top ten - The I-94 Bar
Top Ten lists for 2019. Barman promises free rein. Let's test the limits. Top 10 questions you should want answered.
1. Was Donald Trump's 1980s application for a casino in Darling Harbour rejected because of hislinks to organised crime?
Answer: Yes. And very much on public record though no-one seems to remember.
2. Why was God's honest man, Scott Morrison, sacked from his position as head honcho at Tourism Australia?
Answer: Despite his prominence in the NSW Liberal Party, Scomo got dropped quicker than a turd burger in Macdonalds. Nobody is talking and sod all folk are asking.
3. What the fuck is the deal with Anthony Albanese?
Answer: Maybe he got dusted in the snap. Maybe Labor politicians need to embrace the left.
4. If Elvis faked his death, would he have died for real by now.
Answer: Statistically, it is extremely likely.
5. Why has everyone forgotten Trump was friends with Epstein.
Answer. See question 1
Ten bands Joey saw live in 2019 - or wishes she did and watched online:
- Bigger Than Jesus (Australia)
- The Heinous Hounds Blues Band (Australia)
- The Sick Rose (Italy)
- The Stems (Australia)
- Rough n Tumble (Netherlands)
- Radio Birdman (USA/Australia)
- The Casanovas (Australia and in expectation of their album launch cos I know it will blow my mind)
- Jeff Dahl (USA)
- Sonny Vincent (Testors)
- The Laissez Fairs (Ireland/USA)
Joey Bedlam was the leader of Melbourne's Doll Squad and will be releasing a new recording in 2020.
February 2 at The Lyrebyrd Lounge, Ripponlea: The Lyrebyrd Lounge was the first of seven shows for me in Melbourne this year. It felt like coming home; what a marvellous club - run by my buddy Leon Storch. This show also featured Penny Ikinger and would turn out to be the start of something good.
Late January marks the birth of my special new friend '' Arthur Robert Collie''
Stephen Cummings at The Triffid on April 4:
An unlikely choice for my Top Ten but when you are hot you are hot. This was the gig of the year, no doubt about it. Clare Moore on drums and Sam Lemann on guitar.
Well. It's that time of year.
The time of year when all right-thinking folk set out the Santa traps on Christmas eve, hoping for a big, juicy Santa (and not the scrawny weasel we caught last year, jesus, no meat on him at all) and the traditional charcoal spit-roast Santa in the back yard with all your mates and beer a-flowing. Done just right, the flesh falls right off the fucker's bones and melts in the mouth.
Preferably with apple and cinnamon sauce, but maybe that's just me.
Truth is that, while I heard a lot of wonderful music this year, I really don't feel up to delivering a Top Ten. Sure, there are some which leap out, but I didn't really listen that widely, I don't think. And I hardly went out. All were reviewed, look 'em out if you don't believe me.
I mean, look:
Gigs to remember:
The Animals and FriendsThe Animals and Friends
Gang of Four
The Gig of Glory (which I didn't review, but was the same line-up as the Banned from the Fed gig, but with the immortal Sean Tilmouth bringing up Fear and Loathing to international status, and the proper line-up of the Filthy Gypsies - ditto international status)
Cradle of Filth
The Drama Dolls
In no particular order, The Barman’s Top 12 albums of 2019:
“So I Could Have Them Destroyed” – The Hard-Ons (Music Farmers)
You could say “What a comeback!” but only if they’d really gone away. So much variety yet it hangs together so well.
“The Devil Won't Take Charity” - Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests (Beast Records)
Kim and his band have that Stonesy-Keef vibe down pat. Raunch and roll.
“Mystery Train” – Chickenstones (Crankinhaus Records)
Sydney’s best kept secret. Doc might be driving the bus but Preacher Phil really steps up. Soulful and abrasive tunes played with heart.
“Shake Yer Popboomerang Vol 3” - Various Artists (Popboomerang)
Some of the material back-tracks but it’s a collection of rolled gold. Aussie power pop for the ages.
“Black Door” – The Volcanics (Citadel)
High-energy, passion and variety. Their best to date. The Volcanics are truly a world class band.
“The Aints! Play The Saints” - The Aints! (Fatal Records)
Will we ever see their faces again? Maybe. Maybe not. This is a white-hot snapshot of what they delivered live.
“Ann Arbor Revival Meeting” - Scott Morgan’s Powertrane featuring Deniz Tek & Ron Asheton (Grown Up Wrong)
As historical artefacts go, this is as good as they get. It’s a generously appointed re-issue of a stellar, all-star show.
Another bumper year for the discerning music fan with some cracking releases and choice gigs. It’s a fine time be a punter and the challenge will be keeping this review of the year to just 10.
Speaking of challenges, as I get older and my brain gets more addled, trying to remember what I had for breakfast is enough of a challenge, let alone trying to remember what I happened in the first half of the year. So, if I left something or someone off, be kind.
