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Shane’s Rock Challenge: THE STEMS – 1987 – At First Sight, Violets Are Blue

| 1 May 2014 | Reply

Shane’s Music Challenge: THE STEMS – 1987 – At First Sight, Violets Are Blue

The Stems - At First Sight Violets Are Blue cover

In the late Eighties big rock was king, but there was an ever-growing underground of appreciation for bands with a more – shall we say, ‘cult’ aesthetic. Hence Australia saw The Hoodoo Gurus hitting the mainstream, Hard-Ons becoming the biggest punk smash most people never heard of, and a revival of interest in the likes of primal garage inciters Radio Birdman and punk standard bearers The Saints.

Somewhere in that underground stew there was also a minor paisley revolution: bands who went back to the original outbreak of U.S. garage pop n’ roll, and that’s where The Stems fit in.

Formed in Perth by Dom Mariani and Richard Lane, the band released a handful of singles and one EP, all of which rapidly leapt to the top of the Australian Alternative charts, before Mushroom Records picked them up and they recorded this, their debut album.

Both Mariani and Lane were excellent writers of melodic pop rock tunes and guitar players, and the album is considered by many an Australian classic – voted by Rolling Stone Magazine in their top 100 Aussie records of all time, in fact.

At First Sight is a wonderful opening song, the Citizen Kane referencing Rosebud and Running Around similarly keeping the party going strong. Man With The Golden Heart is reminiscent of Radio Birdman, which may have been the singer of that band, Rob Younger’s influence as he produced their earlier EP and a single or two. Top marks, however, go to the sublime For Always, as perfect a love song as there has ever been, and Mr Misery, pop garage rock at it’s finest.

The Stems broke up shortly after the album’s release due to internal tensions and wouldn’t return for some gigs until 2003, but it would be a full twenty years after this debut before a new album was recorded… but that’s another story.

By Shane Pinnegar


Category: Shane's Rock Challenge

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