blues - The I-94 Bar
Good god, what a fucking racket.
“Johnny Streetlight” is four-and-a-half bottles of joyous, fresh-faced old school rock’n’roll, soaked in piss and substance abuse and if you treat it right you’ll lose part of your hearing (just don’t eat the worm at the bottom). There’s no bad songs on “Johnny Streetlight”, they’re all good for gold. If this band had been around in the mid-‘80s they woulda been huge.
The inner sleeve pic by Leif Alan Creed makes the band look positively criminal (one gentle soul makes up for his lack of pupils by wielding a rather lethal saw).
There was a time when everybody wanted to be in the Cramps and Voodoobilly was a thing. As is the nature of trends, some excelled and many bands were terrible at it. Generally speaking, harking back to rock and roll’s earliest roots (which is all the Cramps were doing in their own extreme way) was a good thing to do because it opened up so many ears.
It’s all in the beat and although Papa Pilko and The Binrats want to bury themselves deep in a swamp they sound like they’ve washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan, somewhere near the Windy City. Not that this is a bad thing. Chicago Blues is cool to revel in and this Sydney six-piece immerse themselves deep. Remember, it’s all just labels anyway and there’s even a lashing of outlaw country stirred into the musical mix.
Everybody else has their own garage punk blues duo so why not the Irish? The Bonnevilles (not to be confused with the Australian band of similar moniker) keep it stripped-back, fuzzy and simple to wipe the floor with most of the competition. Punk blues doesn’t get much better than this.
New Zealander Delaney Davidson is like a lot of musicians who saturate themselves in the blues, country and modern rock.
Unlike the majority, he still gets it. The music is as vital for him now as when he picked up a guitar. He’s never still, always moving to improve and expand his range. Why? Because he doesn’t want the songs to sound the same.
I must apologise - this has been sitting along with a couple of other CDs, waiting their turn as I try to complete a documentary about a rather brill Australian rock band and another book. I’ve been a tad busy elsewhere too. So the review may be a little old.
Should you chase a copy?
If you can imagine a soulful, bluesy engine room with guitar that has a tone thicker than your great aunt's cankles, you're halfway to getting a grip on the sound John The Conqueror shoots for. Named after a psychotropic herb rather than a dead King of England and with members drawn from the Mississippi Delta, Philadelphia and parts in-between, this power trio hits their intended mark with accuracy, more often than not.
Cross That Line – Steve Lucas and The Rising Tide (Aztec Music)
Steve Lucas, last man standing from Australia's mighty underground legends X who, back in the day, I expect would have thought of themselves as a powerful rock band. Live, no-one would want to follow them... and like The Saints and even Radio Birdman, they got called "punk" anyway. Pigeon-holing is for pigeons and gugs. I'd love to have been able to see X and Rose Tattoo in the same week.
Like many veterans of the music industry, Lucas has an unavoidable musical legacy. Which I expect can be both a blessing and a curse. So, for those expecting X Mark 32 and won't take no for an answer... "Cross That Line" ain't for you. I always thought 'punk' was a state of mind about expressing the individual, not everyone wearing the same uniform and going to the same gigs. My approval or t'otherwise of any record is irrelevant, no matter what the genre. Remember, I'm a big fan of (among others) Gzutt, Peg Leg Sam, Thelonious Monk and Jon Wayne.
If James Leg's record sounds uncannily like the guy who sings for the Black Diamond Heavies it's because he's John Wesley Myers of that same band. "Solitary Pleasure" dips into common musical paint pots (bluesy keyboards, greasy soul and raucous garage), mixes in a bit more pop and splatters the lot over a wide canvas.
You think those Powderfinger guys suddenly became Australia's hardest-working band during their farewell tour? Meh, Think again. The Dunhill Blues play miniscule stages by comparison, but their work ethic makes that of those safety-first blowhards look positively non-existent.
There is some nasty ’n’ dirty, gravel-based blues-rock ’n’ roll coming out of Sydney and nobody is doing it better than The Hollerin Sluggers. This powerhouse trio from the Northern Beaches is fucking grooving. They have all the awesome songs and guitar riffs you'll need to have you jumping around.
“The Promised Land” is a must for blues and rock enthusiasts alike. It’s a “must have” if you like slide guitar, open tuning, gritty vocals and no over-production. That’s what they recorded and that’s what you get here and - fucking hell - I can’t stop playing this.
From the first track, it’s a throwback to the great early ‘70s guitar bands. “Come Over” is the opener and what a rocker! The band is Owen Mancell (guitar and vocals), powerhouse drummer Andy Thor and Tim Cramer on bass. They’ve only been together a couple of years and this is their first album.