Five acts. One Adelaide connection.
The Third Degree - Mushroom Planet (Planet Records)
Anarchy in TwentyTwenty - Ben Gel (BadAss)
The Glue - Tom Redwood (self released)
Diarrhoea Part 2: The Shittening - Geezergosis (self released)
Saint John's Eve - Michael Plater (Hypostatic Union)
Nina Simone apparently once said, “I'll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.” She meant, of course, the everyday fear. That no matter what she's doing, or where, she could be attacked or killed just for being what she was.
We're a pretty intolerant, brittle lot, we people. We really are. One of the several reasons I refer to COVID-19 as "the stupidvirus" is that it seems to have brought out all the stupids in our assorted societies. Our cracks and inadequacies are there for all to see, and people die because of vanity, of an inbuilt reluctance to face up to ugly or inconvenient truths.
When the Holocaust in World War Two comes up on TV or the Interwebs, not many folk seem to know that intolerance of Jews goes back centuries. I have no idea why. Some of their more devout religious types look a tad peculiar, I grant you, but that's no reason to beat them up or even say rude words about them.
Jews copped a lot of flak - physical, not just name-calling - in the pre-war years. Before Hitler got noticed, before his initial "Beer Hall Push" (sic), villagers throughout Europe didn't need an excuse to diss the Jews, that happened to a significant extent long before the wazzock with the floppy hair, bad diet and gangster cronies came along to unite all those so-called adults that the Jews were a source of all their problems. It was, of course, a convenient statement, a lie masquerading as truth. The current POTUS would fit right at home with that. He'd make a rubbish propaganda minister, but certainly he'd be a quota-filling bullshitting gauleiter somewhere.
Bullies are everywhere. I went to gigs a lot when I was somewhat broke in the 1980's; sometimes I'd have to walk home. Stop me if you've heard
this before, but when I was living in Wayville I'd have to walk home either through the parklands (a "gay beat") or along the main road towards Goodwood. First time I did that, I was walking along the main road and a car suddenly slowed and screeched to a halt beside me. As this was happening, I had been alert enough to recognise serious danger and turned to run. As I did so, I saw three guys emerging from the car, two clutching baseball bats (baseball? in Australia in 1985!?). I took off into the dark parklands like a cat with a string of crackers tied to my tail and didn't stop running, dodging through
trees until I was sure I'd avoided the stupid bastards.
Next few times I went home through the parklands, a few blokes gave me hopeful looks but didn't speak. I got spotlit by a car sitting at the
edge of the park - like hunters do with roos, you know. This happened several times but each time I ran like fuck into the darkness. The
last time I went through the parklands at night I got spotlit by two cars - FFS - each car would always have a group of about three or four
upstanding male citizens in it. Perhaps needless to say, there's a few unsolved murders here in Adelaide.
Was I frightened? I was shitting myself. But I was able to run, and hide in the shadows. I was also lucky - lucky I didn't fall, for example.
Adelaide. There's a place, eh? What do interstate think of when they read that city's name? A car race which Melbourne pinched, an annual Festival of Yarts which everyone else thought was a good idea? Or a penchant for pink hot pants, gruesome murders and crunchy water? Or, more recently, our succession of plonkers of Premiers? Probably some of you will be thinking about that great Australian soap-opera, AFL.
Me, I think of The Advertiser newspaper, which, in the 1970s, I used to read from cover to cover whenever I could. Don Dunstan famously legalised
homosexuality in the state; the result, to most daily newspaper readers, would have seemed to be an explosion of depravity (I'm thinking of the Truro Murders, and the Family Murders - resultinG only in Bevan Spencer von Einem's arrest and conviction, when he was clearly not the only individual involved - the horrible abductions of the Gordon girls, ...). Hell, I remember crying as I read about rape charges being dropped against an upstanding family man because he beat and raped a prostitute in a brothel, and the judge saying that that's what you must expect, being a prostitute.
The reason people began talking about a "Family" of grotesque murderers was because it seemed these hideous people were all around,
and rumours of them being "protected" abounded. What seems more likely is that a large number of wealthy and powerful people here had become
interlinked through their own pervy private lives, their doctor's prescriptions and so on. You know what it's like when you go out to
nightclubs - you get to see familiar faces. Everyone 'knows' each other, it's a form of mutually accepting bonding, which becomes like a
secret society. And you become, by nature of your associations, "special" in a way the norms don't understand. Bewdy Newk.
Or, maybe the first thing you think of was how well-behaved the recent Black Lives Matter protest went in Adelaide. I noticed a lot of comment about "complaining boomers" - yeah, well. I expect you're tired of hearing this, young 'uns, but 'when you're older you'll understand'. See, if there's a risk you could die, and it's down to other people's intelligent behaviour that you don't, it's kind of irksome to see people saying "screw you, we can do what we want". Of course you can. Go ahead. Only it's not your risk. It's my family you're risking, various mums and grandmas and so on.
