Let's not get into discussions about how many times this notable, nay historic, 1969 Toronto gig from the nascent Alice Cooper band has been released.Ladies and germs, this is the definitive, speed-corrected version, with correct song titles, spunky pink artwork and a second gig from San Francisco appended, for good measure. Plus, a couple of feathers inserted, if you're lucky.
Toronto 1969 was the notorious Chicken Show where Alice (the man, not the band) threw a live bird into the crowd only to have it tossed back at him...in pieces. Leaving aside the animal rights aspects of this on both sides - being out of your mind on booze is no excuse for throwing a flightless fowl into a crowd of excitable Hoser stoners – you might wonder what the fuss was all about, musically speaking.
It is true that Alice Cooper was the most despised band in L.A. at this stage; soaking in the discordant skronk, seemingly random rhythmic shifts and walls of feedback, it's often easy to hear why.
There’s a time machine where I work. The size of an average bathroom, it can spin rock samples at 16 times gravity, replicating a century’s worth of gas and water movements throughout aquitards in a couple of days, or a millenium’s worth in a week. Impressive!
The two discs of the “(When TheSsun Sets Over) Carlton” compilation may not spin quite that fast (or if they do, either they or my CD player have truly greater construction and sound quality than I realized!), but they equally constitute a time machine, taking the listener back to an era which technologically, politically and socially is so different to the present, it’s hard to believe it’s 40 - and not 140 - years ago!
Just take some time to consider Australian daily life as lived from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, an era when the musicians on “Carlton” were growing up, forming groups and writing the songs which on playing still sound so amazingly fresh so many years later. If you are old enough to remember, read on and be reminded how things have changed. If you aren’t, read on and be amazed!
A decade into its existence, it’s too easy to brand UK imprint Easy Action as a legacy label. Nostalgia sells - especially to the truly committed or completists - and the imprint's prodigious output of lost or neglected stuff from Iggy, the Stooges, T-Rex, The Yardbirds, the MC5, Steve Marriot and Nikki Sudden (among others) has been mind-blowing.
Then there’s this collection, which takes only a handful of songs to underline that there’s a lot more going on than just re-treading the past. Moriarty, The Red Cords, Amebix, Teasing Lulu, The Black Tambourines and The Skuzzies were names I’d heard but whose music I had not before wrapping ears around this 22-track disc.
Chuck Trend photo
For the first time in their 21-year existence, Memphis garage rock legends The Oblivians are touring Australia.
As well as the Golden Plains Festival near Meredith in Victoria, The Oblivians will play headline dates at Newtown Social Club in Sydney (March 4), Brisbane Hotel in Hobart (March 5), Barwon Club in Geelong (March 9), Wooly Mammoth in Brisbane (March 14) and a special three-night residency at Melbourne's iconic The Tote on March 11, 12 and 13.
The battle-lines used to be clearly drawn between Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney was the home of high-energy guitar rock in its many variants, many of them Motor City-derived, while Melbourne spawned an artier, darker strain of music with one foot squarely planted in territory that became known as junkie rock.
These days Sydney’s musical crown is less faded than displaced. Melbourne is in the ascendancy. Its thriving music scene retains an artiness but it rocks as well. The place still does darkness better than most but its palette seems broader. Its tentacles seem to spread further than any other scene in Australia.
Norwegian-American Mark Steiner has visited Melbourne and gulped hard on water drawn from its musical well. He did an Australian tour a few years back but the influences were obviously already in place. There’s a Bad Seeds/Rowland S Howard/Wreckery streak several kilometres wide running right down the back of his bluesy music, but it’s marked by poise rather than self pity.