Real McCoy Wrong Sinatra is the third album by Smudge and is now available on vinyl for the first time.

Tom Morgan, Alison Galloway, Adam Yee were joined by Pete Kelly (ex-Disneyfist, Decoder Ring) on second guitar and the relaxed atmosphere of recording in a seaside shack gives this inner-city band an extra boost. Special guests are Pete Batt on keyboards and David Orwell on pedal steel.

Recorded in 1998 by Tony Dupe on an eight-track in Gerroa on the NSW South Coast and then mixed by Pete Jones at Charing Cross Studio, it is – in label owner Nic’s opinion – the best sounding Smudge album.

Mastered from the original tapes by William Bowden, September 2020.

Cover photography by Ruby Firmstone, who did work experience at the label in 2020.


Smudge formed in 1991 after Nic Dalton asked his friend Tom Morgan and girlfriend Alison Galloway to contribute a song to a seven inch EP he was putting out on Half A Cow. There were already tracks by other local Sydney bands Swirl, Studley Lush and Jupiter (Alison’s then current band) and there was enough room for a song ‘about a minute long’.


Tom wrote “Tea, Toast and Turmoil” and they enlisted Paul ‘Duncs’ Duncan, a school friend of Tom’s to play bass, and recorded the song at Troy Horse Studio in Newtown. The group’s first gig was at the Lansdowne Hotel on 19th July 1991 to launch the Slice EP. Smudge then started to play regularly around Sydney and released a 7 inch single, “Don’t Want to Be Grant McLennan” in October 1991. Chris Dunn, from Waterfront Records, sent some copies to England where it was named by John Peel’s ‘record of the week’ and a glowing review in the NME. Smudge appeared at the inaugural Big Day Out, January 1992 in Sydney.

In September 1992 Smudge released their second EP, Love Lust & Lemonjuice, which included the tracks, “Divan” and “Pulp”. They followed with a third EP, Superhero, in May 1993, which included covers of the Laverne & Shirley theme “Making Our Dreams Come True” and John Waite’s “Missing You”. In 1993 Half A Cow licensed a compilation album, Tea, Toast & Turmoil, to Canadian label Shake, which contained all the songs released up to that point.

In August 1993 Duncs was replaced by Adam Yee on bass guitar (ex-Headache) and they went to Festival Studio in Pyrmont and recorded their debut album, Manilow. The first single from the album, “Impractical Joke”, was released in late 1993 in Australia, Canada and the UK (each with different B-sides culled from a number of home-made four-track recordings). Manilow came out in May 1994 and the band played alot around Australia and short tours of the US, Europe and UK (the fledging Domino label had also released the Superhero EP and  the “The Outdoor Type” 12 inch/CD).

1994 also saw the release of “Desmond” on 7 inch by US label Bus Stop and a version of You Am I’s “IOU2” on Half A Cow’s  Swapping Spit 7 inch EP (where You Am I, Smudge, the Daisygrinders and Headache cover each other’s songs).

A mini album Hot Smoke & Sassafras was released in October 1994 (also released by Domino, Shake and Japanese label 100 Guitar Mania) with cover art by Ringo Meanie. In October 1996 they released their second album, You, Me, Carpark…Now!, which was recorded at Idful Studios in Chicago, with producer Casey Rice and guest musicians, including John McEntire from Tortoise. “Mike Love, Not War” was released as a cd single in April, with the cover art featuring a parody of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds artwork. In August, a remixed “Ingrown” was released on the Slight Return EP with four new Sydney-recorded tracks including Mike Nesmith’s “Some Of Shelly’s Blues”.

