Pel Mel

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Pel Mel
Origin Newcastle, Australia
Genres Post-punk, new wave
Years active 1979–1984; 2012-present
Labels Primate, GAP, EMI, CBS
Associated acts Voigt/465, Crime and the City Solution, The Limp
Past members see members list below

Pel Mel were an Australian post-punk music band, which formed in Newcastle in mid-1979 and moved to Sydney in late 1980.[1][2] They issued two studio albums, Out of Reason (1982) and Persuasion (1983). They toured until the end of 1984 and then disbanded.[2] They reformed in 2012 as the Pel Mel Organisation and have played occasional shows since.


Pel Mel's early lineup included Graeme Dunne (guitar, vocals), Judy 'Jude' McGee (saxophone), Jane McGee (guitar), Glenn Hill (bass), Dave Weston (drums) and Nigel Savage (saxophone). By early 1980 Nigel Savage had left, and by late 1980 Lindsay O'Meara (ex-Voigt/465, Crime and the City Solution) replaced Hill on bass. Judy McGee began playing keyboards in 1980 and began sharing vocals with Dunne. Jane McGee left in February 1981 and Craig Robertson replaced O'Meara on bass in late 1981.[1]

Pel Mel's first single, "No Word From China", was originally recorded at the Double Jay radio station and gathered so much interest that it was rush released on the band's own label, Primate Records, in January 1981. The band performed the song on the nationally broadcast music show, Countdown. It was subsequently re-mastered and re-released through GAP Records in June 1981. It was followed by two additional singles, "Water" and "Head Above Water" and "Blind Lead the Blind" in December 1981 and November 1982 respectively. The band released its debut album, Out Of Reason, in December 1982.[2]

Pel Mel's second album, Persuasion, was recorded by a new lineup including Graeme Dunne on vocals, bass and guitar, Paul Davies on guitar, Jude McGee on vocals, keyboards and saxophone and Dave Weston on drums. The album was released by GAP in October 1983.[2]

Acclaimed Australian producer Tony Cohen produced both albums. He later produced albums by notable Australian artists The Birthday Party (band), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Hunters & Collectors and The Go-Betweens.

The band toured extensively, playing with local bands including The Reels, Mental as Anything and The Birthday Party, as well as supporting international acts Elvis Costello, New Order and The Fall.[3]

Pel Mel moved from an early punk-influenced sound to a distinctive pop sound, and were a backbone of the thriving inner Sydney music scene in the early 1980s.[2] Other bands associated with this scene include Pel Mel offshoot band The Limp, Wild West, Tactics, The Particles, Scapa Flow and the bands from the M Squared label and studio.

Clinton Walker in his 1984 book, The Next Thing, states "that at the moment they have the best chance of breaking into the mainstream for the same reasons they have for the past two years: excellent musicianship, appealing pop styles, danceability, wit, charm, commercial digestability and a well-earned live track record as a sometimes great, often good and seldom bad experience."[4]

The band continued to tour until the end of 1984 before eventually disbanding without breaking into the mainstream.[2]

"No Word From China" was included on Tales From The Australian Underground, a collection of key Australian independent singles from 1976-1989.[5]

Pel Mel have been cited as an influence by some of Australia's later rock acts. In 2003, Glen Bennie of Underground Lovers, cited them as one of his favourite bands, with Persuasion one of his top 3 Australian records.[6] Australian social commentator, academic and writer, Philip Brophy, cites Pel Mel as a representative of the Australian musical avant garde rock in his essay "Avant-Garde Rock - History In The Making"[1] published in the 1987 collection Missing In Action - Australian Popular Music In Perspective (edited Marcus Breen).

The Pel Mel track, "Pandemonium", was covered by Sobriquet Vs Other People's Children on the Re-fashioned - Antipodean Classics compilation on the Groovescooter label in 2001.[2]

In March 2012 the group reformed under the name Pel Mel Organisation, with an expanded line up of Dunne, Judy and Jane McGee, Paul and Mark Davies, Dermot Browne and Stuart Nichols.[7] Pel Mel have since played a number of shows in Sydney under both names. A best-of and a live album were released in 2016.


  • Graeme Dunne - guitar, bass, vocals
  • Judy McGee - saxophone, keyboards
  • Jane McGee - guitar (1979-81)
  • Glenn Hill - bass (1979-80)
  • Lindsay O'Meara - bass (1980-81)
  • Craig Robertson - bass (1981-83)
  • Paul Davies - guitar, bass (1983-84)
  • Dave Weston - drums
  • Nigel Savage - saxophone (1979-80)



  • "No Word From China"/"Ipaneema Mon Amour" - Primate (PM02) (January, 1981) re-issued on GAP (June 1981)[8] #4 AUS Indie[citation needed]
  • "Water"/"Blood Will Show" - GAP (1981)
  • "Head Above Water"/"Heartbeat" - GAP (SAP722) (December, 1981)
  • "Blind Lead the Blind"/"Water" - GAP (SAP866) (November, 1982)
  • "Shoes Should Fit"/"Lost My Appetite" - GAP (GAP101) (June, 1983)
  • "Pandemonium"/"Theme from Splash" - GAP (GAP102) (September, 1983) also issued as a 12"


  • Out Of Reason - GAP (GAPLP2001) (December, 1982)
  • Persuasion - GAP (GAPA2002) (October, 1983)
  • Live 1980 - Inner City Sound (1808CD)[9]
  • "Rags to Tatters - the best of pel mel" - BlueJube (September, 2016) [3]
  • "I'm a TV: pel mel live 1979 ─ 1984" - BlueJube (September, 2016) [4]


External links[edit]