Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Buffalo - Just In Case Your'e Wondering About Buffalo

(Australian 1971-1977)
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Buffalo was an early heavy metal band formed in Sydney, Australia in 1971. The band left a legacy with Australia's heavy metal, pub rock and alternative rock movements. The band had evolved from the Brisbane blues-rock outfit Head, which was originally formed in 1968 by Dave Tice and Peter Wells. A change of lineup and a shift in musical direction saw the new band emerge - the name Buffalo was chosen (according to legend, randomly off a map of Australia) as it was seen a more marketable name than the previous Head, which had been considered to be offensive due to its sexual and drug connotations. [extract from wikipedia]
This heavy rock band were more popular in France than their native Australia. Based in Sydney, they played between 1972 - 77. They released one 45 as Head ("Hobo"/"Sad Song") before changing name to Buffalo. The "Suzie Sunshine" 45 typified their no-nonsense heavy riffing style, which was coupled with a non-album cover of Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place To Go". They enjoyed considerable chart success with their first five albums all making the Top 100 album charts.
Their debut album 'Dead Forever' sported a sinister cover with a blood soaked face peering through the socket of a skull. The inner gatefold features the band playing amidst the tombstones of Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery. The heavy riffing title track is very much in the style of Black Sabbath. Other stronger numbers on an inconsistent album are covers of Blues Image's "Pay My Dues", Free's "I'm A Mover" and, of course, "Suzie Sunshine".
If 'Dead Forever' earned them a reputation as no-nonsense heavy riffers 'Volcanic Rock' certainly cemented it with tracks like "Sunshine (Come My Way)" (also released as a 45), "Til My Death" and "Skylock", which were just about as loud and aggressive as a band can get. Looser tracks like "Freedom" and "The Prophet" were less structured, more a vehicle for improvisation. Initial copies of the album came with a foldout lyric sheet and featured a cover illustration depicting a woman as a menstruating volcano!
1973 also saw the release of another 45 "Just A Little Rock 'n' Roll", which was very much in the 12-bar blues format.
Their third album, 'Only Want You For Your Body', released in 1974, sported a tasteless front cover which showed a hideously overweight woman screaming and chained to a torture rack. The musical format is high energy riff-laden heavy metal as they storm insensitively through Tice/Baxter compositions like "I'm A Skirt Lifter, Not A Shirt Raiser", "What's Going On, Stay With Me", "King's Cross Ladies" and a spirited version of Alvin Lee's "I'm Coming On".
"What's Going On" and "I'm Coming On" were also selected for 45 release and proved to be their finest 45. The year also saw the release of an ultra-rare EP, which is now very collectable. It comprised "Suzie Sunshine, Dead Forever, Barbershop Rock and Sunrise (Come My Way)". It came out on the Vertigo swirl label.
Towards the end of the year guitarist John Baxter was sacked and the band were never quite as popular again. He was replaced by Karl Taylor and ex-Band Of Light slide guitar ace Norm Roue but the latter suffered a breakdown at the end of the year and walked out on the band. He did contribute to their fourth album, 'Mother's Choice' which came out in 1976 and two 45s were put out as a taster, "Little Queenie"/"Girl Can't Help It" and "Lucky"/"On My Way". The two flip sides were not included on the subsequent album release and remained non-album releases until Raven Records' 'Skirt Lifters (Highlights And Oversights 1972-76)' appeared in 1990. "Little Queenie" featured some cool slide guitar from Roue and "Lucky" had a good rock 'n' roll beat, but the old Buffalo magic was missing. In 1976, they finally fell apart when founding bassist Peter Wells left at the end of the year to link up with Angry Anderson and Ian Rilen in Rose Tattoo. They did manage a couple more 45s in 1976, plus a further one the following year and the 'Average Rock 'n' Roller' album. [ extract from orexisofdeath.blogspot.com]
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The following is a rare interview by Anthony O'Grady with Buffalo published in 'RAM' magazine No.6, May 17, 1975 (p18-19) entitled:
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Buffalo started about five years ago. Singer Dave Tice and bass player Peter Wells came from Brisbane to Sydney in a band called 'Head' which lasted three or four weeks then broke up. That's when they got together with a guitar player called John Baxter. And a little while afterwards Jimmy Economou came in as drummer.
The group recorded three albums with Spencer Lee as producer and Tice and Baxter as the main songwriters. Times change though. John Baxter left the group late last year and the new band (with Norm Roue on slide guitar and Karl Taylor on guitar) will produce the next album themselves. "We were reaching stalemate" says Dave Tice. "The band was settling into a groove and the music wasn't changing over much. John had a few things he wanted to do, the rest of the band had a few ideas that were different. Now we only do two or three numbers from the first three albums. Audiences have been pretty cool about it. "Only Want You For Your Body' was in the same vein as the other two albums - but it was as far as we thought we could take it. There wasn't much point in carrying on with it"

