Garry Gray 2023

Top Ten Time in Ten Town! Four gigs – five albums – one book – by Garry Gray 

The buzz.
Garry Gray is winging his way in like a true angel to deliver his Top Ten Commandments for the I-94 Bar for 2023 – formerly of Sacred Cowboys, Negatives and Garry Gray & The Sixth Circle – and recently with Ed Clayton – Jones – without G.G. there would be no Chainsaw President ….

’The truth is I never left you, All through my wild days, My mad existence, I kept my promise, So keep your distance.’’ – now read on!

Top 10 for 2023 – by G.G. - from Generation Landslide Jones to you 
Now I’m not saying the entire Department of Youth is a blind delegation that knows nothing about missile power justice or couth but - let’s just say there is a lot to be desired and required before it can go one better than people two, three or four times its age…

I have read all the lame review types this year: the "not too bad for their age", "they’re rich and they don’t get it", "I haven’t heard it but really, do you need to" stuff floating around that says more about the reviewers’ existential dilemmas and nothing about the music – all that translated, reads: "I’m bitter, so I’m better"; "so what, they made it, what would they know"; and, "I’m not listening, I’m following everyone else, so I’ll trash it because I can". 

Anyway, you’ve come to the right place, now, folks: You’re getting the straight dope from Generation Jones, here. Why the name Generation Jones? It has multiple meanings―the sense of being part of an anonymous generation wedged between the Baby Boomers and Generation X, the sense of competitiveness with peers, dubbed "keeping up with the Joneses", and that the slang term "jones" from drug culture, meaning a craving or yearning: "Jonesers". According to Jonathan Pontell, the TV writer who invented the term, Jonesers were infused with optimism from their childhood in the 1960s.

We know it all. Sometimes nothing is a real cool hand, emphasizes Garry Gray, Generation Jones Exemplar. 

Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
There is always "the disclaimer" which is applicable to all generations because we are not all cool. Seizing a crown and tiara or two and saying you’re "it" doesn’t make you an "oracle" or "rock royalty" – it makes you another ‘feeling entitled’ loser with ‘nothing to say’ scrambling for a legacy badge and gargling in the rat race choir. There are some evil mothers out there plying their revisionist agendas, so beware of fakes, as always, and remember Lester Bangs, whose quote is applicable to the inclusion of the decades that followed:  

“All the proliferating falsifications of what I and everyone I know experienced once in what it is now so convenient to call the "fifties" or "sixties", as if life was really measured or lived in arbitrary decades, when the history books are sold like comix.’’ 

Live jive, daddy-o – 2023

got back 

1. Paul McCartney – Marvel Stadium – Melbourne - Saturday, 21st October
Stuart Coupe wrote a review of Paul McCartney live in Australia that resonated with me. As a music nerd teenager in the early 1970s, you were supposed to choose a side, Beatles or Stones…so, officially if you landed in the Stones camp you had or feigned grudging admiration or disdain on all things Beatles. If you liked the Beatles, you might take on Lennonism or McCartneyism – a tribe within a tribe – living in a glass onion type thing. I was never one for tribal rules, but it was Lennon for me, followed by George and apart from Uncle Albert, I didn’t get into Paul – until recent years – love you now, yeah, yeah, yeah. The McCartney and Rick Rubin interviews are well worth the time as is the Peter Jackson thing. Paul talking Mellotron is a blast.

Having done all the e’ s - sleeping in the queue – registering for pre-sale ticket purchase, setting up the bank account, and then on pre-sale day, getting into the queue of the first 5,000 to call – which moved past quickly, and ending up with nifty seats with three seconds to press purchase - it all went smooth as silk and the Beatlemania had well and truly taken hold. I was going to see Paul freaking McCartney – and apparently John Lennon would be there, somehow. Until then, I never thought it would mean a whole lot, but I realized I’d been waiting for this since the mid-1960s. The Beatles cartoon show after school – the kids with older brothers wearing the plastic Beatle wigs, the rock and roll radio "3XY where no wrinklies fly".

