donat tahiraj - The I-94 Bar
Owner of Phase 4 Records and Cassettes store and the LCMR Records label
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
There’s no need to explain what a slightly weird year 2020 was. Sadly and for my back pocket’s sake, Phase 4 Records had to close for most of Autumn which meant I wasn’t as often held captive by some stinky guy banging on about the greatness of some rockist act they read about in "The Wire" at the top of their voice scaring our innocent customers away while I desperately needed to go to the toilet.
Our record label LCMR managed to squeeze out only three 7” EPs for the year – one by a hopelessly obscure Toowoomba punk group, Brian, and two by Xiro, the Brisbane band of the early post-punk era who should’ve gone on to have a great international career but decided not to for the sake of art; or something.
It was a great pleasure putting them all together for those who were all too familiar and the ones who were brave enough to try some music that was completely unknown to them.
2017 was a great year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and "Forever Changes", the 40th of "(I’m) Stranded" and the 25th of something great (and local) which came out in 1992 that was more than likely one of Ed Kuepper’s. And speaking of Mr Kuepper, let’s launch into this Top Ten the Barman asked me to do.
I’ll just prattle on about live shows I’ve seen as they’re probably more entertaining than my thoughts on Cosey Fanni Tutti’s autobiography "Art Sex Music" which isn’t rock & roll enough or director Kriv Stenders’s recent feature documentary on the Go-Betweens which is probably too wimpy for readers in I-94 Land.
Fair enough - they’re not everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you prefer coffee.
1.-7. THE AINTS 2017 AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF THE EAST COAST
Apparently the best way to describe someone who follows Ed Kuepper’s shows from town to town is to call them an Edhead. In 1976, Saints fans were known as Kuepper Troopers as it was understood that even in those early days it was Ed’s band - up until 1978, at least.
So fast-forward to 2017, The Aints awake after a 25-year hiatus and decide to tour through the most of the country’s capital cities doing Saints material from ’73-’78.
Once 1999 clicked into 2000, I struggled to recall one year from the next. What I do know is LCMR (Late Century Modern Recordings) released a blue vinyl version of Razar’s "Stamp Out Disco" 7” and (unsurprisingly) it popped up on various selling sites like mushrooms as the 100 pressed had all sold just after lunch on Record Store Day.
Our label also released one of the weirdest pop records to come out of Brisbane by Sneaky Radio. A week or so after the release, Ross Lovell (the man behind the moniker) phoned me to ask how many copies we’d sold. I said about 40. He quickly replied without a second’s thought and said in his soft, inimitable voice: “That’s 40 more than what I did!” Needless to say, if you like outsider music, may I recommend it to you.
It goes without saying that I thought The Aints! most recent tour on the back of their "Church of Simultaneous Existence" was exceptional. Audiences in Brisbane were treated to solo set of mostly tunes from his last (and some say final) solo album "Lost Cities" followed by a set of Saints tunes, topped off by the new Aints! LP in full and a long encore - with my maths suggesting a sonic extravaganza of about three hours.
2021 was a year of invention, reinvention and history slowly fading away – and that’s just on the subject of Brisbane music! Losing Fred Hardon of the Hardons and the Leftovers’ Ed Wreckage dealt huge blows as two pioneers from the first wave of punk gave their last middle fingers towards the sky.
From a personal standpoint, Phase 4 Records sadly left Fortitude Valley after six years and not because of the price of rent – just the ultimate cost of nobody bothering to walk its promenades while the sun was out. It’s the customers who help pay it after all!
After a brief stay under Backbone’s wing in East Brisbane before the council decided it’s best to turn a vibrant and accessible venue and artspace into greenspace (or is that developers’ dreamspace?), we again moved the store to a new forever home on the top floor of the Cave Inn, a ball’s throw from the grounds of the Gabba. Here, at the discretion of Omicron, we will be hosting bands and events as well as running Brisbane’s only after hours record and vintage emporium. The only downside could be the loss of our slender figures, with the pizza and beer providing fine companionship for our racks.
VOIGT/465 – "LIVE KIRK GALLERY 19/05/79" (Download only, self-released)
Sydney's Voigt/465 used punk almost as a cue to unleash a sound that captured their love of (daggy) UK art-rock of the early 70s and throw it right into the fire of Sydney’s ever-expanding inner-city music scene. Their Kirk Gallery show – which you’ll find on their Bandcamp page - was originally recorded via the ABC’s mobile truck for a radio broadcast that never happened.
This show (which was shared with the Thought Criminals and Tactics) serves as an impressive aural document from this short-lived act that left us with only one single and an album over their all-too-brief life. And if one more person spells the band name as Voight/465, I too may scream like co-lead vocalist Rae Macron Cru!