• Skyhooks

    JJ Adams reflects on the Carlton scene

  • The Real Kids

    David Laing speaks to John Felice of the Real Kids

  • James Williamson

    James Williamson on Re-Licked

Williamson takes Re-Licked live

You’ve heard a lot about Stooges guitarist James Williamsons’ stellar “Re-Licked” album here but you may not know that he’s playing it live. The first of what are expected to be selected dates only is at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles in January.

Williamson will be joined by guests including Alison Mosshart, Lisa Kekaula, Jello Biafra and Carolyn Wonderland on January 16. Tickets here

Straight James did a guest spot with The Icarus Line earlier this month, joining vocalist Joe Cardamone on “Pinpoint Eyes.” 

 

Detroit - Sonic’s Rendezvous Band (Easy Action)

real-detroitWhat do you think we’d say? Sonic’s Rendezvous Band was truly The One That Got Away. It’s a crime they weren’t signed, recorded and backed to the hilt by a major label and elevated to a household name, but rock and roll is seldom fair. That’s why you need to hear everything you can of this great lost band.

Never heard outside a small circle of alumni and fans, this short but sweet five-song set comes from the January 14,1978 show, on the undercard to the Ramones and the Runaways at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Maybe.

The opening act was un-billed and surviving band members (that would be Gary and Scott) can’t agree that they played it. All but one song (“City Slang”) has remained in the vaults and the label thought it had issued the gig as part of its splendid box set. But that disc wasn’t even from one entire show, if that makes sense.

CJ Ramone tours Oz

cj-logoIf you have to ask which band he played with you’re in the wrong place. We're talking about xx-bassist for the greatest rock roll band in the history of the world, CJ Ramone, who will undertake his first solo band Australian tour in February to support a new record.

The extensive run by the ex-Ramones bassist takes in the ACT and all states except WA.

Nobody Likes Us – Alice Cooper (Easy Action)

nobody-likes-usLet's not get into discussions about how many times this notable, nay historic, 1969 Toronto gig from the nascent Alice Cooper band has been released.Ladies and germs, this is the definitive, speed-corrected version, with correct song titles, spunky pink artwork and a second gig from San Francisco appended, for good measure. Plus, a couple of feathers inserted, if you're lucky.

Toronto 1969 was the notorious Chicken Show where Alice (the man, not the band) threw a live bird into the crowd only to have it tossed back at him...in pieces. Leaving aside the animal rights aspects of this on both sides - being out of your mind on booze is no excuse for throwing a flightless fowl into a crowd of excitable Hoser  stoners – you might wonder what the fuss was all about, musically speaking.

It is true that Alice Cooper was the most despised band in L.A. at this stage; soaking in the discordant skronk, seemingly random rhythmic shifts and walls of feedback, it's often easy to hear why.

Carlton cowboys and Fitzroy floors…a retrospective and review

CarltonBookletCoverThere’s a time machine where I work. The size of an average bathroom, it can spin rock samples at 16 times gravity, replicating a century’s worth of gas and water movements throughout aquitards in a couple of days, or a millenium’s worth in a week. Impressive!

The two discs of the “(When TheSsun Sets Over) Carlton” compilation may not spin quite that fast (or if they do, either they or my CD player have truly greater construction and sound quality than I realized!), but they equally constitute a time machine, taking the listener back to an era which technologically, politically and socially is so different to the present, it’s hard to believe it’s 40 - and not 140 - years ago!

Just take some time to consider Australian daily life as lived from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, an era when the musicians on “Carlton” were growing up, forming groups and writing the songs which on playing still sound so amazingly fresh so many years later. If you are old enough to remember, read on and be reminded how things have changed. If you aren’t, read on and be amazed!

Shark Infested Waters – Various Artists (Easy Action)

sharkinfested A decade into its existence, it’s too easy to brand UK imprint Easy Action as a legacy label. Nostalgia sells - especially to the truly committed or completists - and the imprint's prodigious output of lost or neglected stuff from Iggy, the Stooges, T-Rex, The Yardbirds, the MC5, Steve Marriot and Nikki Sudden (among others) has been mind-blowing.

