When Dance Exponents moved onwards and upwards, The Wastrels were touted as the Garden City’s next big thing, destined to follow them on to the national stage; and they seemed likely with a charismatic front man in Jenner and a repertoire of 60s imbued songs – some of which wouldn’t have disgraced the Exponents.
Penalised by bad behaviour and bad luck, The Wastrels never quite made that step. For too long, there seemed to be a determination to take their name a little too seriously with sloppy, often chaotic, live shows that could try an audience’s patience.
They did taste success in the 1982 Christchurch Battle of the Bands and the result was The Jenner Affair – a five track 12-inch EP recorded at Harlequin and released by Hit Singles in early 1983, which included live favourites like ‘Watch You Move’ and one of their most enduring songs, ‘Angels in Silence’ (the sole South Island contribution to Propeller’s We’ll Do Our Best compilation). The follow-up, ‘Out to Sea’ presented a more contemplative side (complete with synthesisers) although ‘Slutty Mole’ on the flipside saw them in more familiar territory.
A TVNZ Shazam! televised concert in May 1984 (with The Mockers, The Body Electric and Netherworld Dancing Toys) promised bigger things but momentum was finally lost when guitarist Peter Cooke fractured two fingers when an amplifier fell on him.