Hunters & Collectors this week. One of the more adventuresome bands coming out of Australian in the 1980s. A band whose influences upfront were Can and German producer Conny Plank, they captured a lot of imaginations, particularly in the Australian press, where they were dubbed by one newspaper as having a “far more radical and unremitting concept” as the band’s previous incarnation as The Jetsonnes from 1979, where they were considered light and breezy Post-Punk with only one single released before disbanding and reforming.
The new band, christened Hunters and Collectors from a track title off Can’s Landed album, expanded the post-punk part, by mixing in liberal doses of Krautrock, with pastiches of Pub-Rock. The Funk part, though more hinted at than influenced, came as the result of adding trombones, a trumpet and French Horn, known as Horns Of Contempt and were probably more akin to the quasi-funk period of Can during their mid-70s period.
This gig, recorded in July of 1981, may be the earliest example of the band live during that period, and I believe this comes prior to their signing with Mushroom Records, who had just started a subsidiary label, White Label Records.
After signing to White Label and issuing their first ep, along with a moderately successful debut album, he band underwent personnel changes, further evolved their sound, got a UK record deal with Virgin and eventually decamped to Conny Plank’s studio in Germany, where they would record their second album.
This incarnation of Hunters and Collectors would disband by 1983, before another incarnation emerged. This time, a pared-back, less Can influenced H&C returned to Australia, became more keyboard influenced, less horn influenced and retained a more rhythm-based sound. While retaining Conny Plank for production, the band became more commercially viable, eventually breaking into the U.S. market.
But that was all a ways off. This concert captures that initial period – the period that got everybody talking and scratching their heads. What they became later was the result of constant touring and honing. It’s how bands evolve.
Even though they went through numerous personnel changes over the years, including several breakups before a final reunion in 2013, Hunters & Collectors grew considerably in stature over the years – with a tribute album in 2005 that included contributions from, among many others, Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn of Crowded House.
But this weekend, let’s go back, close to the start.
Crank it up.