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Eastern Dark, The

With sheer energy bursting out of their amplifiers, dynamic, memorable songs, and a leader with rock & roll animal good looks and the longest hair in town, The Eastern Dark were the wildest thing going in Sydney (Australia) in 1985.

Leader James Darroch was a shit-hot guitarist who had previously played bass for The Celibate Rifles, and, before that, a succession of bands with inner-city hipster Dean Coulter and future rock writer Murray Engleheart.

Joining Darroch were bassman Bill Gibson – previously MC and backing vocalist for The Lime Spiders – and drummer Geoff Milne, who had gone to high school with most of The Sunnyboys.

The Eastern Dark was an electrifying trio with a bounty of stunning originals and a collection of cool covers, including The Dictators‘ Minnesota StripThe Real KidsDown To You and The Slickee Boys’ hard-pop obscurity Gotta Tell Me Why, as well as a different Ramones song to open their set every night.

Their classic double A-side single Julie Is A Junkie b/w Johnny & Dee Dee on Waterfront was just about the best record released anywhere on the planet in 1985 – Rob Younger’s skilfully layered production (dig those harmonies) serving to enhance the band’s unbridled raw passion.

Maintaining that he’d never heard an album he liked all the way through, James Darroch decided to follow up his band’s killer debut single with an EP.

The Dark entered Central Recorders with Rob Younger and Tony Espie in January 1986 and cut five tracks which showed off their devastating sonic and emotional power and range; from the young, fast and scientific pop of No Pictures and I Don’t Need The Reasons, to the high tension thrills of Walking and Over Now.

The sound they put down was huge and sizzled with high wattage and raw energy.

24 hours after finishing the all-night mixing session and the morning after a quick rehearsal, the band hit the Hume Highway for some shows in Melbourne. They never got there.

Near Yass, just outside Canberra, an exhausted Darroch ran the band’s van off the road. Bill and Geoff were both seriously injured: Geoff receiving injuries which he would take years to overcome. James didn’t make it.

The eventual release of the EP – just as James had wanted it, under the Videodrome-inspired title Long Live The New Flesh – served only to amplify the magnitude of his loss.

Both Geoff and Bill eventually returned to the scene together, in a highly anticipated but fleeting band with James’ old mate Dean Coulter called The Crunge, and then separately in a number of other notable inner city combos.

Bill also briefly joined The Lemonheads in the late ’90s.

James Darroch
Vocals, guitar
Bill Gibson
Bass, vocals, piano
Geoff Milne