jim dickson - The I-94 Bar
He mighr be embarassed by it being said, but Jim Dixon is the Grand Old Bass Man of Sydney’s rock and roll scene.
Since dropping in as a member of raw Brisbane band The Survivors at the tail end of the ‘70s to relocating and driving the bottom end for The Passengers and many more, he’s been as much a fixture as cold beer and sticky carpets.
Active duty in London with the Barracudas and then back home to play with the likes of Louis Tillett, Penny Ikinger, the New Christs, the Deniz Tek Group and Radio Birdman, Gentleman Jim is omnipresent as both player and punter. Along the way he’s supplemented his music by working in a record store, running his own curry kitchen and, more lately, bussing tourists around Greater Sydney’s natural wonders.
Corporate con or well-meaning act of benevolence? History tends to deliver a verdict of the former. for "Lethal Weapons", the 1978 compilaiton album of Australian "punk".
"Lethal Weapons" was a product on an offshoot of major Australian label Mushroom (the same people who brought you Chain, Skyhooks and the Sunnyboys) and it was clearly a cynical attempt to commercialise underground music scenes then burgeoning in Melbourne and Sydney, especially.
Compiled by would-be A & R man Barry Earl, the album was notable for its eclectic cast which included The Boys Next Door (soon to become The Birthday Party), JAB, The Survivors, whose members would go onto Sacred Cowboys, The Moodists, Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and the Bad Seeds.
Trevor Block went in search of many of the original protagonists in bands that signed to Suicide. We're reprising his article to mark 40 years of "Lethal Weapons", and the decade since its CD re-issue.
Dave Weyer circa 1969: Sought after Hollywood sound architect.
DATELINE 1999 - If you're a regular here at the I-94 Bar, chances are good that you have a more than passing interest in the music of Deniz Tek. Granted, the Radio Birdman mastermind's music has taken a markedly experimental turn over his last couple of albums -- one which hasn't found universal favor among fans of Birdman and his earlier solo work. But give the Iceman his due for hewing true to his uncompromising vision and never failing to make challenging, stimulating music.
Since the "Italian Tour" and "Bad Road" EPs and the "Le Bonne Route" album, a key element in the Deniz Tek sound has been one David Weyer, owner/operator of the studio in Laurel, Montana, which bears his name. As engineer and co-producer, Dave is the man who's helped realize Dr. Rock's prescriptions on tape and disc, and he has a fascinating story of his own to tell...
He's been a musician, inventor, a resident of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon during the frenetic '60s, amp technician to a host of guitar greats including Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. Over a virtual beer or two, we talked about Dave's facinating past and his work with Deniz on projects past, present, and future.
Dave Weyer bellied up at the bar with me from his home in Laurel, Montana, on Sunday afternoon, October 3, 1999.
Most of us will never be privy to the stories that fueled the songs on this album, but that doesn't prevent it having an emotional payload that's the musical equivalent of an atomic bomb over Nagasaki. Stripped-back and fully exposed, the songs have a quiet majesty, stunning depth and genuine power.
The Passengers of 2007-09 are a much different entity to the original late '70s Sydney band, whose music drew on the wellspring of '60s girl groups and soul. A great single on Phantom and a set of demos (released posthumously on Detroit-powered French legacy label Revenge and re-packaged by Career Records) was their only lasting legacy.
That “Passengers Reimagined” CD is we told you about a few days ago is back in stock and selling here. It’s a limited edition of 200 and won’t be re-pressed.
This special release is hand-labeled, signed and numbered. The package includes the original acoustic album "In the Garden of Good and Evil” and “Reimagined” - the album with electronic instruments and drums added, played and produced by Jeff Sullivan.
It’s a truism that many bands from Europe rock but don’t rock and roll. It’s not their fault, of course, it’s just a matter of cultural conditioning. Rock and roll is not their first musical language and the “high art” the place is steeped in suffocates that "low art", like any other form of musical expression, into submission.
So when you find a Continental band that “gets it”, you better latch on to them, tight.
Some of us are (ahem) old enough to remember a French band called Fixed Uo, who were on Sydney’s Citadel label, and made it to Australia to play and record in the mid 1980s. Rob Younger and Jim Dickson produced an album for them. Soulful garage rock was their stock in trade. They “got it”.
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.