There was a time when sharp divisions ran like Pacific Rim fault-lines between underground musical factions in Sydney.
One one tectonic plate stood the Radio Birdman-influenced, leather-clad, guitar warriors steeped in ramalama-fa-fa-fa and the Stooges, on the other an esoteric bunch of people making sounds with synthesisers and other assorted machines. Picket lines were established and few crossed them, unless by accident or if no-one was looking.
Let’s not beat around the bush: This is a cracker of a record and the best garage rock album to land in these parts so far in 2017.
“Rosalita!” (the album) leaps out of the speakers from the get-go with the surging crash-bang-wallop of “Seven Inch Record” and doesn’t let up for 11 more songs. “Rosalie!” (the song) might be an obvious crib of Ricky Nelson’s/The Allusions’ “Gypsy Woman” but who cares? When it’s good as this, stealing’s not a crime - except if you’re Led Zeppelin.
Whatever your view about recent and current line-ups of the band (and there are naysayers of the Rilen-less version), X in their prime were The Real Deal. On a good night, no other act in Australia could match them for raw intensity with an underlying musicality.
There was something dangerous about X and it wasn’t just the lunatics that followed them, leaving a trail of smashed glasses, broken furniture and self-inflicted flesh wounds behind them.
That’s why the 40-year anniversary package of “X-Citations Vol 1” is so welcome. Picking up on the earliest days of X - the four-piece with Steve Lucas on vocals and Ian Krahe on guitar - and pushing through to the end of original drummer Steve Cafeiro’s tenure, this vinyl collection of 14 songs serves as a perfect reminder - or an introduction for the unaware - to their unique music.
In one way, every box here rates five bottles. They’re essential; if not for the music, then the history and their place in it. In another … every box rates between four and five bottles. Why?
Well, all but two of the PiL albums represented here were patchy. One of those unpleasant truths we must all know (another is the knowledge that some our (many) rock ’n’ roll heroes have been anything but loveable rascals, but thugs of considerable degree who richly deserve four walls and a small barred door with the occasional beating…)
Some re-issues are blatant money-making efforts and others are a public service. Think of these two as the latter. They’re both on vinyl. No digital downloads.
Dismissing The Onyas as a sub-tropical, Johnny-come-lately version of the Cosmic Psychos does both bands a disservice. Both bands are still going (The Onyas sporadically) and share a member in John McKeering (aka Mad Macka). You might say him joining Cosmic Psychos was inevitable. Some have.
The talent that stumbled out of the late ''70s Darlinghurst scene in Australia was astonishing: a match for anything coming out of London, New York or Los Angeles. But geography and population density is a fucking bitch.
Even scene bosses Radio Birdman are considered an underground phenomena. So what chance is there for the small fry?
Meet The Passengers (if you have not already done so.). Hey. Make sure you find the right ones because there are some dodgy international acts with the same moniker. They briefly graced us with their presence as the seventies clicked over. A gift we clearly we did not deserve because we utterly failed to surrender the charts to them.