Like a number of Australian musicians who got their start during the late 1970s New Wave movement, The Apartments’ Peter Milton Walsh received more acclaim in Europe than at home.
Walsh’s songs were full of bittersweet lyrical imagery, and his admirers included Ed Kuepper, Dave Graney and UK band, This Mortal Coil.
Walsh formed The Apartments in Brisbane after briefly playing with an early line-up of The Go-Betweens in 1978. The Apartments issued the pop-oriented Return of the Hypnotist EP on The Go-Betweens’ Able Label in October 1979, but by 1982 Walsh had moved to New York and joined power pop band The Colors.
He then moved to London and joined Ed Kuepper’s band The Laughing Clowns, staying long enough to play bass on the acclaimed Law Of Nature album. He then returned to Australia, re-formed The Apartments in 1984 with a new line-up, and issued the single All You Wanted on Hot in November.
By 1987 Walsh was back in London where he released the 12-inch EP The Shyest Time, plus an album destined to become a cult classic, The Evening Visits . . . And Stays For Years on Rough Trade.
The Shyest Time was included on the soundtrack to the John Hughes teen film Some Kind Of Wonderful (1987), but just as interest in the band was beginning to escalate, Rough Trade went broke which forced Walsh to return to Sydney.
The 1989 line-up of The Apartments included Michael Couvret (ex-Celibate Rifles) on bass, Mark Dawson on drums and Astrid Munday on backing vocals, and featured Ed Kuepper as a “special guest”.
This line-up recorded the album Drift and a CD EP called Life. Also contributing to the album were vocalists Carolyn Polley (from Big Heavy Stuff) and Clare Kenny.
Drift was issued in Europe on the New Rose label and received generous reviews. It was so well received in France that while the album sold less than 200 copies in Australia, it sold over 20,000 there.
A follow-up album (A Life Full Of Farewells) was released in May 1995, but despite containing all the right elements that make up a great pop record, it failed to sell in Australia.
Walsh flew to France to undertake a week of television and press promotion, and to play three showcase gigs with The Apartments. Further albums were forthcoming, but the story remained the same.
Peter Milton Walsh