Where to begin. Where to begin. A barefoot kid from Alice Springs in Norwood town hall not saying a thing but something fluid in the broken lines on a 335 and Les the babyface ladykiller getting it all together and a scouse loping in with a see-through kit and a reputation set to audition the rest of the world and Swannee’s little brother hanging on for courage then sloping off with the usual teenage thugs from Elizabeth city centre and this was Adelaide in 1973 and its an immigrant swamp on the edge of the Empire and Zeppelin is King and nothing happens at all and what I hear is this curious kinda rattly sound more like a tram than a freight train that debuts at the Italian Club where Les being a Pole has great connections and then playing on the back of a flatbed truck at Gawler Raceway and divining that movement is the glue since Ghengis Khan, promising careers in neuro-surgery, corporate law and the Bolshoi Ballet are cut dead and Mick the Mull and Gary Skinner crawl a blue van full of gear and bodies two thousand miles to Armidale singing Cotton Fields and “Sung by the Elizabeth quartet can’t get a hard-on just yet so suck me aaahff” and so to private schoolgirls and the occult and Phil whatsisnames opium and a tiny evil goat that stands all freezing nights at the backdoor of a remote New England farmhouse and watches and never sleeps and catching in the headlights a familiar naked shape that springs off over the fields and Les losing consciousness and smacking face down halfway between the front door and the stage in a tiny Glen Innes hall after three days up on unlabelled pills burgled from a Beardy St. chemist in the night and his bass skidding across the dance floor and I’m thinking this lot could go all the way and so have a belt writing a song and out comes “Letmenotforgetme” which becomes “Party’s Over” with a bitter chiropractory on the words and back in Adelaide things are fat for now but that does not ever last and Les is sacked for being neither vicious nor especially good and the rest sit with a flagoon outside a bedroom door yelling back at the screamer from the screen door factory bawling for more till Ian’s christened 4timesanhour Moss and rehearsing and learning and crossing the Nullabor Plain to play for half what it cost in a car hired by someone else and handed over in a somewhat reckless act of trust and heading back and blowing all the tubeless tires and driving on the rims for thirty miles to stretch out and sleep in a rusted bus half buried beside a roadhouse still a half day short of the border and doing the iron towns, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Port Augusta with the Keystone Angels and Doc telling somebody’s daughter in the cathedral of my heart, a candle burns for you and him and Swannee pissing in a boot and pouring in the scotch and daring each other to drink it, and they do and Port Lincoln and homegrown in amputated fishermen’s fingers and waking up to the verandah of the Pier Hotel and the tuna boats and the gulf and a blue Antarctic southerly and now its P. Moss and Leon the Latvian loading in and his Shaker customized to kill anything over two city blocks, no more then take it home and pull it down and here it is howling across the Hay Plain clogging up each shaved valve to catch an evaporating few gigs in the East and the full moon swelling outa the semi-desert ahead and sailing over semi-trailer headlights 50K’s away or maybe its the roadhouse and the caravans of Hay and back home to boobs and bands nights at the Largs Pier with a tranny and her impossible body lounging naked round the hotel kitchen for hours and Elaine and that inane nutbush dance the girlies do and Tooley and Charlie and each man his jug of rum with the squirt of raspberry and the bulletholes in the beam above the stage and the night the convoy blew in from Broken Hill and everybody was into it up and down the waterfront the minute the band died until someone pulled a shotgun out of his boot and there were arses squeezing up drains and breaking the four minute mile all across the Port and being blown offa the stage by AC/DC two nights in a row and writing “Teenage Love” to make sure that does not ever happen again and Irene and Ian and Faye with Hugh Jies and Alan Dallow’s R.M.’s and brick fists and him and I on mescaline slipping a party in the dawn to find food and him burning an idiot at the lights and ripping the shift clean out of the floor and later leaving it all for once and all, Elizabeth and Countdown and Port Adelaide and the churches and the murders and dragging out and burning the furniture in the backyard for the one long overnighter to Melbourne and a winter of support spots colder and sparser than charity living seven to one big room with Peter’s putrid boots and sharing a lift with Lindsay Kemp and his coven of queers on the haunted floor above in the Majestic Hotel over Fitzroy St. and there is no money and next weeks gigs promise to pay for this weeks food then disappear so its potato cakes at 2c. each and crashing a party gone wrong on election night 1975 and the pram cemetery types with their days of wine and cheeses and their ignorant garrulous certainty and their chi chi Carlton bohemia and their unread novels about each other creeping around weeping cause their man went down and no more arts money and it don’t mean a fucking thing to me lady the people has spoke and you might have to get a real job or starve like us ya godany more beer and a friendly with huge tits laying them on the counter of a St. Kilda pizza bar to get us free food and the Italians running around yelling O.K.O.K. puttem away and later full of supreme watching “The Claw” on TV