The Screaming Tribesmen – Date With A Vampire and Bones & Flowers (Grown Up Wrong Records)

If you’ve ever heard white-hot Australian Punk and Post-Punk comp Do The Pop then chances are you remember “Igloo” by The Screaming Tribesmen. Perhaps the compilation’s standout song, it sounded like an early-’80s precursor to Nirvana, leaving such a strong impression that I wondered if The Screaming Tribesmen (who featured Radio Birdman guitarist Chris Masuak) were some forgotten gem of a band just waiting to be rediscovered.

Unfortunately those high hopes are dashed by these two reissues. Chronologically, Date With A Vampire comes first, collecting songs from 1985’s Date With A Vampire EP, the Top Of The Town Mini-Lp from 1986 and some lo-fi live songs and rehearsals from the same era. The band can whip off credible high-energy rock’n’roll, but singer Mick Medew’s (the only constant member throughout) lyrics are awful. Almost every time he opens his mouth, whatever comes out makes me cringe. The song “2 Blind Mice” actually has the line “I was all charmed by your charms”. Inexcusable.

Bones + Flowers is even worse. The problem isn’t so much the lyrics – they’re still bad – it’s the hideously glossy production that screams “this was made when Poison and Motley Crue were huge”. They stoke the flames of disdain even further with a re-recorded version of “Igloo” that’s inferior to the 1982 original in every way possible. There’s bonus tracks as well: a pair of b-sides, a three-song demo, and a live song recorded in front of a hometown Melbourne crowd in 1988. However, more music isn’t necessarily a good thing.