05.04.2019

Exploring the influence of Dirty Three’s legendary co-founder Mick Turner

One of Melbourne's preeminent rock-dogs of all time, period.

Guitarist Mick Turner is well known as a member of Dirty Three, has worked with and played on albums for the likes of Cat Power (Moon Pix) and Caroline No (Swimmers), is a visual artist and has explored many other creative endeavours. Turner also has a pretty notable history in Melbourne’s punk scene.

Forming The Sick Things in 1979, Mick Sick (at that time) and the other ‘sick’ named members were an angry thrashing punk band with humorous themes to many of their songs. Releasing the single ‘Committed to Suicide’ in 1985 liner notes explained, “Deep in the anal of Caulfield South four innocent young men, with flair and drive for tasteless music, came together to form the ‘Sick Things’”. The single was followed up by the album The Sound of Silence in 1989 and My Lifes a Mess in 1999, with both albums being recorded between 1980-1981. The tongue-in-cheek My Lifes a Mess features songs like ‘Where’s My Dole Cheque’ and ‘I Like Pills’. The album has intricate and manic illustrations along with lengthy liner notes giving a brief history of the band and encouragement to listen, “Drop that Bad Regurgitation LP pronto, & listen to this – nothing less than the Sick Things, the rawest baddest & best bunch of ‘punk’ to ever stand astride a Rock ‘n’ Roll state in this miserable city of Melbourne”.

Formed in 1982, The Fungus Brains closely followed, a less chaotic and more cohesive punk sound. Their first album, Ron Pistos Real World, released in 1983 is more listenable than The Sick Things with more simple playing and the unique sounds of trumpet and sax. Geoff Marks vocals are low, somewhat whiny yells with drawn out unintelligible words that fit the instrumental sound perfectly. ‘St Kilda’ is the catchiest song on the album but all are worth a listen due to the trumpet and sax alone. The band went on to a hiatus after Turner joined The Moodists in 1983 and moved to the UK for two years, he later returned to Melbourne to start The Fungus Brains up again. The band went on to start and stop again through the next few years and managed to release the self-titled, The Fungus Brains in 1986 and Im So Glad in 1989.

The four-piece Venom P. Stinger formed 1985 which included future member of the Dirty Three, Jim White on drums. Meet My Friend Venom was released in 1987 a more traditional punk sound with not just its fair share of bashing instruments but a real understanding and talent of music. The opening track ‘P.C.P. Crazy/Jaws’ is a great example of this. The band went on to release Whats Yours is Mine in 1990 and Tear Bucket in 1996. Mick Turner went on to start the Dirty Three and his own solo career in music. He continues to be an important part of Melbourne music today.