Rockbrat Remembers: The Shivers

For those readers in Australia, who remembers the ABC TV series ‘Sea Change’ from the late 90s? Remember the soundtrack, which featured the very sweet and appealing female vocal? The voice belonged to one Wendy Morrison, who for a brief moment there in 1989/90 was fronting an amazingly underrated and criminally ignored power pop outfit from Melbourne called The Shivers. The Shivers had all the ingredients for success. A well credentialed band (with a pedigree that included stints in bands like The Saints and the Stems), catchy, melodic and original pop songs, and in Morrison an attractive front woman with a very likable voice. Mushrooms Records immediately recognised the bands potential and signed them up, albeit to a one album deal. Yet despite releasing some very catchy singles, and then the album, the band never broke through. The industry, media and audience response to The Shivers was lukewarm, which I just didn’t get. Every time I saw them they were exceptional live, and I really thought they would have made it. My pal Gig lizard hipped me to the Shivers early on in their career, and I remember seeing them with him one wet Thursday night at the Annandale Hotel. Gig lizard was pals with the band’s bass player Archie Larizza (ex The Noise, Innocents, Saints) and as Arch always had a knack for writing good melodic songs (and was also a solid bass player), the prospects for the Shivers looked bright. Yet I don’t think Mushroom ever really got behind them. I didn’t ever recall the Shivers having any big supports either, so the singles and album sunk fairly quickly. The singles were great, ‘Washaway” and ‘Baby Says’, and also ‘Downtown Sister’ and one other I forget. I had a promo copy of their debut album, ‘Big Love’, which I’ve regrettably since sold, and if you find a copy you will be impressed by the quality and calibre of the hooky, pop songs. Then they were gone. By the mid 90’s Morrison was collaborating with Richard Pleasance (ex Boom Crash Opera) on the ‘Lullaby and Goodnight’ album and then the ‘Seachange’ soundtrack from  1998 which really gave her some good exposure. I used to hear that song being played on the radio down Wollongong, and the announcer would always say the singer was Wendy Matthews, and I’d always call him and correct him.  I believed that  Wendy Morrison releasing an album  in 1994 called Underwater Eyes and was also in a band called Felt with Pleasance in the late 90s, yet information on Morrison and the Shivers on the internet is fairly scant, so good luck with your searching!

12 thoughts on “Rockbrat Remembers: The Shivers

  1. Thank you so much for writing this – a friend and I used to regularly go to hear the Shivers on Thursday nights in the early 90’s (they had a residency at The Club in Collingwood) and we also could not understand this band failing to receive the promotion they deserved. I think Big Love was the first album I ever owned on CD and it still gets played regularly in our household. Even my mum, who generally only listens to classical and opera, thought they were very talented! I have no idea what they are all doing now, but they were a great bunch of musos and I just hope their talents are being utilised and recognised.

  2. Hi Rockbrat,my name is Don Ely I was the guitarist song writer (with Wendy Morrison)in The Shivers.I think we were under appreciated by the australian public as well but that’s Rock n roll.I am still playing around Melbourne,my current band is ‘Waco social club’have a look on ‘you tube’my there are some live clips there.My last band of note was ‘The Gammarays’a Surf rock instrumental band album ‘Girl on a motorcycle’was RRR +PBS radio album of the week. I am still in touch with Wendy and I remember those gigs at the CLUB they were fun.cheers Don

  3. Hi Guys,
    Thanks for an amazing piece about our music. It’s so nice to be remembered in a positive way.
    Don Ely told me about this site.
    I just wanted to say that I have a really nice 2 track CD which was a couple of solo songs, produced by Sean Kelly, and featuring him on BV’s and guitar, with Rosie West Brook on bass, and me on piano.
    You mentioned another CD…that was an EP produced by Daniel Denholm called ‘Underwater Eyes’. That EP was before I worked with Richard on ‘Felt’, and then the ‘SeaChange’ stuff happened from that.
    I’ll happily send you the EP and 2 track CD if you send me your address.
    All the best,
    Wendy. 🙂 xx

    1. Howdy Wendy, great to know you’re still around! I do remember ” Little Tokyo ” and the gigs in Collingwood & ooh Malvern..hope you’re keeping well, best, John

    2. Just working on a book which features The Shivers/Wendy Morrison/Felt/Richard Pleasance material. The book attempts to document Australian Music with a connection to the beach and the surfing lifestyle. I’d love to contact Wendy to ask her a few questions for her entry. Any chance you can hooked me up ….

    3. Hi Everyone
      I decided to go seek the Shivers. Maybe nostalgia. I was friends with Simon M., the band’s erstwhile manager, so I saw the shivers a few times. Thought you guys were great. I had your CD for a while, but lost it in a move. I had this fantasy that I might find something on YouTube. No luck, Wendy was amazing. the band was sensational. I know a little Pretenders derivative, but they were the best, so why not? I asgree. that band was almost too good to be noticed in Australia. Wish I still had my CD

    4. Hi Wendy, how are you? I have just moved house; unpacking boxes and came across “Loose Talk, Live at the Prospect Hill Hotel” CD I had burned from the desk tape (recorded by Mark Woods). Just listened to it and enjoyed some great memories. Hope you are happy and well. I would love to know what you are up to these days.
      How’s it going?


  4. I’m just uploading my Shivers CD into my itunes library , and stumbled across this site looking for an image of the album. I too frequented the Club in Collingwood and thought they were great.I now reside in Hong Kong but that album is a little piece of my melbourne music history I carry with me. Thanks for the music and memories

  5. Wendy Morrison has the best voice, is a fantastic songwriter & a Beautiful person…………I played in a band with her in the 80’s called “Loose Talk”.

  6. I still own the album as a CD. It remains one of my favourites from the period. I take my music everywhere on my iPhone and today “Fortress of Solitude” came up randomly. Such a powerful piece of music. Congrat’s to the band on this fine album.

  7. The shivers were such a great underrated Australian band. Saw them supporting Paul Kelly at the Manhattan hotel I’m Ringwood and then again a few times at the village green. I still have Big Love plus most of the singles on vinyl. I heard Don Ely say that they released an EP after that which was supposed to be the second album but they just picked the better songs. I really want to track that down…

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