After nearly 40 years in the music industry, you can excuse Steve Kilbey for forgetting a few things. The lack of detail is the only real quibble with what’s one of the best Oz music reads of the last few years.
I approached this book with mixed feelings. Kilbey has a reputation for being a bit of a narcissist. The Church’s music is hit or miss for me - which is to say I left them alone after their first two albums, dipped back in at “Starfish” and walked away after the stodgy “Gold Afternoon Fix”, with only occasional revisits. So this was a book to be read from a position of not having much skin in the game.
Then I got sucked into the whole melodramatic, up-and-own, self-destructive and ultimately self-redeeming saga, and warmed to Kilbey’s flawed and fallible ways. I consumed “Something Quite Perculiar” in a couple of satisfying gulps.
You can’t half tell the folks at Unbelievably Bad zine are Hard-Ons fans. So is anyone with a modicum of taste. So this edition of UB should sell its arse off. It’s wall-to-wall Hard-Ons. More Hard-Ons, in fact, than the US Navy on shore leave after six months at sea.
Call me biased and armed with far too much hindsight for my own good, but for a brief time in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Detroit was the lesser-known but undeniable epicentre of genuine rock and roll. The music industry, as it was, might have had its moneyed roots deeply planted on America’s East and West Coasts, but the real action was occurring deep in the US Midwest.
Sure, there was Motown and its over-ground success that eventually shifted to L.A. to mutate and die but we’re talking a parallel universe here that was populated by a different cast of characters plying a blue-collar strain of music. It’s an eternal truism that musical scenes never last. The Motor City’s rock and roll had its moment but succumbed to fashion, drugs, shifting attention spans – whatever factors play to your own historical biases – and has never recovered.