Paul McCartney takes the stage, and I went into a dream – the set proper has 37 songs and there are seven encores. Twenty-four Beatles songs, eight Wings songs, a few others. His longtime band consisting of Wix Wickens on keyboards and serving as musical director, Rusty Anderson on guitar, Brian Ray on guitar and bass, and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. make this a trip of precision in interpretation, the nuance lies in the energy the set builds the further into the show we get.

Stand out tracks are many: The Set: Got to Get You Into My Life; Getting Better; Blackbird; Lady Madonna; Jet; Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!; Something; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; You Never Give Me Your Money; She Came in Through the Bathroom Window; Band on the Run; Get Back; Let It Be; Live and Let Die; Hey Jude. The Encore: I’ve Got a Feeling (w/ virtual John Lennon); Birthday; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise); Helter Skelter; Golden Slumbers; Carry That Weight; The End

The "stage show" itself, the sets blended with the feel of the tracks: Bluebird the night sky; a trip to Pepperland for the "Sergeant Pepper" tunes; for "Live and Let Die" it was more like "Moonraker"; and down the highway in the Durango 95 with the horrorshow red krovvy in "Helter Skelter" – “I’ve got blisters on me fingers…’’.

"Hey Jude" was like the whole audience had time travelled back to the Summer of Love and the "All You Need Is Love" take. And who wouldn’t assassinate a renegade president or two to hear Side Two of "Abbey Road", the best album ever made. And if you had had ever been lukewarm to "Band on the Run" and did not leave the show wanting the 180-gram re-issue you are stark raving mad.

 nick mason

2. Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets – The Forum – Melbourne – Saturday, 17thSeptember
I was in high school the year that "Dark Side of the Moon" was released, so that was unavoidable and a little later, "Wish You Were Here", equally unavoidable. Some guy I knew had "Atom Heart Mother" and "Meddle" and I had read of "Obscured by Clouds" and "Umma Gumma" but my listening to those records would not happen for decades. Over the years, Syd Barrett became a person of interest. 

It wasn’t until Melbourne’s endless lockdowns that time and dimension travel became possible and so I found my self somewhere beyond Jupiter with my computer singing, “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true….”, it’s voice faltering and dying out…I had somehow mail ordered the vinyl prog rock universe, and I was in the Court of the Crimson King with A Saucerful of Secrets. When they opened the pod bay doors, I discovered I had every Pink Floyd album prior to Dark Side of the Moon.

So, I knew this concert would be more than far out. Nick Mason, Pink Floyd veteran on drums, Lee Harris on guitar and vocals, Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp on guitar and vocals, Dom Beken on keys and vocals, and Guy Pratt on bass and vocals – set the controls for the heart of the sun from the get-go and ride on into the crumbling sun. 

This is all early Pink Floyd, if that helps, with "Vegetable Man" and other acid-tinged Syd Barret gems of course revisiting "Arnold Lane" and "See Emily Play". With songs from "Obscured by Clouds" maybe stealing the show until the fabulous and extraordinary version of "Echoes" – and "Umma Gumma" was not neglected – the crowd ranged from first generation hippies and stoners to young folks wanting some of the magic of old – and getting it. I would have liked "Free Four" and "Grantchester Meadows", but no, it was perfect reaching all cardinal points in the galaxy.  

  ed exploding

3. The Exploding Universe of Ed Kuepper – The National Theatre, Melbourne: Wednesday, 6th September 
The first time I saw Ed Kuepper play in Melbourne was at the very first Saints gig  deep in the 1970s. There is a photo of this moment in time that does the rounds of cyber space from time to time – me with a few buddies of yesteryear and Chris Bailey reclined on the stage – pre-historically yours.

In those days, when only the US Marines had the Internet, rock mags, records stores, and the Real-O-Mind tipped you off as to the interstate bands who were on the path, that were like minded, and of course The Saints were the trailblazers with switched-on lyrics,  Ed’s rapidly evolving prowess and range as a guitarist, and his arrangements.

