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Saints re-union, September 2001, Melbourne  
Article from The Sunday Age, Melbourne (Victoria), 16 September 2001.  
Old friends, old fueds - and, finally, a point  

In a one-off to remember, 70s punk rock band, the Saints, briefly come together for a long overdue accolade.

It was Bob Geldof who once said that there were 3 bands that changed the face of music in the 70s.: the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and Brisbane punk rock band The Saints.

The Saints classic self funded debut single I'm Stranded, within in 1973, and released in 1976, predated the entire British punk explosion.

But while the British press raved about the band - Sounds magazine called I'm Stranded "the single of this and every week" - the band was practically ignored by the music industry in its home country.

It only came into permanence when EMI in the UK heard Stranded and ordered its Australian office to sign it up.

The Australian music industry went someway to redeeming itself by honouring the band in the ARIA Hall of Fame last week, which puts it alongside the likes of the Bee Gees and Jimmy Little.

But the big questions at Fox studios in Sydney were: why would the Saints, who had not played together for more than 20 years, reform for a gathering of the industry that had done very little for them? And why were singer Chris Bailey and guitarist Ed Kuepper choosing to end their long-term public feud at a lavish industry do?

While there was no sign of any feuding between the band members, there was plenty of punk irreverence as they struggled to explain why this occasion had inspired their brief reunion.

"Perversity?", offered Bailey before saying: "There was a trumpet player I knocking around with in the 80s, mad as the day is long, and he had this great little poem and it was based on the concept of, 'oh pointy thing, oh pointy pointy pointy thing, how pointy you are', and it is a pointy thing", he said, admiring the spiky ARIA award. "What the point is, I have no idea"

Queensland seems like an unlikely birth place of punk. Did the oppressive rule of Jon Bjelke-Peterson motivate the edge in the music?.

"Australia has never been that hard, but when you're a kid, if there's an illusion that you're kicking against something, it gives you some fire," Bailey says. "There was an illusion that it was Nazi-ville when, in actual fact, it was a retirement village".

"There was a lot to fear back then, and there still is", says Kuepper.

And, during their brief performance, the band showed they still had it: The players were tight, and Bailey cut a malevolent with his nonchalant stance and brooding sneer - even if he did come in early on a verse.

But, afterwards, they said it definitely was a one-off.

"We have come to bury the Saints, not to raise them", said Kuepper.

Bailey said the idea of a reformation was absurd, "because a reformed Saint would be a Satanist".

As with their Impressionist painters who were spat on in their day but now have work in the homes of grandmothers, overdue respect is a bittersweet pill. Perhaps bassist Ivor Hayes [sic] summed it best during the acceptance speech: "If we had this interest back in 1978, perhaps things would have been different".


Copyright: the owner. Thanks to Mende for scanning.