Sound explorer Eric Mingus

eric mingus portrait

You, devoted I-94 Bar reader, may have noticed a review I did a few weeks back, for the album by New York-raised, now Ireland-domiciled multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Eric Mingus, called "Fog of Forgiveness". One of Eric's collaborators, Catherine Sikora, sent it to me out of the blue, and when I had a chance to listen, I was rather blown away. 

Eric Mingus came to my attention several years ago, when a musical interpretation of "Tommy” (the Who double LP) played in Adelaide for the Festival Fringe, at the magnificent Her Majesty's Theatre (now being rebuilt). I thought that, since I wanted to ask Eric about a ton of stuff, I asked Catherine if I could do an e-mail interview with Eric. He doesn't seem to do that many interviews - possibly because of the nature of interviewers.

His dad Charles was a mighty jazz legend (if you know who I mean, then read on; if not, get Googling); however, if you have your own, distinct musical drive, people will always compare the first with the second. (Recall that Sir Winston Churchill named his son Winston Spencer-Churchill - imagine going to school with that millstone of a name ...) Eric Mingus is a very different kettle of fish to his dad, and what he does is ... well, it is to some extent beyond music to my mind. 

Rather than a series of straight Q&As, I had more of an email conversation with Eric, so if the preambles seem a little involved ... well, sod you. I'm writing this for your entertainment. Either be entertained, or don't be. There are a lot of musical springboards (ie, links in here. You're far too conservative in your musical tastes). Get corrupted and follow the links. Lastly, Eric writes in American English, and yes, he has spelled his words correctly.

Not For Sale: Live 1978/79 - The Scientists (Grown Up Wrong)

Scientists Not For Sale lo resThere are supposed to be two types of Scientists fans: those who like the first punky-pop incarnation from Perth and people who like the latter, swampy line-ups that sprang up in Sydney and moved to the UK. Of course that’s nonsense. The world isn’t binary. You’re free to love ‘em both.

Getting a handle on the recorded legacy of either, however, is no easy task. The grunge Sydney-UK Scientists recorded in fits and starts, falling out with their then-record company and seeing their stuff released in forms that did not please them. 

You'll drop big money tracking down original vinyl but the output of the Perth Scientists has been reissued several times over in jigsaw fashion. At one stage their legacy did suffer from a poorly produced self-titled record (the posthumous so-called Pink Album) being their only LP. Thankfully, there’s enough out there to give a more complete picture of their sound, to which “Not For Sale” adds much.   

Black Door – The Volcanics (Citadel)

black doorIt’s hard – no, impossible – to believe The Volcanics aren’t huge names in underground rock households right around the world.

Perth might be the Most Isolated Capital City in The World (something its bands used to brag about incessantly - but let's face it, it's a great tagline) but the relevance of that factoid is fading fast in this digitally-connected age. So it can’t just be down to location.

Sonically-speaking, “Black Door” has guitars up the wazoo, brutal hooks, captivating songs, swagger and attitude. So it’s as unfashionable as fuck to the ears of cultural taste-makers, who’d rather assail our ears with Chris Brown or Tay-Tay (whichever one makes them the most money through streaming). Yeah. That’d be it. 

Tick Tock - The Busymen (Swashbuckling Hobo)

tick tockIt’s been more than a few years between releases, if not drinks, for this long-established Brisbane outfit and the good news is that they haven’t polished their sound one iota.  

The Busymen live in a world where the clock stopped working in 1965. They’re paying homage to the original bluesmen - with electricity and volume - and think the term “rhythm and blues” hasn’t been stolen. They’re the early Pretty Things with a hankering for cold Fourex instead of black bombers and warm pints. Guttural grunts and delay guitar speak louder than any words. 

And then there’s Boston Bob on organ and voice. The secret weapon. His vocal stylisations are unique - never more than on the slightly out-of-phase yet hypnotic title track. A job offer from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a long way off. 

The Collection - Roger C Reale & Rue Morgue (Rave On Records)

roger c bealeAs splintered, disconnected, marginalised and disparate as this strange, recycled thing called rock and roll music is these days, rediscovering the forgotten, overlooked and ignored is one of its enduring joys. 

Odds are that if you’re not ensconced deep inside the US music industry, the name Roger C, Reale won’t mean a thing. These days he’s a Grammy nominee and award-winning blues composer. In 1977-78 he was just another hopeful, having his shot at The Prize in and around New England. 