Somewhere around 1979 or '80, I had moved to Sydney and I recall each week going with my Professors buddy Bruce Tindale to watch the Laughing Clowns rehearse at Ed’s place - and of course seeing the first shows. Decades would pass until I would see Ed live again; in fact, until this gig of 2023.

Eighteen solo albums later, two ARIA Music Awards for Best Independent Album—"Black Ticket Day" (1992) and "Serene Machine" (1993). His highest chart placing was with "Honey Steel's Gold" (1991), which segues into now – touring alongside the re-issue of "Honey Steel’s Gold" and "Electrical Storm". 

The show is Killer from start to finish, Ed’s sharp sense of humor making it sparkle. Kuepper and his bandmates, Mark Dawson on drums, Peter Oxley on bass, Alister Spence on piano and Eamon Dilworth on brass give you a world class ride. "King of Vice", "Electrical Storm", "Spartan Rituals", and "Honey Steel’s Gold" - driving pulsating beat that doesn’t let go. All these songs sound vibrant and alive with the purity of the album sound as a part of the deal.

So, the verdict, having kicked off with the dawn of time and speaking of fine and legendary works that no one needs any reminder of - no pining for the fjords here – Ed Kuepper is at the height of his powers - NOW.

the delta riggs 

4. The Delta Riggs – Sooki Lounge – Belgrave – Sunday, 24thApril
Approximately two years ago I went into a JB HiFi to get some plastic sleeves for vinyl albums. The first store clerk said, ‘’You need to go to a record store for those.’’ With my reality back in in check, I headed for the exit, but I was halted in my tracks by the music that was being played – “Minds fade lemonade, supersonic casualties, Kept in crypts below, Strange mix, have a fix, medicine to make you sick, Down town taking its toll…” The second clerk was more helpful – who are these guys, I asked. “The Delta Riggs – but this is my copy.” I eventually got to the Dipz Zebazios album – there were no Delta Riggs albums on sale in the store that day – I ordered their then latest album, "Active Galactic", online. I now have all their vinyl.

When I saw that the guys were playing nearby, I had to go. Elliott Hammond on vocals and keys (and drums on the albums), Alexander Markwell and Jesse Pattinson guitars and vocals, Michael Tramonte on bass and live on drums, Manny Bourakis

The set included, amongst others, Rah Rah Radio, Surgery of Love, Settle Down, Don't Be Lonely, Don't You Frown, The Real Electric, Fake That, Modern Pressure, Baddest Motherfucker in the Beehive, Supersonic Casualties, Never Seen This Before, Junk Sick.

You’re asking why. There is a verve and energy that manifests live and, in the studio, so there is never an, "oh, it’s like that live" moment. There’s a lot of multi-instrumentalist stuff going down, nifty guitars and Elliott is a highly cool lead singer to watch. Then there’s the confidence to bring genres to the point of originality – from the Rolling stones inspired "Surgery of Love" to the psychedelic jamming on "Never Seen This Before" and the funkadellic "Baddest Mother Fucker in the Beehive".

On the way out I picked up the "Active Galactic Higher than Before" EP and "Modern Pressure" album, which the guys signed and Elliott and Alexander loved my John Lennon English Laundry shirt.

The Albums - 2023 Vinylists

road alice promo 

1. Road - Alice Cooper
Well, for folks who will poison wells and burn down barns when a hapless soul deviates from unswerving worship of the original ACG as being the only true way of Alice, I am sure to wind up in your humanary stew. 

After seeing Alice with pal and fellow Cooper freak Edwin Garland just before lockdown, I was inspired to explore Alice’s solo career which I had ceased doing in the 1970s after "Alice Cooper Goes to Hell". For me, "Lace and Whisky" was a tragic betrayal, with the exception of a track called "Road Rats" penned with Dick Wagner – I left Alice for Iggy and James Williamson at that time -

So, back to the back story, I got busy with "From the Inside", "The Last Temptation of Alice Cooper", "Dragon Town", and "Dada". Notable mentions to "Brutal Planet", "The Eyes of Alice Cooper", "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" and "Paranormal". "Detroit Stories" has its moments, you get Wayne Kramer, Mike Bruce, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith and a host of rocking players but "the concept" doesn’t quite gel and it doesn’t feel like a band, which Alice has managed on many of the solo outings listed above.

