Monday, March 28, 2011

Weddings, Parties, Anything - Scorn Of The Women (1987) + Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1984 - 1998, 2006-Present)
Weddings Parties Anything, often known as 'WPA' and 'Weddoes', were an Australian folk rock band formed in 1984 in Melbourne and continuing until 1998 (although they have reformed a number of times since to play the occasional festival or charity gig). Their name came from The Clash song ("Revolution Rock") and musicologist Billy Pinnell described their first album as the best Australian rock debut since Skyhooks' Living in the '70s.

Listed influences as Woody Guthrie, Tex Morton, and The Rolling Stones, one gets the idea that it is not easy to categorize this Australian band. And it isn't. One part rock, one part punk/alternative, one part country, and one part whatever strikes their fancy. With experience including solo performances, and playing in Australian "bush bands", principal writer (and leader of the band), Michael Thomas, formed W.P.A. in 1985, initially with drummer, Marcus Schintler, later recruiting accordionist Mark Wallace, guitarist Dave Steel, and bassist Janine Hall (formerly of the band The Saints). WPA initially gained a reputation as a hot new band through their constant touring in their early days, however they never really became a commercial success. They did however, form a fanatical supporter base, known as the “Wedheads” that continued to sustain the band for years. Renowned for their energetic live shows, WPA had a handful of live songs that were nearly always guaranteed to push the mosh pit into a frenzy, particularly “A Tale They Won’t Believe”, the story of cannibalism in the convict days of Tasmania. 

An independent E.P. released in 1985 by Suffering Tram Music (pictured below), and constant touring of Australia finally caught the attention of WEA Australia, who signed the band in 1987, and promptly released their debut album, 'Scorn Of The Women'. Janine Hall left the band following the release of the album, and was replaced by Peter Lawler. It was that line-up that produced 1988's Roaring Days. Dave Steel left the band following a tour of North America, citing exhaustion as the chief reason. He also noted in several interviews, at the time of his departure (1988), that he was feeling frustrated not getting a lot of his material on the W.P.A. albums. He released his debut solo album, through WEA in 1989. He was replaced by Richard Burgman for 1989's The Big Don't Argue, and accompanying tours. The band spent a great deal of time touring over the next three years, and managed to release only one EP in 1990, titled 'The Weddings Play Sports (and Falcons)', featuring cover versions of the bands The Sports, and the Falcons. The band resurfaced in 1992 with an EP featuring the popular track "One Perfect Day", originally released by 'Little Heroes', and a new CD with yet another guitarist, Paul Thomas, replacing the departing Richard Burgman. This line-up (Michael Thomas, Paul Thomas, Mark Wallace, Marcus Schintler, and Peter Lawler) remained in tack for another two years, producing one more CD, King Tide (1993).

Following the world tour to promote that release, Peter Lawler, and Marcus Schintler left the band, for unknown reasons, although Peter Lawler pursued a solo career. . Thomas reformed the band, and by 1996, the new line-up of W.P.A were ready for their first release, the independently produced 'Donkey Serenade'. The band now included Jen Anderson (Violins; Mandolin) (formerly of the band, Black Sorrows); Michael Barclay (Drums); Stephen O'Prey (Bass), as well as Michael Thomas, Paul Thomas and Mark Wallace. The music style shifted somewhat from folk to a more alternative country sound. The band decided at this time to concentrate on the Australian market, and did less touring outside of their native Australia. W.P.A. finished 1997 with a new release, 'Riveresque' on a new label (Mushroom/Sony), and by 1998, the band decided to take a break and work on several solo projects, including Michael Thomas's musical Wide Open Road. A band with a unique mix of influences, and sounds, who have demonstrated the ability to grow, explore, and be creative with new additions, while maintaining their own style of music. [extract from mushroom music] .

Album Review
If Pete Seeger had been a member of the Clash, circa 1979, this is probably the sound they would have created. Mike Thomas, the principle writer for the band, wears his influences on his sleeve on this debut album, but he is still able to make his own distinct style of folk/alternative rock. Listen for Tex Morton, Pete Seeger, punk influences, and traditional folk songs all rolled into one beautiful sound. He also manages to cover a great many topics, such as infanticide ("The Infanticide of Marie Farrar"), women's rights ("Ladies Lounge"), and poverty ("Hungry Years"), all within a Marxist's perspective. Pretty impressive for a debut rock album. And, he is able to mould such diverse topics around some very accessible, if not downright addictive melodies. The band is tight, and this tightness helps shape the songs into intense, thought-provoking melodramas. Weddings, Parties, Anything were able, very early in their career, to carve out their own sound (typified by the wonderful harmonies of the piano accordion), which is a remarkable achievement for a young band. Overall, a great album that will reward the brave new listener. Highly recommended. .

This post was ripped from my 'mint' vinyl copy at 320kps and includes full album artwork for both vinyl and CD (thanks to Micko for CD artwork). I have also included the non-album B-Side track "Bourgeois Blues" (flip side of Away, Away) and two bonus live tracks, "Away, Away" from 1997 and "One Perfect Day" which was recorded in 2003. .

.Note: I have a close personal affiliation with this album for one special reason. I have lived at a number of addresses in my life, two of which are clearly depicted 'geographically' in maps that appear on the cover of this LP (see right) - the map of Geelong and the map of Melbourne. My suburbs are clearly labelled in each of these maps! I find myself asking the question was this an early version of Google Maps ? .
Track Listing
01. Hungry Years - 4:23

02. Ladies Lounge - 2:53

03. Lost Boys (Dave Steel) - 3:57

04. The Infanticide of Marie Farrar - 3:27

05. She Works - 3:05
06. Scorn of the Women - 5:22

07. Away Away - 3:51

08. The River Is Wide - 3:51

09. Up For Air - 3:27

10. By Tomorrow - 3:42

11. Woman of Ireland - 2:45

12. Shotgun Wedding - 5:19

13. Bourgeois Blues (B-Side Single)
14. One Perfect Day (Bonus Live Acoustic Version 2003)

15. Away Away (Bonus Live Acoustic Version 1997)

Band Members:

Janine Hall (Bass guitar, vocals)

Marcus Schintler (Drums, vocals)

Dave Steel (Guitar, vocals)

Mick Thomas (Guitar, vocals)

Mark Wallace (Piano accordion, keyboards, vocals)

Additional Musicians

Louis McManus - Guitar ("Ladies Lounge")

Jeff Raglus - Trumpet ("Scorn Of The Women")

Michael Barclay - Vocals ("Away Away")
Weddings, Parties, Anything Link (140Mb)  New Link 12/04/2020

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