60s - The I-94 Bar
A West Indian, a Frenchman, a Japanese, a Welshman and a Mexican walk into a bar…it might sound like the opening of an old joke but it's more likely just King Salami & The Cumberland 3 turning up for a pre-gig soundcheck. The London-based five-piece (names can be deceptive) are are a frat band version of the United Nations - only not useless - with enough recycling going on to start a chain of environmentally-friendly chain stores.
If you hate hyperbole, stop reading now. The verbiage will pile up. This Sydney band draws from previous endeavours (notably, The Dolly Rocker Movement), inhales deeply from the musty vault of '60s bubblegum and psych and puts their own bent on things. They are The Shit That You Need To Hear Right Now. They're just what this city's flaccid music scene needs.The same probably applies to the postcode in which you reside.
Say what? There's another garage band with fuzz and Hammond B3 on the shelves? West Australiab band The New Invincibles aren't so much new - they've been around since Dirk Hartog was in training clogs - but they manage to sound fresh. And there's the rub, boys and ghouls.
I was a fan of Sonics/Seeds/Shadows of Knight-inspahrd garage grunt right up until the moment when the likes of the Hives (My new favorite band? Not likely, pal) and the execrable Jet arrived on the set – which coincidentally was around the same time I started running, not walking, away anytime some SXSW shill offered me a new band’s CD-R that sounded “just like the MC5!” It seemed to me that the whole trip was starting to sound not just stale and derivative, but even a tad bit formulaic. What to do, then, but recede back into my bunker with my Boris and Ornette Coleman records? But The Barman pulled my coat to these guys, and the Barman is an honourable man.
INTO THE PRIMITIVE - The Future Primitives (Voodoo Rhythm)
It took a few plays to work out what makes this South African garage trio such a compelling listen. The sparse, echo-ey production from straight out of 1966 is one thing, the simple songs that would do Billy Childish proud are another, but in the end it's the pure energy and urgency of the playing that's the winner.
You thought "the New Invincibles" was a tag invented for the Aussie cricket team? Think again (especially after the Ashes loss). It’s the dying days of 2005 and this debut album from a Perth, Western Australia, four-piece - which came out a few months previously - almost slipped through the cracks. Almost. Thank the punk rock gods and pass the ammunition.
It was pointed out recently by someone with good judgement that there wasn't a lot of love for The Fuzztones at the I-94 Bar. That's more a measure of what we've had time to review, not a reflection on the band. Here's a recap of a 2011 release on Italian label Go Down of demo tracks that presaged their 1989 "In Heat" album, the one that should have broken them worldwide on the Beggars Banquet label.
"Raw Heat" shows what legendary producer Shal Talmy never gave "In Heat": A Big Set of Balls. That's the short story. Back in the '80s, everything that was old was new again and the same went for producers. The physically ailing Talmy was all but retired, with credits like The Who and the Kinks well behind him. The band needed someone to referee its own creative differences (principally between Rudy Protudi and lead guitarist Jordan Tarlow). Beggars had signed the Fuzztones on the strength of their live show, a corker first LP, their demo's and a huge push from The Cult's Ian Astbury. Shalmy did the deal and came out of retirement. If only the label had asked the Kinks, first.
"Raw Heat" features most of the tracks that made "In Heat" but none of the thin production or covers ("I Can't Control Myself" and "You Must Be a Witch".) "In Heat" was mostly recorded with a new band after Protudi upped and moved from New York City to LA. It wasn't a patch on it heir debut, "Lysergic Emanations", and of course The 'Tones were dropped from their major label and sent fro the indie back-blocks. Not a bad place to be sometimes but you have to ask 'What If?'
It's hard to see what wasn't to like about this album in its original, unrefined form. "Cheyenne Rider" struts magnificently (and, if anything, could be given even fuller fuzz treatment to bring the lead guitar to the fire.) "One Girl Man" is a radio hit in this or any former world. "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" has the right mix of swelling organ and underlying fuzz with a killer chorus.
The story's all here (if you can read the fine print on the back of the record label (mine's a CD, not an LP) and the up side of "In Heat" is that its poor sales were no barrier to Europe embracing the band in a huge way. It was a breakthrough of another kind, making The Fuzztones the first of a rash of '60s revivalists to crack it for a major label deal. If the floodgates didn't exactly blow wide open the mindsets - and listening tastes - of many were altered by that very fact. Slip this into your player or onto your turntable and celebrate that fact. "In Heat" never sounded this good.
Go Down Records
The Future Primitives don't believe in airs and graces. Their mission on this album is simple. They locked themselves in a garage and belted out a baker's dozen of songs by their favourite bands - who happen to be have names like The Mummies, Thee Milkshakes and Link Wray. Sounds like a party to me.
There's a lot of competition but this might just be one of the best Australian releases of 2005, certainly in the (self-imposed) sub category of Voodoo Psych Garage. Think multi-layered fuzz guitar entwined around chunky organ chords and you're in the neighbourhood. As good as their debut EP "Ladies May We Introduce Ourselves" was, "Sonic Seducers" is a quantum advance with the songs sounding more rounded, and the band much more in control.
Like what we all think of as ‘the '50s’, ‘the '60s’, as far as I can see, lasted from about 1963 to 1969. Unlike the preceeding decade, the breadth and scope of the musical landslide was so utterly extraordinary that bands are still borrowing and leaching off the period today.