Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Triffids - Born Sandy Devotional

It's a really great sunny day in Newcastle. Seabirds are circling overhead and there's a clear blue sky. I've just been to The Bridge (one of the finest bars in town) and read the beginning of Rebecca which is the latest choice for my book club. It's pretty good. I also bought this album which I'm looking forward to listening to

But first I want to listen to this:
I have three specific strong memories of The Triffids. The first time I heard of them was through my little sister. I was on my gap year working in a hotel in Southern Switzerland. My sister and father made up a cassette compilation and sent it off to me. It was full of my record collection, Doors and Talking Heads I  imagine and lots of really odd shrieks and screams from a BBC sound effects compilation that I had. My sister also put some songs on by a band from Perth in Australia who were beginning to make some waves in the music press and getting played by Peel. There was a frankly ridiculous song about a  Red Pony and this about the lead singer's baby who thinks she's a train.
I wasn't entirely convinced but The Triffids gathered momentum. There was a point at which it looked like they might be big. They had an NME cover and toured constantly and in 1985 released an album which was their masterpiece. The one I'm about to review here.
I saw them with my university mate Ben, probably somewhere in North London in the summer of 1986. They were just great. I can't really remember any specifics except that lead singer David McComb was just enormous. He was dressed all in black and had the air of a biblical preacher, a similar trick to the one Nick Cave pulls off so successfully. At a certain point he stretched out his arms in a crucifix stance and seemed to have the wing span of a mid-sized condor.
A year later I was going on holiday in Austria with my father, mother and sister. We were coming in to land and I had Wide Open Road from this album on my Walkman as the plane descended from clouds, to fields, to runway. It was one of those moments in time when your mind seizes on something and fixes it in your memory banks forever.


  1. Love it. Saw them in Berlin on my year off. One of the best shows I've ever seen, even to this day.

  2. I saw them in a University theatre on the Euston Road in 1986. Fantastic. Fixed in my memory is walking to work at the local in the summer of '86 where my then girlfriend worked too listening to Wide Open Road on my walkman with a mug of coffee in one hand and a piece of toast in the other.(I always got up late on Sundays and had to breakfast on the run to work) It was the period after my degree and I worked in the pub in the time it took for my aspirations to align with my reality. Walking down a suburban street in my southern village on a Sunday morning I was on that wide open road through the outback outside Perth.

  3. Cheers Andrew. Maybe that was the gig I was at too. I know you're a fan. Thanks for the story. There were a lot of us dreamers in the UK at that point.All this stuff is really pretty important somehow.