Turn On With - The Stoneage Hearts (Off the Hip)
The best re-issues are a reminder of how great an album was the first time around. “Turn On With” is exactly that - 11 songs of prime garage pop, exhumed and revived after 15 years.
The Stoneage Hearts started as a vehicle for drummer Mickster Baty (Finkers, Pyramidiacs, Crusaders) to play with some mates and collaborate on writing some spiffing tunes after he moved from Sydney to Melbourne. It was also the first CD on his own Off The Hip label and 160-plus releases later it’s still going strong. There have also been several incarnations of the band, with Dom Mariani a notable member. Another version of the band lives on today.
Ian Wettenhall (bass and vocals) and P76 frontman Danny McDonald (vocals and guitar) were the other foundation members and this 11-track album (seven originals, most of them collective co-writes - and four well-selected covers) was as good as anything else around in the garage-pop genre in 2002. Urgent, melodic, a little trashy and a lot rocking, it sounds as bright and brash as it did back then.
The elements are all there in the songs: Chiming backing vocals (“Two Timin’ Girl”), seamless pop-soul (“Outside”), a tribal tub thumper (“Kimberly”) in the vein of Le Hoodoo Gurus’ “Leilaini”, a souped-up ‘50s rocker (“Stranded On A Dateless Night”) and a consummate take on King of Powerpop, Paul Collins’ classic “Rock ’n’ Roll Girls” make for a varied and substantial record.
Danny McDonald has a great voice for pop songs especially, and tackles the tunes with finesse. Ian Wettenhall (notably of The Philesteins, Hands of Time and The Freeloaders, more recently of Wrong Turn) applies the grunt on his own “185 Gipps” and supplies monstrous bass and harmonica.
If you had “Turn On With” the first time the only difference this time out is the artwork. If you missed this gem, drop Off the Hip a line and right that wrong, quick smart.