Let’s be provocative right up-front and say that The Pretty Things are not entitled to still be making records this good. Not after 50 years and not even allowing time off along the way for bad behaviour.
It’s not a disc full of instantly catchy “hits” by any stretch - and if it was nobody would listen anyway. The Pretties’ name is a total misnomer. Putting aside the baby-faced engine room, this is a band of three grizzled old men.
So let’s talk about what it is.
The re-birth of the Stoneage Hearts sounds like a sequel to “High Fidelity”: Three guys walk into a record store at various times, buy the new Red Kross album from the owner and they all decide to form a band. They rehearse at nights in the shop, record an album, tour together and achieve global success.
Apart from the last bit about the worldwide success, the story is true. Not that global domination isn't possible, but more on that later.
This is the third incarnation of this Melbourne garage-pop band and apart from a stack of classic garage and powerpop influences, drummer Mickster Baty is the only constant. Previous line-ups were fronted by Danny McDonald (P76) and Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) with Ian Wettehall (Seminal Rats, Phillesteins, Freeloaders) on bass then and apart from guest Farfisa organist and Mickster, this one is populated by relative unknowns. Not that it matters a jot. They’re up to the mark and this is a great record.
Here's proof that there is still life in the rockin’ Mid-West. The Muggs come from Detroit and play razor sharp, power-trio blues rock ‘n’ roll that’s grown exponentially over the course of their five albums.
It’s true that The Muggs don’t do much more than mix classic rock (Sabbath, Mountain, Humble Pie and Led Zep) with the blues but, fuck, they do it well. This is a record with bigger balls than King Kong but its heavy thwack is tempered by Fay Wray-like, melodic touches.
It’s album number-seven for Left Lane Cruiser (five on Alive Natural Sound if you count the one they co-recorded with Black Diamond Heavies keyboardist John Wesley Myers) and the sound has evolved to the point where nobody is resting on any laurels.
Left Lane Cruiser were once an amped-up hill country duo playing what they tagged “hillgrass bluebilly”. They kicked out a helluva lot of jams for a two-piece, with fuzz, distortion and a kitchen drawer full of percussion their stock-in-trade. They even lucked out and landed a song on the soundtrack of “Breaking Bad”. Good synchronisation if you can get it.
Their members (both of them) have been on more stages than a ticket collector for Cobb & Co, but playing together as Saloon Daddies is a relatively new experience. So what else does a new-ish Sydney alt.country duo do but jump into a studio to reel off an EP before it all becomes too slick or predictable.
You read right - “Your Horse Has Bolted” is alt.country. What’s it doing in the I-94 Bar? As a sage man once observed: “You can’t live on Detroit rock alone.” It's had quite a few spins in recent weeks and right now it's wedged between a selection of Blue Oyster Cult and the Sonics. Odd bed fellows, for sure, but what’s more, it’s pretty good.
Now, I’m going to write one small phrase. If you don’t know who Wilko Johnson is, they should be enough to get your interest. If the phrase doesn’t get your interest, I’m sure you can find something else more interesting to do, like taking pictures of your lunch and sending it to your closest pals on instagrit.
The phrase is: dirty british R ’n’ B .
And of course, r’n’b refers to that peculiarly affecting, tough-man-hard-tears style which the Brits pioneered in the early 196ts; a platform which lead to stuff like The Beatles (you may have heard of them), The Rolling Stones (hmm, they sound familiar), The Yardbirds … and on and on into the Jam and the Sex Pistols (along the way, admittedly including some of the most appalling pub bands about whom the less said the better, although their very dullness lead to a musical revolution which began brewing, it seems, in about 1972 and finally found a popular name in 1977, propelled by events on a hamfisted kid’s show in December 1976).