In 1997, Half A Cow released a compilation of b-sides and rarities called Mo Poontang, which included the electric and acoustic versions of “The Outdoor Type” (previously only released in the UK by Domino). During 1997-1998, Pete Kelly (ex-Disneyfist) joined the band on second guitar and helped make the band’s fourth album, Real McCoy, Wrong Sinatra. It was recorded by Tony Dupé on an eight-track in Gerroa on the NSW south coast. A single from the album “Eighteen In A Week” was released in 1999, which included some new four-track recordings (engineered by Nic). The band played a ‘last show’ at Goldman’s RSL in Enmore, Sydney on 8th October 1999.

That didn’t last long. Since 2002 Smudge have played occasionally, including a tour of Europe/UK in 2009, and Australia tour promoting the anniversary of the Manilow album in 2014.

Half A Cow re-released Manilow in 2006 on cd with a second disc including six acoustic demos by Tom Morgan and a ‘live at the wireless’ Smudge session from early 1994. In August 2010 Half A Cow released a compilation album, This Smudge is True, featuring 27 songs culled from all their releases and an extensive 40-page booklet.


Buy Music

Real McCoy Wrong Sinatra (remastered)

This Smudge Is True

Don’t Want To Be Grant McLennan 7″

Love Lust and Lemonjuice EP


Don’t Want To Be Grant McLennan 7″ (moo04)
released November 1991

A: Don’t Want To Be Grant McLennan

B: Stranglehold / Focaccia

Recorded at Troy Horse Studio, Newtown (8 track). Produced by Nic Dalton, Engineered by Michael Levis. Cover photo by Robyn Murphy.

The 2018 digital release includes “Dabble” and “Spawn” which appeared on the Shock UK vinyl/cd releases of the single from 1992.


Review by Chris Familton

Nic Dalton has compiled all the golden moments of Smudge’s career between 1991and 1998 in a twenty-seven track summation of a band that straddled the 90s and epitomised the best and worse of music during that period.

The Lemonheads connection has always been a blessing and a curse for Smudge. Sure it brought attention to their music that they may not have otherwise attracted. It also meant that comparison with Evan Dando’s songs was unfairly laden on the band. Tom Morgan and Dalton became members of The Lemonheads in 91 with Morgan co writing much of the classic It’s A Shame About Ray album. There is therefore a strong whiff of familiarity when hearing some of these non-Lemonheads songs for the first time. There is the ever-present jangly acoustic strum and sing-song super catchy vocal melodies that were hallmarks of both bands. Included are Down About It, The Outdoor Type and Tenderfoot that mark the magical intersection between both bands.

Elsewhere on This Smudge Is True there are a plethora of short blasts of in-jokes like the Henry Rollins baiting Lighten Up Hank and the trio of food related tracks – Focaccia, Babaganouj and Steak & Chips that are all less than 30 seconds long, as well as all the other 2 and 3 minute pop gems that are spread over the hour long compilation.

Taken in one sitting there is a certain amount of blend and bland that creeps in with similar tempos, instruments and vocal styles but when they hit the mark there are some powerful pop moments. Impractical Joke breezes along with just enough electric guitar to give it a strong backbone, Don’t Want To Be Grant McLennan manages to rise above novelty hit status and dials into a quaint and heart warming musical place. Hot Potato shows how many subtle layers they could bring to their sound when great production allowed it and when Alison Galloway steps up to the mic on the slide guitar-led Breadcrumb Trail there is a lovely warmth that washes over the song and reminds one of New Zealand’s The Bats.

Indie in the 90s was a much more innocent time where bands like Smudge weren’t caught up in marketing campaigns and cultivating an image. There’s was a homegrown vibe that came naturally and in these songs you can hear the progression of the Sydney scene from naive songwriting to world wearier times with references to the drugs that impacted the Newtown and Surry Hills musical worlds and romances that lost their shine.

The enthusiasm and verve of Smudge lives on in their songs, even if some sound a tad dated and less engaging 15 years on. Nevertheless, compilations like this are essential as historical documents, endearing soundtracks of a place and time.  (this review originally appeared in Fasterlouder)

Love Lust and Lemonjuice  (hac08)
released on cd by Half A Cow Records  1992