DO THE MANIC - The Chose Few (Existential Vacuum)
A ROOT AND A BEER - The Chosen Few (Au-Go-Go)
The Chosen Few may seem an obscure name for most I-94 Bar patrons, unless familiar with the ever infamous "Martin Bryant"-supported Murder Punk compilations, featuring among others The Psycho Surgeons, The Scientists, The Fun Things, The Victims, News and a host of others.

Alongside Babeez (aka The News) in Melbourne in the late 70s, were the Chosen Few (who prior to adopting this moniker, once went by the name Deathwish and seemed more progressive rock in the Billy Thorpe/ Lobby Loyde mould rather than punk rockers.)

The core Chosen Few line-up consisted of vocalist Ian Weave, guitarist Bruce Friday, bassist Ian Cunningham and drummer Cal McAlpine. In the brief period that the band existed The Few released a 7" EP "The Jokes on Us" in 1978. This EP was recorded at a studio on Smith Street, Collingwood (frighteningly close to where the band reformed for shows with a changed line-up in 1998.)

"The Jokes on Us featured six original tracks. The title track and five other classic Chosen Few punk tunes, including"There's a Lot of It Going Around" and "Terminal Rock". These tracks were heavily influenced by the only worthwhile usual suspects - MC5, Stooges, Ramones, Blue Oyster Cult, plus Australian legends such as Lobby Loyde and The Coloured Balls and 'contemporaries' The Saints. In fact, when Radio Birdman toured Melbourne in 1977, The Few had enquired about playing at The Oxford Funhouse, after yet another, most likely killer Birdman gig in Melbourne.

For a band which began in late '77 and ended in early '79, many would have thought them laid to rest. This was the case until Texas label Existential Vacuum released the killer 13-track vinyl LP "Do the Manic" and the legendary Au-Go-Go label followed up with the 15-track CD "A Root and a Beer".

On "Do the Manic", side one features alternate takes of the tracks, which became "The Jokes on Us" EP and opens with "Disco Tek Wreck", a killer tune focussing on the dire advent of Disco and a rock-n-roll saviour Dr. Deniz Tek. "The Jokes on Us" is obviously dedicated to scumbag major record label execs, wishing to cash in on the hysteria surrounding punk, as really pushed along by The Sex Pistols and their ever infamous British TV Reg Grundy Show appearance. Throughout these and two other "The Jokes on Us" outtakes, Ian Weaver howls and growls through some classic vocal 'performances', as guitarist Bruce Friday slashes and burns, the best he can, with the band's songwriting nucleus and rhythm section McAlpine and Cunningham keeping it all pumping along.

Following "The Jokes on Us" outtakes are some timeless covers and rehearsal takes of the numerous other Chosen Few originals. Among the covers are two Lobby Loyde penned tunes: "Make Up Your Mind" from The Coloured Balls' (classic) "Ball Power" LP and "That's Life" from the Wild Cherries. These are followed by The Sonics' (oft-covered) "He's Waiting". The Chosen Few can't help but give the aforementioned tunes, quite unique treatment, especially with their ever unpredictable Iggy-esque singer Ian Weaver (whom sadly passed away in 1995, aged 36, R.I.P.)

Side two follows with all Chosen Few originals. Personal highlights include "Fag Trendies" (like 'Disco Tek Wreck') about "fake fashions" and other dubious"'punk" bands (and that means you, Birthday Party and co), "Adolph, You Beauty!" (a classic song title considering current and previous times of political correctness) and "No Fun on the Beaches" (examining beachgoing and observing the great fun that can be - or shouldn't be - had.)

"Do the Manic" includes the amazing eight-page "Dig The Few" liner notes which also appear in the Au-Go-Go release. "A Root and a Beer" features some intriguing covers, including "Ramblin' Rose", "Hard Lovin' Man" and Radio Birdman's teen anthem "New Race". Both "Make Up Your Mind" and "He's Waiting" also appear. The cover of 'New Race' was in fact recorded live in Adelaide on their only tour and in particular at a 'Children of Tomorrow' concert, along with two other original tracks that appear on this release. When comparing the cover of 'New Race' to other covers of this legendary tune, it's hard to find the same rage and raw intensity as lies here with The Chosen Few version, (silverchair couldn't do it, nor could Bon Fuhrer on "Flattery"). What is also interesting is that when "New Race" ends, the crowd drags the band back for an encore (an original "To Kill or Maim"), much to the chagrin of the festival promoters.

Both "Do the Manic" and "A Root and a Beer", the Chosen Few, prove without doubt that late 70s Melbourne punk was not all doom and gloom and strippers and heads burning for pleasure, but also high energy punk rock-n-roll, played hard and fast. - Simon Li

 

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