CELIA CURTISVocalist for White Knuckle Fever and Stone Cold FoxSydney, NSW, AustraliaCelia Curtis’s Top20 of 2020!
The gigging landscape undulated wildly in 2020 but it was by no means barren. The absence of the annual stagger to (and from) River Rocks Festival in Geelong definitely stung a bit, but there were some corker live gigs and streams in 2020. Here are some of my favourites I was lucky to attend/ play:
1. Jan 4 2020, PUNKNATS, The Old Canberra InnDue to raging fires and road closures, Crapulous Geegaw, Tweekers and Grim couldn’t make it. But you just can’t stop the rock. Lucifungus, Oaf, the Dirty Sluts, Minor Surgery, rooted, Hymn, Herxhaim, DuShkanu,White Knuckle Fever and(my personal faves) Thee Cha Cha Chas all went hard.
It was 44 degrees Celsius in a tin shed. Literally the worst air quality in the world. A late southerly that brought out the p2 masks and a blanket of apocalyptic Orange smoke. But fuck it was a great day. Milly, Tilly and Outtaspace Presents did a top job organising once again and The Old Canberra Inn was as hospitable as ever.
Proby And Me. A Howling Tale of a Falling Star – MJ Cornwall (BookPOD)
The label doesn’t lie. “Proby And Me” is a runaway train of a story, a rollicking saga of a disastrous “tour” down under by the trouser-splitting, UK-exiled Texan-born ‘60s pop star who was, briefly, as big as the Beatles.
The context: Ex-publican Brett Stevens (aka Brett Eldorado) and former Hoodoo Guru Clyde Bramley had lured the man to Sydney - and he barely made it past the front door of the Hopetoun Hotel.
By 1990, Proby’s currency as anything but a cult item had well and truly faded. He was plucked from a housing estate in the north of England where his performing stocks were low, his live appearances limited to a circuit of scrappy workingman’s clubs and seaside summer resorts.
Proby’s would-be promoters flew him to Sydney, put him up in a Bondi hotel and paid his considerable bar tabs. At least his food bill would have been minimal. PJ sounds like a graduate from the Eating Is Cheating School.
Attempts to match Proby with a backing band were fraught - his preference was a full orchestra - musicians who “read” - and his promotional appearances in media were sporadic and booze-sodden. A warm-up gig in Newcastle and an inner-city stand at Paddington RSL that sparked a mini riot were the only shows.
Author Mark Cornwall tells the story through the eyes of Eldorado - or should that be ears as Proby never shuts up. It’s 321 pages of staccato chatter and patois - delivered like machine gun fire in the style of James Ellroy.
It’s a story that’s exceedingly well told, with grim humour and massive swathes of colour.
Proby namechecks everybody from Jimi Hendrix to The Doors, Marc Almond to Elvis and Kim Fowley to Jimmy Page, in recounting a storied life mostly spent clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. What’s more, the yarns have all been verified to be true, and their common denominator is that when it turned to shit, it was always somebody else’s fault.
The Dubrovniks are playing a one-off Perth show before embarking on another European tour.
The band reformed for Australian and European shows this time last year and is off overseas again.Their only local appearance will be Thursday June 2 at the Rosemount Hotel, supported by The Volcanics. Tickets are on sale now from http://www.rosemounthotel.com.au/
Amongst the silly hype that Record Store Day now brings there are glimmers of hope. The Hoodoo Gurus will release their latest single, "Answered Prayers", as a limited edition 7" for RSD on April 18 and it's said to hark back to the band's punk rock roots.. Its release will coincide with the digital issue of an expanded Deluxe Edition of their 2004 album “Mach Schau”, which will combine the track listings from both the local and US editions in a new 16 track running order.
The RSD single, which is already available digitally, is the first new music from the band in 10 years, not counting 2014's "Gravy Train", a newly-recorded EP of lost tracks from the band's early days. "Answered Prayers" is a said to be a stark and visceral track addressing a certain type of abuse propagated by a particular type of male. It's also a reminder of the Gurus' roots in the original punk rock of the '70s.
Indeed the track follows the release in the US of both old and new material by The Victims, the band that head Guru Dave Faulkner formed with drummer James Baker in Perth in 1977, some four or so years before the pair reunited in Sydney to form the Gurus.
"Song of the Year", which will feature on the RSD single's B-side. Written and sung by guitarist Brad Shepherd, the flat-out screamer of a song obliquely references in its chorus two of Brisbane's legendary punk-era bands, The Fucken Leftovers and The Survivors. Brad, of course, fronted his own group as a teenager in Brisbane at the time, who begun as The Aliens, before evolving into the legendary Fun Things. "Song of the Year" will also appear on the digital Deluxe Edition of “Mach Schau”.
Join Celia and Ross of Sydney's White Knuckle Fever when they chat with special guest Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus and The Victims on our "Monday Evening Gunk" Internet TV show at 7.30pm Sydney time on Monday, October 12. You can stream if free from the MoshPit bar Facebook page or catch up here on the day after.
Christopher Ferguson photo
Hoodoo Gurus are poised to release their long-awaited new studio album, “Chariot of the Gods” on February 11. “Chariot of the Gods” is the band’s first album in more than a decade (the longest interval between Hoodoo Gurus’ albums in their history) and is available to pre-order today here.
“The last twelve months have been frustrating and nerve-racking for everyone but, for the Hoodoo Gurus, this dark cloud has had a silver lining,” says frontman Dave Faulkner. “Forced to rely on ourselves instead of the outside world for validation, there has been a creative rebirth within the band that has resulted in a string of singles and a new album.