Another argument for change was that the music on those first three albums was invariably compared with Black Sabbath and (early) Uriah Heep. "Yeah, that was pretty upsetting" quotes Tice. "In some ways I could see why . It didn't really hurt us, cause those bands were big news......still are to a point. So it helped us, if anything. But Uriah Heep for instance are pretty much into harmonies and we never were - we were always a lot more basic than either Black sabbath or Uriah Heep. Sabbath were always into smart-arse little time changes and things like that. We were a lot looser.
Our sort of music, even now we've changed as for people who live in the country towns and suburbs. The people who live in the city......well, the majority of them..." "Trendies" puts in Jimmy Economou. "Yeah" says Dave Tice with some emphasis 'Trendies. Super cool people. We've never been a super cool band. Real scruffy, that's us.
'Working class" adds bass player Peter Wells.
"John Baxter bought an E-type Jagu-ah" Dave Tice again. "Super-capitalist. Dunno how he got the bread together. Must have been a very frugal lad"
Hardly poor working class status symbol to be sure. Yer actual working class y'see is not the purr of E-type twin exhausts - according to the creed of Buffalo, it's volume.
"You gotta play loud" says Dave Tice, stating the creed. "The louder the better" says Jimmy Economous in a rapid fire of rhetoric. "If you can hear yourself, don't matter if no one else can hear you. The louder the better. if I was building amps...I'd make 'em 1,000 watts with just one knob. On and off. It's all ya'need. Turn 'er on and go".
Dave Tice is is chuckling at Jimmy's enthusiasm. He agrees. "Rock and Roll" he weighs in "Its your body music. It's not in your mind, not the way we play it anyway. It communicates physically".
"Da kids..they don't wanna go to dance" Jimmy again. "And bloody sit there, listen to slow music. They wanna fight, dance, con a chick. Our kind of music goes with all that, y'know"
One wonders how you get a chick to hear you above the volume. 'But that's the whole point !' exclaims Jimmy. ""Da bloody kids they don wanna talk to each other. the wanna shout to each other. fight with each other. Dance with each other. When the music stops, then they start talking. who these days...except Trendies...want to con a chick real nicely. The kids these days who go to a dance, they ask straight out 'You wanna F#@k" And she says 'Yeah" And that's it.
"Except...well...if you're a Trendy, well..you have to buy her flowers, take 'er out, say nice things. but these days the kids, the real kids, just say it straight out."
Jimmy has a fine disdain for Trendies. Himself. Dave Tice blames T.V.
"Over the past few years, it's just about killed conversation anyway. How many people do you know, that you can have an intelligent conversation with? When the music's really loud, most kids actually find it easier to communicate ...through body language.
When the wind is blowing in the right direction, by the way, Buffalo can be heard 1/4 of a mile away.
They've applied the same language of the physical to their first three album covers as well. the first album 'Dead Forever' featured corpses and gore. The second, 'Volcanic Rock' was a graphic with vagina's and penises somehow included into an exploding mountain of motif.. The third 'Only Want You For Your Body' has aroused the most censure. It's a lady being tortured. Some stores are sealing it into brown paper bags before selling it.
"Some places in Queensland banned the first one" says Peter Wells. "I reckon the third one is the mildest of the lot actually" A lot of people didn't even see what was in the second one. The third one's got the most publicity but it's nothing really. I could have understood it if it had been the second, that was sexiest at least."
"You've gotta laugh at it" says Dice. "It's just bullshit really. So overstated, it's a joke"
"All the covers have been watered down actually. We have ideas about what we want, and most of the covers have been compromises of what we originally planned. Like the last one we had some incredible ideas for, but Phonogram (Buffalo's record company) wouldn't wear them. Like the general manager was overseas when the second album came out. And when he saw it, he wanted to recall every record in the stores!".
"One thing we wanted to do was have the Horden Pavilion all full of naked kids," says Jimmy.
"Phonogram wouldn't wear that", says Peter sadly. "We've never gone out and said "Let's do this cause it's going to be controversial" - Dave Tice - "Most of the things just come off the top of the head of the head. We feel like doing it, so we do it. Then someone jumps onto it and makes something of it. We try a lot of things. Like someone tells us about a little ballerina that can dance Swan Lake very nicely. So we asked her parents if she'd open a few shows for us. It doesn't mean she's going to join the group or anything. Madam Lash once wanted to gig with us, and we said 'OK' ".
Just in case you were wondering. Buffalo plan to call their fourth album "Songs For The Frustrated Housewife". It will come with a 10" vibrator. The cover will show their manager's mother being ravaged by the group. [note: of course this did not eventuate - not surprisingly !]
But the album will be a new musical direction at least. Previously Buffalo have never gone out of their way to look for hit single status. They're thinking about one now, though. The music the band is now playing features a few Chuck Berry numbers - an interim stage while the new line-up settles down and develops its own music.
"We're playing pretty well together" explains Dave Tice. But we're still finding out each other's styles and limitations. What we can and can't do. We're starting to write new stuff. But in the meantime we're doing a few old rock numbers to fill in."
So, thought the band, since we're doing the golden oldie stuff, why not have a go at a hit single. "Little Queenie" is the number they've ventured a chance on.
"In some ways it's going back to what we were originally into." says Mr. T ""Like the band Peter and were first in was very bluesy, very Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry amongst others. That's one of the reasons Norm Roue joined us from Band Of Light, his roots are blues too. We're all a lot happier with how the band is sounding now."

