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Oz stoner rock Godfather hits Melbourne

dave ticeHe’s been called “the Godfather of Aussie stoner rock” and his status as co-founder of the legendary 70's band Buffalo (also home to Pete Wells who went on to Rose Tattoo) alone entitles Dave Tice to undying respect.

Tice also went on to front UK pub rockers The Count Bishops, formed Sydney’s Headhunters and his own Dave Tice Band. Long-running residencies with ex-ACDC bassist Mark Evans made the Tice and Evans duo a fixture in Sydney. His influence on the Australian rock, blues and heavy metal scene has been enormous.

The Sydney-based veteran still has one of the best voices in the business and is playing four dates in Melbourne to showcase his impressive back catalogue, partnering with a band of hot local players:

Thursday 24th September - Mr Boogieman Bar (Abbotsford)
Friday 25th September - Station 59 (Richmond)
Saturday 26th September - The Reverence Hotel (Footscray)
Sunday 27th September - The Flying Saucer Club (Elsternwick)

Stranglers head Down Under

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Seminal stars of the ‘70s Brit-punk movement The Stranglers are making their way to Australia in 2016, celebrating more than 40 years of raising hell.

Winding around Australia to all mainland capitals, The Stranglers will play hits and much loved tracks from their extensive back catalogue, from 1977's acclaimed debut “Rattus Norvegicus” through to 2012's return to form “Giants”.

Forming in 1974 in small-town England, The Stranglers are now revered as one of the most exciting, credible and influential bands to have emerged from the British punk scene. 

Landslide - Spurs for Jesus b/w Pearl Cadillac - Deadwood 76 (Stanley Records)

spurs deadwood splitThe blurb says this split-single is by Sydney’s two best purveyors of cowpunk and who's going to argue? Anyone who’s had prior live exposure to Spurs for Jesus or the more rarely-sighted Deadwood 76 will know both as a soundtrack to an afternoon of wearing beer goggles and raucous fun. It’s been that way for a couple of decades.

Spurs claim the honours on their “Landslide” side where twin guitar and lap steel attack from Matt Alison and Martin Martini cuts a swathe. Musically, it’s edging towards tough beat rock than straight-up country twang. No Liverpuddlian accents here, however, and Kane’s insistent phrasing and Spats' lap steel ensures the song stays on the rough shoulder of the road. Killer engine room, too, and the smarties among us will know there’s no show without that beat.

Deadwood 76 mines the rich alluvial vein that’s known as Outlaw Alt-Country with “Pearl Cadillac”, a boozy tale that’s told from the waist down. The lap steel cuts through with venom and the guitars have a matching edge to their twang. Good guys wear white but this song has a black heart.

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Stanley Records on the Web

Levitating Churches - Levitating Churches (No Squares Or Hippies)

levitating churchesAdelaide is known as the City of Churches but don't let the name distract you: Levitating Churches have their feet placed firmly in Melbourne, the home of Australia’s live music scene and a magnet for similarly-minded underground acts. This, their self-titled debut long-player, is enough to make the rest of Australia jealous that they can’t lob down to their local music dive and regularly soak up this stuff live.

Their name and cover art summon preconceptions of a meeting between Steve Kilbey and Co and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators (the band moniker apparently derivies from a mis-heard Roky lyric) but there’s a rough and ready undercurrent to Levitating Churches’ music that comes straight from the Aussie pub rock scene of the ‘70s.

The band dives into psychedelia on the swirling “Time Machine” but harks back to sterner stuff on “1973” and the blues-chugging “Levitating Boogie” and most of their LP rocks rather than floats. If rocking rows your boat don’t approach with trepidation.

Below The Belt - James Leg (Alive Naturalsounds)

below the beltThere’s a place where dirty blues, soul and gospel intersect that many aim for but few get near. That James Leg lands in the middle drop-zone with the precision of a BASE jumper on a million dollar bet says you most of what you need to know about his latest solo record.

James Leg - aka John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies and The Immortal Lee County Killers - is the bona fide son of a preacher man from Port Arthur, Texas. Armed with a baritone that could knock down a brick wall from 20 paces and a Fender Rhodes, he’s unleashing his third solo album (the last with label mates Left Lane Cruiser in tow.) It’s in similar vein to what’s gone before, but this time with a touch more variety.

Mainline Honey - Babeez (Buttercup) & Rules No One - Broken Talent (Florida’s Dying)

babeez singleReissues of obscure 1970s and ‘80s worldwide punk rock are not uncommon.  It seems that not a week goes by that some little-known band from the era getting a reissue of their rare $600+ single.

