BORN OUT OF TIME: THE AUSTRALIAN INDIE SOUND 1979-88 - Various Artists (Raven)
Bugger me, if it isn't raining compilations! Just like the Shock one that landed just before it, this is brimful of essential sounds that largely constitute the I-94 Bar's raison d'etre. So if you don't want to read a rave, take your leave now...

Compiler Ian McFarlane (Raven staffer and author of things you should have in your life like the "Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop" and the "Prehistoric Sounds" mags) has done what we all would have in taking a subjective approach to the task at hand. Unlike Shock's double "Do the Pop!" set, there's no track from the Saints but that's probably down to the fact the label already has a heap of their stuff out in the marketplace. The inclusion of Melbourne's La Femme is left field (them being heavy metal artists in punk clothing) but the presence of Adelaide's sprawling Lizard Train is not. I know the compiler's own opinion is that the New Christs' "Born Out of Time" is THE Oz single of the '80s (and maybe of all time.)

There's a shortage of rarities (who IS going to take the brave and onerous step of putting a legit disc of un-obtainable Oz punk out there, the out-of-print Abberant compilation notwithstanding?) but all up you can't argue with most of the inclusions - and I won't lose sleep over the ones left behind. The Sydney bias is evident - which makes the differences (back then) between that city and Melbourne all the more evident - and since this review is being written in the licensed area of a glass public house, no stones will be thrown.

Your average consumer is going to do head-to-head comparisons with the aforementioned Shock set, so we might as well get that out of the way now. For your hard-earned you cop 22 tracks, eight of them duplicated on "Do the Pop!" Where that set had the luxury of being a double (and was able to include more than one track from the bigger names) "Born..." has to settle for one. That must have put the compiler in a helluva position. For example, how do you pick the outstanding Birdman song? "Born..." settles for "Hangin' On", with its smouldering Masuak guitar-line and while I know one band member who might have favoured "Maelstrom" and another 20 fans who would have had as many alternatives. It just underlines how strong Australian music was back in the day.

The liner notes are adequate (you really should get the book - some of them appear to have been cribbed from the Enclyclopedia) with only a couple of new insights (love the line about producer Rob Younger forcing the Psychotic Turnbuckles to wear their wigs for the "Albuquerque" sessions.) We've seen all the posters, photos and handbills before. "Hangin' On" is a suitable opener and the Lipstick Killers' "Hindu Gods of Love" the perfect follow-up. Reservations have already been expressed about La Femme's claim to a place but no such arguments can be made against appearances by the Screaming Tribesmen ("Igloo"), the Hitmen ("I Don't Mind") or the Scientists ("Swampland".) New Race's blistering live version of "Cryin' Sun" is arguably the best thing they put on tape (and it became an albatross for the New Christs for ever more with persistent requests for
it to be returned to their sets a feature of the late '80s Sydney live scene.) Minuteman's "Voodoo Slaves" is something of a landmark, promoting as it did the birth of Citadel Records (the label that put Sydney on the map.)

Angie Pepper's eminently great "Frozen World" gets a guernsey, maybe at the expense of a Passengers track (had they bveen available), so here's an idea: What about a disc of female-fronted bands from the same period? As much as a groundbreaking departure from the norm that "Wild Desire" was for the Celibate Rifles, I would have gone for something more in the usual thrasharama mould, but the change of pace does sit OK in the tracking order.

So do you buy the lean-and-mean single Raven disc or the Shock double set? "Do the Pop" has the edge for its double-disc format and superior liner notes. If you're flush, you'll buy both, load them into your rotel and play 'em loud all weekend. Better still, play 'em to someone who missed out on
being there and convert them. There may be hope for Oz music yet. - The Barman