Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28: The Fun Things, "Savage"

Artist: The Fun Things
Song: "Savage"
Album: Fun Things 7"
Year: 1980

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Before the rise of the internet, clearly one of the most difficult things was for a smaller band to make themselves known to an international audience.  This was made even more of a task when the band in question was only around for a short period of time, and had a minimal amount of releases.  Adding a final level of difficulty, one can easily understand that, in the late 1970's, the country of Australia was not really considered a hotbed for the punk rock movement.  However, if one does some exploration, the truth will be revealed that the country WAS in fact one of the finest places for the genre, and among the great, somewhat unknown artists of the era was one of the fiercest, and most pure punk bands in history: The Fun Things.  Though the group was only together for a bit over a year, and released only a 7" record, the impact of the release was such that they are without question, legends of the Aussie punk rock scene, and each of the four tracks on the 7" are absolute classics.  With an almost unsettling amount of energy, and a stripped down, pure sound that truly represented everything that made punk rock great, over the decades, The Fun Things have become one of the most treasured "underground" punk bands in history, and the songs from their EP were made a bit easier to get when they were placed on the fantastic Murder Punk compilation.  Pulling influence from The Stooges and The Sex Pistols among many others, The Fun Things perfectly captured the feeling of being on stage in their wild classic song, "Savage."

When it comes down to it, "Savage" is all about bringing the listener both the sound and mood of a live punk performance, and the song kicks off in brilliant fashion, with heavy feedback, and then dropping into the heavy guitar riff from and Graeme Beavis.  The guitar playing is absolutely perfect, as it brings the energy and aggression of the punk rock style, yet it is not overpowering or too loud, which gives it an ability to appeal to the more "normal rock" listeners.  The band even drops in a quick guitar solo before slamming into the final verse, and this makes the song even more distinctive.  The bass of John Hartley winds in sensational fashion around the guitars, and it is largely the bass playing that pushes the song to a frenzied level, and keeps the band o the border of musical chaos.  Rounding out the band is drummer Murray Shepherd, who brings an amazing level of sheer power to his playing, yet like the other members of The Fun Things, he keeps things stable and consistent throughout "Savage."  The song never relents or slows at any point, and the energy that they bring surely set off countless clubs across Australia, and their pure, high-octane performance is what makes them the legendary act that they remain to this day.  It is within the music that one can hear the influence of The Stooges, as the arrangement and style with which the band plays clearly pulls more from the early years of punk, as opposed to the more popular style that was present at the time that The Fun Things recorded their extraordinary 7".

Keeping pace with the wild, enthusiastic musical performance, Brad Shepherd brings an absolutely amazing vocal track to the song, and he leaves little question as to "who" was running the band.  Pushing the boundary on the screaming/talking versus singing, there has never been another vocalist that sounded quite like Shepherd, and one can also clearly feel the high level of emotion with which he is singing.  Again making the bands' love for The Stooges clear, Shepherd's vocals do a fantastic job in paying tribute to one of the greatest vocalists ever in Iggy Pop.  Further adding to this, one can make an argument that, although the lyrics could apply to nearly any punk band, they bear a striking resemblance to the legendary stage presence of Iggy Pop.  The lyrics which Shepherd sings are nothing short of fantastic, and they unquestionably play as vital a role as the music or the singing.  The words perfectly capture the emotion of a band taking the stage and having the underlying need to blow away their audience because, "...when you're paying your bills to see me, I've got to do what you want me to..."  In many ways, this simple line perfectly captures the entire punk ethos, as The Fun Things make it clear that on one level, the live show is about the audience, as opposed to the band.  The bridge again does an amazing job of summing up the mood as the songs' title is an amazingly accurate description of "how" a punk band should be when he sings, "...put me on the stage and I'll be your savage..."  The lyrics perfectly reflect the attitude and energy that The Fun Things bring to the track, and when it ends, there is little question that both the song and the band are absolute classics of the genre.

The case has been made over the decades that often times, the finest bands to ever record end up getting lost in the shuffle, and a myriad of reasons can lead to this occurrence.  The fact that they only existed for just over a year, yielding a single 7" release, and furthermore were located in Australia, one can make the case that The Fun Things had just about everything working against their ability to make waves on the international punk scene.  However, the fact of the matter is, that lone 7" remains one of the most highly sought after recordings, as it is without question a shining example of everything that there is to love about punk rock.  Keeping the sound in its most pure and straightforward form the band absolutely explodes off of the record, and they prove to be as good as any act in punk history on their classic song, "Savage."  The intense guitar playing of Shepherd and Beavis, combined with Hartley's bass playing create one of the finest musical compositions in the history of the genre, and the pummeling drumming from Murray Shepherd finishes off a true musical powerhouse.  The fact that The Fun Things were able to be so unique in an era when everyone was simply copying what was popular, one can feel their authenticity, and the subject matter about which they are singing becomes even more fantastic.  Truth be told, though countless bands over the decades have attempted to capture the feeling of being on stage in words, few have even come close to the perfection in this pursuit, as well as the similarly accurate power and feeling as one finds on The Fun Things 1980 classic, "Savage."

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