Sadly, IMHFO, most of the bands were pretty ordinary at the best of times…lacking guts, originality, style or any other characteristics that can make olde time punk so great.  These two releases here are the minority. If you call yourself a punk grab these pronto.

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The Babeez 7” is brought to by Melbourne label Buttercup Records who have also issued titles by The Meanies, The Chosen Few and Deathwish. The Babeez were one of those great Melbourne punk bands from 1977 whose three-song single “Nobody Wants Me” is right up there with Razor, Rocks and The Leftovers in the Aussie ‘70s punk gold stakes.

This three-song single includes two early versions of songs from the first 45 and to hear them in this even more stripped down sound is a treat.  It sounds like a well-captured four-track recording. The guitars are not as prominent as the versions on the first 7” but it’s great to hear the vocals as clearly as this.

BellRays live in Australia

bell rays rickIt’s late in Adelaide, I got work tomorrow, and I didn’t expect to be writing this. So why am I?

When you’ve seen a band who so effortlessly lifts your spirits, who convince you that you matter, and that they give a damn for the people they’ve come several thousand miles to entertain; when you see that band put out truckloads of energy, effervescence, fizz and smarts, fronted by one of those extraordinary showmen who make it all look so damn easy you want to form your own band … yeah, well, I owe them.

Who? 

The BellRays.

Never heard a song before tonight.

Mainstream entertainment world don’t know they exist. Across the road from The Gov is the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, lighting up the sky with a multicoloured display and one of those shifting electronic billboards advertising Neil Diamond, Elton John and Mrs Brown’s Boy and that Russell excrescence.

That’s where The BellRays should be playing. I once saw James Brown there. The BellRays may not be the same thing, but pound for pound they’re just as entertaining, and a damn sight more intimate and friendly.

 

Pic by Rick De Pizzol

When Sharpies Ruled - A Vicious Selection – Various Artists (Festival/Warner Music)

sharpies coverDepending on which side of the footpath you were on in the Australian 1970s, Sharpies were either misunderstood working class rebels or teenage thugs and bullies.

One Sydney Sharpie who went by the name of Big Victor (name changed to protect the guilty) would wait at suburban railway stations looking for long-haired surfers with the intention of breaking their surf boards and, if need be, a bone or two in the process. The Sharpies in Melbourne may have been different.

This is their soundtrack - ironically of mostly long-haired bands. The only real sharpie bands would have been Lobby Loyde and the Colored Balls and Buster Brown, whose singer Angry Anderson was a sharp. Certainly, Billy Thorpe had a sharpie haircut for while. The music is Australian 1970s pre-punk heavy rock/glam and as a collection that's representative of this era, it is nothing short of excellent.

The Fall to tour Australia

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Influential English post-punk group The Fall is returning to Australia this October to perform shows in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

The Fall and its leader Mark E. Smith have a place as one of the most pre-eminent groups in any discerning musical history across the last four decades. The Fall, more than any other group, are definitive and transcendent of a whole musical world and pop culture: post-punk.

Too Far Gone – Hard-Ons (Citadel)

too far goneThis lavish double CD package closes the lid on the first life of the Hard-Ons, nicely. Not in the literal sense of the term. Far from it. It's like a skateboard ride down a very rough track, a mix of disparate hardcore and metal songs that sits at odds with much of what came before. 

When the original album came out in mid-1993, nobody knew (but band members could sense) that it was the last recording by the Hard-Ons with their original line-up. That's the context and it now makes sense. 

It’s funny how records released in the past evoke specific memories when revisited years later. For me, this one doesn’t throw up much. I think I bought it well after it came out. It seems lots of fans shared that indifference.

A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (Exploding In Your Mind): The Wizards of Oz - Various Artists (Warner)

MonstrousPsychedelicBubbleCan you define psychedelica? Behind punk, it’s probably the most over-used term in the musical genre lexicon. That won’t change with this sprawling two-disc exploration of Australian psych, past and present.

Mixing ‘60s and ‘70s tracks with contemporary ones is an approach that could have gone horribly wrong.The wonder of this is how well the old tracks blend seamlessly with the new. Compilers Gaz Cobain (aka The Amorphous Androgynous) and Brian Dougans have done a splendid job of unearthing lost, forgotten and current nuggets and the mastering is great. It’s the fourth edition in a global series.

Vale Ron Cooke, bassist for Sonic's Rendezvous Band and Mitch Ryder's Detroit

early lineup with miguel mike martinez and ron cookeMuch-traveled Michigan bassist Ron Cooke has passed away, his wife Pam announced on Facebook earlier today.

