EDWIN GARLAND Guitarist with Moonlight 5, Waxworks, Dwarfthrower I-94 Bar reviewer Sydney, Australia
I am sure many will say the same: This has been a shit of a year. Even so, I included much more than ten. Who cares !!
The passing of Greg Sawers One piece of news hit me in the guts: Greg Sawyers’ death. What more can be said about this real local legend and complete old school identity. He could be fit equally well at the Marrickville Bowlo or Annandale Hotel (R.I.P.) or the Wentworth Park dog track with his working -class dreams and love of supporting pure rock ‘n’ roll. Band manager Greg Sawyers took over when God got drunk. For Ian Rilen, Louis Tillet, Steve Lucasand Steve Balbi, he was their minder and advocate. He always had a couch for those in need and was willing to cook up his bacon and eggs when they woke sometime after midday. Greg was all heart and part of a Sydney music scene that is now gone.
This year was returning to my childhood and gromit years - teenage times as well as inner-city music, alternative and garage rock, beer-soaked pubs and the alternative. Namely the Beatles, Midnight Oil and Patti Smith.
Patti Smith and Paul McCartney get the guernsey for the best gigs of the year. And for the same reasons. Both artists are incredible live and these final tours were a massive thank you to the fans…
1 Macca at Suncorp Brisbane Sir Paul delivered on all fronts. With the most thoughtful visual show and a hit every minute over those three hours and ten minutes, it ranged from pure, four-on-the-floor garage rock with guitars sonically attacking to more mellow stuff.
From “I Want To Be Your Lover” which would have made the Stones sound like a get-together at a nursing home to “Helter Skelter”, to the bombastic, “Live And Let Die” which inflamed the stadium, the cheesy “Mull of Kintyre” with a 25-piece pipe band, to the solo acoustic moments with “Blackbird”, this was gold. Macca’s voice, his insights, wit and humility, and his guitar playing were magnificent; 42 songs played. I won’t forget it a hurry.
1 Patti Smith at the State Theatre and spoken word at Sydney Opera House Another pair of gigs where Patti gave 300 percent. Patti engaged us with insights, stories and, as with Macca, showed a great deal of humility. The band, led by Lenny Kaye, at times still had the intensity of 1975 CBGBs Patti, yet with overtones of a grandmother and an earth mother.
2018 was a shit year but with some amazing gigs intertwined.
We have a sub-culture, in which fragments of our past local music scene survive from a time that was exciting (as Damian Lovelock said) “as England in 1966 or NYC in 1975”.
The folk who peruse and read this website are either musicians, sound engineers writers or rock pigs mostly from a by-gone era. Generally, a generation that was made of weekly trips for vinyl hunts on Sydney's Pitt Street, in particular Ashwood’s and independent record shops like Phantom and The Record Plant. A generation that had subscriptions to RAM Magazine, or Rolling Stone and read fanzines.
Our world was pre-gaming, home computers, no Netflix, no Internet, no YouTube. What mattered was music, and it was our obsession. We were playing in bands, producing bands, writing about music, collecting vinyl records before the hipsters made it expensive.
Lockdown Blues - Moonlight 5 (Aldora Britain Records)
Guitarist Ed Garland has one of those gut-bucket voices which command your attention. I can't tell you if Moonlight 5 will be significant or not; but they're certainly getting attention around the world at the moment. Their knowingly lopsided-shrug blues slubs along the railroad, fed up and helpless, waiting for the crows to poke at their carcass. Fabulous use of horns, too; comparisons to Tom Waits are inevitable but mistaken.
The clip for “Lockdown Blues” shows US chain-gang convicts through a sepia filter, with the additional topicality of the stupidvirus - which we're slaves to; both clips use a familiar US slavery/ convicts as an allegory for an Australian context - this doesn't usually work, but does here (you'll have to watch the clips now) because they hint at wider concerns. Either way, both are the kind of thing you want to show your friends.
This is not a real Top Ten list as such. Just a list of personal highlights that were beacons in what was another shit year for most of us.
The passing of Johnny Nolan(Bored!, Powder Monkeys, Powerline Sneakers) did not help. After his death, I read through al private messages we exchanged over the past decade. Johnny was a man of passion and so much love for music a genuine lovely bloke with his bands. R.I.P.
The Sonny Michaels Show This shambolic pisstake on the bad ‘70s TV host has equal parts Norman Gunston and Don Lane. We get two hours per month. It is so funny. Paula and Mike Brown are a talented duo and the Sonny Michaels character is world-class. They also present at least 15 artist videos who would not normally get viewed outside their YouTube channels .Great work.
Listening To Gospel Music On The Radio – Moonlight Five (self releseed video single)
"Listening To Gospel Music On The Radio" is the sophomore release from alt blues/country act from Sydney’s northern beaches Moonlight Five. Led by ex-Waxworks and Dwarfthrower frontman and I-94 Bar contributor Edwin Garland (and, no, we won’t hold that last point against him), "Gospel Music" leans heavily into the Tom Waits via-Dylan category, without being derivative.