1. Let Myself Down
  2. Slow Fuck
  3. Good For Business
  4. or The Better
  5. C.E.S Limbo
  6. Mugshot
  7. Sofa
  8. Pockets Of Pride
  9. Out And Dreaming
  10. Way Of The World
  11. Where Are We Going?
  12. One Of A Kind
  13. Injustice
  14. Danger Man

The Band:

Craig Bloxom

Cliff Grigg

Michael Weiley
guitar (R.I.P 2018)

The Crew:

Mark Woods

Michael Lippold

In 1984, Sydney trio v. Spy v. Spy were on a high. They’d almost broken up but signed to Midnight Oil’s management and label, and the mainstream was opening up to them.

Around the time of the Prince of Wales gig in Melbourne, they were playing powerful shows around the country.

The songs often had pop melodies but the lyrics addressed issues as homelessness, racism, irresponsible consumerism, destruction of heritage landmarks and corrupt cops.

The last song on the tape is the cataclysmic version of the theme song to late night ‘60s TV spy series Danger Man, which they watched every night at 3am in the squat, and “Mugshot” was inspired by the spy thriller novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammet.

What stands out about them on Live At The Prince of Wales 1984 tape was how tight they were, whether on the frantic “Injustice”, “Where Are We Going”, “Slow F***” and “Mugshot” or the more ethereal “Out And Dreaming”, “One Of A Kind” and “Good For Business”.

Recalls Craig Bloxom, the bassist/ lead singer, “We jelled together from our first rehearsal in the squats of Glebe in 1980.

“We set up our gear downstairs in the mouldy cellar and jammed our hearts out raising hell and making a huge racket.

“We realised early on we had a musical spark and enjoyed playing with each other.

“Nobody was keen to be lead singer however so we made a lot of vocal noises and shrieks and yells taking turns to sing as required but only if necessary.”

In 1984, Mark Woods was living in Los Angeles. After long stints as sound engineer with The Models and Men At Work, he was working with US band The Call (they had a big hit “The Walls Came Down” in Australia) when he got the call to join Tina Turner on a three-month US tour.

It ended in October and was to resume in Australia a month later. Woods returned early to Melbourne to catch up with family and friends to wait her arrival.

During this time he got a call from the Oils office to do v. Spy v. Spy’s show.

He had not worked with them before, but loved what he heard of them on community radio.

“They were one of my favourite Sydney bands. Unlike a lot of Sydney bands who were very noisy and brash, they were very melodic and musical, and Craig had a warm voice.

“In those days they were often compared to the Oils, but to me they were more like Crowded House and The Police.

“At the Prince of Wales show I liked the sound I was getting, there was a great vibe in the room, the crowd was going off, there was a lot of space in their music, and you knew that each of the three knew what the other was playing on stage.”

Craig Bloxom remembers the show for another reason. Some young girls joined them in their rooms at the hotel after, and collapsed from excess partying.

“I remember us carrying them unconscious to a waiting cab around 3AM as the receptionist glared at us and said we should be ashamed of ourselves.”

The v. Spy v. Spy story began when California-born Bloxom met English-born guitarist Michael Weiley at Nelson Bay High School in 1976.

They started playing around in bands in the north shore. They were introduced to drummer Cliff Grigg, who was living in a squat (72 Darling Street) in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe.

Naming themselves after the Spy. Vs. Spy strip in US Mad Magazine (the V in front was to prevent being sued), the two moved into the squat (which at the time had no roof or heating) and practiced.

Others living there were illegal refugees, drug dealers and bohemians, and they could make as much noise as they wanted to.

“Conditions then were really primitive and we cooked mostly in the fireplace,” Bloxom recalls.

“We learned to rig a cooking plate over the fire and make one-pot meals.

“In winter it was freezing cold and we had to walk to Sydney Uni and sneak into the gym to have a weekly hot shower.”

When it rained, the lounge room got wet. Rats lived in the holes in the walls.

There was a lot of drugs and alcohol around, and Bloxom admits v. Spy v. Spy music was as inspired by chemicals as the squat mentality.

By 1982 they were releasing singles and opening for the likes of U2 and The Clash.

The pub audiences responded to their rowdy showmanship, sense of community and the issues they were singing about which came from observing in Australian society.

“Our audience was working class blokes mainly who got inspiration from our power-pop-reggae-rock-ska-music who loved headbanging along with the energy we created as a three piece.

“We were always a bit chaotic and that was exciting also…. we smashed and crashed our way around the country during a time when pub rock was massive and you could tour constantly if you wanted to.

“Live music was king and we played loud and fast and worked up a sweat every night. We loved it and the punters did too.”

They would later become massive in Brazil, playing there 16 times.

Around the time of the Prince of Wales show, they’d released the Meet Us Inside EP and the single “One Of A Kind” which got them on Countdown.

The video was filmed outside the Sygna shipwreck near Stockton, in Newcastle.

It was not a happy experience: “We had to be up at 2am to get to the beach and set-up and it took all ******* day to shoot the damned thing.

“We were tired and cranky the whole time and there was no food or drink because there was zero budget.

“We were trying to snort speed surreptitiously so we could stay awake and act like we were actually playing in a rock band instead of playing like fools with guitars on a desolate stretch of beach.”