King Cobba Label
King Cobba!

In the far south eastern corner of the great Australian Basin sits the
relatively unremarkable town of Gooniwindo. Unremarkable that is, until one
realizes that this town, more than any other was fostered a style of music
that has influenced almost all popular post war musical forms: the Australian
Urban Blueys.

Gooniwindi itself is a town of great contrast. From the panoramic views of the
north side to the teeming ghettoes of the south, from the "Ugandan Quarter" on
the eastern side to the melting pot of the west side one can find as much
divergent style as anywhere on the map. But it is the west side that interests
us here.

The years from 1950 to 1958 saw a great expansion as the population grew & the
South Side pushed eastwards & southwards, the northside grew westwards &
southwards, the eastside grew southwards, northwards, westwards, southwards
again & finally fell off the edge of the world(huh?).

But the main expansion was on the Westside into Nindiguly & Talwoon, &
southwards to Boggabilla. As a predominately 7th Day Adventist population
moved northwards, southwards, eastwards & finally into Catford a new & angry
music was reared in the overcrowded Westside.

The Westside's first record company was Eric Trouserbutton's "Abbo" label, which
he started in partnership with Jimmy Bogroll from 2854 W.Fostercan Road in
early 1956. There was a fine release by Bluey Myers(Abbo 104), blowing beer
can in a close approximation of Little Kevin, one by Morris Dingo & a couple
of "shitty" blues from R.Bruce Stedman but nothing much happened until Bogroll
dropped his trousers & Trouserbuttons dropped his bogroll & started his own
"Cobba" label in August that year. It started with Otis Strewth's "Can't Quit
The Fosters, Mate"(Cobba 5000) which entered the charts in October & provided
Cobba with their first & only payola scandel. It was yet another Willie Dunnee
song & Dunnee was closely associated with the label as songwriter, A&R man,
band-leader, Pimp, Digereedoo refurbisher, lager brewer & surfboard varnisher.

Strewth, a quiet, handsome, noisy, dispeptic young man, had been playing
digereedoo for only two years. Back home in Wangerup, Western Australia, where
he was born on either 29 April, 1934 or 7 July, 1899 (the date is not certain),
he tried to make the usual digereedoo out of old lager cans & budgie vomit,
but he was playing barbed wire & elastic bands by the time the family moved
to the "Gooniwindi City".

The great influence on Strewth was another Western Australian, Bruce Beer Kan,
who had developed a completely original style which owed nothing to the finance
company who employed him. Strewth continued to have limited success commercially,
notwithstanding that his records were, by & large - and for the most part -
classics of modern Blueys. There were suspenders & agonised stockings in his
music, as he dragged himself out in the studio. His vocals were tortuous, as
was the size 8 corsette he wore at all times. He sang with a frightening
intensity, while the band were groaning & heaving in the background, the result
of Wallee Dunne's home-brewed lager. "Double Bubble" a classic of modern blueys
about the problems encountered in trying to drink a home brewed beer of the
same name is a classic of modern blueys that has become a modern blueys classic:

  I stay up all night, mates, forcing down this Double Bubble,
  It's hard to keep it down, layin' round drinkin; Double Bubble,
  HHHUUUEEEYYYRRUUTTTHHHH, yeh, they say you can drink it if you try

Yeah some of this generation is real strong-stomached, it's hard for me to keep
it in my gut.

Strewth was soon joined on Cobba by another young blueysman who played in the
intense westside manna, Magic Bruce. Magic Bruce was born Bruce Maggot in
Throssel Ravine on the borders of the Great Sandy Desert. When he was 13 or 42
(his age is not certain) the family moved to Gooniwindi & he grew up in the
neighbourhood of 917th & Trousersnake Boulevard. When he was 19 or 48 he cut a
demo of "21 Days in Toowomba" & hawked it round until Trouserbutton finally
became interested in his sister. But they had to think of a name for him, as
the one he was using "Shirly Abercair" was already being used by another
artist. Trouserbutton wanted to call him "Gay Bruce" but Maggot objected that
"This is old hat, mate - & brown hat at that". This new confident breed wanted
something up to date. Finally they came up with Magic Bruce. Bruce himself
underlined the new attitude, "I didn't want to be Poor Bruce, Bad Bruce,
Pooftah Bruce, Pissed Bruce, Silly Bruce, Whatabugga Bruce or WhathaveyuBruce
& that was that, Mate!