It's interesting. I keep thinking about the big anti-Vietnam war march here in Victoria Square back in 1972 (I was about 8) - I later understood that sense of bonding (mentioned above) occurred at political marches and "demos" as well - especially in 1972, so many ordinary folks (ie, not just radical students and masters such as the hairy professor Brian Medlin) looking at each other and saying, "So it's not just me, then? We all think the same?!". Apparently there was a big feel-good, 'something's gotta happen' vibe at the BLM rally a few Saturdays ago.
Did I go? Nope. I know too many people personally who, if I visit and I'm carrying this stupidvirus, will either get disgustingly ill, or who will die. Watching your friends die is very upsetting; you can't help them, and everyone knows the freight train is on its way. After all, we don't have the death penalty in this country which means that, innocent or convicted criminal, no-one deserves to die in jail except from natural causes.
Meanwhile, we didn't know if the BLM marches have spread the stupidvirus or not for yet another couple of weeks. Not that that matters, since Victoria doesn't seem able to contain the damn thing.
While feeling positive and making funky new friends is wonderful, and things may springboard forward regarding the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (432, I have been told), I frankly doubt that much will be achieved; partly because it's a lot more complicated than simply telling jailers and so on "not to be racist", and having them agree not to do it again.
Personally, I think at this point, one of the most effective things we "complaining boomers" could do would be to complain en masse to our local MPs, especially to the 'L' ones, preferably gathering our protesters from each electorate (ie, ensuring that the 'usual suspects' don't always turn up - they make a protest more easily dismissible. Find hundreds of locals and get them motivated). Any large, quiet crowd turning up with the placards and so on outside the hapless MP's office (first making sure your targeted MP will be there, of course, and roping in the media) is bound to draw bad publicity.
MPs don't like bad publicity; a peaceful march through the city won't put pressure on any one MP. Premiers can brush it all off. Hey, Sydney, where does Gladys hang out the most? Bad frock shops? Posh restaurants which underpay their staff? Get your protest over there. Make her uncomfortable enough to do something other than allowing cops to "kettle" protesters. Again, they used that technique here in Adelaide the 1970s. There was always some wackers in the crowd, of course, who would believe in "direct action now!", which in one case involved chucking marbles under horse's hooves, with predictably unpleasant (and pointless) results. I have been told (it's a small town we've got here, don't bother visiting) that the character responsible - never charged or caught - ended up as a mental health bully.
Hmmm... I still keep coming back to that concept that Adelaide has some pretty spectacular bullies. No-one likes to feel fear in their everyday life, and the vast majority of us don't deserve to.
Adelaide also has some pretty spectacular underground bands (I got there eventually, sorry). Quite a few Adelaide musicians have given up on the place to move to bigger smokes; let's start with Mushroom Planet, a sometime Sydney outfit with at least one escapee from Adelaide, one "Show Me To The Stage" Ripley Hood.
Looking back, I see that I got over-excited by their last EP, "Get Some", so I had another listen. I'm rearranging my room at the moment, and I made a huge mess by knocking over boxes and shelves and I haven't seen the cat since. Great EP.
Just like this big EP, "The Third Degree", which cops a mighty seven bottles. Don't fucking argue, get it. Those of you familiar with the band will recognise two rerecorded older songs ("No Big Deal" and "Then Again") apparently from "Mushroom Planet 1985". Engineer Marc Scully is again in the chair and the poor sod must be deaf as a sodding egg by now.
The tight, raucous hammer and tongs racket the four musicians put up means that Hood has to come up to their brutalising level. Which he does. While I do love the vocal style Rip has made his own (take one Iggy, squeeze him, ingest the goo and carefully spray forth), but it's a constantly shifting, chameleonic style. The band members are: Hood (face-pulling), Scott Spillane (guitar), Phil Jacquet (drums, ex Celibate Rifles/Voodoo Lust), Scott Leighton (bass, Trilobites) and Darren Trew (guitar.)
This is heavy, twin-guitar smackyouinthefacewithalargewettuna rock'n'roll. All the songs come off the tarmac like demented bug-eyed robots. I have two favourites but that just doesn't matter. Thing is, when the CD player automatically replays the EP, I don't stop it. I've made a right horror of my room and it's gonna take me hours to fix it up. Never mind, I'm in iso, aren't I, so there's bags of time.
The song credits seem to have an off-the-cuff in-joke as well - one of Mickey Spillane's books is called, "Me, Hood:, so it's a bit surreal seeing songs credited to Hood/ Spillane (ie, Ripley Hood, Scott Spillane). But, if you've read early Spillane, you'll know this is a tough, macho nod. Non-Boomers, I should add, won't get it. They only read tablets, don't they? And "research" on Boob-tube or Wikipoopdia.
Usually I'd tell you to go out and see the band, but in the circumstances, you should simply buy the EP several times, demand
T-shirts and that the members customise your car. Go here.
To the mighty Ben Gel, whose EP "Anarchy in TwentyTwenty" rates a healthy six bottles - equally, this is a little ripper. Some copies include a live set, so bog in.
There are, like I say, a lot of notable underground rockers here in Adelaide who really should be household names - and Ben Gel is one. He's been around for at least 25 years (we should get him a cake), with The Gels, Meatbeaters, Perdition and more recently Cull - the Band. Worth quoting direct from his factsheet: "Wearing a proud pedigree firmly rooted in foot-stomping punk and Aussie 'beer barn' rock, his song writing reflects the world as he sees it, albeit thru a 'no bullshit' filter".
