When… Dave Warner was a Musician

Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs have a new album simply called When, and they have hit the road to promote it. In his own words it is the natural descendant of his 1978 LP Mug’s Game. Highly Recommended. Go and see them.

In the late 70s I was living in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, still with my parents. Six years at a Catholic all-boys school had got me into university but hadn’t taught me anything about girls or how to talk to them. I was quite envious of the kids from the country who got to live on campus in colleges. They seemed to have a lot of fun, lots of friends and tutors. Around that time there was a certain song on the radio that spoke to me. It was by a guy from Perth called Dave Warner. The cricketer of the same name had not yet been born or even thought of. Dave Warner’s band was called From the Suburbs and the song was Suburban Boy. Apart from the fact that it spoke about going to the football, living at home with mother, and not having a clue about girls, I liked it because Warner was the first singer I had heard out front of a pub rock band that sang with a broad Aussie accent. To be fair most Australian pub rock bands of the time had ten pound poms belting out the vocals. They couldn’t be expected to speak Aussie. Others however tried to bung on a fake American accent. Dave Warner had an authentic and unabashed twang. And I loved it.

The album was called Mug’s Game and I rate it as the west coast equivalent of Skyhook’s Living in the Seventies. It was funny, irreverent, and culturally relevant to 18yo me, with songs like Convict Streak, Campus Days, and of course Suburban Boy. Warner was essentially a story-teller and held a mirror up to the drunken pub crowds that seemed to lap him up. The title track was a hilarious 13 minute monologue exposing various sub-cultures of the time. Listening to it now it is even funnier in hindsight.

The entry in my Who’s Who of Australian Rock nails it when they describe Dave Warner with three words only – articulate singer songwriter. He has always had a way with words. Who else would think of rhyming ‘hepatitis’ with ‘Vitas Gerulaitis’ (Wimbledon). I was not surprised that he went on to be a successful novelist.

I am pleased to see he has released a new album simply called When and Dave Warner’s From the Suburbs have hit the road to promote it. He hasn’t lost his knack for shining a light on popular culture and is now exposing the follies of today’s sub-cultures. In his own words this album is the natural descendant of Mug’s Game. He casts a baby boomer’s eye over modern cultural obsessions – I’m on Facebook but Where’s My Friends? and Snapchat (with a language warning!). He still does the monologue-type song with Woman Who Drowned in Her Own Apartment. He brings his 1979 hit, Wimbledon, up to date with a new verse: “Rafal Nadal and Roger Federer don’t need speed or coffee enemas.” But my favourite for playing loudly in the car is definitely We Want a Kid! (We deserve it).

Highly Recommended. Go and see them.