Although replaced by Gary Rasmussen before Sonic’s Rendezvous Band’s "classic" period (the one which produced "City Slang"), bassist W.R. "Ron" Cooke was there from the very earliest days, when Fred "Sonic" Smith was searching for a musical direction following the MC5's 1972 implosion.

Ron is pictured in an early publicity shot at right, and is second from the left. 

Cooke was also a member of the Johnny Thunders-Wayne Kramer collision that was Gang War, an idea that the principals agreed looked good on paper but lost direction as old habits took hold.

And Ron had plenty of Detroit rock'n'roll history under his belt before then, most famously with Mitch Ryder's Detroit, whose killer version of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll" was a classic slice of Motor City Rock Action that even the song's author agreed was "the way the song was MEANT to be played."

Ken Shimamoto talked to Ron from his home in Ann Arbor in early October 2000 as part of the research for this history of SRB. Here are Ron’s verbatim recollections.

Brisbane rock community getting behind baby Phoenix

kylieBass player, gig facilitator and festival roustabout, Kylie Lovejoy, is considered rock royalty in her hometown of Brisbane, Australia. She recently made headlines around the world with the unexpected and dramatic arrival of her son Phoenix, who arrived three months premature while Lovejoy was holidaying in Hawaii with her partner Brendan Wright and brother, renowned record producer, Jeff Lovejoy.

Baby Phoenix Koa Wright Lovejoy was born at 26 weeks gestation and weighed just 1115 grams (2.75 pounds) at birth.

Idyllic location aside, the delicate nature of such a premature birth has placed Kylie in a position of financial hardship with Phoenix needing round-the-clock care in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Honolulu until he has reached full term age.

Kylie will be residing in Hawaii for at least three months, until Phoenix is strong enough to fly home to Australia. Whilst some of the extensive medical expenses look likely to end up being covered by the US version of Medicare, the family must still meet the costs of Kylie's living expenses whilst she is staying in Hawaii. She currently has no income and is wading through a mountain of insurance company red-tape.

A group of Kylie and Brendan's friends and supporters have banded together to help raise funds for little Phoenix and his family in a loving attempt to meet these expenses.

A crowd-funding page (http://www.youcaring.com/kylie-lovejoy-and-family-382944) has been set up for immediate donations, and a benefit concert has been organized at The Triffid in Brisbane's Newstead for Sunday October 11, from midday.

Flamin' Groovies stage a re-birth with new single and album

groovies quadIn case you haven’t heard, the Flamin’ Groovies have a new album dropping in 2016 and a single about to hit the shelves. US tour dates have just been announced for November.

What started as a reunion in 2013 with tours of Japan, Australia, and the UK, has continued and evolved into a full-blown return. In the past two years the band has toured the USA extensively with repeated visits to New York, L.A. and their hometown of San Francisco, as well as recently returning from a hugely successful tour of Spain, France and Italy.

In anticipation of their 50th Anniversary in 2016, they are  putting the finishing touches on a new album and a documentary.

Their forthcoming single features two Cyril Jordan/Chris Wilson penned tracks - the recently written "Crazy Macy" and the first track ever written by Jordan & Wilson, "Let Me Rock" recorded for the first time.

You can hear a taste of the new output on teaser track “End of the World” by reading on.

Powerglide High Octane Edition - Hydromatics (Easy Action)

powerglide re ishUK label Easy Action is launching into its three-legged re-issue campaign for trans-Atlantic super group the Hydromatics by leading off with the band’s next-to-last studio recording. And with good reason. “Powerglide” is the perfect meeting place of blue-collar Detroit rock and roll and blue-eyed soul.

“Powerglide” came out in 2001 but if you can remember blinking back then you probably missed it. No sooner had it landed in the racks then the Italian label that put it out went belly-up. Fourteen years later, the gap in the market for genuine, rocking soul with power is larger than ever, so it deserves to sell by the truckload.

Flashback: Buffalo one of Australia's best

buffalo portraitFrom 1970-76, Buffalo were undoubtedly one of Australia’s greatest high-energy, rock and roll bands. They were a great example of four musicians whose combined musical chemistry created devastating results.

Their five original albums (on the great Vertigo label) sell for massive amounts of money on eBay. Decent condition copies are practically hard to come by, as most of Buffalo’s original 1970’s fanbase were drugged/drunken freaks who trashed those albums at their hippy parties.

After the band broke up Pete Wells put together Rose Tattoo, Dave Tice based himself in England where he joined great R & B/pub rock combo The Count Bishops.

First published in November 2005

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