Are Buffalo's regular fans as happy not to hear the old fave rave-ups?
"We do notice, when we go to a place we haven't played at since the old line-up, at the start there's maybe a dozen or so people, calling out for songs from the albums, songs they've heard the old line-up play.
"And they'll say, 'Jeeze, what's happened to Buffalo, where's John Baxter?..."things like that. But after about half of the set, they're usually into what we're doing now. By the end of the set, we don't hear people yelling out for old songs."
"We've put down five songs of a new album so far" says Peter Wells.
."And they sound so much better than anything on the old albums. Better drums, better bass. better everything." "I probably won't like it in about three or four weeks" says Dave gloomily. "It happens every time, you get so close to it. . . after you've put it down, you never want to hear it again. I can't bear to listen to any of our albums, it's an over-reaction against working so close to a song in the studio. We all really like the sound we're gettin' right now, like we know it's the best sound we've ever got. But I'm sure as soon as we're finished, we'll turn against it." "Yeah, sure, says Jimmy. Doesn't that make it hard playing material from albums in concert? "Na," says Dave. "Playing on stage is a different sort of thing altogether. It's a real energy thing. That's what I don't like about records actually . . . they lose so much energy. So much seems to get lost between what you put out in the studio and what you get back on record. It happens to us more than other bands I sup­pose, because live energy's our thing. But we couldn't really do a live album, cause the volume distorts the machines when they try to record it." Buffalo albums though, are listened to. Everything they've put out has reached the realms of gold. "We were down in Parkes one time, says Peter Wells. "And these guys came up after the concert, I mean most peo­ple go to the concert then they go home. But these guys didn't seem to have no home to go to. Really, they were 14-15 maybe and they were really involved in the band. Tattoos and things like that. They don't work, they don't go to school. They had the band's albums, but they didn't have a record player for them. "There was this amazing chick says Jimmy. "She was fifteen. She'd tried to commit suicide twice. She'd just come out of a Girls Home. She had this sharpie haircut on top and really long hair at the side. She had a heart on one shoulder with 'Mick' in it. Except she'd cut out the skin ya see, so you could hardly see it. She said. That was an old boyfriend, I didn't dig him anymore'. She had J.B. on the other arm . . . Jerry Somebody . . . John Somebody ... "John Baxter?" suggests Dave Tice. "Anyway, she didn't dig him anymore either, so she'd cut the skin out there too . . ." "You won't find any university graduates in the band, that's for sure," says Dave Tice. "And you don't find many in our audiences either. "We get a few Trendies now and then, concludes Jimmy E. "They wanna know what we do. "How come you do all that screwing around? How come you play so loud? What are you guys all about?' We don' tell 'em of course, let 'em find out for themselves. Trendies may enroll in the Buffalo School of Body Language next time the group is in town. [Interview by Anthony O'Grady - RAM magazine]
.You can purchase the full catalogue of Buffalo's albums from Aztec Records.
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Band Members (1972-1977):
Alan Milano, Dave Tice - (vocals)
John Baxter, Karl Taylor, Norm Roue - (guitar)
Peter Wells - (bass)
Paul Balbi, Jimmy Economou - (drums)
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Here are a couple of Buffalo singles from my private collection which I bought as a teenager. I'm pretty sure I got them from a bargain bin at Brash Suttons in Geelong which probably means I didn't pay much for them. I would imagine that they are worth a considerable amount today as Buffalo is a very collectable band.
I'm also including their E.P which I sourced from the web many moons ago (thanks to original uploader)

Buffalo Singles (mp3/320kps) + Label Scans
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A. Just a Little Rock and Roll / B. Barbershop Rock (1972)   
Link Fixed 05/04/2014. 

A. Little Queenie / B. The Girl Can't Help It (1975)

A. Lucky / On My Way (1975)

Buffalo E.P (mp3/256kps) + Label Scans

A. Suzie Sunshine / Dead Forever  B. Barbershop Rock / Sunrise (Come My Way) (1974)

Please note that there is a 'rogue album' floating about on the web called 'Buffalo - Unrealeased Tracks (1972-1977)' but it contains no tracks relating to this Australian band. In fact, the tracks were recorded by an English cover band in the early 80's with the same name. The album itself is not bad - but if you are after the genuine article, then it's not for you (see below).

Track Listing
01 - Backs to the wall
02 - Cold as night
03 - Detroit motor city

04 - Ezy

05 - Gimme some lovin

06 - In the flesh

07 - The answer

08 - Take it to the limit

09 - The rumour

10 - Lady jane

11 - Rock circus

12 - Stacato

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5 comments:

  1. Hi, great blog you have my friend!!!
    did you have the link of this album??? thanks in advance

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for the link Darrel. Great to see a reincarnation of Buffalo is out and about - hope they find their way back to Melbourne - would be great to see Dave Tice perform again.

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  3. Those were the days. Great that they are touring again.

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  4. Excelent article and very cool blog. Find it seeking info to complete our podcast (https://soundcloud.com/arrecho-2/30-jueves-17-de-marzo-2016). Sharing on our blog. Holkd on!!!

    ReplyDelete