Dave Graney was one of the Australian music scene's most enduring, and strangest, stars. Hailing from the small South Australian town of Mount Gambier, Graney moved to Melbourne in the late 1970s and formed his first band The Moodists, featuring Graney's wife Clare Moore and future Dirty Three guitarist Mick Turner. Stylistically, The Moodists were influenced by other alternative Australian bands of the time, including the Birthday Party, although they were more influenced by American rock such as Iggy Pop and the Velvet Underground than the English punk and gothic scene. After releasing two singles in Australia and playing small pub venues in Melbourne for several years, the band was signed by English label Red Flame and promptly moved to London in 1983. The next few years saw the release of the Moodists' best work. Thirsty's Calling was released in late 1983, followed in 1984 by their Double Life album. Their first album, Engine Shudder, recorded in 1981 was also released by the Red Flame label. The beginning of the end came in 1985, after parting company with Red Flame. Although they released two more singles, The Moodists went through a number of lineup changes before finally disbanding in 1987.
By the time the Coral Snakes formed in late 1987, Graney's influences had changed dramatically to the American '60s psychedelia of the Charlatans and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. In 1988, Dave Graney & the Coral Snakes released their debut EP At His Stone Beach in the U.K.. Supporting this proved difficult, as the band was forced to return to Australia voluntarily or face deportation.
Upon his return to Australia, Graney formed the White Buffaloes. In 1990, they released an album entitled My Life on the Plains. As became a trademark later in his career, Graney assumed the personality of the character each album was based on, in this case it was a kind of Wild Bill Hickock, complete with curled mustache and snakeskin boots. The White Buffaloes also released the Codeine EP in 1990, but due to pianist Conway Savage leaving to join Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the White Buffaloes disbanded soon after.
In 1990, the Coral Snakes re-formed in London and recorded their I Was the Hunter and I Was the Prey album, although due to their record company going into receivership, the album was not released until 1992. In 1991, expecting the release of I Was the Hunter, the Coral Snakes began touring, including support slots for Bob Mould. The results of this tour were released as a live album, The Lure of the Tropics.
1993 saw Graney once again change his focus. After performing a number of semi-acoustic shows, the band began to take on more lounge music influences, culminating in the release of The Night of the Wolverine . This album featured Graney's biggest commercial success at the time, the single "You're Just Too Hip, Baby."
Expanding in this theme, Graney followed Wolverine with You Wanna Be There But You Don't Wanna Travel in 1994. This album was greeted not only with critical praise, but also public acceptance, and Graney found himself a fully-fledged pop star for the first time in his career. The single "I'm Gonna Release Your Soul" became hugely popular.
The Soft 'n' Sexy Sound saw Graney in full lounge mode, right down to the pink velvet suit he wore when accepting his ARIA award for best male artist. Released in 1995, the album was an instant success and produced three singles, "Rock 'n' Roll Is Where I Hide," "I'm Gonna Live in My Own Big World," and "I'm Not Afraid to Be Heavy."
Before disbanding the Coral Snakes in 1997, the band released one more album entitled The Devil Drives. Though not an album that was geared towards releasing singles, the band's record company nonetheless demanded one, so the Coral Snakes recorded an extra song for the album; a stomping glam tune called "Feelin' Kinda Sporty." The song was a huge hit, although the album was greeted with cautious praise -- it didn't have the accessibility of previous recordings.
In 1998 Graney returned with a new band, the Dave Graney Show and self-titled album. In 1999 a best of the Coral Snakes compilation called The Baddest was released. ~ Jonathan Lewis
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