And so it came to pass, after a decade on the road - Ryan Roxie [guitar], Nita Strauss [guitar], Chuck Garric [bass], Tommy Henrikson [guitar], and Glen Sobel [drums] – a band that has done the hard yards, paid its dues and earned the right to be – the ACG 2 – and with Bob Ezrin at the helm in the studio – the "Road" album hereby enters the pantheon of the finest Alice Cooper records. 

Perhaps a lot of listeners won’t dig what the Coop is saying on this record. I don’t think it is made for everybody. That’s why its not "Trash", that’s why its Great. If you have ever worked in a band, with a band, you’ll get it. From the re-visit of "Road Rats Forever", the pulverizing instrumental in "Welcome to the Show", tour de force lyrics in "Dead Don’t Dance", or "100 More Miles". Where would we be without Alice channeling Paul Lynd on an album - here on "Rules of the Road" and "Big Boots" – This is Rock Theatre, or is it. – Too much the magic bus! 

Naturally, being a Cooper album, the vinyl packaging is a deluxe gatefold, the inside gatefold showing Alice looking out of the window of the tour bus, with the band laughing and pointing at him as the bus drives off. And just to hammer it all home, the album comes with the Live at Hellfest 2022 Blue Ray. If you don’t buy this album, in the words of the Coop, “you’re all crazier than I am.”

hackney poster

2. Hackney Diamonds – The Rolling Stones
I pre-ordered "Hackney Diamonds" because I am a Rolling Stones fan. It arrived the day before the Paul McCartney concert (see above). So, I convinced myself this was another instance of the Beatles and the Stones rivalry of old. Bogus as that thought may be, it was enjoyable all the same. A lot of smarties with Diplomas in Shite-ology piled on their jaded, poisonous barbs with this album and deployed their clever-clever cancelspeak, and in the process, unwittingly airing their own pathetic insecurities busily trashing real musicians, real heroes, real people who have dared to continue to make sublime music unapologetic that their earthly vehicles have maybe less miles ahead. Maybe some folks aren’t accustomed to courage and integrity or maybe they are just green with envy. Anyway, I digress.   

It has been several decades in Earth time, yet the Stones have been here before in the context of their lives and work as musicians.

A recent Rolling Stone review by David Browne of the deluxe re-issue of "Goats Head Soup". Browne writes, “'Goats Head Soup' didn’t — and still doesn’t — sound like what one would have expected from the Stones after 'Exile' By the time the album came out, Jagger had hit 30 and Richards was just a few months away from that milestone, and you can hear the impact of that benchmark throughout 'Goats Head Soup'. Jagger was rarely as autumnal in mood as he was in “100 Years Ago” and “Winter….. But after 10 years of recording, touring and the accompanying excess, the Stones sound burnt out, regretful, melancholic, even at times vulnerable — in other words like human beings, not invincible rock gods. How many times has that happened with them? Not many, which lends the best parts of 'Goats Head Soup' a mesmerizing mood all its own. Adding to the album’s legacy, let’s not forget that 'Waiting on a Friend' was born during the making of this record.’’

Waiting on a friend, it would seem. From Kory Grow in Rolling Stone: “I told Keith, ‘I think some of the tracks are good, but most of them are not as good as they should be'” Jagger recalls on a phone call from Italy. “‘I think we should give ourselves a deadline [to finish the album], and then we should go out and tour the album.’ And then he looked at me, and he said, ‘Yeah, OK. That sounds like what we used to do.'” Jagger pauses and laughs. “I’m sure Keith would tell a completely different story.”

“The thing started with Mick saying, ‘It’s important now that we make a record,'” Richards says on a call from New York. “I’ve always thought that, but I said, ‘Well done, Mick.'” Richards laughs. “So he said, ‘We should blitz this thing and go for it.’ I said, ‘If you think you have enough material that you want to sing, then I’m right there behind you.’ If the singer likes to sing what he’s singing, that’s 90 percent of the game.” 

