The Lipstick Killers’ Mesmerizer is a Lost in the Grooves exclusive. Click to sample the music or purchase.

The Lipstick Killers Mesmerizer (Citadel, Australia, 1984)

On the strength of a Deniz Tek-produced 45 issued by Bomp subsidiary Voxx in 1979, Sydney’s Lipstick Killers decamped for Los Angeles and dreams of Northern hemisphere success. They lasted a year in the cozy grime of the Tropicana Motel and a bug-infested Silverlake apartment, playing about a dozen gigs, including a Brian Jones memorial at the Whisky and at Madame Wong’s with the Plimsouls. Mesmerizer is the document of one of these shows, recorded on cassette by Flesh Eater Chris D., cleaned up nicely and released posthumously on Radio Birdman crony “Brother” John Needham’s Citadel imprint. In the absence of an official studio album, this high energy set stands as slightly sloppy but irresistible evidence of the band’s magic. Over twelve songs, including terrific covers of the Chocolate Watchband’s “Let’s Talk About Girls” and the Elevators’ “I’ve Got Levitation,” the Lipstick Killers swagger like the Hindu gods of their signature song, all power chords, tribal drums and perfectly controlled frenzy. The band’s originals come across like unknown frat rock standards gene-spliced with a finely honed blend of psychedelia and DIY punk energy. Insinuation was their strong suit: “Dying Boy’s Crawl” and “Strange Flash” get right under your skin and pull you bodily towards the music. Maybe a band this tight and moody was nothing special on the Sydney scene, but they must have blown their L.A. competition sideways. Unfortunately, the usual band problems intruded–mental illness, money, the singer getting a day job to pay rent on the communal flat–and the Killers called it quits. The members eventually wound their way back to Australia, where they still occasionally play as the Lipstick Killers. When I saw them open for Radio Birdman in 2002 they fulfilled every promise of Mesmerizer and more. (Kim Cooper, from the book Lost in the Grooves)