The recent release of the double LP Down Under Nuggets: Original Australian Artyfacts 1965-1967 was like manna from heaven for 60s garage heads. Still, certain sweaty palmed members of the record collecting community can’t be satisfied until we have these things as a 45 with the super loud gnarly sound, the pretty colours on the label, and excitement/mystery of the b-side.
Sydney’s Blank Records have done us the kindness of releasing Black Diamonds: Singles From the Festival Fault 1965- 1969 Volume One. A ten record set that reproduces the most sought after Aussie garage singles of the time and plonks them in an attractive clamshell box.
Cut from the master tapes with original artwork, about the only difference from the vintage pressings is “Barry” or some other teenager from the 60s name scrawled over them.
Considering many of the originals sell for over $1000, the box is banging value and there’s a variety of sounds across the twenty sides: from the raw R&B caterwauling of Toni McCann and the Blue Jays to the proto-prog psych of Inside Looking Out with plenty of Beatlesy pop and snarly punk in between.
We spoke with John Bakasetis from Blank about this dream release.
Noisey: It’s exciting to have all these killers available on 45 again. Was it much of a trial getting access to the tapes from [Festival Records](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival_Records ?)?
John Bakasetis: Yes, definitely a project that the teenaged me would never even remotely have imagined 30 years ago when trawling through boxes at record fairs. I had dealt with the managing director of Warner Music—who bought the Festival catalogue in 2000—when he was at another label, so I knew he would get the concept l had in mind. It was a done quite easily in that respect and no need to bust out the tap shoes, top hat or cane to sell it to him to rubber stamp.
What's the response been like from overseas? Do you find 60s garage heads around the world are knowledgeable or interested in Australian releases?
The response has been awesome from near and far. It’s extremely nice to get feedback from people chuffed to be able to get as close to the real deal sound wise on these 45s without having to sell a kidney to get the originals. Australian sounds regardless of era have always been sought after around the world. Been slinging records for 25 years now and outernational collectors many times have always jumped in before local people have had appreciation for forgotten sounds. There have been Australian records I've first heard about from people outside of Australia!
Do you think there is a detectable “Australianness” to the cuts or that if you close your eyes they could just as easily be ripping proto-punkers from Cleveland, London or Oslo?
Good question. I would say that the 1960s brought mass migration to Australia from places far and wide so that often the configuration, cultures and backgrounds of band members were unique. The Easybeats were a perfect example as they were made up of Dutch, Scottish and English migrants in a strange new land. This seems to be a thread through most of the Australian 60s bands. So you’d think to some degree those ingredients give them Australianness.
It must be like picking a favourite child but can you choose a favourite from the box?
The Lost Souls if only because their story is the epitome of the 60s garage band one-shot wonders. A bunch of teens form a band, enter a battle-of-the-bands competition and win a contract with Sunshine records. They release a killer double-sided 45 and fame and fortune beckons. They perform all over town then slowly evaporate and drift off into the sunset only to be rediscovered years later.
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