Mick, Keith, and Ronnie Wood. Two tracks with Charlie and one with Bill Wyman. Produced by Andrew Watt, it features guest contributions from Elton John, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder. "Bite My Head Of"f with Paul McCartney, "Live By The Sword", "Dreamy Skies", "Driving Me Too Hard", "Sweet Sounds Of Heaven" and of course "Tell Me Straight" with Keith on vocals. We have the finest in Richards and Woods guitar weaving, slide in "Depending On You" and the subtle referencing of ‘Stonessound’ throughout which imbues their best works. 

Should this have been the album to follow Exile, all their best instincts are here and that kind of energy level present throughout this album. I think it’s just fine where it is in time, myself. Oi, what do you think, Mick? “Come now, gentlemen, Your love is all I crave, You'll still be in the circus, When I'm laughing, laughing in my grave.”

3. "Now and Then" – The Beatles
"Now and Then" has been described as a psychedelic rock ballad sketched out on a demo by John Lennon. It is a Beatles song. The final version features additional lyrics by Paul McCartney. Lennon's voice was extracted from the demo using the machine-learning-assisted audio restoration technology commissioned by Peter Jackson for his 2021 documentary – in other words, they have cleaned up the vocal track to a standard George would have seen fit to use. It is not the HAL 9000 on vocals. People either like the song or they don’t, as per usual. I imagine an album somewhere after "Let It Be", with this and "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love". It reminds me of "#9 Dream". Thank you, Giles Martin. Thanks Paul and Ringo. Thanks Yoko. It's great, it's the bloody Beatles, shut up!

4. "Mercy" – John Cale
Since The Velvet Underground and Nico, electric viola on "The Black Angel’s Death Song", and "White Light White Heat" and then throughout his solo creations, "Fear", "Vintage Violence", "Sabotage Live", to name but a few and collaborations with Nico and Terry Riley. John Cale’s production work, Patti Smith, the Stooges, the Modern Lovers. 

It is Cale's first album of new songs in over a decade.  It features collaborations with Tony AllenLaurel HaloWeyes BloodTei ShiAnimal Collective's Avey Tare and Panda BearDev HynesSylvan EssoActress, and Fat White Family.

Jesse Dorris from Pitchfork says, “On an often chilly album full of unexpected collaborations and smeared with apocalyptic terror, the 80-year-old art-rock legend grapples with the need for human connection.” Dorris goes on to say, “In a 60-year career full of unexpected twists, Cale arrives with another:  MERCY, an album informed by R&B and smeared with dream-pop haze and orchestral rumblings of apocalyptic terror.”

I don’t know about all that, John Cale “grappling” business – John Cale is telling it like it is and telling us what he sees. Cale has always constructed music and lyrics, and its interpretation for best effect, for the song - so genre category tags will blow away in the next zephyr. The Apocalypse is Now. This is what it’s like – a "Slow Dazzle"

5. The Real Electric – The Delta Riggs
This one is easy, folks. I’m just going to refer you to the live review above. "The Real Electric" is their fifth studio album. Do yourselves a favour.

Lite Reading 2023

1. Thomas Waldman – Vicarious Warfare 
Thanks to Robert Brokenmouth for this oeuvre.

“America has been at war for most of the 20th and 21st centuries and during that time has progressively moved towards a vicarious form of warfare, where key tasks are delegated to proxies, the military’s exposure to danger is limited, and special forces and covert instruments are on the increase. Important strategic decisions are taken with minimal scrutiny or public engagement. “ …… Now read on …

The End 

Thanks Craig at I-94 Bar Central. There is a lot of fine work out there: music that I didn’t hear in full, bands I didn’t have time to see or books unread and the like. I’m sure the I-94 Bar team will be across some of that. See you in the soup. It’s been real.

Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
But she doesn't have a lot to say
Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
But she changes from day to day

I wanna tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a belly full of wine
Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm gonna make her mine, oh yeah
Someday I'm gonna make her mine