The Saints

TrackAlbum / EP
(I’m) Stranded(I'm) Stranded
Know Your ProductEternally Yours
Private AffairEternally Yours
This Perfect DayEternally Yours
Swing For The CrimePrehistoric Sounds
Simple LoveParalytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow EP
Follow The LeaderCasablanca
Always, AlwaysThe Monkey Puzzle
Ghost ShipsA Little Madness To Be Free

The Saints (I'm) Stranded
Ed Kuepper, Chris Bailey, Ivor Hay, Kym Bradshaw



Saints playlist


Contributor: Glenn Smith

The Australian state of Queensland was a very strange place in the early 1970s. Governed by a rural based conservative party from 1957 (when the Labor Party split due to post war anti-communist and sectarian issues) to 1989, they ruled with impunity due to a unicameral system and a gerrymander that Republicans would drool over. Led by the notorious Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Queensland was the deep north, a place of ingrained social conservatism where oppression of minorities was the go-to policy, where civil liberties were a hippy indulgence and where the Qld police worked hand in hand with the government to crush any idea of social dissent. It, of course, all ended with investigations into police corruption and ministers of state going to jail, what a surprise.

And so pop fans, what does any of this have to do with Toppermost and the Saints? It is out of this hot house of institutionalised cop violence, racism, homophobia and sexism that comes the band, the sound and an astonishing song, the aptly named (I’m) Stranded.

Ed Kuepper, Chris Bailey and Ivor Hay formed the band in Brisbane in 1973, heavily influenced by the first breakout period of rock and roll and the late sixties/early 70s garage bands. As with everything else in Qld, for anyone who had an interest in things beyond the Ray Conniff Singers, they were harassed by the cops and had their gigs frequently shut down. By 1976, they were ready to roll and came out swinging with a classic single that helped create the late 70s pop music revolution.

In any appraisal of the Saints, we need to acknowledge two significant epochs: the first Saints era Before Ed Left and the second iteration After Ed Left. In this list the first five tunes are Before Ed Left, the remainder being Chris Bailey’s Saints.

And straight in we go, the chords jump up and jump out, listen up because I’m Stranded. Ed wrote most of this in his bedroom, of course he did, that’s where we want our rock and roll anthems written. He came up with the chords and first verse, Bailey finished it off. The Stooges and the MC5 could only dream that they’d come up with something like it. The Gibson SG howls as the chords come hurtling towards us, the weather’s sub-tropical hot, the cops are beating down the doors, there’s nowhere to go, you’re stranded so far from that metaphorical home (which is not in Brisbane!). It is relentless, there’s no real break, no solo, it’s just beating down on you all the way through. I can remember hearing it for the first time about two years after it came out and it literally stopped me in my tracks. Like all great rock and roll, it just came at you. Pop music genius.


The next three are from their brilliant second album Eternally Yours. They’ve got a bit of hyperbolic music press coverage, leaving the festering stench of Queensland for the fetid air of the punk explosion, where they were met with confusion and derision for some of them having ‘long’ hair. Chris and Ed now had a different kind of fascism to deal with, as well as the usual colonial yobs from Australia business. So here comes Know Your Product and the first taste of Ed’s love of horn sections. With a snarly guitar driven chunk of nasty r n b, they deride what they see as the lies of the advertising industry, a prescient piece that predicts so much of the 21st century. All wrapped up in the most brilliant melange of rock and roll, probably the best song in this list, do yourself a favour. And to Private Affair, where Ed’s guitar line is a perfect pastiche of early punk guitar riffs, while Chris laments the lemming-like sameness of the so-called punk revolution, “And now you think you got a first in fashion new uniforms, we all look the same”. And there is nothing perfect about This Perfect Day, here things are getting far more complex, musically and lyrically. The tone is all wrong, their time in the UK is frustrating and imbued with bitterness, Chris and Ed together get it right in crafting this song about things falling apart.


Swing For The Crime comes from their oft-overlooked third album Prehistoric Sounds and the last Ed Kuepper Saints album, which is no surprise as it perfectly encapsulates a band coming apart. Bailey’s lyrics are superb; allusions to Romeo and Juliet, the protagonist waiting for the adman’s call, dealing with sycophantic morons. His informed intellectual arrogance is on full display, he’s swinging for the crime. Meanwhile Ed lays out the template for his solo career with superb drumming from Ivor, horns punctuating each line, and his guitar lines skittering along, an incredible mix of both their strengths at the very time they were walking away from each other.

And so, to the post-Ed Chris Bailey Saints. Bailey always had a keener ear for the pop melody and his solo Saints work is littered with melodic pop gems. His first shot out of the locker was 1980’s classic four track EP Paralytic Tonight, Dublin Tomorrow. Simple Love pretty much speaks to what he’s left and what he’s moving to. This song and the EP generally had a huge influence on a range of Australian artists, Paul Kelly among them.

His first full album from 1981, the ominously titled I Thought This Was Love, But This Ain’t Casablanca, is a dark affair and it spends a lot of time looking back at what went down with the first iteration of the band. Follow The Leader is a lament to the demise of his partnership with Ed. The song itself is a homage to Ed and his horns, it’s like McCartney’s retort to Lennon on Let Me Roll It. He sings of being too slow and needing (Ed’s) prescription, someone to lend a hand, help him understand what was requested. With Rescue he comes up with a classic lilting melody but unlike Follow The Leader he’s moving on, as sad as that makes him.


Always, Always comes from 1981’s criminally ignored The Monkey Puzzle. This was Chris’s first big crack at writing some hit pop songs. Always is like an Irishman’s take on writing a Motown hit, a beautiful melody with a classic Holland Dozier Holland lyric, bridge and chorus. Stunning.

Sadly, Always wasn’t a hit, but he did finally dent the charts with Ghost Ships from 1984’s A Little Madness To Be Free. Now I’m sure there are Saints fans out there who would argue for the bigger hit Just Like Fire Would but for me this is Chris at his peak; huge sound, big chords, strings, horns and a cracking good Ed style guitar solo, which is as close to a musical up yours as your going to get. The imagery and word play are perfect, with him still trying to get away from the shore of past failures. He doesn’t know about tomorrow, and he feels like an old man on the shore looking out at empty seas. Wonderful song writing.




Chris Bailey (1956–2022)


The Saints website

The Saints official facebook

The Saints Chronology

I’m Stranded – the song – Wikipedia

Ed Kuepper official website

Toppermost 608: Ed Kuepper

The Saints biography (AllMusic)

Glenn Smith lives in Sydney and teaches high school English, plays very bad guitar with his bass playing son and spends far too much time thinking about The Beatles…

TopperPost #1,087


  1. David Lewis
    Nov 25, 2023

    I’m probably one of those fans who’d plump for ‘Just like fire would’ but then I’m probably just a pain in the neck. This is a fantastic list by a band who predates the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. So should we talk more about punk? Or should the pretenders to the throne just bow down in total supplication?
    You’ve done it again.

  2. Andrew Shields
    Nov 27, 2023

    Thanks for this great list on one of Australia’s greatest bands. For me, the unmatchable combination of Ed’s guitar and Chris’ voice was what made the original line up such a potent force. For that reason, I tend to see the post-Ed version as essentially a different band.
    Might also have to have ‘Messin’ With the Kid’ (wonder if Ed had some Rory records in his collection back then), ‘The Church of Indifference’ and ‘Brisbane’ in my Top 10.
    This is my 2nd favourite piece on The Saints.
    Thanks again.

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