Amy Helm – This too shall light
Amy is the daughter of Levon Helm and Libby Titus and she (Amy) was a regular member of her dad’s band in the latter stages of his career. This is only her second solo album (she’s nearly 50) and with a pedigree like hers, you just have to check it out. In short, it’s a wonderful mixture of country, folk, soul, gospel and rock. Great voice and great backing. One of the albums of the year.
Other albums worth mentioning in the US sort of country space include Kim Richey (Edgeland) and Dawn Landes (Meet me at the River). Both excellent singers and songwriters. Kim’s ‘Leaving Song’ is one of the songs of the year.
1. Definitely at the top of the heap that was 2017, Jonathan Sequeira risked life, limb, and genuine sanity to bring us “Descent Into The Maelstrom”, a fiercely objective, no holds barred documentary about the shit storm that was Radio Birdman.
How he managed to convince that particular sack of snakes to agree to anything in the first place is a testimony to his considerable appreciation of the band’s legend, his heroic patience, and his nutsack-clenching resolve. A minor miracle, more so because it certainly wasn’t the puff piece that some characters clearly expected in their “imagining” of the bands tumultuous and antagonistic history!
Vindication for some, the trashing of decades of carefully cultivated bullshit for others, replete with many a “Holy crap!” moment.
A rollicking good story about a special band, time, and place in history!
I liked it!
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
As another year draws to a close, your friend and mine, Mr. Craig T. Barman has requested I compile my top ten list for 2018 to be published on the esteemed I-94 Bar.
So, I turned my mind to the events of the year – and there have been as many standouts as low points – however, I think a lot of those have already been covered in a very heartfelt way by some of my compatriots here.
Needless to say, the loss of so many great musicians this past year – and the stellar support lent to those in dire need of it – has exemplified the way the “rock n roll community”, both performers and punters alike, pull together and lend of themselves a little bit more for who and what they love when the going gets tough. It’s been both saddening and heartening in one.
Now onto the list: I was reading a recent post on the social medias about a study that posited most people ceased seeking out new music around the age of 28-years-old. “What bollocks!”, I exclaimed to the socials.
Well, this may be true of a lot of people – but not the kind of people I know (and I’m sure not you, kind reader, being a lurker on the I-94). These are the ones who are forever curious; always hungry for the new; always the ones with the gleam in their eye when they are telling you about some new band or artist “you’ve just gotta hear!”; the ones who never declare “rock is dead!” or “there is nothing new that’s any good!”
I thank all of those people for keeping me in the loop of what’s going on because I too crave and thrive on new music; whether it’s all new or undiscovered (for me) gems from bygone eras.
There is a school of thought that suggests great art is the product of suffering. 2016 has largely put paid to that notion.
I mean, this year should have positively dripped genius. I couldn't come up with a full ten. Here's my Top Six.
The Stress of Leisure…Eruption Bounce
Go Go Sapien …. Love in Other Dimensions
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard …Sketches of East Brunswick
Rebecca Barnard… Music for Relaxation
Grey Lotus … Acacia
Georgio “The Dove” Valentino…. The Future Lasts a Long Time
Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds… Sublime
Julitha Ryan…The Winter Journey
Ross McLennan…. All the colours print can manage
Cam Butler….. Find your Love
Jim James … Eternally Even
1. PAUL MCCARTNEY LIVE SYDNEY 12 DECEMBER, 2017
2. KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - “Sketches of Brunswick East"
3. RESIDENTS - “The Ghost of Hope”
4. Sólstafir - “Berdreyminn”
5. MELVINS - “A Walk with Love & Death”
6. FRENZAL RHOMB - “Hi Vis High Tea”
7. DEAD - “Unpopularity Contest”
8. MYRKUR - “Mareidt"
9. MASTODON - “Cold Dark Place"
10. DAVID BOWIE - “No Plan"
Almost everyone I know seems to be mourning people they loved who passed on this year. Some staved off the inevitable until later in their lives, for which I am only one of many very grateful folk. Other people are coping as best they can.
For many of us 2018 was a very mixed year. In many places great swathes of love came out, so the struggle was peppered with brilliant, unforgettable events, music, films and a few books.
Normally I just do some sort of Top Ten for the I-94 Bar, but this year has been memorable for far too many of the wrong reasons, which has annoyed me quite a bit, and I'm an old shit, so cue meme of Granpa Simpson shaking his fist at a cloud.
But let's start with Australia, the country which can't count on stable government, can't spot a recessionary bubble billowing up like a volcano, and increasingly puts local news first because that is, apparently, what we're really interested in.
2018? This year all blurs into one for me , like being a passenger down the river with the occasional stop off to play, talk, refuel and get back on and cruise.
The cruise hasn't been steady, it's been rocky. More than any other time - or for some time.
The boat feels like it lost i's rudder and all the Generals on the field are nowhere to be seen; what would they say, what would they want us to do? I think we all know the answer to that.
So, here is my attempt to make neither head nor tail of the year 2018 so far...
