2017...the year that was ...and yes I have Sinatra's ''It Was a Very Good Year'' going through my head. Actually, it had its ups and downs but I'll focus only on the ultra good, in no particular chronology.
My musical year started with a performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as my backing band at The Tivoli. in Brisbane. We played my most recent album “Lost Cities” in its entirety, as well as a selection of material I did for the “Last Cab to Darwin” soundtrack, plus earlier solo and Laughing Clowns tunes. “Ghost Gum” and “Collapse Board” were real high points for me.
Richard Davis conducted and made the transition from the garage to the concert hall for me not only possible but an enjoyable experience. Robert Davidson did the orchestral arrangements and brought the songs to life in a context I'd often dreamed about doing but hadn't actually heard.
Richard Wenn put the whole thing together. It would not have happened without him. His enthusiasm for bypassing the “greatest hits” approach and general tenacity made it work. Thank you, Richard.
We did the show again in Cairns a little while later, this time with a slightly trimmed-back orchestra (even flat-stacking them, there are only so many orchestral musicians that fit into the back of my ute.)
This was also great and quite different due to the smaller orchestra. The whole thing has been a great learning curve for me. Thanks, one and all.
The next thing I went on to do was what was announced as my last ‘’Solo and By Request'' tour, this time taking in all those out of the way and rural places I don't get to that often. The idea for these shows started in 2013.
My top 10 albums for 2017 - and a cheeky top 5 EPs chucked in there, too.
Control Freaks - "Mindless Entertainment"
Powerline Sneakers - "Disasterpiece"
Hana & Jessie Lee’s Bad Habits - "Southlands"
Meatbeaters - "Wrong Side Of Yesterday"
Sheer Mag - "Need To Feel Your Love"
Cyanide Pills - "Sliced & Diced"
The Hormones - "Legendary Junk"
Stiff Richards - "S/T"
The Molting Vultures - "Crowd Surfing With The Molting Vultures"
The Uglies - "Keeping Up With The Uglies"
Control Freaks - "Don’t Mess With Jessica"
Les Lullies - "Don’t Look Twice"
The Cavemen - "Dog On A Chain"
Control Freaks - "No Action"
The Fadeaways - "Kicks & Chicks"
Juliette Seizure & The Tremor Dolls on Facebook
I don't follow hardly anything new anymore. I turned 30 this year so my opinion probably isn't as relevant as it used to be. But here we go anyway. Until next year, your friend, James S. Doyle.
10. Hall and Oates- “Timeless Classics” (compilation)
Where should we start? The Dune Rats? Violent Soho? Clowns? No, lets just skip the popular upper-middle class bro-rock of 2017 and go straight to the heart of rock n roll. Re-packaged compilations that come out just in time for Christmas $10 bins.
If you are looking for a starting point for your Hall and Oates collection, this may as well be it. “Maneater” “You Make My dreams” “Rich Girl”.. they are all here, plus deeper cuts such as “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile”. A must for fans of Philly Grindcore.
9. The Afghan Whigs- In Spades (album)
I nearly forgot about this one. One of the rare cases of a band that goes away for a long time then somehow comes back better than they used to be. I would describe this album as "sad, yet gangsta AF" The internet says that this album has "generally favourble reviews" and I tend to agree with that also.
Jen Cloher - “Jen Cloher”
The Australian album of the year, and in many years. Name-dropping heroes who have gone before her – from the Saints to the Go-Betweens to the Triffids – Cloher proved herself the equal of any of them.
Peter Perrett - “How the West Was Won”
This album was miraculous on two levels: one, that Perrett was still alive to make it, two, that Perrett’s gift for droll wit and languid melody remained perfectly intact. His band includes his two sons, and they did the Only Ones proud.
Neil Finn - “Out of Silence”
In a good year for old stagers, Finn’s album was among his finest. Ten tiny, perfect pocket symphonies in the mould of the Beach Boys and late XTC.
Paul Kelly - “Life Is Fine”
Another old stager. Kelly returned to the charts – his first number-one, in fact – with an album that summoned the ghosts of his old band the Coloured Girls/Messengers.
The Dream Syndicate - “How Did I Find Myself Here”
Next to Peter Perrett, the year’s best and most unexpected comeback. The Dream Syndicate’s first album in nearly 30 years was as bracing as their celebrated debut "The Days of Wine and Roses".
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
1. PAUL MCCARTNEY LIVE SYDNEY 12 DECEMBER, 2017
2. KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - “Sketches of Brunswick East"
3. RESIDENTS - “The Ghost of Hope”
4. Sólstafir - “Berdreyminn”
5. MELVINS - “A Walk with Love & Death”
6. FRENZAL RHOMB - “Hi Vis High Tea”
7. DEAD - “Unpopularity Contest”
8. MYRKUR - “Mareidt"
9. MASTODON - “Cold Dark Place"
10. DAVID BOWIE - “No Plan"