Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Widowed Isis – Jim Morrison (I Want to be) (Zed, 1985)

This is where I take my mind back to 1985.

I’m fifteen and by virtue of my parents rather than by anything resembling choice, living in the vaguely unfashionable inner western suburbs of Sydney in what, since the rise of the Hill Song megachurch would come to be known as the Sydney Bible Belt. While I would dearly love to relate to you my decadent tales of sex, drugs and life on the post-punk scene, unfortunately I was a rather nerdy teenager with a proclivity for playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. This probably explains why I thought fantasy based metal bands like Manowar were the best thing since sliced cheese while being naively oblivious to the fact that “cheese” was actually the operative word.

Goths were around of course, and I’d see them whenever I went into the inner-city, but it would be at least another year before I heard the term. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that few people in Sydney’s working class west at the time would have had a clue what Goth was, let alone that the subculture existed.

I’m not telling you this for its own sake you’ll be pleased to know, but rather, to outline the context for the rest of this post. At some point during 1985, a graffiti bombing campaign was launched around the inner suburbs of Sydney and there was an explosion of “The Widowed Isis” tags appearing all over suburbs like Newtown. It attracted sufficient attention that the main local rag, the Sydney Morning Herald even ran a brief article demanding to know what it meant. This doesn’t speak well of journalistic standards at the SMH since relatively simple investigation would have revealed The Widowed Isis to have been a local Goth band gigging in Sydney at the time.

I mention all this because 27 years later, that article somehow floated back into my mind today while driving home from work. Was there anything to be found? What could be salvaged?
Although there wasn’t much, I was surprised at what I did find. I say “surprised” because most Australian Goth bands of the period don’t seem to have left much of a legacy, The Birthday Party and Dead Can Dance being the obvious exceptions, both of whom wasted no time in sodding off to the UK, so I certainly didn’t expect to find an actual bone fide video clip.

The Jim Morrison (I Want to Be) 7” seems to have been the band’s first release from back in 1985. Assuming the strength of the video below is indicative of the rest of The Widowed Isis’ output, then it’s a real shame they didn’t become bigger. Possibly if they’d followed The Birthday Party and Dead Can Dance’s example?

Jim Morrison (I Want to Be)

A second offering was to follow, the You Can’t Make Me Burn / Live Your Life 7” in 1986, once again on Zed  about which even less is known, although from the lyric sheet, “Live Your Life” does appear to be a nicely ironic tribute to Australian right wing shock-jocks and the morons who listen to them.

The rear of You Can't Make Me burn 7" God bless you 
John Laws - still spewing right wing populist crap 25 years later.

One more was to come with 1987 bringing us a four track self titled EP, also through Zed Records, containing not only a revived “ Jim Morrison (I Want to be)”, but also “It Only Lasts Forever”, “The Wild Things” and a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “White Light / White Heat”. This is where the level of obscurity The Widowed Isis has fallen to really becomes apparent. Not only is the EP the only Widowed Isis release covered by, but even their tremendous database doesn’t have a copy of the cover art. Indeed, on the entire web, the only place I was able to find an image was on the Post-Punk 80s Underground blog as depicted below .In fact, that blog post also contains a download for the E.P., but sadly, the link is dead. Perhaps if we all diligently click on the link, they’ll get the hint and re-upload it? Perhaps if we all beg them very nicely?

If the band’s moniker of “The Widowed Isis” seems curious, then you obviously aren’t clued up on Egyptian mythology. You should probably investigate. Rather than provide spoilers, I’ll simply say that the tale involves murder, dismemberment, revenge, attempted gay rape, incest, mystical masturbation and a lettuce. If that doesn’t pique your interest, then I’m at a loss to imagine what would.

In closing, let us present to you this very eccentric and unfortunately badly preserved TV interview that appears to be from after the Jim Morrison video clip was released, although by this stage drummer Jeff appears to have been replaced by Rex Mansfield. Although I was actively watching music shows on 80’s TV in Australia in 1985, I honestly have no memory of Radio Vision. If this pilot episode is anything to go by where the rather clueless and dodgy looking host descends into less than insightful questions as to whether any members of The Widowed Isis owns a dog, then it’s not hard to understand why it never made it into regular broadcast TV. Really quite bizarre viewing.

Track Listing:
i.              Jim Morrison (I Want to Be)
ii.            Plastic Babies

Line Up: Bryan Zee (vocals, bass), Mark Rainford (guitar), Marvin Druid (violin) Jeff Ryan (drums).


  1. Hi,

    I've got all three releases and as soon as my turntable is up and running again i'll transfer to disc if you're interested

    1. Thanks Matt,
      Yes, I'd be very, very interested indeed.
      Let us know when you're good to go.

    2. Okay James, as soon as i've sorted everything i'll let you know. I also tried to contact the guitarist via Facebook, but i've yet to have a reply. Great blog by the way.

    3. Excellent and thanks.
      I look forward to hearing from you.

    4. I gather nothing eventuated from Matt?

    5. I think the violinist in "Jim Morrison" was a local guy named Robert Schmiga. I went out with his girlfriend for about 10 minutes.

  2. You should get Marc Rainford, (guitarist) at