THE 1980’s- Big Hair, Boomboxes, Synths, and New Wave – The Models Pt. 1.

Modern Girl (J Freud) – James Freud and the Teenage Radio Stars 1980 and I Hear Motion (S Kelly/J Freud/A Duffield/B Price) – The Models1983


Above L-R – Sean Kelly, James Valentine, James Freud, Barton Price, Andrew Duffield.

James Freud (real name Colin McClinchy 1959) and Sean Kelly met at the St. Thomas More College, Nunawading (Melb) and their early musical heroes were Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Thin Lizzy, and Queen. As sixteen year-olds they formed a garage band called Sabres with drummer and future rock historian extraordinaire Ian McFarlane. After dropping out of school Freud briefly became an apprentice hairdresser at Lilian Frank’s Toorak (Melb) salon, 1960’s pop star Lynne Randell had similarly been apprenticed to the celebrity coiffurist, however Lilian and Freud fell out and he never completed his indenture.Below James Freud x3

Freud and Kelly were living a subsistence existence, both had left home, Freud disliked his stepfather, they floor/couch-surfed in various flats around St.Kilda, Carlton and South Yarra, gigging where they could and embracing the punk music of such UK bands such as the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Clash. Below L-R – Pierre Voltaire (Peter Sutcliffe bass), David Osbourne( Drums), James Freud (Guitar), Sean Kelly (Guitar)


By this time Freud had changed his name and he and Kelly had formed the punk band Spred, who were signed by Barry Earl to Mushroom’s Suicide Records, and Earl became their manager. Spred became the Teenage Radio Stars, two songs were released but neither charted, their recording of I Wanna Be Your Baby was basically a copy of the Brit group Vibrators song Baby,Baby,Baby and they literally ghosted the recording of the song, as former Supercharge bandmember Les Karski played most of the parts in the studio session, nevertheless the record lead to their first Countdown appearance, and they mimed the song competently. 

Adolescent angst, energy, and a punky attitude, was not quite enough to carry off a song ripped off from the Vibrators, limited musical skills, and absence of stagecraft – they would get better.

By 1980 Freud had been encouraged by Earl to go solo, his backing band the Teenage Radio Stars comprised Roger Mason (keyboards), Mick Prague (guitar), Tom Hosie (drums), Tony Harvey (guitar), and Freud (bass). Their first song was written by James who was noodling with his guitar trying to replicate the opening riff of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run when he came up with the melody for his first hit record, Modern Girl. In his memoirs I Am The Voice Left From Drinking (James Freud 2002), he claimed that while his song “lacked the lyrical depth or sentiment of Springsteen… it has become a pop classic”. Perhaps an overstatement, but it was an engaging new wave rock song with some unusual sound effects, the opening percussive thud was achieved by filling the inside of a grand piano with cutlery and smashing the keys, perhaps slamming car doors would have been cheaper, more effective and less destructive as John Farnham discovered when he recorded You’re The Voice six years later. Other percussion effects were achieved by placing drum mikes in a large storage cupboard next to the drum booth which did create the desired ambience, the song was mastered at Festival records in Sydney and charted #12 nationally in June 1980. The promo video featured Freud as a puppet being manipulated by a sexy puppeteer in the person of Deborah Conway, who incongruously pokes her head through the middle of a giant star at the end of the clip.

Countdown clips were so well done, many young bands used them as the official promo vid.

James and the Teenage Radio Stars followed up with their debut album Breaking Silence which featured a stellar cast of session musicians from other bands – Greg Macainsh (Skyhooks), Eddie Rayner (Split Enz), Tony Lugton (Peudo Echo), Rick Grossman (Hoodoo Gurus), Joe Camilleri (Black Sorrows) and Bob Kretschmer (Icehouse),


But at #75 it failed to impress, possibly because Freud had barely survived a drug overdose just prior to finalising the album, and he and his engineer Tony Cohen were more focused on stealing the contents of the Space Invaders machine in the recording studio to score heroin in Fitzroy St. St. Kilda (Melb) and shooting up, rather than assuring the quality of the album tracks. Below – Producer Tony Cohen.

tony cohen

After touring as support act to Gary Numan in Australia, Freud accompanied Numan back to England where he stayed for approximately a year without producing any commercial recordings nor charting a definite career direction. Below Gary Numan and James Freud.


During Freud’s solo period and his absence overseas, Sean Kelly (guitar/vocals) had formed the Models in 1978, with Andrew Duffield (keyboards), Mark Ferrie (bass), Janis Freidenfelds (drums), they were a popular pub band, performing a distinctive blend of new wave, glam rock and pop, characterised by Kelly’s snarky, strangled vocals, Duffield’s synth-inflected keyboards, and the oddly macabre, off-kilter original songs written by Kelly.

In 1981 they signed with A&M records, Mark Hough replaced Freidenfelds on drums, and the band travelled to Farmyard Studios in London to record the album Local and/or General with producer Stephen Taylor, the album was a minor hit at #30 but no singles charted. Below L-R – Top Sean Kelly and Andrew Duffield, Bottom Barton Price, Mark Ferrie.


By 1982 James Freud had returned to Australia and joined the Models as their bassist, Sean Kelly and Andrew Duffield remained, and Barton Price (drums) came on board.


I Hear Motion started life as a funky fragment of a song by Andrew Duffield which he had disparagingly called Gag Bag, after the sick bags on planes, other band members agreed it had promise and it became the first pre-release in September 1983 prior to the release of the well-regarded album The Pleasure of Your Company.  The single was more accessible and radio-friendly than previous Models songs with James Freud joining Sean Kelly on lead vocals and producer Nick Launay crafted a big sounding, drum and bass-heavy set of grooves. The song intros with bass and keyboards and Andrew Duffield has admitted that he was trying to replicate a riff from Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, but only managed an offbeat interpretation, which was nevertheless very catchy and the song charted at #16 while the album did even better climbing to #12. The band became support act for David Bowie’s national Serious Moonlight tour and provided backing vocals on the INXS album, The Swing.

Thundering bass, funky synthy keys, promise of better things to come with this one.

After adding saxophonist James Valentine, replacing Andrew Duffied with Roger Mason (keyboards), and recruiting three great backing singers in Kate Ceberano and Zan Abeyratne (I’m Talking), and Wendy Matthews (who was now living with Sean Kelly), the Models headed back into the recording studio in 1985 to put down their magnum opus, the album and its title track, Out of Mind, Out of Sight, which would produce their biggest hits.

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