Utopian Babies

Cobra Club • Volume I

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Front)

Artist: Various
Title: Cobra Club • Volume I • Limited Edition
Year: 1992-1993 (?)
Genre: Hard Rock / Metal
Category
: Promotional Compilation
Format
: Compact Disc
Label: Independent / No Label
Catalog No: CCVI
CD Matrix: MADE BY DISCTRONICS B ** CCVI ** #02
Comments: Limited Edition / Individually Numbered
Collectors Status: Very Rare
Estimated Value: ~$50 – $75 AUD

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (CD)

Track List
01. BRINDLE SUITE – Bitchin’
02. CYCLONE TRACY – Don’t Tell Me What to Do!
03. EEZEE – Virtual Reality
04. KICKSTART – Ain’t No Reason
05. KILSWITCH – All Rise
06. MANTISSA – Staying Clean?
07. MEDICINE SHOW – Ride into the Night
08. THE POOR BOYS – Only the Night
09. RATBAG – Musical Madness
10. RUBY JARGON – Major Goodvibe
11. SAVAGE HEART – Politics of Life
12. THE SCREAMING JETS – Tunnel
13. STRONGHEART – Whiskey River
14. VASOLENE MACHINE GUN – Somewhere Else
15. WRECKING CREW – Sister Mercy

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Back)

“Welcome to Thursday night at Club Paradise, when disco dies and loud, driving hard rock thrives. Welcome to the Cobra Club.”

“Hard rock people come here,” Hanley said. “They are people who like bands like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses and Iron Maiden. There are no Pungent Stench fans here.”

© 1993 The Sun Herald


Description

Formerly known as Stallions and Club Paradise, the Cobra Club came alive every Thursday night in the Western Sydney suburb of Parramatta and was well-known for its support of the local hard rock and metal scene during the late 80s and early 90s.  This very rare promotional compilation CD was released by the Cobra Club and features 15 independent / unsigned Aussie hard rock bands from this era.

Cyclone Tracy live at the Cobra Club

However before delving into details about the bands featured on this intriguing promo disc, there are a few uncertainties surrounding this compilation and its release that are worth mentioning.  It is hoped that with time, more details will become available and I would be keen to hear from the Cobra Club promotor, Danny Hanley as well as Cobra Club DJ, Dave “Crystal” Coles (and anyone else) who may be able to shed some light on this now little known release.  Note that for ease of writing, Cobra Club Volume I  will now be abbreviated to CCVI.

Mystery #1 – How many were made?
Although CCVI is stated to be a ‘limited edition’ CD, it is not entirely clear how many were actually made.  Luckily there may be a clue on the rear insert which contains a small panel indicating that this is an individually numbered CD (see picture below).  The clue however is not this number but rather the letters located above – CCVI,  which apart from being an abbreviation for Cobra Club Volume I, is a Roman numeral translating to 206.  Whilst this might seem like a strange number of CDs to have pressed, it certainly would explain why this compilation has become so scarce.  Perhaps someone who was involved with Cobra Club and the release of CCVI could clarify the actual number of CDs that were pressed.

CCVI

Mystery #2 – What year was CCVI released?
Also uncertain is the release year of this CD as there is no indication of this on the CD itself or the inserts.  Adding to this dilemma is the variety of release dates that can be found listed in online references – 1991, 1992 and 1993.  Considering the bands included on this compilation it is clear that this is an early 90s release, though establishing the exact year is not so easy.  Once again it would be great to have some clarification on this from someone who was involved with the Cobra Club and the release of CCVI.

199119921993

Mystery #3 – What happened to volume II?
There is further uncertainty surrounding this compilation as to whether a Cobra Club Volume II was ever released.  Whilst there does not seem to be any references available to suggest that there is a subsequent volume; it has been suggested that another Cobra Club compilation was released prior to this one, exclusively on cassette.  If true, this would be VERY exciting and 7 Wishes would love to feature this cassette right here on the blog.  Any further information regarding this mysterious, perhaps mystical first Cobra Club compilation would be greatly appreciated.

Volume I

The Bands
Finally, the music!  The first point worth mentioning is that the running order on CCVI is alphabetical by band name, so there is no subjective bias in this regard.  It would however be great know how these 15 bands were selected to be part of CCVI – most likely the bands were hand-picked based upon their popularity at the Cobra Club though inclusion on such compilations is often competitive.  Either way, the bands featured here make up a very exciting and diverse compilation. Whilst the predominant genre is hard rock, each band showcases their own style and flavourings just enough to keep things interesting.  The result is an excellent compilation that accurately reflects the hard rock scene in Australia during the late 80s and early 90s.

