It All Comes Down - Jackson Briggs and the Heaters (Grubby Publications)
A couple of historical reference points: Ken Russell, director of the cinematic version of The Who’s Tommy, lurching excitedly toward politico-cultural polemic. “Townshend, The Who, Roger Daltrey, Entwistle, Moon could rise this country out of its decadent, ambient state more than Wilson and those crappy people could ever hope to achieve.” The second, Old Grey Whistle Test host Bob Harris, his sanctimonious attitude almost as dominant as his pearly white teeth, dismissing The New York Dolls as “mock rock’”.
I first caught Jackson Briggs and the Heaters last year at the Yarra Hotel in Melbourne’s Abbotsford. A tiny band room out the back, the full complement of band members unable to squeeze onto the notional stage.
Driving riffs, one guitarist secreted on the right-hand side of stage, weaving elegant licks like a artisan putting the finishing touches on a roughly hewn rock’n’roll tapestry. James McCann had encouraged me to get along and see them, and I knew why.
Jackson Briggs and the Heaters have an album out. “It All Comes Down”. To listen to this record is to forget the obsequious behaviour of the ruling classes, to ignore the self-indulgent protestations of shouty old white men clinging onto a world that only existed in their tiny minds, to push past of the turgid vernacular of the corporate world. There’s purpose here, something to be heard, attitude, intensity, passion.
Any great album starts with a good riff, and “Tell Me” has it in spades. It’s mesmerising, enthralling, potent. When the lyric eventually comes, it’s perfunctory: Tell me what to do, when I think of you. And then it’s over.
Then immerse yourself in “Guémené -Penfao’” and indulge its yobbish (indecipherable) chorus. Who cares what’s being said, just enjoy the ride and fuck that other noise. “Your World” is laced with spite, bile and self-loathing. Radio Birdman via Peep Tempel, if you want. ‘Waiting and Ugly’ is worth waiting for, and not just for the Painters and Dockers-like horn flourish that brings it into view.
“Talking About It” dances around the edge of MC5’s “Over and Over”, then takes to the top of the stands and shouts to the rafters. “Talking About It’”has a lick that seduces you into a world where The Pagans rule.
“Australian Dream’”is a caustic take on the dystopian future Morrison, Shorten and every other sad old hack claims is paradise. The SST-lined “More Than I Do’”only needs to stand before you to realise the world isn’t as shit as it seems, and if you don’t get the message in ‘Battles in the Night’ then fuck you, you’ll never understand.
Yep, shit’s coming down all around us, but at least there’s rock’n’roll like this to remind us there’s hope for the world.