American bands have always done it differently to their counterparts. In Australia and the UK - at least in rock and roll’s heyday - the existence (and credibility) of a band was built on constantly performing live. Paying their dues. There were exceptions, of course, but entry-level American bands were usually more about refining their chops behind closed doors and then playing The Showcase Gig, that one-off event that they hoped would lead to a major label signing. 

Memories are made of this sort of Sedition

ed paddoEd Kuepper leads his Aints! through their final show for a while.  

Sedition 2019
The Aints!

The Flaming Hands
Shy Impostors
The Professors
Paddington RSL, Sydney 
Saturday, August 31 2019

It could have been an exercise in nostalgia for its own sake. It was anything but.

On paper, a bunch of bands digging into their own back pages is a fraught exercise. Things can never be what they once were; voices age and players who were at one time singularly focused on the musical here and now inevitably drift on or find new interests. Some pass on. Others fall out with each other.

Each of these bands come from a special time and a place that can’t be re-captured. Each was leaning, to some degree, on their back catalogues tonight. All were doing their best to be true to their own legacy without getting hung up on it.

From the Cradle to the grave

cradle of filthCradle of Filth
+ Hybrid Nightmares
The Gov, Adelaide
September 4, 2019

It's fair to say that most people who rock up to these shows won't be bumpkins like me, who completely missed all the advances and shifts in the metal throughout the 1990s and onward.

Almost certainly there were few folk attending who didn't know the latest LP backward. The friend I'm going with, Azhurn, knows the bloody lyrics. Now, we ain't talking Ramones here. We're talking pieces which don't repeat phrases, no choruses except musical ones, and a narrative series closer to a somewhat demented storyteller. Dani's voice is simply astonishing, shifting several times within a single phrase, and occasionally it appears he's singing two notes at once.

Here's some of the press release (slightly amended):

"When you talk about classic albums shaping genres 'Cruelty and the Beast' by Cradle of Filth sits proudly and menacingly at the top of the tree for extreme music. In 1998 'Cruelty and the Beast' showcased the band's hybrid of brutality and macabre romanticism, crafting a concept album based on the life of Hungarian mass murderer Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who tortured and murdered hundreds of young women in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“'Cruelty and the Beast' was both bombastic and grandiose, inflected with gothic touches, yet unquestionably rooted in black metal. In addition to the feral bludgeoning and the slower, more melodic keyboard passages, 'Cruelty and the Beast', featured three haunting, elegiac instrumentals filled with chiming organs, horrified screams and synthesised orchestra parts that enhanced the drama and split the presentation into three acts. No other band would have been capable of creating such an opus. As a concept album, it is executed with perfection … creative, intelligent, shocking, written brilliantly and played expertly."

Jello Biafra joins cast of stars to remember Damien Lovelock

damo the musicalAs expected, the Celibate Rifles are marking the loss of their frontman Damien Lovelock with a suitable tribute. “Damo The Musical” will feature a star-studded cast  at The Facroty Theatre on Sunday, September 22 from 4-8pm.

The Celibate Rifles are performing "But Jacques The Fish" and assorted Rifles hits with a range of guest vocalists – including former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. Supergroup The Centrelink Surfers will play the music of Damien’s solo band Wigworld, plus some of the man’s jukebox faves.

There will be testimonials, visuals and more. Tickets are on sale now via Feel Presents

With The Damned, you just can be happy today

the damned factory

The Dammed
The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
Thursday, August 20 2019
Photos: Monique Simmons

Culturally, Britain was so different to the USA in so many ways in the ‘70s, and that had much to do with distance.  The US is a vast place with all sorts of cultures and entrainment influences. The south was different to the west coast and out was again different to the east. And that really showed in the disparate pockets of music that sprang up everywhere.

On the other hand, England was more centralised. Long before the ‘70s dawned, it had the ingrained tradtiion of music halls as its historical DNA.

Music halls were everywhere. At one time there were more than 200 theatres in London alone. They hosted events running for four hours and ranging from comedy, clowning, horror to serious  drama. For more than a century, popular theatre was a staple for the working man and middle class alike. 

Well, you may ask, what has this got to do with The Damned appearing live in Sydney on a Thursday night? I say, everything.  A Dammed gig is like a trip through classic British pantomime and theatre, full of drama and packed with wit and slapstick. 

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