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Booklet 1)

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Booklet 2)

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Booklet 3)

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Booklet 4)

Cobra Club Volume I Limited Edition (Booklet 5)

Important Note: The following biographical information is derived from multiple sources – both in print and online.  Despite best efforts, the credibility of sources cannot always be established and therefore it is recognised that some details may be inaccurate. Any additional information that may help to improve accuracy is most welcome.

Brindle Suite (?Sydney, NSW)

Featuring former Candy Harlots band member Marc ‘The Maestro’ de Hugar, Brindle Suite are a relatively unknown Aussie hard rock band.  As a side note (and because I have no further information about Brindle Suite), de Hugar has played in a host of (mostly) obscure Aussie bands including Strip Poker, Freekshow, Pokket Foxx, Trash Cats, Shock Therapy, Drop Zero and The Screaming Tribesmen; while several other band members would later form part of the equally obscure Aussie hard rock / sleaze outfit, Circus Zombies.  The track ‘Bitchin‘ featured on this compilation is an acoustic driven hard rock ballad reminiscent of US hair metal superstars Poison.

Band Photo - Brindle Suite

Image (above): Brindle Suite promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Cyclone Tracy (Melbourne, VIC)

Named after the tropical cyclone that devastated Darwin on Christmas day 1974, Cyclone Tracy are an Aussie hard rock band from Melbourne.  Following their formation in 1992, a demo cassette was released and the band soon became hugely popular on the live music scene.  In time, two full length albums were released – ‘One Eyed’ in 1996 and ‘Schlock!‘ in 1998. Their style is often compared to that of US hair metal sensations Skid Row.  The track ‘Don’t Tell Me What to Do!‘ featured on this compilation certainly lives up to this comparison and apparently was the most requested Cyclone Tracy song at the Cobra Club.

Band Photo - Cyclone Tracy

Image (above): Cyclone Tracy promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Cyclone Tracy Newspaper

Image (above): 1974 Australian newspaper headlines in the days following Cyclone Tracy

Eezee (Wollongong, NSW)

Hailing from Wollongong, Eezee formed in 1990 and released their debut recording in 1993 – an independently released EP titled ‘A Matter of Attitude‘.  A full length album ‘Rise From Darkness‘ was released in 1995 though not before the band had changed direction from the heavy / sleaze metal of their debut EP to a brutal / thrash metal sound.  A relentless touring campaign ensued and the band secured slots supporting metal heavyweights including Deicide, Machine Head and Morbid Angel on their Australian tours.  The band later changed their name to Segression.  Astonishingly, it is reported that all copies of their debut EP were recalled in an attempt to distance themselves from the bands earlier hard rock sound / image.  The track ‘Virtual Reality‘ featured on this compilation is the final track on the bands ‘A Matter of Attitude‘ EP.

Eezee - Matter of Attitude EPEezee - Rise From DarknessSegression

Image (above / left): ‘A Matter of Attitude’ EP front cover art
Image (above / middle): ‘Rise From Darkness’ album front cover art
Image (above / right): Segression promotional band photo (NB Eezee band photo is needed)

Kickstart (Adelaide, SA)

Adelaide hard rock band Kickstart formed in 1991 and soon released a self titled, four track EP / demo cassette.  The band had a strong local following and two albums were released – ‘Hook, Line ‘N Sinker‘ in 1993 (seven track mini-album) and ‘Your Life For Today‘ in 1994.  Drummer Darren Lee later went on to join BB Steal, Twelve at Dawn and Ethyls Wreck.  A third and final album titled ‘The Way You Want It‘ was released in 2005, featuring unreleased tracks from the early 90s.   Several band members including Kym Farrell and Mick McClounan formed part of an obscure hard rock band, Kyndred, who released an album titled ‘Poor Man’s Opera’ in 1998. The track ‘Ain’t No Reason‘ featured on this compilation is a typical sounding hard rock / hair metal track and is the first track on the bands 1993 ‘Hook, Line ‘N Sinker‘ mini-album.

