Great Reading: Save What You Can: The Day of The Triffids by Bleddyn Butcher

OK, after saying I was going to blog about this book earlier this month, here’s my little bit about it now. It’s about the great 80’s Aussie band The Triffids and singer-songwriter David McComb. It’s book I recently read they which, I guess inspired those posts a couple of weeks ago. Finally write something about it here, let’s see what the hell can say about it? Meaning I’m never very happy or pleased what I do type for books I love on my little blog, I’ve only done only two book posts this year but read more book but don’t know what to say about them at all? A little better today is because it’s about music, at least!

Anyway by page 20 the two best friends DM and Alsy MacDonald the drummer of The Triffids form the earliest version of the band after seeing Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten on ABC TV show in November of 1976, the book doesn’t going into details about what John is saying but can’t be the more well-known swearing on TV which didn’t happen until December of the same year. So Dave and Asly record first demo tape the very next day with borrowed acoustic guitar and toy drum set: an instrumental, a couple of Velvet Underground covers and McComb’s first original are recorded. Over the days of late 70’s they get their own and real guitar and drums plus mates join and leave them. Some-up quickly here and now the line-up of The Triffids we hear on their albums seem to take a very, very longtime to get together but Dave wrote piles of never-ending songs and recording tapes almost every weekend of his songs.

Their first shows under a different name was in 1978: very successful gig at McComb’s own 16th b’day in Feb. and then the epic failure in April at the Leederville Punk Festival. This is the stuff of myths and legends in Perth, W.A. punk music scene but what I know about it? Is anyone who had a punk band that play punk music then played it, Perth is cover band city still to this day and age even in the 21st century. So Dave, Asly and couple mates where youngest punks, only ones still in high school so where drop-of still wearing school uniforms, shorts and sandals and their own songs when down very badly to say the least. I wasn’t there but I could say now they were more punk than the real or older punks because they aliened those old punks and made zero friends, in my book that’s way more punk than leather jackets, mohawks and safety-pins.

Rob McComb, David’s older brother was the next part of The Triffids line-up to join. He could see his younger brother was very serious about making the band work so wanted to help. The first real recordings wasn’t until 1981 with 7″ single being released around town after winning Uni battle of the band type gigs. Farmers Don’t Visits Nightclubs was one of the names of the songs. Bass player Marty Casey joined in mid-82, keyboardist Jill Birt not until early 83 were the west Aussie and Evil Graham Lee was from over east and the final piece of The Triffids puzzle but he’s missing from early studio EP’s, singles and the debut album Treeless Plain of late 1983. Off course, sadly McComb passed away in 1999 but this book finish ten years before in 1989 when The Triffids were to take a bit of a break but they didn’t know then they were never to reform with Dave again. The very last Triffids show was in Canberra of all the places? The last song played was a Prince cover of his 87 song The Cross.

I don’t know else really want to say? What about BB filling in the blanks on how The Triffids most well-known song was wrote? Wide Open Road or the basic idea, earlier draft came to Dave waking up with bad hang-over to the sound of horror movies playing early in the morning on TV. Dave was staying at a mates’ place over east the week/day/night before the long drive back to Perth. This mate played VHS’s horror movies non-stop day and night so Wide Open Road is thanks to watching horrors movies on TV with hangover and those lines he wrote and then sung later where lifted straight for those scenes of blood and gore he was watching on his blokes TV! Who would have think such a beautiful song would have start or came from that?

Bleddyn Butcher is more well-known as a photographer, his newer book is images of Nick Cave and friends, linked here. This one I’m typing about today is based on part on the letters, journals, diary’s, notes etc. leaved behind by McComb himself plus interviews by author with everyone who was around at the time which off course BB was there too. So it was self-published by BB under the named Treadwater Press back in 2011, I picked it up over east sometime? At a shop called Basement music in Melbourne, linked here because they’re are still selling copy’s and I don’t know where else you could get it from? The one and only reviewer on goodreads website says it needs an editor which is fair call. Fremantle Press back in 2009 published both a poetry book of McComb, linked here and a various authors, writers and friends etc. type of book, linked here which both were great so this is the third Triffids/McComb book I’ve read, All three are totally great because I wanna know as much as I can about him/them. It’s 530 page long so might be a bit long for a casual fan but highly recommend if you do want more?


Cheers 🙂



  1. Great little read, William! I need to pick up that book, at some point, but it will have to wait for a couple of months before I can get serious about that [moving still in progress 😉 ]

    Already some juicy details learned, from what you pointed out, so thanks a bunch for that 🙂

    I think it was a good decision for BB to stop, when he did, because the next “chapter” of DM’s life, was so very different, and deserves a separate treatment, if at all.

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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