He was tremendously popular in Gooniwindi & his records sold well until his
mum interrupted his career & put him in army boots that she'd been breaking
in for him.

In August 1958 Trouserbutton lauched a new label, Unartistic. The new label
introduced the last of their trinity of young Westside Bluey men, Matey Digger.
Kevin Digger was born in Lake Yamma Yamma, South Australia(well, not actually
IN the lake of course, I mean no-one gets born IN a lake, now do they? But near
it. Do I have to explain everthing to you wallies?) on 30th July 1934 (tax
point) & again on 30th August when payment fell due. He'd learned his music
from the legendary travelling sheep dip salesman Rolf "Wobble-Board" Harris,
then came the usual boyhood experiments with a home made digereedoo &
masturbation at the age of 13. By the time he was 17 he'd become so proficient
in the latter that he was known locally as "Blind Kev".

At the age of 21 he moved to Gooniwindi to try & make a name for himself. This
he did very quickly, carving it out of old surfboards & festooning it with old
Fosters cans, & by the time it was finished it stood 30 feet high & 50 feet
long. One night, however, a local piss-artist, the legendary Walter Davis-Milne
stood with his back to it, farted & blew it to matchwood.

Discouraged, Digger took a job playing at the "Kooli-Bar" Lounge & it was there
that Trouserbuttons discovered him. He took him to the studios to record four
songs & released the first coupling soon after.

"Hotter Than a Bondi Tram!" screamed the adverts in the music press as his first
release "Squat & Try" b/w "Trying to Quit the Dunnee" hit the streets. His style
was fully formed, as was his girlfriend Sheila Bigun. The high screaming voice,
breaking on the top notes, cutting like a plastic knife through a British Rail
sandwich & soaring over the squeezed strings of his Burt Weedon - like guitar.
The frenetic energy of his singing was matched only by that of British Leyland
Tool-makers on double time. More than anything his Blueys were an extrovert
expression of Australian pride.

Trouserbutton recorded other artists as well. There was an eccentric ship
shearing song from Bruce Bongles, "Rowe, Your Being Got At But I'm Sure You
Don't Mind"(Unartistic 1500) with superb wobble board from Foster Boy
Williamson, but as well as the aggressive music of the west side there were
some old timers too, Wobbly Jake did "Roll Yer One Eye Trouser Snake", while
Little Wally Fosters sang "Crying For Glue" to the deafening accompaniment
of the South Yarra Combined Dustbin & Oilcan Orchestra.

Queensland Slim, a zither player from Mungallalla, Queensland(naturally) sang
"Dirtrack 51" to thunderous back up from Bert Treestump's Trio & then went on to
record for RIZLA records in Brisbane.

Trouserbuttons also recorded a number of artists in the emerging R&B, or
Rooster Banger style, so called because a certain disgusting sport played by
young men with frustrated intentions in back alleys & farm yards in the small
hours of the night. Ike Chunder & the Queens of Rhythm, from Limpwrist, Tasmania
had a release on Cobba, "Stockingtop" b/w "Walk This Way, Big Boy" & went on to
be the house band for future R&B releases by Betty Everedge, Harold Kookaburrage
& several unissued sides by Tommy Tuckerbag.

Cobba's activities ended prematurely in 1959 when Eric Trouserbuttons got his
head nailed to a coffee table by Reggie & Ronnie Snackbar, infamous gangland
hitmen who had been running a bootleg lager racket & smuggling plaster of
paris figureens of Chips Rafferty into New Zealand. When last heard of,
Trouserbuttons was an integral part of the south wall of the Sydney Opera House.

Cobba's master tapes passed into the hands of Syndey J.Lotterby, owner of
Total Fluke Records(Motto: If it's a good record it's a Total Fluke) & during
1979 a fresh faced lad from somewhere in Sussex, Bruce Banknote, took up the
option to release selected gems from the catalogue on his own Flypaper label.
When asked why he had offered the material to Banknote after holding on to it
for so long, Lotterby simply said "We like his name, mate".

LP's by Strewth, Magic Bruce & assorted wobble-board players have already been
issued & many more are planned. 1981 promises releases by many more artists &
will ensure that this great & important musical style is preserved for future
generations to ignore.