Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Band They Misrepresented Down Under


A hit music single in the 80s is not a hit without a music video to go with it. At least that’s what the Australian distributors of ‘Life at the Outpost’ thought in 1980.

After forming in California in 1979 (though originally from Ontario Canada), Sean Delaney’s Skatt Brothers were immediately compared to the Village People until they later returned to their more rockish roots with the release of their second album "Rico & The Ravens", which curiously was released in Australia only.

But a passing glance at the album cover art raises questions. If the album depicts the members of the band, then who the hell are those guys singing in the music video?




‘Life at the Outpost’ peaked at number 13 on the Australian singles charts in October 1980, but only after the record executives in Australia pleaded with their counterparts at Casablanca Records in the US for a music video of the track.

Their pleading continually led to no such request being fulfilled.

In a media landscape where music video TV shows were scattered all over the schedule, the suits in Sydney found it frustrating to properly market this disco-era tail-end ditty. The final vestiges of high street discotheques found the track an illuminated dance floor favourite. But this wasn’t translating into sales, and the execs saw their mid-year bonuses slipping away.


Left with no other choice, the guys at Polygram/Mercury in Australia decided to go it alone, and produced their own music video of the song, with ‘actors’ miming the lyrics.

It features a bunch of guys hanging out at a cowboy bar, the Outpost. Some of them might be on shore leave, just sitting back, playing pool, kicking back a few cold ones. They singalong, trying to entice the local ladies, including the tempestuous Miss Lilly, who happens to also be the night bartender at the Outpost.

This might have been a stroke of genius (and bravado) at the time. Looking back however, it’s hilarious to watch. Stereotypes aside, while these guys might be able to mime, they certainly can’t dance. It’s kind of like watching pro-wrestlers trying on the moves.

I’m not sure whether/how/when to look away, which is why both the video and the story behind it remains compelling.


It is genius of course, because of how this misrepresentation punched the song almost into the Top Ten. Whether or not the Skatt Bros are nonetheless pleased to have their legacy immortalised via YouTube in this fashion remains unknown.


Here are the actual Skatt Brothers, performing on Australia's 'Countdown' in 1981: