(Photo credit: Neil Monkhouse)
Sorry for the delay, it’s been a very busy time at SOR headquarters so I’ve been slacking a little bit. Plus, it’s Fall in New York, so I’m trying to make the most of being outside before hibernating for the winter. Anywho, here’s a post lovingly ripped and donated by xerfrank, a fellow friend and passionate collector from Spain. You may have seen this back on Vinyl Obscurity a few years ago, but I believe the post was taken down immediately by some Mediafire bots looking for the latest Rhianna record, long before his blog disappeared into the either as well. I also included the “best” track from this record on my last v/a compilation, so some of you may be interested in hearing the rest of it. While ‘Victory’ reigns as my favorite track on this record, I enjoy this one as a whole.
There’s little to be found about Vietnam, yet another extremely difficult band name to Google, but I do know that they existed for a short period of time as part of New Zealand’s post-punk movement and released this record in 1985 on Jayrem Records, a catch-all label for local artists. There’s the pre-requisite Joy Division influence present in the vocals (fans of De Press, The Opposition, Stranger to Stranger, and Dropopop should enjoy this one especially) but the music jumps from moody post-punk and flirts occasionally with jangle-pop progressions and dreamy, Cure-esque melodies. ”China Tonight” is an excellent moody instrumental track with a descending synth/piano melody. ”Behind the Paintings” is as gloomy, yet driving political anthem, a general theme in the lyrics that hints at a slight U2 influence, who were at the peak of their fire-y political leaning at that point in time. Honestly, with a name like Vietnam and with artwork like this, it’s safe to assume that the lyrics have a little more spark to them.
EDIT 6/30/14: I’ve since been in touch with Adrian Workman, the band’s bassist and synth player, who has shared some tales about the band’s inception and current whereabouts:
Four lads from the same High School in working-class town called Wainuiomata (pronounced Y-noo-ee-o-ma-ta , a suburb of Wellington, NZ). We started writing/playing together in my parents garage and drove the neighborhood insane over a period of time. New Zealand in 1982 mirrored Thatchers UK; an ultra conservative government, poor economy and civil unrest. Wellington (the nations capital) was a volatile mix of public servants, politicians, university students ,and skinheads. The messages of the Punk and Post-Punk era emanating from the UK resonated strongly in the Wellington music scene and local musical acts discovered their own version of the genre.
The legal drinking age was 20 years old, yet we performed in pubs, clubs and community halls from as young as 16 years, somehow avoiding detection from the authorities.
Vietnam was definitely a coming together of 4 very different people that shared a common malaise; suburban isolation in a depressed and oppressed society in the early 1990′s. We were a weird combination of cultural/ethnic diversity, (unusual in that musical era), and ironically we all achieved well in school and sports…being working class was a badge of honour for us and we strongly resisted being pigeon-holed into societal roles. Vietnam was a head-fuck for many people because, I believe, we delivered more than was expected of us given our collective backgrounds. We almost dethroned a significant corporate rock band in the national ‘Battle of the Bands’ comp, leaving them crapping their collective duds after we performed a kick-ass set, including a Vietnam version of ‘Echo Beach’ and just missing the final cut. Anyways…this show got us attention from the right people.
It was a pretty intense music scene from memory. Vietnam was a square peg in that scene, mainly due to the stigma associated from the suburb we came from. We played a lot of shows,( including the Aerial Railway stage at ‘Sweetwaters’, an annual 3 day Music festival, (just think Woodstock meets Lollapallooza). Supported some good acts of the era and made our EP in late 1984 (released in 1985). Radio with Pictures TVNZ picked up ‘Victory’ and the video was made at the cost of taxpayers monies. Shortly after the release I migrated to Sydney, Australia (18 yrs old) in mid 1985, Pete Dransfield followed about a year later. After several attempts to reincarnate a version of the band under different monikers we went our separate ways in 1988, and Pete returned to NZ.
Pete released some material in the late 1990′s under the name ‘The Thorn Field’ , became a semi-professional boxer, and continues to work in the live music scene in NZ in a technical capacity.
Shane went on to have a stellar career as a national spokesperson for indigenous programs relating to smoking cessation (Go Bro!). Leon has continued to perform political rap in various line-ups.
I joined Sydney Band ‘The Bhagavad Guitars’ in late 1988, and stayed with them until 1992. Releasing several recordings in this time on the Red Eye Label, including the belated release of an album produced by Toney Cohen (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fame) in 1995 (Lead vox ’No News’). We almost made it to the States, but the band imploded exactly at the critical moment:(
I was also a founding member with ‘The Verys’ in the grunge era of the 1990′s, releasing the EP ‘That’s A Moray’ in 1993. Ran my own record label briefly and ventured into twisted world music with Bonepeople in the late 1990s. Recently recorded a reformation album with The Bhagavad Guitars in 2011 called ‘Unfamiliar Places’ (Lead vox ‘Autumn’). Check out my name on ‘Discogs’ website for refs. and/or reverbnation ‘Bhagavad Guitars’.
Vietnam- Vietnam LP
1. Broken Doll
2. China Tonight
3. Behind the Paintings
4. Another Day
*download it here*
There’s also a video for “Victory” (!). Feels like it’s been ages since we had one of those:
Thanks again to xerfrank for ripping this one! I have some mail arriving over the next few weeks that may interest some of you looking for something a little seedier/synthier. In the meanwhile, I picked up some rad stuff in Canada, one record in particular that deserves a re-posting ASAP. I also have another post lined up from xerfrank’s expansive archives, as well as more from Klumpa’s collection to come in the near future. Also, perhaps some modern surprises as this year winds down to a close.
On a completely unreleated note, might I bring your attention to THIS? I have a new project that you all may enjoy, and we just released a limited edition cassette (!) on fellow Brooklyn-based label Function Operate. I reckon a few of you may enjoy it, and we’ll have plenty more news soon. If you want to check in on us, we can be found HERE.