Continuous Hit Music: Radio Birdman – Radios Appear

Continuous Hit Music – a weekly exploration of vinyl finds.

Artist: Radio Birdman
Title: Radios Appear
Original Release: July 1977 (1978)
Label: Trafalgar
Reissue Label: 4 Men With Beards (2010)
Store: Hum on King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Price: $24.99

Newtown in Sydney, the part of town I’ve been drawn to for all my years in Sydney, has been pretty good with record stores. Even with the fall of CD stores left and right, the three on King Street survived the last five years. Pretty amazing.

HUM is a small chain store, but a pretty hip one. The Newtown store stocks a healthy shelf of new release vinyl, and they keep some in their store window to entice passers by. It’s a good place to pick up something new, say an Arctic Monkeys record. They order a lot and not all of it moves. I found this album in a small pile of lightly discounted new records. The price sticker for $34.99 crossed out and it cost $24.99.

Radio Birdman. You know, of all those underground 80s Australian bands, the Birdman are not my favourites. I guess I leaned towards the wussier side of things – Go-Betweens and that. But they are as good a raw and dirty rock band as any produced, anywhere in the world. And this album, their debut, has some of their signature songs – New Race and Aloha Steve & Danno are probably the ones people have heard of. Both blistering pieces of rock. But there are longer, dirge-ier moments and I have to confess, that stuff loses me sometimes.

Still, this is the record I reach for when I want to hear Birdman. Anglo Girl Desire. Their cover of You’re Gonna Miss Me. Non Stop Girls. Damn this is a good record. I would even say this album is a better introduction than any of the best-ofs out there.

I discovered Birdman, along with 50 other important bands, from Clinton Walker‘s wonderful book Stranded. They are given great importance in that book as being pioneers. Pretty interesting that they missed out completely from Triple J’s recent Hottest 100 Australian albums poll. It made number 13 in the book The 100 Greatest Australian Albums.

This version is actually the international tracklisting and cover. I want to be a stickler for the original Australian version – but I just can’t. Just look at that beautiful album sleeve. It is just the best. Possibly the best Australian album cover ever. And whoever looks after their catalogue should be shot. It takes Americans to reissue and take care of their music. The original might be a bit more pure, but this version cuts out a stooges cover and adds Aloha… so as sacrilegious as it sounds, this is my version of this record. And it’s the one I grew up with.

4 Men With Beards are an interesting vinyl reissue label. I am seeing their logo on more and more releases. And they have pretty great tastes. Velvets, Gainsbourg, Burrito Brothers – really evergreen stuff. Their stuff also sounds really great, their records are sturdy and their print work is top notch. This record comes with an insert – I don’t know if it’s a recreation of the original but it’s nice. Pretty happy that there’s a lot of 4 Men stuff getting into the country. (The sleeve says the record is manufactured by Rhino – so perhaps 4 Men are really just facilitators?)

I don’t think this record, this reissue is particularly rare. But I’m pretty thrilled to own this record on vinyl – if only for that awesome album cover looking in all it’s glory. Let the Birdman fly, eh?

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