Jangle pop band Guadalcanal Diary originated in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta in the early 1980s.
Singer/guitarist Murray Attaway’s songs reflected a bizarre variety of far-flung interests, from a preoccupation with the supernatural to a fascination with American cultural imperialism.
Conveying a sense of wonder as well as a sense of humour, the Watusi Rodeo EP (1983) – which did not contain the song of that name – was an appealing debut.
The song itself – a rollicking tale of American cowboys pillaging African wildlife – appeared on Guadalcanal’s first album, Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man (1984).
Produced on the cheap by Don Dixon, the album presented rocking explorations of several of Attaway’s pet themes: religious fanaticism (Why Do the Heathen Rage?), Civil War mythology (Trail of Tears) and spontaneous human combustion (Fire from Heaven).
Jamboree (1986) featured upgraded sound quality and contained some fine tunes, but overall the album was more competent than inspired. Standout tracks include Pray for Rain, Fear of God and the title track, all of which took dark views of religious faith.
Don Dixon returned to the production desk for the smashing 2 X 4 (1987), on which the group’s members dipped into their shadowy art-rock pasts (Attaway once fronted a Yes cover band) to finally create music as distinctive as the lyrics.
Perhaps most impressive was the song 3 AM, Attaway’s quietly harrowing account of alcoholism.
Flip-Flop (1989) proved to be Guadalcanal’s final album and the group disbanded the same year. Jeff Walls and Rhett Crowe married and gave birth to a daughter.
Guadalcanal Diary reformed in 1997 and 2011.