The Lonelyhearts - The Lonelyhearts (Buttercup Records)
If you have a single bone in your body that resonates to the sound of powerful, guitar-powered pop-rock with melody and smarts, take a plunge on this deluxe LP package before it sells out.
Rock and roll is littered with stories about “the one that got away”. The Lonelyhearts, more than most Australian bands from the teeming, dizzy time that was Sydney in the ‘80s, can genuinely lay claim to the title.
This was a band that came to life in Sydney’s sprawling Western Suburbs and that grew a fanatical local following in their backyard, as well as in the fickle inner-city. There were exceptions (like their Westie peers the Lime Spiders) but it simply wasn’t the way things were done, back then.
In quick time, The Lonelyhearts became a mobile party and the support-of-choice for every Australian headliner. Their self-released single (“Last Kiss” b/w “Don’t Feel Safe”) was lauded by no less a judge than Phantom Records’ Jules Normington as one of the best Aussie 45s ever. Major labels courted The Lonelyhearts, one eventually signing them, but somehow they failed to hang around or make a lasting impression outside of the pubs.
Why, is anyone's guess. They sure had a lot of competition. They hada reputation as a bunch of guys who cared about their music but not about the busienss. Their story’s better told than I could in the liners and full colour inserts that come as part of the package.
Speaking of which, the first and foremost element is an LP full of 14 strong songs. The first single has been reproduced as a bonus 45 with a picture sleeve and an original EMI custom pressing 45. These have been residing under a band member's bed for 30-something years. That alone would propbably be enough to justify your investment.
A playable postcard adds another track - you have to be brave to play one of those suckers - they’re way harder to line up under a stylus than a flexidisc - and the LP is downloadable, with four extra cuts. Plus, there are poster and set list reproductions, a sticker, guitar pick and a lollipop. Sweet!
But the bottom line should be, and usually is, the music. If, like me, you only saw The Lonelyhearts fleetingly live, you’ll be blown away by the quality of songs. Take the surging “Another Girl”, the downhearted but sweet “Surrender”, the riff-bound “Breaking My Heart”, the sparkling “Cathy” or the hooky “Fool In Love”.
It’s mostly cheerful, slightly wide-eyed and irresistible pop with that sense of a steely spine that Aussie bands fighting for a place in the crowded live scene back then developed or sank without a trace. John Rooney’s stellar pop vocal sparks off the raw tone of Tom Watson and Dave Guest’s guitars. Needless to say, the engine room (Michael Rooney on bass and Phillip Edwards on drums) is up to the mark, and then some.
If this LP proves one thing it’s that The Lonelyhearts were world class and “Last Kiss” was no fluke.
Run, don’t walk, and order your copy from the label. As befits a deluxe pressing, it’s a short run of 300 copies. You can buy one copy of the package or a super deluxe version with the LP in threre different colours. Don’t say you weren’t told. The link’s below.