Friday, May 16, 2008

Dear Enemy Program Computer One For Chart Success

Taking their name from a reference to the Ginger Meggs comic strip, Melbourne band Dear Enemy formed ranks in 1982. Their original lineup comprised vocalist Ron Martini, guitarists Chris Langford and Les Barker, keyboardist Martin Fisher (ex-Little Heroes), bassist Peter Leslie (ex-Little Heroes) and drummer Ian Morrison. Prior to taking the name Dear Enemy, they had played together as a covers band called Stonewall.

The band picked up a strong following on the live circuit and in 1983 signed a recording contract with the American label EMI/Capitol - a rare feat for any Australian act. They recorded their debut album ‘Ransom Note’ in the U.S. under the guidance of producer Peter McIan who had produced Men At Work and Mondo Rock - in fact the band were signed with the condition that Peter McIan oversee the recording sessions. The impressive album generated three quality singles, the first of which ‘Computer One’ (which was written in America by band members Chris Langford and Martin Fisher) proved to be Dear Enemy’s one and only major hit, reaching #15 on the Australian charts in late ‘83. The follow up single ‘The Good Life’ stalled at #39 a few months later, whilst the slide continued with the third single ‘Kids On The Street‘ missing the top 100 completely.

Dear Enemy released a new single a few months later with ‘New Hero’ (#93), featuring on the soundtrack to the Australian motion picture ‘Street Hero’. A couple of lineup changes and two more flop singles followed over the next four years before Dear Enemy’s system crashed and they called it a day at the end of 1988. I read via a post on the ausrock blog site that Dear Enemy did record tracks for a second album during this period but due to contract and legal problems the album didn’t see the light of day. I saw a 2002 interview with singer Ron Martini and guitarist Les Barker (featured on the Oz show Chartbusting 80s), and at that time both were still active around the Melbourne live scene. Ron Martini also released a CD entitled 'Big Night Out' in 1996 with backing band The Missiles Of Love.

My first copy of the hit ‘Computer One’ came via a vinyl compilation ‘Shakin ‘84’ and I have to say it was one of my favourite tracks of the year. I’ve since obtained a couple of mixes via various artist compilations. A ‘Best Of’ CD was released by EMI in 2000, which was basically ‘Ransom Note’ revamped to included the song ‘New Hero’. There are a few second hand copies floating around the net but it doesn't appear to be currently available new, so if you’d like to have a listen to a great Aussie rock-pop track from the 80s, check out the attached YouTube clip.

Please also check out the following YouTube clip for 'Billy Boy' live, from 'robinis2', who kindly let me know about it. As Robin explains, this version was performed by Dear Enemy at the Croxton Park Hotel on 21 April 1982. It was written by Peter Leslie, and showcases a mellower side to the band. Thanks to Robin for putting it all together.


Robin said...

Hi there AF - I found this post while searching for Dear Enemy, and I thought you might posibly be interested to see this video I made of an old Dear Enemy song (and see the info that goes with it)

Cheers - Robin

A. FlockOfSeagulls AKA Rhys Jones said...

Thanks very much for your comment Robin. That's a wonderful and I dare say rare capture of a class Australian band. I hope you don't mind but I added it to the bottom of my post, with due credit to yourself of course.