The Fossil Records
This blog has been dormant for a month, due to a family holiday, work, and life in general catching up with me. But I'm back, with the first appearance by one of the most charismatic and famous of fossil invertebrate groups. The Trilobites were a minor indie rock band from Sydney, Australia, who released three albums and a fistful of singles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Night of the Many Deaths was their third single, and is notable here because it's one of only a few of their releases to feature their fossil namesakes on the cover. The front of Night of the Many Deaths shows what appears to be a train track or rollercoaster, with five trilobites riding in carriages. I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to trilobites, so if anyone can help narrow down the taxonomic identification that would be great.
Images of trilobites do appear on at least three other of the band's record sleeves. The front cover of the single Jenny's Wake (1988) features a middle-aged female chef who is apparently horrified by a steaming pan of cooked trilobites, while if you look closely at the cover of the album Savage Mood Swing (1989), you'll see trilobites hidden in the background. The cover of the CD release of the 1989 single New Head features a trilobite sitting on a couch under a lamp - perhaps visiting its psychiatrist?
These Aussie rockers are far from the only popular musical link to trilobites. A search of Discogs and Bandcamp reveals multiple others, including Californian punk rock from JJ & the Trilobites, sludge metal band Trilobite from Palm Beach, and a Miami-based Americana group called Trilobites, among others. Maybe we'll cover some of these in more detail somewhere down the line.
When it comes to Australian music, I must admit to being pretty ignorant. I'm a huge fan of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (the best live band I've ever seen), and various associated acts like The Dirty Three and The Birthday Party, but after that I know next to nothing about alternative rock culture Down Under. Before starting this blog I had never heard of Hoodoo Gurus or their seminal 1984 album Stoneage Romeos. I think it is fair to say that I had been missing out.
Hoodoo Gurus formed in 1981 in Sydney, and their debut outing is an absolutely cracking blast of new wave, psychobilly and garage rock with some fantastic pop tunes. I have no idea why it isn't better known in Europe. It also has a stunning sleeve - a Day-Glo version of Ray Harryhausen's Allosaurus from the film One Million Years B.C., menacing a cowering cave-woman, while pterosaurs wheel through the sky.
Bizarrely, for the US and several other international releases, this wonderful cover art was replaced by bland images of stylised dinosaurs (by Donald Krieger). The band's frontman Dave Faulkner referred to this as "bad coffee table art, very anonymous and boring". I would agree, which is why I recommend buying the original Australian edition.
Stoneage Romeos takes its name from a short 1955 comedy film, Stone Age Romeos, featuring the slapstick team The Three Stooges. This takes me back to my childhood years, watching old black and white Stooges films on TV on Saturday mornings. In Stone Age Romeos, The Stooges aim to prove that cavemen still exist, and fake the evidence needed to do so.
The artwork for the original Australian release of Stoneage Romeos was designed by Yanni Stumbles, a Sydney-based artist who produced screen-prints in the early 1980s, before moving to move in the areas of management and production design in the music industry. You can read more about her, and see more examples of her work here.
Several singles were released from the album, including I Want You Back, which has an excellent music video, stuffed full of wonderfully crap stop-motion dinosaurs.
There's lots of other examples of fun dinosaur imagery associated with Hoodoo Gurus, including concert posters, a 2005 tribute album called Stoneage Cameos, and the cover of the 2010 album Purity of Essence.
If you want to buy the original release of Stoneage Romeos, you can find it on Discogs here. It comes highly recommended.