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‘A Revolution Waiting to Happen’: What Made The Saints so Great

Read Dave Faulkner’s 2020 reflection on what made The Saints one of the most important bands of their era

The Saints


Today brought good tidings for fans of The Saints, one of Australia’s most renowned rock bands, with the news that two of its founding members have joined forces with some special guests for a landmark tour and vinyl box set release.

Featuring founding members Ed Kuepper and Ivor Hay alongside honorary Saints Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Peter Oxley (Sunnyboys), and Mick Harvey (The Birthday Party), ‘The Saints ’73-’78’ tour will recreate the sounds of the band’s seminal first three albums: (I’m) Stranded (1977), Eternally Yours (1978), and Prehistoric Sounds (1978).

The tour will arrive in Adelaide, Castlemaine, Melbourne, Fremantle, Sydney, and Brisbane this November (see full dates below). Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, June 14th at 12pm local time.

The tour coincides with the November release of a deluxe edition of The Saints’ seminal debut album (I’m) Stranded. The special edition features four LPs covering all recordings, both studio and live, between 1976-1977, including a previously unreleased 1976 mix of the album.

“It’s been an exhausting yet thrilling process being involved in the creation of this box set,” says Kuepper. “It’s been 51 years in the making and has possibly turned out even better than I anticipated. It’s by far the most extensive appraisal of the band, both aurally and visually, that has ever been made available and hopefully reveals some things people may not have known about the band.”

The Saints’ impact on Australian rock music has been monumental.

Four years ago, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition which looked at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best artists in Australian music history. The Saints, of course, made the cut, making it to #13 on the countdown.

For the special edition, we got Hoodoo Gurus lead singer Dave Faulkner to detail his appreciation for The Saints. Read his reflection on the band below.

The Saints were always a band of misfits, a musical slap in the face to the bland conformity of Brisbane in the Seventies. Inspired by The Stooges and the MC5, Ed Kuepper developed a pummelling, explosive guitar attack that was made even more vitriolic by Chris Bailey’s snarky vocals. Gathering a motley assortment of die-hard followers around them, by 1976 The Saints were a revolution waiting to happen. 

Unbeknownst to them, there were plenty of other disaffected music fans around the world who were also looking for some hard-edged thrills after the collapse of rock’n’roll into pomposity and self-parody in the early Seventies. When Kuepper heard the Ramones album, he was crestfallen to discover that someone else had beaten The Saints to the punch. Chris Bailey told one UK blogger about getting a call from the guitarist saying, “the Ramones have stolen our sound”. Kuepper told the same interviewer, “I was surprised at the way it sounded. But their only influence was that I decided never to wear a leather jacket onstage”. 

The Ramones may have gotten the jump on The Saints but after a gushing review in the UK’s Sounds Magazine in October 1976, The Saints’ independent single, “(I’m) Stranded”, became the shot heard around the world. EMI Australia were nonplussed at being ordered by their head office to sign up this band of musical malcontents. They were even more mystified when they finally got to see the band perform in Sydney.

Notably, at one of those performances Kuepper even changed a guitar string during a song without missing a beat. The caterwauling sound of a string being slowly tuned up to pitch as he continuously flailed away only added to the din – and to the lack of comprehension among the gathered execs. Forget Brisbane, The Saints couldn’t have appeared more alien if they had flown in from Alpha Centauri.

In May 1977, The Saints left an indifferent Australian music industry far behind and decamped to London where they were initially greeted as punk saviours. Of course, The Saints weren’t having a bar of that. Their defiantly anti-style of dress was sharply at odds with the post-Glam revolutionary chic of punk fashion and, horror of horrors, some of the band even had long hair! For The Saints, UK punk presented another set of rules to be flouted and they soon found themselves in their familiar role of outsiders once again.

In a way, that first lineup of The Saints reached its zenith with ‘“(I’m) Stranded”, both the single and the album. There were many brilliant songs on the next two albums and, for my money, the single “This Perfect Day” was the most explosive the band ever sounded on record but, musically, they appeared to lose cohesion. Australia had been hostile but, in the end, London was equally unwelcoming. Somehow the anger and energy that had been turned outwards against an unfriendly world now began to turn inwards.

In September 1978, just after releasing their third album, Prehistoric Sounds, The Saints dissolved in ignominy and acrimony. History has been kinder to the band than the world was when they were around. In some ways, the only musical revolutions that matter are the ones the vinyl makes as it spins around the turntable. That’s a revolution where The Saints will always come out ahead of most of their contemporaries.

‘The Saints ’73-’78’ 2024 Australian Tour

Ticket information available via feelpresents.com

Wednesday, November 13th
Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide, SA

Friday, November 15th (SOLD OUT)
Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC

Saturday, November 16th (SOLD OUT)
Northcote Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Sunday, November 17th
Northcote Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Wednesday, November 20th
Freo.Social, Fremantle, WA

Friday, November 22nd
Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Saturday, November 23rd (SOLD OUT)
Princess Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Sunday, November 24th
Princess Theatre, Brisbane, QLD