DIGGIN' THROUGH THE BINS - The Missing Links (Corduroy)
If you haven't heard of Australia's Missing Links you're missing out. They were only around a couple of years (1965-66) but hold a special place as one of the most frenzied and reverred Oz '60s punk outfits to tread the boards. Latter-day guitarist Doug Ford went on to play with the Masters Apprentices, while singer Andy James went on to fame as a TV soap opera face, acting under the name Andy Anderson.

Of course in the posthumous fame stakes, the scarcity of their recorded output (four singles, am album and an EP) was a handicap - until Half a Cow issued the indispensable CD collation of all their recordings, "Driving You Insane", in 1999. Now Corduroy, bless 'em, have followed up with a vinyl release compiling 16 of the cuts that weren't on the Missing Links' debut album, way back in 1965.

Slaves to the digital age most of us may be, but there's still something comforting about listening to the (warmer) sound emitted by a black slab of plastic. Feels good in the hands too, even if you do have to get up halfway through and change it over (so there are slight cardiac health advantages too). Corduroy have been bagged for the alleged lack of hotness in some of their past pressings, but no such criticism can be levelled in this case. As primitively recorded as the Links' material was, there's a nice clarity and presence in these grooves.

And the music? Ugly Things went apeshit for the Chants R & B's "Live 66 - The Stage Door Tapes" a few years ago. All credit to that disc for rawness and sweat that you could HEAR, but the Missing Links are The Shit in terms of Australasian '60s music, and they're the band that Mike Stax should embrace, if he hasn't already. (Him being on the ball, he probably has and I didn't read that issue). At least "You're Driving Me Insane" did make the "Nuggets 2" box set, giving a taste of this band to the wider world.

Being a compile of non-album tracks, you don't get the best known Linkage like "Wild About You" - later covered by the Saints on their debut album - or "Speak No Evil" (both are on a Corduroy companion vinyl re-ish anyway). This disc does unleash the driving "Don't Give Me No Friction", a storming cover of "I'll Go Crazy" and a grungey "Wooly Bully". You also hear cuts by Missing Links spin-offs The Showmen ("Don't Deceive", 'So Far Away" and "Naughty Girl") and Running Jumping Standing Still ("Diddy Wah Diddy").

So if you haven't caught up with the Missing Links, here's your chance. It's a limited edition of 1000 copies, so don't delay dropping Corduroy mail order a line. - The Barman


DRIVING YOU INSANE - The Missing Links (Half a Cow)
If this is the quality of Half a Cow's retrospective series, bring 'em on! In a word: Classy.

I'd been eyeing an obviously pirated CD version of the Missing Links' first album for many months, hanging around as it was at Sydney's only record fair. And just like the old faces at aforesaid fair, the CD was just...hanging around...everytime I'd been there. Luckily, the fact that this was in the pipeline (and a 40 buck price tag) made me invest cash elsewhere.

For the uninformed, the Missing Links were only around in Australia from 1964-66. They toured outside their home state only once. Their recorded legacy was an album ("The Missing Links"), a smattering of singles pressed in runs so small that no-one could have bought them if they'd heard them, and a posthumous EP ("The Missing Links Unchained").

The music is rawboned, crude garage R and B at its best, though, and up until now almost impossible to find or sporadically documented on Australian '60s punk compilations. "...Insane" is the Real Deal; 28 tracks, five of them unreleased, and even a few from offshoots like the wonderful Running Jumping Standing Still and The Showmen.

Most I-94 patrons will know "Wild About You" (it was covered by The Saints) and "Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" have been compiled, but other examples of the Links' driving, low-fi rave-upmanship are thin on the ground.

And you receive a 40-page history book into the bargain. - The Barman