Band Photo - Kickstart

Image (above): Kickstart promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Kickstart-HookLine-N-Sinker-1993-Front-Cover-83214Kickstart-HookLine-N-Sinker-1993-Back-Cover-83214

Image (above): ‘Hook, Line ‘N Sinker’ mini-album cover art

Kilswitch (Sydney, NSW)

Short lived Sydney hard rock / metal band Kilswitch formed in 1992 only to release two independent EPs before disbanding in 1994.  Their first EP titled ‘Freestyle‘ was released in 1993 and showcased some very impressive glam / sleaze influenced hard rock, typical of what was coming out of the LA hair metal scene at that time.  However their second EP titled ‘Uppercut‘ was stylistically quite different with its heavy bass grooves and alternative influences. The track ‘All Rise‘ featured on this compilation is the final track on their debut EP.

Band Photo - Kilswitch

Image (above): Kilswitch promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Kilswitch - FreestyleKilswitch - Uppercut

Image (above / left): ‘Freestyle’ EP front cover art
Image (above / right): ‘Uppercut’ EP front cover art

Mantissa (Sydney, NSW / Melbourne, VIC)

Named after a 1982 novel by John Fowles, Mantissa were formerly known as Killing Time – a Melbourne hard rock / metal band who formed in 1989 with a strong live following.  Killing Time released two EPs in 1991 – ‘Ruby’s Mind‘ and ‘The Madlebroth Set‘, both achieving a degree of commercial success on the ARIA singles chart.  Support slots for national tours by Jane’s Addiction, Mudhoney and Scatterbrain ensued.  In 1992 Killing Time was renamed Mantissa to avoid confusion with a Japanese band of the same name.   This was followed by the release of their debut full length album ‘Mossy God‘ and a supporting slot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their 1992 ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik‘ tour of Australia.  The band toured the US before returning to Australia to open for Pantera.  An EP titled ‘Inter Alia‘ was released in 1995 prior to the release of the bands second full length album ‘Thirst‘ in the same year.  Mantissa disbanded in 1996.  The track ‘Staying Clean?‘ featured on this compilation is notable for having been produced by world-renowned record producer / sound engineer Terry Date, who among others is credited with producing / engineering albums by Metal Church, Fifth Angel, Chastain, Leige Lord, Sanctuary, The Accüsed, Dream Theater, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Overkill, Dark Angel, Pantera, Screaming Trees, Mindfunk, Prong, Deftones, Animal Bag, Helmet, Incubus, Staind, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Funeral For a Friend, Ozzy Osbourne, Korn, Soulfly, Smashing Pumpkins, Rev Theory, Bring Me the Horizon and Slayer (!).

Band Photo - MantissaJohn Fowles Matissa

Image (above / left): Mantissa promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet
Image (above / right): 1982 novel ‘mantissa’ by John Fowles

Mantissa - Mossy GodMantissa - Inter Alia (EP)  Mantissa - Thirst

Image (above / left): ‘Mossy God’ front cover art
Image (above / middle): ‘Inter Alia‘ EP front cover art
Image (above / right): ‘Thirst‘ front cover art

Band Photo - Killing Time

Image (above): Killing Time playing live at the Royal Derby, Fitzroy (1991).  Photo courtesy of Sim Stewart.

Medicine Show (Sydney, NSW)

Another short-lived Sydney hard rock band, Medicine Show formed in 1992 and released a self titled album on Timberyard Records in 1993.  The band is relatively unknown though a short entry by Spencer (2002) can be found in the ‘Who’s Who of Australian Rock!‘ in which a comparison is made to US hard rock band Circus of Power.  It looks as though the band had quite a few members during their brief history.

Band Photo - Medicine ShowMedicine Show

Image (above / left): Medicine Show promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet
Image (above / right): Medicine Show biographical excerpt taken from ‘Who’s Who of Australian Rock!’ (Spencer, 2002)

The Poor Boys (Darwin, NT / Sydney, NSW)

One of the more commercially successful bands featured on this compilation, The Poor Boys originated in Darwin during 1986 as a raw, heavy, no frills pub rock band.   The band relocated to Sydney in 1991 and the following year released their debut EP ‘Rude, Crude & Tattooed’ which was produced by Rick Brewster of The Angels.

Band Photo - The Poor Boys

Image (above): The Poor Boys promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Ratbag (?Sydney, NSW)

“THREE young women, dressed in identical black, were swaying to a pounding hard rock beat in front of a small stage. Their eyes were fixed firmly on the shirtless singer with ripped jeans, who flicked his long blond mane in time with each crescendo.

The only time they diverted their glance was to light a cigarette or swig from a bottle of beer. Even though the band, Ratbag, had never released a single, never had a song on the radio, the girls knew every word.”

