An edition of 153 records with handmade, screen-printed sleeves. Mastered for vinyl by Don Bartley.
FILE UNDER: OUTSIDER POP.
RELEASE DATE: 12/11/18
If Sneaky Radio were indeed a band, they’d be comprised of the (David) Bentley’s Boogie Band rhythm section of bassist/guitarist Peter Wragg and drummer Don Lebler along with the fragile voice of songwriter and visionary, Ross Lovell. But of course there’s no band whatsoever - just a good poppy name for a man in his early thirties to launch a pop career with.
Recording began in 1979 at Wragg’s Indooroopilly home studio by the Brisbane river and over the next two years, Brisbane’s train lines went from steam to electric - as did Ross Lovell with his synth-affected voice with Trains: a tight 120 second blast of new wave pop as the lead track and a contrasting lament with Long Distance Calls showcasing the stark sincerity of Lovell’s voice.
The single was pressed sometime over the summer of 1981 via EMI's custom pressing division in Sydney, and by April it was sent off to radio stations, journalists and (we presume) shops by Ross himself. Sadly, there was little critical response which helped generate serious sales and with Lovell not really wanting to play the live game, the $5000 project sank without a trace and boxes of unsold copies of the record remain in a landfill somewhere in Brisbane.
Trains was Ross’s only foray into what can only be described as post-punk / new wave (which fits well timeline-wise) and despite the lack of critical or commercial success at the time, the undeterred former classical guitar teacher went back to the game of private pressing roulette with album’s worth of material called Ways – a cassette only release with songs which date back to the early 70s and beds of recordings from the later part of the decade. Released in 1986, it did win numerous awards but not a receptive-enough audience to help recoup the tens of thousands spent in its rendering by way of sales.
Somewhere in the mid to late 90s, an undeterred Ross Lovell reappeared under the nom de guerre of La Vel before finally settling with Ross La Vel. And under this new name, he began exploring neo-classical and romantic themes with a strong leaning towards instrumental music across a handful of CDs - slaving for years over arrangements, session recordings, mixes and mastering sessions in pursuit of Phil Spector-like perfection with (sadly) fewer vocal tracks showcasing his distinctive, melancholic voice. Ross these days maintains a fairly low profile in the suburbs of Brisbane, occasionally making videos for his songs on YouTube and perhaps waiting to take another ride…
- DONAT TAHIRAJ
Listen in below. Please note that the audio on these tracks is taken from a vinyl rip and is not accurately reflective of the sound of this release...THE A-SIDE, TRAINS
THE B-SIDE LONG DISTANCE CALLS