Blog, Music — May 16, 2014 10:27 am

Retro Music Obscurity: The Riptides

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Since we founded PopRewind, I’ve been wanted to emphasize great music of the past that’s been largely overlooked.  We have also been discussing the need to cater more to our Australian readership.  These two things in mind, I think I’ve finally landed on the ultimate article to fulfill both needs…

Meet The Riptides, an Australian indie pop band that formed in 1977 and rocked the Brisbane scene throughout the 1980s.  I first came across these guys on a randomly recommended YouTube link years ago.  Seeing a low view count, I didn’t have high expectations of finishing the clip.  When the track started playing, I was immediately hooked.  The Riptides sound was an unexpected music mishmash of indie, punk, raw rock, surf, and doo-wop.

Under their original group name, The Numbers, they released a 7″ for the song “Sunset Strip” – which may or may not be an ode to the classic detective television series from the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Later pressings and follow-up releases credit the band as The Riptides.


Their 1980 follow-up, “Tomorrow’s Tears”, was equally as catchy, drenched in guitar hooks and bubble gum keyboard backing.  The sound of this record would appeal to anyone who loved early Sparks material, without seeming like any kind of re-hash or rip-off.  On the flip side of the 45 was a cover of “Some Other Guy”, a tune The Beatles covered in live gigs but never committed to an album.


Over the next few years, The Riptides released a few more singles and a half-album.  Their tenure included several TV appearances and evening supporting Simple Minds (of “Don’t You Forget About Me” fame) on an Australian tour, but the group never quite caught on with the mainstream public.  In 1983, the members went their separate ways and ended their legacy with an anthology collection album.


Since their departure, the band reunited regularly for tours and one-off shows (even as recently as 2010).  In 1991, they finally released their first full length studio album titled Wave Rock which included Ricky Fataar (The Beach Boys, Bonnie Raitt, The Rutles) on drums.  The Riptides still have a pretty loyal fanbase that’s never forgotten the glory days of their 1980s shows.

If you go on a hunt for more music by The Riptides, I wish you good luck.  Their releases are pretty hard to track down, though obviously worth the effort.  A live album from 1988 titled Resurface is the easiest to find official release nowadays.  Be aware that their are at least four groups who called themselves The Riptides, so you may end up with some hardcore punk or much lighter fare from a different era in your journey.

Remember this group? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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