If you ever wondered what The Doors would have sounded like had they moved towards punk instead of blues, you need wonder no longer. Just listen to The Visitors.
The Visitors emerged from the ashes of Australian punk scene legends Radio Birdman following that band’s demise after a disastrous UK tour. Singer/guitarist Deniz Tek, drummer Ron Keeley, and keyboardist Pip Hoyle formed a new band, with Tek handing over singing duties to band friend Mark Sisto. Active from 1978 to 1984, their output was limited to an EP and and their self-tilted LP The Visitors.
There is certainly a Radio Birdman vibe to The Vistors, which makes sense given that the three members were also part of the original band and Tek was the primary songwriter for both. I’ve often thought that if the original TV series Hawaii Five-0 had a punk soundtrack, it would have been by Radio Birdman. They had a bit of that surf guitar sound, which carried over to The Visitors and is particularly noticeable on side A of The Visitors. But there’s also that Doors vibe that pervades the entire record due to the eerie similarity between Sisto’s voice and that of Morrison, as well as the strong presence and influence of the piano-like keyboards of Pip Hoyle that are reminiscent of Ran Manzarek. It’s basically Radio Birdman meets The Doors.
The Visitors is a solid album. Most of it is classic early punk, though they slow it down a bit in a few areas and even get weird (again… very much like The Doors…) on “Disperse,” which is almost some type of proto-spoken-word piece. The album closes with a couple of live covers of The Lipstick Killers, most impressively “Shakedown U.S.A.” which leaves me feeling like these guys probably kicked ass live.
So in summary… if the idea of a surf punkish version of The Doors appeals to you (and it absolutely does to me), get your hands on a copy of The Visitors and you won’t be disappointed.