Saturday, March 24, 2012

Machinations - The Big Beat (1986) Mini LP

(Australian 1980- 1989, 1997)
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The Machinations formed around Tim Doyle and Tony Starr, who started writing together around the end of 1979, using what electronic instruments they could find. Their school friend Fred Loneragan joined as singer and they played their first show at Garibaldi's in Darlinghurst, Sydney in early 1980. Another school friend, Nero (Nick) Swan, soon joined on bass.
In late 1980, with the assistance of radio Triple J, the band recorded some songs at Trafalgar Studios; in November 1980, the band entered the studio with producer Lobby Loyde. These recordings resulted in the band's debut single, "Average Inadequacy"/"Arabia" (released 26 August 1981), and the four-track debut self-titled EP (20 November 1981), both released on the independent Phantom Records label.
"Average Inadequacy" created enough interest for Mushroom's White Label to sign the band and reissue the single with a new B-side, "Machinations of Dance" in March 1982. A year later, Machinations issued a new single, "Jack"/"Be Double" in February 1983. This was followed by "Pressure Sway"/"Pushbike" in June 1983. "Pressure Sway" became the band's first national mainstream charting single when it peaked at #21 during July 1983. "Pressure Sway" also made an impact in the United States reaching #40 on Billboard's Club Play Singles chart. In April 1983, Machinations released their debut album, Esteeem, which peaked at #54 on the Australian album charts. The third single from the album was, "Jumping the Gap"/"Terminal Wharf", released in October 1983.
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Following the album's release, and an Australian tour support slot with Joe Jackson, Machinations added Warren McLean on drums; prior to that the band used a drum machine (a Roland CR-78). The band entered Rhinoceros Studios with English producer Julian Mendelshon, emerging with the smoothest and most fully realised album of its career, Big Music, in July 1985. The album produced four hit singles. The first of these, "No Say in It"/"Man Overboard" pre-empted the album by nine months (it was released in September 1984) and ended up being the band’s highest charting single, peaking at #14 in October 1984. The second single, "My Heart's on Fire"/"Spark" followed in May 1985, it reached #27 in June 1985. The third single, "You Got Me Going Again"/"I Ain't Waiting for No Train" was released in August, 1985, making #39, however the fourth single, "Execution of Love"/"Dusted Down", released in December 1985 failed to chart. Naomi Star sang backing vocals on most of the album, although Inez Anthony was featured on "No Say in It". The album peaked at #20 on the national album charts, spending several weeks at that position. It was also released in the United States on the A&M label.
In 1985 Machinations performed the three national hit songs for the Oz for Africa concert (part of the global Live Aid program). It was broadcast in Australia (on both Seven Network and Nine Network) and on MTV in the US.
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In 1986, White Label issued the mini-album The Big Beat (featured in this post), which is a collection of dance remixes of singles like "No Say in It", "Execution of Love", "Pressure Sway" and "You Got Me Going Again", which reached #83 on the charts.
That same year, Warren McLean left Machinations to join Melbourne funk-pop outfit I'm Talking. Henry Downes took his place on drums. Downes was then replaced by John MacKay (ex-Sea Monsters) in early 1987. The band was back in the studios soon after with American producer Andy Wallace (Prince, Run DMC), recording a new album.
Machinations' third album, 'Uptown' was released in October 1988 and produced four singles spread out over eighteen months. The first single, "Do to You"/"Looking Out for You", was released in August 1987 and almost matched the highpoint of "No Say In It", reaching #15 in October 1987. The second single, "Intimacy"/"Hit by a Missile" (May 1988), reached #44, the third, "Do It to Me"/"Normal" (October 1988), peaked at #69 and the fourth, "Cars and Planes"/"Beats and Planes" (February 1989) failed to chart. The album was well received upon its release and reached #46 on the national album charts.
By that stage, Machinations had established themselves as a popular band on the Australian touring circuit. The band's activities were curtailed in early 1989 when a hit-and-run accident left Loneragan unconscious and with a broken back. He spent several months recuperating in hospital. Initially other band members intended to continue writing new material whilst Loneragan recovered from his injuries, but over time the various members left to pursue other projects. Swan toured with the James Freud's band and with MacKay performed with Absent Friends.
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Machinations re-unite in 2012
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While the band reformed for some select dates in the 1990s their latest reunion will be the first chance to see the group in full swing since its 1980s heyday.
Swan said "band members had remained good friends ever since it disbanded in 1989 and when a friend approached them about the possibility of reforming for a few shows they jumped at the chance".
He and singer Fred Loneragan had remained prominent in the industry and had played a number of sets together on the Absolutely 80s variety tour but both missed the chemistry of the original band.
“The Absolutely 80s shows were a lot of fun, but at the same time, it was frustrating only doing six songs - playing with a backing band wasn’t the same,” he said.
The experience did give the pair a chance to revisit the band’s material and decide which songs had withstood the test of time and which songs needed some reworking.
The group has been rehearsing for the gigs since December and Swan said fans could expect all the classic hits such as Pressure Sway and My Heart’s On Fire. But the show will also feature a range of early post-punk and some rarities and B-sides.
“Some of the songs we hadn’t played since the mid-80s but when we revisited them we thought they are damn fine songs,” he said.
The line-up is the same as in 1989 - Fred Loneragan, Nero Swan (bass), Tony Starr (synthesizers), Tim Doyle (guitar) and John Mackay (drums).
The band is so excited for the reunion they have all spent money updating their rigs and gear and will look to book a few shows in Melbourne and maybe one more in Sydney following the Bridge Hotel gigs [as reported in the North Shore Times, Feb 2012]
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This post consists of mp3 (320kps) ripped from my cassette tape release of this album which plays as good as the day it was purchased. I have included full album artwork from both the LP and cassette tape releases along with some select photos of the band from the 1980's.
Although a little dated in concept (with 12" dance mixes), this album is still entertaining to listen to - now where did I put my mirror ball ?
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Track Listing
01 One Closer Step

02 No Say In It
03 Execution Of Love

04 Pressure Sway
05 My Heart’s On Fire
06 Jumping The Gap
07 You Got Me Going Again
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Band Members:
Tim Doyle - guitar
Fred Loneragan - vocals
Warren McLean - drums
Tony Starr - keyboards
Nick (Nero) Swan - bass
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Machinations Link (102Mb)
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