Monday, May 12, 2008

A Beat Largely Unheralded

There are many short lived bands that lay scattered across pop histories timeline, their musical legacy often lost in the shadows cast by rock and pop's luminaries and legends. Personally, as much as I love the work of the greats, it's often those lost gems that give me the most pleasure to reflect on and wonder what might have been.

Bang The Drum is such a band. The Sydney outfit came together in 1989 from the ashes of Tasmanian group Bigger Than Texas. They released one album, a self titled effort in early 1990, from which two singles 'Only You' (OZ#30) and 'Passion' (OZ#58) were lifted. Around the time the first single 'Only You' was sliding down the charts Bang The Drum found themselves as the support act for one of these rock legends Fleetwood Mac. I had recently bought the single 'Only You' on 45 and also had bought a ticket to see Fleetwood Mac in Sydney.

I had no idea who the support act was before hand and didn't much care until Bang The Drum played their set. This band was a class act. Vocalist Steve Driver, guitarist Jim Reece, keyboardist Jeremy Cole, bassist Geoff Robson and drummer J.J. Harris (ex-Divinyls) added up to far more than the sum of their parts. There wasn't a dud song and far from struggling to engage the interest of an audience anxious for the main event, they rocked the house. I'd have to wait another 13 years to see another opening act as good - that was Jet opening for the Rolling Stones.

But unlike Jet, Bang The Drum's beat didn't, for some inexplicable reason, translate to a wider commercial appeal. Their sole album was every bit as good as the best on offer from the more established Aussie pop-rock bands of the 80s - 1927, Noiseworks, Moving Pictures, Mental As Anything, Icehouse...err well maybe not as good as Icehouse - but they were good!

The track 'Stay Forever' also featured on the soundtrack to the brilliant Australian film 'The Big Steal', but Bang The Drum didn't release another record. It's a pity we didn't get to see and hear a lot more of them in the 90s. I guess one CD is better than none. I haven't been able to find much info on the band members post Bang The Drum. Steve Driver, Jim Reece and J.J. Harris played together again under the name Driver, releasing a self titled album in 1994. According to a review published in Consumable Online, their sound was overall much more rock oriented. And I'm not 100% sure it's the same guy, but I came across a MySpace page for an artist called The Steve Driver Incident that's still active. If anyone has any more info. on Bang The Drum the band, or the individual members I'd really appreciate it :)

So, you've read the rant, now hear what it was about:


steve said...

Hi, This is Steve Driver from Bang The Drum. Thanks for the kind words.
I am still singing and I currently reside and perform in New Zealand and internationally with a corporate band.
Bang The Drum and Driver were great bands and could have been more successful had the "powers that be" been more supportive.
Hope to get back to playing in Oz sometime. Cheers Steve Driver

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Hi Steve,
Thanks very much for your comment. It's great to hear you're still performing music.
On behalf of other Bang The Drum fans out there, thanks for your part in recording one of the best Aussie pop-rock albums ever.
Here's hoping those "powers that be" can be more supportive to up and coming artists in the future.
All the best.

apm said...

Hi,this is a totally underated album and they should release it on CD.Deserves a listen.

In fact was it ever on CD?

Good work Steve.

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

It was available at one time on CD, but I've no idea for how long. I came across a copy in a second hand shop about 6 or 7 years back. The shop had placed a 'deleted' sticker on the CD case, I'm assuming to indicate the title was no longer available to buy new.
I agree though, it should definetely be re-released on CD.

apm said...

After searching long and hard i finally found the CD.Hmm ,made in Germany.

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Good to hear you managed to track down a copy of the CD. It's a crying shame that so much great Australian music of the last thirty or forty years is nigh on impossible to find on CD. It'll be interesting to see if the whole downloads phenomenon leads to some of thehard to find and back catalogue stuff being released again. A few artists have taken it upon themselves to go down that road. From memory Geisha was one of them.

Anonymous said...

I also saw Fleetwood Mac and I had the "Only You" single. Bang the Drum certainly rocked that night in Sydney. It was an unforgettable concert all 'round; main act and support act.

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Agree wholeheartedly - after nearly twenty years, it still remains one of the stand out concert experiences of my life.

Steve B said...

I've got the Bang the Drum album on cassette tape however it doesn't play anymore :(. It's a really good album and I've been looking to buy the album on CD or off itunes for a while if it was released.