5-6-7-8-9 - The Aints! (ABC Music/Universal)
Also Sprach might have been the king of Eurodisco but Ed Kuepper reigns supreme as the Monarch of Re-invention. Of his contemporaries, only Kim Salmon comes close.
There was a modest risk in forming a third line-up of The Aints; the upside was that they'd pull crowds and make good cash, the other half of the equation being that it wouldn't take the legacy of the original band anywhere special. If you were a doubter, leave the room now...
Re-shaping un-recorded songs written for the original Saints was a masterstroke. So was Kuepper's selection of his band - the engine room of Paul Larsen-Loughhead and Peter Oxley was never going to be a dud - and his decision to colour the material with bold brass arrangements...that was inspired.
Two years later, take stock: The Aints! have delivered a brilliant studio album, sell-out Australian tours, a searing live downloadable/streamable recording and this mini-LP of five songs. They've that exclamation mark permanently appended to their name.
A holding action it may be, but this EP is still essential. "5-6-7-8-9" (the title references the Saints' "!-2-3-4" 1978 EP) neatly has a foot planted in the past while adroitly moving things forward. It sounds fresh and urgent.
"Goodnight Ladies (I Hear a Sound Without)" is the show-stopping live opus, a cousin of "Nights in Venice" but brass-ified. It's powered by a mammoth Peter Oxley bass-line. The mail is that it's the oldest Kuepper song to have made to to release, dating form 1969 when th Saints are but a glimmer in an Brisbane schoolboy's eyes.
"Hang Jean Lee" is an updated version of the track on Ed's 2007 concept album about the last woman to swing for a crime in Australia and moves in a different, slightly jazzy direction to the original. There's an acoustic take of "Country Song In G" that's just as compelling as the Aints! Version - in a late night sort of way. Nooice.
"Laughing Clowns" will be no stranger to fans of the Kuepper band of the same name but has been re-arranged to fit a rock and roll purpose. It was written for th Saints but never made it to the final album.
"Memories Are Made Of This" has always been a favourite Saints song and one of the jewels on "Eternally Yours" that showed how fast the band was developing.. Kuepper can't match Chris Bailey's vocal on the original for premature world-weariness, but delivers the voluble and scathing lyrical payload in his own style.
"5-6-7-8-9" is out on June 14 and the Australian tour that coincides will show you what makes The Aints! so special.