Tick Tock - The Busymen (Swashbuckling Hobo)
It’s been more than a few years between releases, if not drinks, for this long-established Brisbane outfit and the good news is that they haven’t polished their sound one iota.
The Busymen live in a world where the clock stopped working in 1965. They’re paying homage to the original bluesmen - with electricity and volume - and think the term “rhythm and blues” hasn’t been stolen. They’re the early Pretty Things with a hankering for cold Fourex instead of black bombers and warm pints. Guttural grunts and delay guitar speak louder than any words.
And then there’s Boston Bob on organ and voice. The secret weapon. His vocal stylisations are unique - never more than on the slightly out-of-phase yet hypnotic title track. A job offer from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a long way off.
You ever hear The Elastic Band’s 1967 single “Spazz” with David Cortopassi’s mangled vocal intro? It’s on “Nuggets” (the CD box set version). Bob sings a lot like that. A lot of the time.
The other Busymen nail their brief precisely. Fuzz king Michael Bolger lays a distorted blanket of rue guitar over these six songs while Jack Mulroney’s chunky bass and Russell Smith’s relentless drums provide the bump, grind and clatter.
“Stop Starting Me Baby” is a greasy R&B tune peppered with guest Screamin’ Stevie’s wheezy blues harp and enough grime to repel a family of homeless roaches. “Dangerous” is a hip-shaker that might have done with its rhythmic elements being brought more to the fore in the mix but still goes alright. "In & Out" is a stomper with a bunch of swingt in its bottom end.
When The Busymen play this stuff straight they’re the equal of any. The closer is a cranky cover of Chocolate Watch Band’s “Don’t Need Your Loving’” that won’t so much melt in your mouth as stick in your craw.
It’s vinyl only. Buy your copy and file it next to The Hekawis and Shutdown 66 in your record collection and wonder why The Busymen have only done a single long-player in their 20-odds years.