© 1993 The Sun Herald

Apart from scant details listed on the CCVI rear insert, the above newspaper excerpt, a single promo photo and a DIY band logo; there is almost no information to be found on this band.  I did manage to find another band logo online (see below) and reference to a 1992 trademark “Ratbag Music” which has since expired.  The names credited on the CCVI rear insert are ‘Black, Jones, Powles, Christensen and Campbell.  There is some familiarity however in the sound engineer – Greg Clarke who in addition to working with Aussie hard rockers Judge Mercy, is known for his past role as tour manager (among other duties) for Aussie pub rock icons Rose Tattoo and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs.  Unfortunately Clarke passed away in 2011 though his legacy in the Australian live music scene lives on and in fact he is also credited as sound engineer for the following track on this compilation disc by the equally mysterious Ruby Jargon.

Band Photo - Ratbag

Image (above): Ratbag promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Ratbag Logo

Image (above): Ratbag logo

Greg Clarke

Image (above): Greg Clarke (RIP)

Ruby Jargon (?Sydney, NSW)

Featuring former Demont vocalist Craig Morrison, Ruby Jargon are another quite obscure Aussie hard rock band.  There is a band logo inside the CCVI booklet, though Ruby Jargon are one of just two bands on this compilation not to feature a promotional band photo (Eezee is the other).  Julian Mark Mcgee is credited on the rear insert and I was able to track this name to a Sydney hard rock / metal band, Gashammer who formed in 1995-6 and released a self titled album featuring McGee playing bass guitar (Spencer, 2002) – see excerpt below.  Despite being relatively unknown, Gashammer supported the 1996 Aussie tours by Anthrax and Fear Factory.  They also supported a double bill Aussie tour featuring The Angles and The Poor.  Prior to all of this however, there does appear to be links between Mcgee and former members of Aussie pop / rock / AOR band Geisha (Andrew Torney and John Nyman) in a mystery project from 1988-9 titled Sugarbomb (see demo cassette pictured below).  As already mentioned in the commentary surrounding Ratbag, Greg Clarke is again credited with sound engineering on this track, perhaps hinting at an association between Ruby Jargon and Ratbag. It is unclear if Ruby Jargon released a demo, EP or album; or if they appeared on any other compilations.  Musically the track ‘Major Goodvibe‘ featured on this compilation is a short and catchy hard rock track with slight funk influences.  I did find a comparison to US hair metal bands Mr. Big and Extreme which I guess may be valid.  Any information about Ruby Jargon would be greatly appreciated and I would be very keen know more about the Sugarbomb project / demos also.  Given the many associations discovered here, particularly with Demont and Geisha, as well as the short-lived fame of Gashammer, I am hopeful more information will come flooding in soon.

Gashammer Sugarbomb Cassette

Image (above / left): Ruby Jargon biographical excerpt taken from ‘Who’s Who of Australian Rock!’ (Spencer, 2002)
Image (above / right): Sugarbomb demo cassette (1988)

Savage Heart (Sydney, NSW)

Yet another relatively unknown Sydney hard rock band, Savage Heart formed during 1991, however their history dates back to 1988 when the band was known as Xtensions.  It is reported that the band played regular gigs and were popular on the live music scene during the early 90s.  The bands first output seems to be two tracks (‘Hell to Pay‘ and ‘Lightning in a Bottle‘) that featured on a 1991 compilation (CD and cassette) titled ‘Death Valley Sessions‘.  A four track demo cassette was released in 1992 (1. ‘Lonely Man‘, 2. ‘Wastin‘, 3. ‘Politics of Life‘ and 4. ‘Inside my Head‘).  According to the CCVI booklet, a CD titled ‘Mission From doG‘ had also been released.  This is where things get complicated as there seems to be no record of Savage Heart having released a CD by this title.  However Savage Heart did change their name to Mission From doG in 1993 and a self titled CD followed in 1994.  Mission From doG disbanded a short time later and lead singer Scott Smith moved on to join stoner metal band Tooth followed by Christ Art Museum before forming Bob Sledge and later Guilding the Lily.

Band Photo - Savage Heart

Image (above): Savage Heart promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Savage Heart Magazine Clipping

Image (above): Savage Heart magazine clipping

The Screaming Jets (Newcastle, NSW / Sydney, NSW)

By far the most well known and commercially successful band to feature on this compilation, The Screaming Jets need little introduction.  First forming in 1985 as Sudden Impact and then in 1988 changing their name to Aspect, the band officially became known as The Screaming Jets in 1989.  Relentless gigging and lively shows helped The Screaming Jets to establish a reputation as one of the best and most exciting live bands in Australia.  One of the bands first successes came after winning a band competition sponsored by radio broadcaster Triple J.  Soon after the band relocated to Sydney and supported fellow Aussie rockers, The Angels on a national tour.  After signing to independent record label rooArt, the band released their debut EP in 1990 titled ‘The Scorching Adventures of the Screaming Jets‘.  This was followed by the release of their debut full length album ‘All For One‘ in 1991 which reached the number two spot on the ARIA albums chart and spawned the bands biggest hit single and signature song, ‘Better‘.  The band soon relocated to the UK and toured both Europe and the US, supporting a host of major international hard rock and metal bands.