Then there’s this collection, which takes only a handful of songs to underline that there’s a lot more going on than just re-treading the past. Moriarty, The Red Cords, Amebix, Teasing Lulu, The Black Tambourines and The Skuzzies were names I’d heard but whose music I had not before wrapping ears around this 22-track disc.

No Cops, Haul Ass - The Nomads b/w Bread Man Burning/Snow in Miami - Donovan’s Brain (Career)

no-copsFifteen years after it was recorded, this superb piece of Nomads ramalama sees the light of day as a split single with psychedelic collective Donovan’s Brain.

Recorded in Montana while they were sweeping through the nooks and crannies of North America, Sweden’s finest manage to lay waste to this rippling instrumental (written by studio owner and Brain ringmaster Ron Sanchez) like it was one of their own. This is desert driving music, simple as that. A big, fat fuzz bassline and tumbleweed guitars from the severely underrated pairing of Hans Ostlnd and Nick Vahlberg - supplemented by Sanchez and bandmate Richard Teece - make this something special.

Donovan’s Brain plays a whole different ball-game to the Nomads but the flipside keeps up the pyrotechnics levels. “Bread Man” is a Sanchez vocal-led heavy psych rocker fleshed out by Deniz Tek lead guitar. It’s over too soon. “Snow in Miami” eschews vocals and goes for a roughed up surf sound. It dates from 1998 with then-Brain guitarist Richard in place, adding some tasty skronk.

martiniratingmartiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating 1/4 - The Nomads
martiniratingmartiniratingmartiniratingmartinirating - Donovan's Brain

Career Records on the Web

Oblivians announce Down Under tour

oblivians-chuck-trendChuck Trend photo

For the first time in their 21-year existence, Memphis garage rock legends The Oblivians are touring Australia.

As well as the Golden Plains Festival near Meredith in Victoria, The Oblivians will play headline dates at Newtown Social Club in Sydney (March 4), Brisbane Hotel in Hobart (March 5), Barwon Club in Geelong (March 9), Wooly Mammoth in Brisbane (March 14) and a special three-night residency at Melbourne's iconic The Tote on March 11, 12 and 13.

Saudade - Mark Steiner and His Problems (Plug Ugly)

saudadeThe battle-lines used to be clearly drawn between Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney was the home of high-energy guitar rock in its many variants, many of them Motor City-derived, while Melbourne spawned an artier, darker strain of music with one foot squarely planted in territory that became known as junkie rock.

These days Sydney’s musical crown is less faded than displaced. Melbourne is in the ascendancy. Its thriving music scene retains an artiness but it rocks as well. The place still does darkness better than most but its palette seems broader. Its tentacles seem to spread further than any other scene in Australia.

Norwegian-American Mark Steiner has visited Melbourne and gulped hard on water drawn from its musical well. He did an Australian tour a few years back but the influences were obviously already in place. There’s a Bad Seeds/Rowland S Howard/Wreckery streak several kilometres wide running right down the back of his bluesy music, but it’s marked by poise rather than self pity.

Tales of Endless Bliss - The Primevals (Closer Records)

primevals-tales-of-endless-bliss"Hipster beware! Time to be free; rock 'n' roll is primeval beat."

Lindsay Hutton, founder of the “Next Big Thing” fanzine and “The Legion of the Cramped” Cramps Fan Club, knows a thing or two about great rock 'n’ roll. His liner notes to the “On The Red Eye” anthology of early Primevals material succinctly summarised the appeal of the Glaswegian garage veterans: "Their Gun Club meets Radio Birdman take on Detroit rock 'n' soul preachin' blues was much more direct than practically anything that has ever come outta Glasgow.“

Formed by Michael Rooney in Glasgow, Scotland in 1983, The Primevals were the compete antithesis of everything that was fashionable at the time. Right up to the present day, the group has always been roundly ignored by mainstream media both in Glasgow and at a national level, aside from a handful of free thinking journalists who have championed them through thick and thin.

