In 2012, a reformed Sunnyboys delivered arguably the most emotional comeback of any Australian band in living memory. More on that soon. Three years later, they’ve given us the most unlikely of resurrected albums, with a stunning re-issue of their second record, “Individuals”.
Originally released in May 1982 when the band was poised to take the Australian charts by the throat, it sold respectably but ultimately foundered under the weight of massive expectations and a curiously subdued mix.
The discovery of a previously lost rough mix among the estate of their late producer and manager (as well as legendary guitarist), Lobby Loyde, cast a new light on a largely overlooked record. The new version sounds as lively and dynamic as the band’s “Sunnyboys” debut from 1980.
There are obvious life lessons in the saga of the Sunnyboys and they’ve been related so many times that they probably don’t bear repetition here. If you’re a fan, you’ll know them all anyway (the results of crashing and burning, the enduring nature of brotherly bonds, the power of redemptive love.) If you’re not, you can wise up, musically speaking, with this collection.
Without resorting to hyperbole, the definitive version of the debut album for Sydney’s esteemed Sunnyboys sounds fresher than the day it came out. The original 12 songs are coupled with seven early B-sides and live cuts but the revelation is in the bonus disc of 17 sparkling demo tracks, many of them previously unissued.
And so the return, and rise, of the Sunnyboys continues. If you said they could top this one, you’d need to back it up.
They billed themselves as Kids in Dust when they stepped back onto a stage for the first time in 21 years at the Dig It Up festival in Sydney on April 24, 2012. The nom de plume was supposedly to avoid performance anxiety or to ramp down expectations, maybe both. It didn’t matter; any tentativeness was swamped by a roomful of love.
Nor were there any misgivings in evidence at the same packed venue, the Enmore Theatre, last Saturday night. Just an irresistible king-tide of energy and good spirit.
Richard Burgman was adamant when he bounced up to the microphone before a note was played and declared that the Sydney show would be the Sunnyboys' last. Who could blame him if he meant their final gig ever rather than the end of the tour. Informed sources say it's not the case and that the Sunnyboys will live on.
This record is so smart it should have lifetime membership of Mensa, but its a cleverness that's never snobbish or intellectual. Mr Flabio sits back, tongue in cheek and pen at the ready, and takes aim at the directionless, the Interwebs generation and yes, you and me, with withering accuracy. This is melodic fuzz guitars played at stun volume and Mr Flabio’s sardonic barbs are meted out with sugar hits embedded in their pop hooks.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: “We Will Riot” is a grunge record. It’s just gone 2015 and someone is actually making a grunge record? What the fuck’s grunge anyway? You expected Silverchair with short hair? Nirvana wearing nursing home pyjamas?
Mudhoney says Kim Salmon invented it and who are we to argue? When you got down to it, grunge was really just a bunch of tuned-down metallised guitars and anguished punk rock vocals with shithouse dress sense. It got the major labels a little too excited and wiped the musical landscape clean for any other form of rock and roll – and not necessarily in a good way.