BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne music scribe Patrick Emery
Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.
Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.
Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.
Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.
The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.
The Pretty Things, Tote. Close your eyes and you’re back in London, c1967. Dick Taylor is a genius. By Taylor’s own admission, if he’d stayed in The Rolling Stones he probably wouldn’t still be playing. And that’d be tragic.
Black Bats. Anyone who says there’s no good new music around is either lying, has their head up their own arse or isn’t trying. Black Bats are part of a cadre of young Melbourne garage-psychedelic bands writing great songs. Check ‘em out. And while you’re at it, keep an eye out for Double Polyester as well.
Alice Cooper Band, first five albums. I once had the opportunity to interview Alice Cooper. I asked him a couple of questions about golf: what to do about a natural fade that’s prone to slicing onto the adjoining fairway, and the correct psychological attitude to have when you’re faced with a 10 foot putt. My golf game hasn’t improved, but I think of Mr Furnier whenever I’m putting for par.
Spencer P Jones - "The World’s Got Everything In It" EP. Released originally in January 1995 six months after the superb Rumour of Death album, this EP features the short-lived second incarnation of the Holy Spirits: Spencer, former Triffid Graham Lee, Rosie Westbrook on bass and one-time Circus Oz drummer Tanya Cavanagh on drums. "Rumour of Death" and "The Rain Came" are amongst the finest tracks Spencer ever wrote. The fourth track, ‘History is Made at Night’, was used by Gypsy Lee as the soundtrack for a burlesque routine.
James McCann and the New Vindictives. Rock’n’roll through a punk lens, spiked with plenty of attitude. You know you want it.