for the fiftieth time and someone quietly fucks her in the corner by way of thanks, as it were and I don’t know about this silly stream of consciousness shit but I couldn’t be bothered figuring out where the sentences end and it seems to go down easier and if you’ve got this far you’re on drugs anyway and you’ll make it and have a long and fruitful life anyhow I’m hitching north and the other guys are riding with the equipment but I’ve tried that and don’t like the idea of dying under a shifting 45-60 and not being discovered till Yass so I’m in this truck and the man’s sharing out briquettes and he lets me off near central and I walk briskly out to Tamarama and wake everybody up and when I finally calm down its Sydney Babylon in Spring the Bondi Lifesaver full of Hawaiian shirts and diamonds and criminals, no records and their feline women and everyone with more going on than anyone knows and everything is off the books and beholden to the C.I.B. and the Nugan-Hand Bank and cash fortunes fueled by golden triangle heroin and the Law is on the wrong side of the Law and we are made most welcome and Paul Hewson with his intelligence, charisma, poison Kiwi wit, his broken back and Mormon black berets lounges by a bar fridge packed with codeine chilled just so and we still got no money so I book us in two to a room at the Plaza Hotel in Kings Cross for $17.50 a week and watery roasts at the Astoria and the dumb waitress with the cross eyes and the old girls leaving pools of piss on the cafe seats and that’s where I run into Rossy D. after all these years en route from a container ship to a jail or vice versa who knows and one by one the guys move out Jim to Bondi Junction with uncle Ray the reputed dangerous crim with huge heart and perm who just wants the best for his boys and Steve and Phil to Crown St. with Gabriel of the firehose vomit and Will who would play for the other team as they say if they weren’t so permanently mandied out and Christine and Carol who supports it all on a psyche nurse wage and a little dealing and Susan so smacked out she’s eight months pregnant and doesn’t know and disappears to Gosford to drop the fattest, smartest kid and the Mangrove Boogie Kings next door play getcha hands outa your pockets and spit out that gum type music and punk goes by and deeply affects the lives of several idiots everywhere and Ian squatting at the Eaglesfield Hotel and him and the other Sue discovering the body of Ian Krahe dead on his second hit and he was not the first just one of the best and meanwhile back at the Plaza off duty coppers knocking softly month in month out of Chequers, five sets for five people and the night Phil turns up smacked out detuning his bass and vomiting his bodyweight and the whole thing so funny we can’t sack his poor sorry arse and Jim bodyswerving as Ian, Steve and Phil and P. Moss load out at 4 a.m. to “The Hustle” and crawling home in the truck through the city to sleep as the sky pales up and not much happening and years go by and not much happens at all till Newcastle is auditioned and the waxheads get the joke and the crowds build and periodic cash from the Mawson Hotel eases things a little and loading in is Billy Rowe on lights the years in Yatala printed chin to ankles belting Saffron’s gunnie toe to toe the length of a warm summer Lifesaver then pulling out one of his own and Peter Moss has had enough and takes a payout back to the Territory where he gets to use his brain and in comes the Greek god and Harry of the S.A.S. sweeping through the early hours in hired Fairlanes with a fet hed and a bottle of scotch and Ben E. King and the Meters by the wheel and recording at last after all the years have passed of crawling along stuck behind a world with a fish in its back window and recording again and counting down the Queensland towns from the House on the Hill in Cairns and all the doors are caving in and all the spotfires join hands and each night the power and the blistering precision build in a wave that only has to be ridden Perth and Hobart, Auckland, Darwin, Broken Hill and Brisbane and insanity prevails in slumbering country towns and normal people, stoned and drunk on the sound and anything else that comes to hand shed all reason, and in Adelaide a young man travels seven hundred miles to offer up his new bride and the ties that made us civilized night on burning night were fired and melted down when once the circus came to town until on the night of 12th April 1980 Billy Rowe and Alan Dallow smash a hire truck into a tree on the southern tablelands and they say Billy’s head lay still on the dashboard but nobody knows if he was just unconscious or already gone and that Allan’s legs were trapped, but as they tried to free him he kept hurling the crowbar into the bush, screaming get Billy out first and then the cab went up in flames and we all lost them both and why that should have been the end of anything I do not know, maybe it just coincided with other things, but the end it was.
There’s more to come of course. East is released into the water supply six weeks later. But the change is there. Unlimited possibilities traded for Sydney harbour views, speed for foreign cars, the big events, the travel, American stadiums packed with bog stupid college kids while Ray Charles and J.L.Lewis play in tiny clubs. And in Germany gambling on the bus hour after day and each one thinking and no-one saying what is this popstar shit, and then the long slow ugly vicious death of it all like clubbing a dearly beloved while they cling to your leg and all for reasons that are permanent and ancient history now and nobody’s business anyhow
“Teenage Love” Liner Notes, August 1994