100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #85 The Saints – (I’m) Stranded

Released : 1976

Economic strife. A reactionary government. No opportunity for young people and an atmosphere where not fitting in could lead to violence. This might’ve been London in the mid 1970’s but the conditions in this case applied on the other side of the world, to Australia’s Queensland, run as a near police state by the conservative demagogue Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Formed in Brisbane in 1972 The Saints – Chris Bailey (vocals), Ed Kuepper (guitar), Ivor Hay (drums) and Kym Bradshaw (bass) – operated in an outright cultural vacuum. There was no scene – the city’s venues were the domain of a single promoter and every band played covers – and anyway, they were ridiculed by the country’s press, radio and industry establishment. Nobody wanted to know this bunch of conscious outsiders who by the middle of the decade made what reputation they could scrape together playing fast, hard and confrontational music with a sneer on it’s face.

In this state of isolation they recorded (I’m) Stranded in mid-1976, just as on the other side of the world The Ramones released their debut album. On hearing it Bailey’s reaction he revealed to Mojo in 2004 was simply “The Ramones have stolen our sound. I loved them.” Stranded was released in the UK in the December of that year, having already been declared Sounds ‘Single of this and any week’ by John Ingham when first reviewed the previous October. The song was a furious statement of everything they’d become, a group who’d evolved like some kind of cut off Amazonian tribe and once landed here, quickly came to regard nearly all of their British peers as cosplay rebels.

True to form despite then being within touching distance of punk they diverted away from it’s path on their second album Eternally Yours, confusing the three chord brigade with their overt love of soul and jazz. Not fitting in because you didn’t want to had always been The Saints mantra – and it was one they took to their messy dissolution. For anyone interested in modern Australian music (I’m) Stranded remains a conundrum similar to the big bang: nobody knows what really existed before it.

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