“Most important of all, the musical bonds between the four of us have never been stronger. When the discussions are all about which songs we're sad about having to leave off the record, that's a damn good sign. I'm tellin' ya, folks, we've got a real spring in our step right now”.
“Chariot of the Gods” is 14 tracks (17 on the deluxe double-vinyl edition) and the first full-length recording with relative new recruit to the Hoodoo Gurus’ line-up, on drums, Nik Reith. The tracklists for CD/digital and vinyl versions are below.Fans across the globe can hear “Chariot of the Gods” played in its entirety for the very first time when eMusic Live streams a special event recorded at Damien Gerard Studios on the NSW Central Coast.
Sound of Sydney Volume 4 - Various Artists (Method Records and Music)
What is “the sound of Sydney”? It’s a rhetorical question, if not an outright non sequitur.
If you asked 20 different people, you’d get as many different answers. Someone young might say it’s Triple J - which would be laughable but it’s, you know, it is somebody’s reality. You can fight media fragmentation but it’s like yelling at a cloud. Boomer.
“Sound of Sydney” was a series of compilation albums- appearing in 1983, ’84 and ’86 - and the work of Method Records’ Fabian Byrne, of mod-pop band Fast Cars. They were fine records - and very diverse and that in itself was reflective of what was going on in the underground.
The debut episode of "Monday Evening Gunk", the streaming InIernet TV offshoot of the I-94 Bar and MoshPit Bar in Sydney, is now viewable at your leisure. We air every Monday at 7.30pm Sydney time from the MoshPit Facebook page and the show is courtesy of Zenn streaming, City of Sydney Council and Coopers.
One of the most important people to come out of Perth's music scene since the 1970s is Dave Faulkner. Whether he’s playing punk, pop or electro music, he's always trying to create something new and exciting. The Hoodoo Gurus’ latest single “Hung Out To Dry” is a perfect example.
Faulkner picks a target in the current US President, someone who has been a punching bag for many people, and sticks it to him in a fresh and personal manner.
As well as the new Gurus single, Faulker's reconstituted former band The Victims had their first release in many moons this year. It was a physical EPfeaturing recordings of four songs (“Charlie”, “Horror Smash”, “I Wanna Be With You” and “Everynite”) that were written, but never recorded, when the legendary band formed in Perth in the 1970s.
The re-born Victims reunites Dave with original member James Baker and new recruit, the great Ray Ahnof the Hard Ons, who give a slightly modern touch to some classic tunes that were birthed at the dawn of punk rock.
Dave spoke to me via Zoom in Sydney where he tells me he is fresh from mastering the next Gurus single.
Sydney’s music community is rallying to get behind much-loved rocker Spencer P Jones in an hour of need.
Spencer is battling serious illness and fund-raisers have been popping up all over Australia. Sydney is responding with its own show, The Axeman’s Benefit, on Friday, June 24 at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville.
Died Pretty is headlining a heavyweight bill which will include Spencer’s old band The Johnnys (with guest vocalists), the Hoodoo Gurus (playing a mini-set), home-grown garage up-starts Straight Arrows and psych-punk veterans Young Docteurs. The Johnnys will close the night.
The killer line-up will be augmented by a bevy of guest musicians including Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), Simon Day (Ratcat), Jack Ladder, Murray Cook, MC Anthony Morgan, Jason Walker, Peter Fenton (Crow) and Kane Dyson (Spurs For Jesus.) FBi’s Jack Shit will be lending his DJ talents.
All of the acts have played alongside or recorded with Spencer in some capacity. Died Pretty is fresh from a summer of sold-out A Day On The Green and club shows and is re-convening especially for Spencer.
Although his career has been mainly under the mainstream music radar, Spencer P Jones has been a tremendously influential figure in Australia.
Arriving in Australia from New Zealand in 1976, Spencer came to prominence with hard-drinking cowpunks the Johnnys and then inner-Sydney swamp supergroup the Beasts of Bourbon, he’s also played with the Gun Club, Renee Geyer, Chris Bailey, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly.
In recent years he’s been recording and playing with his own solo bands as well as members of The Scientists and The Drones.
Tickets for The Axeman’s Benefit went on sale last night and are here. A substantial number have gone already so don't delay.
The Barman at an I-94 Editorial Board meeting with Our Man in Dimboola, Ron Brown (left).
THE BARMAN’S BEST ALBUMS OF 2022 Do The Understanding – Ron S Peno and The Superstitions (self released) Ron S Penohas equalled and maybe surpassed his output with Died Prettyafter a succession of excellent records with his champion Melbourne band. The man needs a muse and found an outstanding one in co-writer and guitarist Cam Butler.This is the Album of the Year.
The rest in no particular order:
Great guitar pop is timeless and that’s what Sydney’s The On and Ons have delivered (again) on their second long-player.
Well established on the strength of their 2015 debut, “It’s The On And Ons Calling”, Morris and Co have doubled down on the pop factor on “Welcome Aboard”. The rock is turned down just a tad and (to these ears at least) it takes a few more listens for the songs to take hold.
Truth-be-told, I almost marked it down half-a-beer for not rocking as much as the debut - but the pop smarts won out.
Not content to wait for a Record Store Day stifled by Coronavirus disruption, the Hoodoo Gurus will release their new single in limited edition, vinyl form.
"Answered Prayers" is out on June 12, along with an expanded, digital edition of their 2004 album "Mach Schau" combining tracks from the Australian and US editions in a new 16-song running order.
"Answered Prayers" is already available digitally and is the first "new" music from the band in 10 years - not counting 2014's "Gravy Train", a freshly-recorded EP of lost tracks from the band's early days with former members.