The Barman has been pleading for a Top Ten list. I have a Top Ten list but everyone is gonna fucking hate it. For once I'm standing up and demanding some attention for something I believe in.
Normally, I let you ignore my records. Normally, I just go with the inferioty complex. But I bought my friend's in on this and I don't like them being ignored. Fuck you all. You're gonna listen to this fucking record. And you can happily call me a cunt.
I noticed that the way to actually push things through social media is by being a repetitive rude cunt.
If you ask me what the 10 most important things that musically consumed me, it was the ten songs on the album Going Underground by the Light Brigade. Which other songs did I dedicate 100 hours plus a piece to? A thousand hours. Forty days. A tenth of the year.
No songs more obsessed me. Musically, fuck all else actually mattered. Other new albums this year? James Williamson did a good one.
The easiest cop-out is to call this record a Velvet Underground tribute but tribute albums are inevitably piecemeal. A blur of people's visions. Someone inevitably always has to do a Ramones version of a slow song and someone else has to slow a fast one down into an overblown ballad to try and force meaning onto lyrics that have none.
Photo by Steve Gullick
Top Ten things I enjoyed in 2017, in no particular order and randomly numbered:
5. Tenebrous Liar - The Cut (Album)
I have faith Tenebrous Liar can save us from the Indie-pocolypse. I don’t know how to describe this album - the sounds and mood is as wonderfully textural and emotive as frontman Steve Gullick’s photographs (which he is better known for). Highlights “Alienation”, “Lowlands”, “Swing For Me”... all of it. Bandcamp.
4. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun (Album)
This entry is more for Chelsea Wolfe’s catalogue than just this one album. I was late on the uptake and only discovered her music this year. Albums “Abyss” and “Unknown Rooms” have been on repeat, though Hiss Spun also has plenty of charms too. Website. Listen on Spotify.
This is going to be a very biased view and I’m not trying to hide it. I’ll make my own rules just so I can bend them to suit my agendas.
Best gig of the year - The Stew Cunningham Benefit night in Sydney at Marrickville Bowlo. All the bands were awesome but what won the night over was the atmosphere and goodwill of all the people that attended. A truly special night.
Best local live act - The Celibate Rifles. The Rifles slayed it in support of The Sunnyboys at The Factory, then followed it up with a couple of scorchers at The Marrickville Bowlo and The Narrabeen RSL. The old fellas have still got it. Honourable mention to Stiff Richards who tore the roof off in support of The Rifles at the Bowlo, great band.
Best local release - The Aints!, "The Church of Simultaneous Existence". Wonderful album from go to whoa. Honourable mention to Warped - "Bolt From The Blue" - brutal honesty at its best.
Best international gig - Señor No at The Botany View Hotel. It was wild, crazy and a helluva lot of fun. honourable mention to Los Chicos at the Rad Bar in Wollongong, they put on a show and a half, they were just pipped at the post.
Favourite 10 Frontmen she listend to in 2018:
Dave Aguilar - Chocolate Watch Band
Rod Stewart - Faces
David Johansen - New York Dolls
Wally Tax- Outsiders
Steve Lucas - X
Greg Prevost - Chestetfield Kings
Rudi Protrudi - Fuzztones
Smokey Robinson - The Miracles
Jim Keays- Masters Apprentices
Joey Ramone - The Ramones
I've been to more than 140 gigs this year and the Tote is like an old high school friend you knew back in the day, who you catch up with at the 20-year reunion to find nothing has changed at all.
I've seen more gigs at my stomping ground, the Tote, than any other venue, so here's all the awesome gigs I've seen there this year:
Chris Russell is a lone man and his guitar. He has one hell of a swampy voice - like he's been hit in the side of the head with a lump of Mississippi mud
FLUFF - killer trio that pins the crowd down with a riff and continues to wail in their face
RVG - awesome post punk band, with an incredible singer in Romy Vager.
Heavy and Hammered. The yearly metal and punk festival put on by Melbourne community radio station PBS.
Little Desert: Roman Tucker from Rocket Science on Keyboards playing with an mix of Jefferson Airplane and Desert stoner rock
Spencer P Jones tribute gig: The legend that is Spencer P Jones passed away this year and a whole bunch of close mates had a two-day bender and tribute gig for their mate. Kim Salmon, River of Snakes, Digger and the Pussycats all put on killer sets.
1. FRIDAY NIGHT HEROES - LEADFINGER LAUNCH AT THE FACTORY FLOOR, SYDNEY
Wollongong’s finest, led by Stew Cunningham, blitzed the Factory Floor in Sydney launching their album "Friday Night Heroes", my favourite Australian release of the year. Dillon Hicks, Reggie Screen and Mick Boyle certainly brought their A game in front of an augmented line-up that included Carrie Phiilis on BVs, Doug Hazell on sax and Andy Newman on keys. I could have sworn it was the E Street Band at one stage. Extra points for covering Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money”.