Headless Chickens - Stunt Clown
Remastered audio taken from the original audio master tapes, held at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Stunt Clown was the first body of work that truly showed the world what Headless Chickens were capable of, both sonically, and with their songwriting. Originally released in 1988, Stunt Clown was the band’s first full length release. With a CD only reissue in 1995 (as was the done thing in the 90s), this 2021 reissue will mark 33 years since the 11 original tracks were pressed to vinyl.
A deviation from the ‘Dunedin Sound’ that dominated the 1980’s wave of Flying Nun, Headless Chickens were a band that dipped into the realm of drum machines and samplers. Coupled with a heavy measure of the macabre and bizarre, surf, psychedelia and noise, the resulting masterpiece was Stunt Clown.
“Stunt Clown was recorded at Mandrill Studios in Parnell which had that very ‘80s studio practice of having the recording room completely ‘dead’ with no reflective surfaces, and they close-mic'd all the instruments and then added any room ambience needed via digital effects in the production process. Which was the antithesis of how we’d recorded our earlier songs – we used to put the guitar amp in a glass-walled stairway and put the microphone two metres away if we wanted a more ‘live’ sound.” — Chris Matthews
Stunt Clown has stood the test of time, with this said in a 1988 issue of legendary Rip It Up magazine, "Stunt Clown is overflowing with innovation, while still accessible and slickly produced” — while 30 years later, the album was to be named as the ‘Independent Music NZ Classic Record’ at the Taite Music Awards, with music writer Russell Brown stating “It plays now as the bridge between the band’s experimental origins and later pop success, but it stands on its own as an ambitious, strikingly varied work. Literally no one in New Zealand was making music like this at the time – they had to invent it.”