As the 1970's waned so did the bleak, frenetic strains of Australian Post-Punk. Almost all of the initial batch of experimental bands, ignited by the advent of Punk, had imploded or simply withdrawn, waiting to morph into something else again. It just seemed the time for lighter approaches to making underground rock music.
In the early 1980's, members of influential Sydney Post-Punk bands Voigt/465 and The Ideals created another short-lived venture - Wild West. This formation tied in with a burgeoning community of like-minded musicians, non-musicians, friends and onlookers living in the inner city suburbs of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Redfern and the ever expanding raft of small to middling venues springing up in pubs and clubs around the city.
Phil Turnbull (ex-Voigt - keyboards and vocals), Gordon Renouf (ex-Ideals - bass) and Peter Nelson (indie-critic - guitar) initially started to shape songs that were leftovers from Voigt's last months. Joined by Peter Macgregor (drums) they honed these melodic and sometimes jerky tracks into tight pieces and played a few gigs under various names until they settled as Wild West. The song writing slowly changed with the jittery quality subsiding under more nuanced playing and influences as varied as disco, Talking Heads and English pop. Rae Byrom (also ex-Voigt - synth and vocals) joined soon before recordings started, first at the ABC studios for Triple J and then at the nascent M Squared terrace for the tracks that would become their only release - the "Beat The Drought" EP. The lead track from this "Calling The House" garnered track of the week status on Triple J whilst another track from these sessions "Pelican" was included on the M Squared compilation "A Selection".
A number of terrific gigs followed including a memorable support for the Birthday Party and the many independently created nights at places like Side-FX, St Peter's Parish Hall and the Redfern practise room where Wild West, Pel Mel and the Sydney little bands intertwined. Peter Macgregor eventually left and the drum seat was filled by Dave Weston (Pel Mel) and also by Lindsay O'Meara (ex-Voigt). By now the band knew that a less stringent line-up (like the little bands) was the only way ahead.
But the music still flowed even whilst these changes were taking place. A last recording session at M Squared in October of 1981 displayed songs that were quiet, sombre, weird and introspective. One of these was to have been included on a little bands EP but that never saw the light of day and the rest stayed unheard for many years after the band broke up when Peter Nelson left for an extended overseas trip.
Compiled together for the first time, "Scratch Another Day (Selected Recordings 1980-81)" collates the majority of tracks from all three studio recording sessions and 3 live performances (including their first and last gigs).