earlier records, Monkey Puzzle's jangly rock hints at the direction bands like R.E.M. took mid-'80s college rock."
Bailey recorded two solo albums for New Rose, Casablanca, 1983, and What We Did on Our Holiday, 1994. The second Saints recording for the label, A Little Madness to Be Free was released in 1984, demonstrating Bailey's growing sophistication as an arranger, incorporating strings as well as horns. The album included what has become a classic Bailey track, "Ghost Ships." Live in a Mud Hut, another New Rose release, followed in 1985. None of these albums received the attention they deserved, for want of distribution to key (specifically American) markets. This changed when Bailey signed a deal with an unlikely new label, TVT Records. As Bailey told Thompson, "We signed to TVT in America, right after they stopped being a TV theme music label--Fred Flintstone was their first signing, the Saints was their second, and that ended badly."
All Fool's Day, released in 1987 on the TVT label, was Bailey's final reunion with Hay. Its timing seemed right, as college radio was at the peak of its influence. Among the standout cuts are "Just Like Fire Would" and "Big Hits (On the Underground)." The album marked a second coming for the Saints, who'd been unheard and all but forgotten for the better part of a decade. All Fool's Day bore little resemblance to Kuepper-era group, but the new band found fans. They quickly followed up with 1988's Prodigal Son, their second and last album for TVT. Among the album's best tracks are a new rendition of "Ghost Ships," and a cover of the Easybeats' "Music Goes 'Round My Head."
After Prodigal Son, the Saints once again lost their label, and band name was retired while Bailey released a number of moody, introspective solo albums. Savage Entertainment was released in 1992, followed by 54 Days in 1994. While the songs were in a melancholic, confessional mode, they also reflected the development of Bailey's lyrical skills and his growing confidence as a solo performer. In the mid-1990s, Bailey relocated to a suburb of Amsterdam. After another hiatus, the Saints name was revived for 1997's Howling, in which Bailey revisited some of the edgier vocal stylings of his early work. His solo career set aside once again, Bailey busied himself with new Saints projects, 1998's Everybody Knows the Monkey and 2002's Spit Out the Blues.
by Kevin O'Sullivan
The Saints's Career
Group formed by Chris Bailey, Ed Kuepper, and Ivor Hay in Brisbane, Australia; released single "(I'm) Stranded" with B-side "No Time," 1976; signed by EMI subsidiary Harvest; first album (I'm) Stranded released, 1977; band moved to London; released EP One Two Three Four, on Harvest label, 1977; second album, Eternally Yours recorded in London, 1978; released third album, Prehistoric Sounds, 1978; band dropped by label; Bailey-led Saints released Monkey Puzzle on New Rose label, 1981; released A Little Madness to Be Free, 1984; Live in a Mud Hut, 1985; Saints sign with TVT Records; released All Fool's Day, 1987; Prodigal Son followed, 1988; Bailey releases solo albums Savage Entertainment, 1992, and 54 Days, 1994; the Saints name revived for Howling, 1997; Everybody Knows the Monkey, 1998; and Spit the Blues Out 2002.
- Selected discography
- (I'm) Stranded Harvest/EMI, 1977.
- Prehistoric Sounds Harvest/EMI, 1978.
- Eternally Yours Harvest/EMI, 1979.
- Monkey Puzzle New Rose, 1981.
- A Little Madness to Be Free New Rose, 1984.
- Live in a Mud Hut New Rose, 1985.
- All Fool's Day TVT, 1987.
- Prodigal Son TVT, 1988.
- Most Primitive Band in the World (compilation), Hot Hot, 1995.
- Howling Blue Rose, 1997.
- Everybody Knows the Monkey Amsterdamned, 1998.
- Spit the Blues Out Raven, 2002.
March 29, 2005: The Saints' album, Nothing Is Straight in My House, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_1/index.jsp, April 1, 2005.
- Graff, Gary, and Daniel Durchholz, editors, MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1999.
- "Chris Bailey and the Saints," Gallery of Sound, http://www.xs4all.nl/~cjbailey/interveiwgos.html (January 2, 2003).
- "Eternally Yours: XXX (USA) reissue--1997," liner notes, http://www.xs4all.nl/~cjbailey/eternalnotes.htm (January 2, 2003).
- "(I'm) Stranded: The Saints," Barnes and Noble, http://music.barnesandnoble.com/search/product.asp?userid=51HKTH38CW&ean=21075124323 (January 2, 2003).
- "(I'm) Stranded XXX reissue," liner notes, http://www.xs4all.nl/~cjbailey/linernotesstrandedxxx.htm (January 2, 2003).
- "Members of the Saints Club," http://www.xs4all.nl/~cjbailey/members.htm (January 2, 2003).
- "Misunderstood for Too Long: The Story Of Chris Bailey And The Saints," http://www.xs4all.nl/~cjbailey/electricsaintstory.htm (January 2, 2003).
- "The Saints," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 2, 2003).
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