Sun – Dreamtime (Conquest of Noise)

dreamtime-sunEven if writing about music really is like dancing about architecture, applying descriptors is still a necessary evil. You could probably tag Brisbane’s Prog Psych. Americans would probably call them a Jam Band. Both would be correct.

Dreamtime hails from the depths of Brisbane’s underground scene and its music is as exploratory as it gets these days. Both feet are planted firmly in the late-‘60s scene of the US West Coast with a bit of Syd’s Floyd thrown in for good measure. These are meandering, weighty jams built on guitars and a nimble but minimalist engine room. “Sun” pulls in influences like Eastern ragas and percussive touches like chimes.  

Sunny summer as Sunnyboys announce tour and more re-issues

sunnyboys-logosComeback kings the Sunnyboys have announced a full-blown Aussie summer tour, along with deluxe releases of their second and third studio albums.

The 2015 tour will include shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide plus a slot at the Perth International Arts Festival, just the second Sunnyboys appearance in the W.A. capital since 1984.

Brisbane and Sydney will be treated to appearances by their former sparring partners, the Riptides. Other guests on the February tour include The New Christs (Melbourne and Sydney) young punks Bad // Dreems (Adelaide) and Dom Mariani's post-Stems vehicle DM3, in Perth.

Crazy b/w That Kind - Black Bombers (Key of E/Easy Action)

black-bombersTuned-down, thuggish riffage played by a Birmingham power trio of veterans, “Crazy” is the sort of song best played at stun volume. Dave Twist’s heavily propulsive drumming recalls Rock Action on the A side. Paint-stripper guitar and a fuck you vocal make “Crazy” glow with more menace menace than a short-changed back-street mugger after chiucking out time.

These guys have doubled as Walter Lure’s UK backing band and although “Crazy” is more Sabbath than “Going Steady,” you can appreciate that Waldo’s foot soldiers are tarred with a similar brush. The B side is even better than the A. Alan Byron locks onto a riff and doesn’t let go. Darren Birch’s simple bass-line throbs away under a ragged vocal. An album of this stuff would go down well.

The band has issued this on their own label but it’s being distributed via Easy Action. Go here for the goods or risk a good thumping.
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Radio Birdman in Newcastle and Sydney

rb-flagRiding to Newcastle to catch the first show of Radio Birdman tour is the obvious choice. Didn’t quite seem like it, trying to get outa Sydney on a Friday arvo. I took a quick spurt up the footpath a few times to relieve the tension. Then we hit the freeway and Jenny gave me that tap on the left hip that means ‘slow down’ but I was doing 90mph through one of the tighter curves and slowing down wasn’t the point. Nor possible. Can’t brake a motorcycle unless it’s reasonably upright.

1982, the first time I really heard Radio Birdman was the 1976 2JJ show at midnight on a Monday. Used to be a lot of good movies on late back then, ‘Vanishing Point’, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, ‘Five Easy Pieces.’ One night I walked into my little bedroom at the back of the house, flicked on the radio and my life changed.

Every friend and lover, every beautiful terrible moment, it all started then. It’s been one hell of a ride and the road rolls ever on.

Fiona Lee Maynard & Her Holy Men (independent)

holy-menThis review could start with a pithy line about Melbourne cornering the Australian market for bluesy, ballsy female vocalists but it won’t - even if it might just be true. Let’s just say that Fiona Lee Maynard and her band, The Holy Men, face stiff competition in their home city, but manage to be at the head of the pack.

You might know the singer’s name from fronting In Vivo, the outfit whose ranks included Dave Thomas (Bored!) about 15 years ago. She was also in the more mainstream powerpoppy Have A Nice Day. The Holy Men are a lot more “street level”. Think of an Antipodean Johnette Napolitano with an Aussie pub-honed band behind her.

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