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SUNNYBOYS Self-titled (1981)
By Powderfinger’s John Collins

sunnyboys001aI grew up in a country town called Beaudesert and I remember as a young teenager my brother bringing home a mixed tape he had made while he was at school in Brisbane. This cassette contained several classic 80s songs from The Swingers to Devo. I was a fan on these bands but it was one song by a band unknown to me at the time that made me sit up and take notice. The song was “I Need a Friend” by the Sunnyboys, taken from their second album, “Individuals”. I loved this song after the very first listen and I wanted to hear more from this band.

Being the early 80s there was no Triple J in Qld, and being in a country town there was no 4 Triple Z (Brisbane Community Radio) and certainly no iTunes.
I think I asked my brother to buy the record from an indie record store in Brisbane. He brought home the Sunnyboys debut album “Sunnyboys Self-Titled”, affectionately known as “Sunnyboys Sunnyboys”.

I remember thinking how awesome the front cover was with Richard, Bill and the Oxley brothers, Peter and Jeremy, sitting on the endless blue floor with suede points and stove pipe pants. To me this was the coolest band I had ever seen.

The opening riff of the first track “I Can’t Talk To You” is absolutely awesome with its descending progression and blistering high guitar parts. I am positive that I used to be able to mouth this guitar solo, note for note – even as a bass player. I remember thinking in a world full of Springsteen and Dire Straits it was refreshing, unpretentious and honest. I loved it!

This track is backed up with the clean, new wave-sounding guitar progression of “My Only Friend” which develops into a beautiful, meaningful song touching on themes of friendships and uncertainty – a common thread on the record. The honesty in the tracks “Trouble on My Brain” and the outstanding song “Gone” are brutal in their delivery and really hit the mark for me. With the addition of keyboards on both of these songs the album has some very cool textures and this adds some depth to the record.

In the song “It’s Not Me” the opening line “All the city kids are on heat – while others I know like to wait” felt like it was directed at me and my friends at the time. We could relate to the songs and the album became a soundtrack to our teenage years.

At some stage I found out via a surfing magazine that Jeremy was the  Australian Schoolboy Surfing Champion. This was up there in the cool stakes – like being Mr Motorcross at this time. I think track 8 ‘Tunnel of Love’ deals with his surfing passion and I love the rocking solo section in this song. It seems to take off.

jc 1I always imagined that these songs were written on the beach at the Oxley’s hometown of Kingscliffe, hanging out strumming tunes between surfs. My first Sunnyboys shirt was actually bought from Kingscliffe by my Mum. It was a grey King Gee long sleeve shirt with the famous Sunnyboys 8 point star printed in bright orange on the back and the band name in simple writing on the front pocket. I loved this shirt to death and later on at high school produced my own line of Sunnyboys shirts. Friends accused me of having a shirt for everyday of the week – they were right.

When I was about 14, I ended up going to school in Brisbane and in my senior years became friendly with Ian Haug (Hoggie). We used to talk about all the great Australian bands, Hoodoo Gurus, Huxton Creepers and, of course, The Sunnyboys. Hoggie was in a band at this stage playing Sunnyboys covers and I was in another band with a friend of mine Steven Bishop (Bish) covering predominantly Joy Division songs. At the end of highschool both bands broke
up and this opened the door for Bish and I to join forces with Hoggie and create the basis of the band Powderfinger.

The Sunnyboys sparked my interest in music. They were the reason I started playing guitar and ended up in a band. The brilliant, honest self-titled album of the Sunnyboys really did change my life.

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