THE MANIKINS The Manikins (Two Tribes/Reverberation)
The Manikins were members of the same class of Perth bands (The Cheap Nasties, the Scientists and The Victims) whose members graduated from their own local rock and roll high school around the turn of the 70s and moved on. In the Manikins' case, they broke up, reconstituted and re-located to Melbourne and arguably, if you're a fan of the sort of music we celebrate here went on to lesser things.
There's something to be said for splendid isolation - and back in the 70s, places didn't get much more isolated than Perth. The Manikins themselves were direct descendents of The Cheap Nasties - one of Australia's first punk bands and originally formed by Kim Salmon. They broke up amid acrimony and Salmon swam upstream to ultimately lead the Scientists. The Manikins , on the other hand, briefly gave a home to Dave Flick (nee Faulkner), after his time with the Victims and en route to becoming a Le Hoodoo Gurus founder.
This posthumous release originally came out in the early 80s as "Live Locally", a cassette only effort that captured the band prior to its embracing commercialism and signing to CBS (by which time singer Robert Porritt and drummer Mark Betts were the only original Manikins left standing). It might even be a dub of "Live Locally" that was passed on to the Bar some years ago.
"The Manikins" was recorded live in the studio in 1979 and is nice stuff a Baker's dozen of sharp songs banged out nice and quick, no second takes.Thirteen tracks date from that all-night session in Sweetcorn Studios; the other two cuts are the 1978 single "I Never Thought I'd Find Someone Who Could Be So Kind" b/w "Radio World". Think punky guitar pop, a little Clashy in parts but without that band's occasionally over-heated tempos. All 15 tracks are written or co-authored by guitarist Neil Fernandes, whose absence from later line-ups obviously affected the band's direction.
The Manikins sound cleaner than the Victims and not as trashy as early period Scientists almost nodding towards the Jam in parts. That's a band that also could have had an influence on their dress sense, if the liner pictures are an indication. The Manikins (primarily Porritt and Ferndanes) - in the early days, at least - had an ear for a melody without dressing it up in too many pop smarts or grinding off the rough edges.
So if we're placing the Manikins somewhere in the pop punk middle ground, what's the final verdict? It's not mind-blowingly great but far better than average, and required listening if you want a complete picture of the nascent Perth punk scene. File next to the Scientists' recent "Pissed On Another Planet" collection, even if the two bands with common bloodlines were moving in different musical directions by the time they committed their songs to tape. The Barman
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