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18 Jan 2017

Steve Warner “Steve Warner” 1976 ultra rare Private Australia Psych Folk

Steve Warner “Steve Warner” 1976 ultra rare Private Australia Psych Folk


Released in 1979 on the Tasmanian label Candle Records (though recorded in ‘76), this little-known album is way better than overhyped aussie items. Ranging from acid-folk numbers with a cosmic feel to dreamy ballads (several tunes make good use of almost classically influenced piano lines) or atypical instrumentals with a more proggy flavor, this one man project by Steve Warner is a trip in itself. Vocally, the hushed, whispery tone of Warner is, at times, reminiscent of Elliott Smith, so to speak. If the most alluring numbers are the quietly, atmospheric ones, the twilight zone instro provides a truly charming counterpoint. Maybe the listener must be eclectic to fully appreciate this LP performed with an exquisite sense of innocence. Great stuff ………. 

There’s something particularly pleasing about a privately pressed record. The artist or musicians involved have wanted these recordings to exist with such conviction that they’ve been willing to fund it themselves; the result is either a vanity project or something rather special. Steve Warner’s eponymous 1979 debut falls firmly into the latter. Funded by the combination of a bank loan and a council grant from his native Australia, Steve manage to record, produce, mix and manufacture what would be come to be his only recorded output (Steve went onto teach music afterwards – imagine being in that class!). Nick Armstrong at the legendary Spectangle Studios – also where Howard Eynon recorded ‘Jam’ – was there to assist and the album was eventually managed by Tasmanian label, Candle. Running to 13 tracks, 11 of which original compositions, this album of delicate folk songs, madcap ditties and more psychedelic orchestrated pieces feels incredibly accomplished for what was basically a one man show. For fans of Dennis Wilson, Roedelius, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Elliott Smith (yes, as far reaching as that). 

“At the time I would have long dreams about music, but strangely never did I actually hear music in them. I would dream of music in a very abstract sense – it’s tension and release, it’s inner harmonies, often in a visual or graphic way like an architect might. Lines of stress and of release, tension and slackness, angles between elements, heavy and light, strength and fragility. I used to be fascinated by the grey zone between sleeping and waking, and of finding that place in music.” – Steve Warner, 2015…………… 

It took almost three years from start to finish but Steve Warner’s self-titled album was worth the wait. He’d done the whole thing himself. The 500 copies he pressed were housed in silkscreened sleeves and they sold fairly quickly to his fans as word of mouth spread that it was done. And then for thirty years Steve Warner was occupied with other projects. He got married and became a guitar teacher and never really gave much thought to his LP. 

Steve started out playing the drums with the Mornington Citizens Brass Band before switching to guitar after watching his brother and his mates playing on the beach in the evening during their summer holidays. The moment he had three chords under his belt he began writing songs and he’s been composing ever since. 

He played in a few bands as a teenager including Abacus, Sam Blank and the wonderfully titled Satan’s Slaves. These outfits were playing rock, pop and bubblegum music but his taste grew much broader than that. At home he was listening to Stravinsky, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Doc Watson, Miles Davis and a guitar playing mate, Sebastian Jorgensen, also turned him onto the spacious beauty of ancient Greek music. He was drawing influences from everywhere. 

His parents had given him a reel-to-reel player as a kid and he’d always enjoyed exploring the sounds he could create with it. By the time he started thinking about making a record he had dozens of compositions already filed on tape. Despite this though he never seemed to get around to starting the project until two close friends tied him to a start date in 1976 and held him to the promise. 
He took out a bank loan and applied for an Australia Council grant and with the money combined managed to record, mix, produce and then manufacture his own LP. The songs on Steve Warner were all recorded in Hobart with Nick Armstrong and Spectangle productions and the Tasmanian record label Candle handled the release. 

In the last eighteen months he’s noticed a reawakening of interest in the recording. It’s begun commanding high prices online and people have begun getting in touch to find out how he plays certain parts or to see if there are any spare copies lying around his shed. It’s taken him a little by surprise but then good music is always going to be good music and a new generation has discovered the rich layers of sound he wove together back in the late ‘70s in Hobart. 

A1 Summer 4:25 
A2 Hey, Hosanna 4:07 
A3 Lightning Over The Meadow 4:32 
A4 A Boogie 4:52 
A5 Rainfall 3:15 
A6 Charlton 2:16 
B1 We’ll Go On 3:40 
B2 Poems In Your Eyes 5:20 
B3 Fireflies 3:40 
B4 Momento 3:37 
B5 Untitled 4:48 
B6 Crisp Morning 1:28 
B7 Cement River 4:27 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..