(I’m) Stranded (E Kuepper/C Bailey) – The Saints 1977
Formed from the remnants of two garage rock bands in Brisbane, Kid Galahad and the Eternals, the Saints emerged in 1974 as a riotous, fast-driving band, mashing the influences of the Pretty Things and the Stooges to produce a pioneer Aussie punk record.
They pre-dated the output of the UK punk bands such as the Sex the Pistols, the Buzzcocks and the Damned and were contemporaneous with the Ramones (US).
The Saints favored fast tempos, dissonant sardonic vocals, squalling feedback, and jagged guitar riffs, they couldn’t get gigs, so they ran their own dances, they couldn’t get a recording contract or a producer, so they formed their own record label, Fatal Records, and produced their first record at the Window Studios in Brisbane, it sounded like a live session, because it was!
They couldn’t get any respect in Australia, but punk was taking off internationally and Sire, the UK parent of the local EMI label directed their Australian office to sign the band without delay, and they did, despite previously rejecting the band because they were deemed to be “not sophisticated enough”.
From their early days practising and performing in drummer Ivor Hay’s house in Petrie Tce. Brisbane opposite a police station, which became the band’s very own Club 76, the Saints defied convention and marched to a different drum,
Chris Bailey (vocals), Ed Kuepper (guitar), Kym Bradshaw (bass) and Ivor Hay (drums) determined that they would rise from the culturally oppressive, racist, corrupt, and stifling political environment of the Bjelke-Petersen regime in Qld.to become an independent musical force making few concessions to commerciality along the way.
They were adored by the UK musical press, when reviewing this song UK music magazine Sounds John Ingham averred “it is the single of this week and every week, there is no such thing as a middle eight, the singing is flat and disinterested, the guitars are on full stun…it’s fabulous”, others opined “it’s fast, knife-edged, and burningly persistent” and yet another “a mite repetitive but vulgarly powerful.”
The promo video, shot in their Petrie Terrace Club 76, was an unadorned, monochrome, harshly-lit, punkish statement of intent, Bailey fronts the mic with his hair flopping over his face and dragging on a cigarette, the band kicks in, the singer flicks the cigarette to the floor and begins his vocal assault.
Just as the band had spurned mainstream rock they also rejected the Vivian Westwood “punk as a fashion statement” approach of Malcolm McLaren’s Sex Pistols with spiky hair, safety pins and ripped jeans and instead let their music do the talking, chart wise they suffered for taking this stance.
Upon their arrival in Britain the band were an uncomfortable fit in the local punk scene, they never thought that being spat on by the audience was a sign of appreciation, Ed Keupper was keen to brandish his axe to demonstrate his displeasure.
They released an equally good follow up in Swing for The Crime, which failed to chart here or in the UK, they released a second album Eternally Yours, and lifted another Bailey/Keupper song from it in 1978, the savage and brassy Know Your Product, but like its predecessor it too failed to chart.
The band’s musical evolution was ending but Bailey and Kuepper, despite some personal differences, would continue to pursue their musical paths.
The Saints did embrace horns, as early as the Swing for The Crime album, as well as acoustic sounds in the future, and showed they were not one-dimensional, they were also influential, informing the future musical styles of Henry Rollins and Nick Cave who said of the Saints “…it was extraordinary to see a band who were so anarchic and violent… and Chris Bailey could actually sing.”
(I’m) Stranded barely charted in Australia but it has emerged as an Aussie punk classic, APRA rated the song one of the 30 Top Australian Songs of All-Time in 2001, and in 2001 the Saints were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame along with INXS.