Band Photo - The Screaming Jets

Image (above): The Screaming Jets promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Strongheart

Forming in Los Angeles during 1989 and then relocating to the UK, it may be puzzling to see Strongheart featured on this all Aussie compilation.  To be honest I still don’t really understand it.  However like it or not, there is some justification for their inclusion.  I am of course referring to the year 1991, when the hard rock trio consisting of Wilbur Hess (vocals, guitars), Bobby Arachiga (drums) and Billy Evans (bass), relocated once again – this time to Australia.  It was here in Australia during 1992 when the band signed with ACDC management company Vanda & Young, and recorded their debut album ‘Hard Wired’.  However the bands time in Australia was short lived and it wasn’t  long before they relocated (yet again) back to the UK, where they had already established a strong reputation and loyal following.  A second full length album titled ‘ Ritual’ was released in 1996.

Band Photo - Strongheart

Image (above): Strongheart promotional photo courtesy of CCVI booklet

Vasolene Machine Gun

Despite being a popular live band in Newcastle during the early 90s and supporting The Screaming Jets, there seems to be little information to be found about Vasolene Machine Gun.  Perhaps this is because the band has taken their name from a hugely popular song by US guitarist / folk musician Leo Kottke.  The band was renamed to Hound at some point and according to The Newcastle Bands Database (2015) the band was sometimes referred to as VMG (see below).  Mick King would later join Sydney rock band The Ride Ons who formed in 2004.  Interestingly, most of the references I could find relating to VMG used different spelling from that listed on the CCVI inserts – Vasoline instead of Vasolene.  There is reference to the band having released an EP as well as an album though no further details are available.

Band Photo - Vasolene Machine Gun
VMG

Wrecking Crew

Not to be confused with the famous group of LA session musicians who became known as the Wrecking Crew during the 60s and 70s; this Wrecking Crew was formed in Sydney during 1987 and is just one of many bands throughout the world to have taken their name from this revered group of amazingly talented musicians.  However also distinguishing Sydney’s Wrecking Crew from this now famous group is their musical style.  Instead of playing every known style of pop music on record; frontman / lead vocalist Dave Wilkins and co stuck to what they do best – playing no frills hard rock with a touch of blues and funk for good measure.  This isn’t to say that they weren’t talented musicians – because they certainly were; however the constraints of playing in a no frills hard rock band often don’t allow musicians to show off their true versatility. The band had a respectable following in Sydney, particularly during the early 90s.  They played at many of the popular live music venues including Selinas (Coogee Bay Hotel) where the band recorded their only music video to promote their single ‘Stay’. In addition to releasing several CD singles – ‘Welcome to the Circus‘ in 1992; ‘Stay‘ in 1993 and ‘She Wants Love‘ also in 1993; a full length album titled ‘Fun in the Doghouse‘ was also released showcasing the bands excellent song writing and musicianship.  Wilkins later moved on to form Aussie pop / rock band Utopian Babies, best known for their radio friendly hit single ‘One of These Days‘.  Wilkins has also been credited with songwriting alongside some major Australian talents including Diesel, Ian Moss, Wendy Matthews, Kate Ceberano, Shannon Noll and Brook McClymont.

Band Photo - Wrecking Crew

Final Comment
All mystery aside, this compilation is an excellent addition to any Australian music or hard rock collection.  Not only does it feature some Aussie hard rock favourites of the 90s including The Screaming Jets, The Poor Boys and Mantissa; it also showcases some lesser known and relatively obscure Aussie hard rock bands from this era.  This is not an easy compilation to find though it does appear from time to time so keep an eye out for it and hopefully you can snag it for a reasonable price.

I hope you enjoyed reading the very first post on 7 Wishes.  This is just a taste of what is to come and I will aim to feature new posts on a regular basis.  Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts / memories of this music.  If you have any requests or suggestions for a new post, I welcome your ideas.  Please also take a moment to look at my Aussie music want list (coming soon).

CCVI-320

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