The Sports

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The Sports
Origin Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres Rock, new wave
Years active 1976–1981
Labels Mushroom, Sire, Arista, Stiff, Raven, Festival
Associated acts The Pelaco Brothers, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band
Past members see members list below

The Sports were a popular Australian rock group that performed and recorded between 1976 and 1981.

Based in Melbourne, Victoria, the group released a number of successful singles and albums. Their style was similar to both 1970s British pub rock bands (such as Brinsley Schwarz) and British new wave (such as Elvis Costello). Their best known songs include "Boys (What Did the Detective Say?)", "Don't Throw Stones", "When You Walk in the Room", "How Come", "Who Listens to the Radio?", "Perhaps" and "Strangers on a Train".

Biography[edit]

The Sports were formed in 1976 by Stephen Cummings who was the singer of Melbourne rockabilly group, The Pelaco Brothers, (which comprised Cummings, Joe Camilleri, Peter Lillie and Johnny Topper). Cummings and ex-The Pelaco Brothers bandmate Ed Bates, with Robert Glover (ex-Myriad) on bass guitar, Jim Niven on piano (ex-The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band)[1] and Paul Hitchins on drums.[2] Their early sets contained covers of Chuck Berry, Billy Emerson, Don Covay, Company Caine and Graham Parker.[2] Original songs, mostly written by Cummings and Bates, completed their sets.[2] The Sports' debut recording was the EP, Fair Game in early 1977.[2] A friend in London posted the record to the New Musical Express which declared it 'Record Of The Week'.[3][dead link] The Sports found themselves right in tune with the very latest music trend dominating London rock. They became part of the promise of a new beginning for song-based rock as an antidote to punk, dubbed new wave. "We were totally surprised," Cummings says of the NME review.

"It was the last thing you'd expect. It was my making and my undoing in some ways. When you have everything go right so quickly you expect that everything after that is going to be good and that easy. It meant that I probably didn't put myself out as much as I should have."[4]

Andrew Pendlebury (ex-Myriad) joined on guitar in August 1977 and assisted Cummings with songwriting.[2][4] Cummings recalls

"I just vaguely met people and dragged them into it. I always wanted Andrew in the group as a guitarist and I had an idea for a rockabilly country sound. But I always wanted to change it because I really liked the MC5 and wanted to make it more like that as well."[4]

Cummings brought in Martin Armiger on guitar, vocals and songwriting to replace Bates in August 1978.[2]

The Sports had top 30 hits on the Australian Kent Music Report singles charts with, "Don't Throw Stones" (1979), "Strangers on a Train" (1980) and "How Come" (1981);[5] and top 20 albums with, Don't Throw Stones (#9, 1979), Suddenly (#13, 1980) and Sondra (1981).[5] "Who Listens to the Radio?", co-written by Cummings and Pendelbury,[6] peaked at No. 35 on the Australian singles charts in 1978,[5] and was their only hit on the United States Billboard Pop Singles chart, peaking at No. 45 in November 1979.[7][8] The song was also featured on an episode of the TV sitcom WKRP In Cincinnati.

The Sports broke up in 1981 with lead singer Stephen Cummings going on a successful solo singing career. Guitarist Martin Armiger became a successful composer for film and TV after moving to Sydney.

In October 2010, their 1979 album, Don't Throw Stones, was listed in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.[9]

Members[edit]

  • Stephen Cummings – vocals (1976–1981)
  • Robert Glover – bass guitar (1976–1981)
  • Andrew Pendlebury – guitar, vocals (1976–1981)
  • Paul Hitchins – drums (1976–1980)
  • Jim Niven – vocals, keyboards (1976–1980)
  • Ed Bates – guitar (1976–1978)
  • Martin Armiger – guitar (1978–1981)
  • Iain McLennan – drums (1980)
  • Freddie Strauks – drums (1980–1981)
  • Red Symons – keyboards (1980)

Discography[edit]

Albums/EPs[edit]

  • Fair Game (EP) - Zac Records (1977) (limited to 500 copies)
  • Reckless - Mushroom Records (1978) #43 AUS
  • Don't Throw Stones - Mushroom/Arista/Sire (February 1979) #9 AUS #194 US
  • So Obvious (EP) - Stiff (1979)
  • O.K., U.K.! (EP) - Mushroom (August 1979) #40 AUS
  • Suddenly - Mushroom/Arista (1980) #13 AUS
  • Sondra - Mushroom (May 1981) #20 AUS
  • The Sports play Dylan (and Donovan) (EP) - Mushroom (1981) #70 AUS
  • All Sports - Mushroom (1982) #35 AUS
  • Missin' Your Kissin' - Raven (1987)
  • This Is Really Something - Mushroom (1997)
  • Definitive Collection - Festival (August 2004)

Singles[edit]

  • "Boys! (What Did the Detective Say)"/"Modern Don Juan" - Mushroom (March 1978) #55 AUS
  • "When You Walk in the Room" - Mushroom (July 1978) #42 AUS
  • "Who Listens to the Radio?" - Mushroom/Ariola (November 1978) #35 AUS, No. 50 US
  • "Reckless"/"Mailed it to Your Sister" - Mushroom (1979)
  • "Don't Throw Stones"/"Terror Hits" - Mushroom/Arista (March 1979) #26 AUS
  • "Suspicious Minds"/Bruises" - Mushroom (April 1979) #74 AUS
  • "Poor Mouth"/"Heart of Darkness" - Mushroom (1980)
  • "Strangers on a Train"/"Can't Ever Decide" (live) - Mushroom (March 1980) #22 AUS
  • "Perhaps" - Mushroom (April 1980)
  • "Stop The Baby Talking"/"Big City Lights" - Mushroom (October 1980)
  • "How Come"/"Drug Sluts" - Mushroom (March 1981) #21 AUS
  • "When We Go Out Tonight"/"Some Brass Thing" - Mushroom (July 1981)
  • "Sunshine Superman"/"Cargo Cult" - Mushroom (November 1981) #72 AUS

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band". MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964–1975. Milesago. Retrieved 26 June 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'The Sports'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "Songwriters: Cummings, Stephen". Mushroom Music Publishing. Retrieved 26 June 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Creswell, Toby (September 1997). "The Good Sport". Juice Magazine. Terraplane Press. Retrieved 26 June 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  6. ^ ""Who Listens to the Radio?" at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "Top Music Charts - Hot 100 - "Who Listens to the Radio" - The Sports". Billboard (magazine). Neilson Business Media. 10 November 1979. Retrieved 17 June 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Sports > Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 1 July 2009. 
  9. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9. 

External links[edit]