I pose the question, initially, as I think The Murrumbidgee Whalers is one of the silliest names adopted by any band, far less one whose existence was back in the heydays of jingly-jangly indie pop in the late 80s.
I’ve never shied away from that fact that 1988-1990 was a period when personal circumstances saw me hang up my anorak for a while and stop being obsessed by music. The gaps have, over the years, been slowly filled in by friends and increasingly by the growth of specialist blogs on t’internet. The other great thing has been the willingness of labels such as Cherry Red to reissue a lot of long-lost songs via box sets and it was through one of their latest, C88, that I was able to hear a song by the aforementioned Whalers (who mustn’t ever be confused the backing band of Bob Marley).
The booklet with C88 advises:-
“The unusually monikered Murrumbidgee Whalers (possibly named after a Harry Robertson song of the same name) came from Carshalton Breeches in Surrey and featured songwriter Peter Watts and his brother Chris. The band’s sole release, ‘Giving Way To Trains’, a bright, sunny, Byrds-esque ode to the perils of acting before thinking, was pressed up in a meagre run of just 250 copies and coupled with the more folksy lovelorn tale ‘In A Garden’. A sublime example of jangly indie pop with a definite nod to early R.E.M., ‘Giving Way To Trains’ later reappeared as part of a free vinyl EP with House of Dolls fanzine.”
So, almost thirty years after the event, I got to hear this song:-
mp3 : The Murrumbidgee Whalers – Giving Way To Trains
It was a genuine ‘wow’ moment. Yup, there is something about it that immediately brings to mind the Murmer/Reckoning releases by Athens GA finest but there’s also a very fine guitar sound that made me think immediately of Johnny Marr picking out the tune for I Want The One I Can’t Have.
Which lead nicely to the second reason for posing the question in the title of today’s posting. Why was something this good limited to only 250 copies with the impact that 30 years on, you’ll have to fork out £125 and upwards for a copy. So a huge thanks to Cherry Red for including it in the latest box set. I’ve also dug deep to find the b-side, scratches and all:-
mp3 : The Murrumbidgee Whalers – In A Garden
A b-side that is just about as catchy and immediate as the a-side and is way more listenable than many other songs of the era, some of which are held up today as bona-fide classics.