Sounds like The Barman's kind of outfit. Yours too. Truth is this is another raucous, hammering EP which launches itself at your facemask and stuffs its virus down your gullet and drags you off to the racetrack.
How I miss gigs. As soon as I can, I want to see this outfit; meanwhile I have to settle for bounding around the room knocking the rest of my possessions into a heap. I love the (er? ..) trumpet and (!!) trombone too - surprising how it works inside this brutal framework. Ben sings (natch) and plays all the eruptive bass, and some of the rhythm guitar to boot.
The other guitars are shared between "Pablo Ramrodder" and Chris Charlton - and yes, once again, you can't argue with confident guitars. The track which will get your attention will be "Anarchy in 2020" - tho' of course the Barman will prefer "Drink Drink Drink Party With Me". This writer prefers "Where
Were You When I Was 22". Again, when the EP finally draws to a close, the CD player starts it up again, and my room is looking a total fucking disaster.
There's a bad smell, too, so possibly the cat shat itself. Either that or it's been dead longer than I realised. Get it here.
Which brings us to Tom Redwood's new release, "The Glue". A five bottler if there ever was one, and elegantly produced by Matt Walker. Tom's been living in Melbourne a while now, and "The Glue" finds him drawing us into an Americana-tinged 1970s folk style, via ... well, Adelaide, I suppose. The first song, "Black Eyed Mama", is simply beautiful, delicate guitars and shimmering organ with a reflective vocal (all the more sweet for knowing this guy's from my home town.)
Another Adelaidean who really, really should be all over the country, the TV and radio (instead of weiners like Ed Sheeran or Tame Impala). See, Redwood's folk has a strength to it as well as an aching vulnerability. "Head up your ass/You need someone to clean it", he croons on "Get To Church on Time", sounding like he's just stepped off the multi-coloured bus from Haight-Ashbury, a wide-eyed innocent who just happens to be clutching a ball-peen hammer as well as a battered acoustic.
Now, I won't go on. While Ben Gel and Mushroom Planet grab your vitals and make your eyes pop in no small fashion, Tom Redwood has done that
slavering monster-from-another-swamp stuff already (with the much-missed Leather Messiah). Here, Redwood presents music of beauty and intelligence, and you're either captivated - or you're not.
I am. The title-track is gorgeous, sort-of love and acceptance which is, I think, the best we can hope for these days. "Spending the night
with you/ maybe that's the glue". I'll be returning to 'The Glue' like an old friend; if there were any justice Tom Redwood would be up there with Lewis Capaldi and Billie Ellish. Here, go see,
From the sublime to the 'oh-my-fucking-god'. Some of you will hate this. Indeed, the cover alone will either be tweaked or omitted by The Barman. (ED: Mouseover it, if you dare.) Geezergosis' new album "Diarrhoea Part 2: The Shittening", featuring, among other gems "Hoarding Toilet Rolls in Preparation for the Coronavirus Shitcopalypse" and "In Soviet Russia, Flatulence Expels You!"
It is, simply, excellent. I give it four and a half bottles.
First, here's the link - you'll find that this Adelaidean has a fascination with ... botty products as well as other rude things. Previous releases include "Electrosprunt", "Sweaty Techno Minge", "Diahorrea" (featuring the immortal track "Diahorrea in Dub") and "Sandpaper Handjob". So, yes, that is the carefully recorded ghastly bottom along with eerie, moving synth.
If you think this sounds utterly juvenile and beneath you as a connoisseur of the Yarts, you're probably right. On the other hand, you may also be very stuck-up and have zero personality, much less a sense of humour.
However, what needs to be understood is that these pieces are put together with intelligence and love. The result is some of the most extraordinary, and well-recorded music you'll hear. Once you get past the (take your pick) utter horror, or giggles and sniggers, I promise you'll be fascinated.
How the blazes anyone, ever, has the patience to record so many of their movements and eruptives and spatters, and then relisten, over and over, seeking out the precise squawk or squelch they need, and set it all to a rhythm and tune ... quite frankly, the mind boggles, blinds you, staggers out of the building and topples into the path of an oncoming taxi.
Here's another link, to the last song, "Diarrhoea Part Infinity: Ascending The Holy Vindaloo Mountain"Ascending The Holy Vindaloo Mountain". I listened in awe, with tears pricking at my eyes. I mean, this town, Adelaide, is home to so much extraordinary genius.
From the hypnotically repellant, then, to the utterly fantastic....I give you Michael Plater's online single, "Saint John's Eve". Here's a link to the YouTube clip. It's rated eight fucking bottles. Lord, this is good.
Plater isn't an Adelaidean, but he's played here that many times he may as well have been. He's in UK now, dodging bullets and digging Cornish wreckers. "Saint John's Eve" is a teaser single - it's strong, tidal, huge. Think of the theme music to the series "Vikings", without the wailing, and this fits right in.
Michael's understated vocal is resonant enough, you'd think, allowing him to construct tensile tone, silence, more tone to build and smother before we're washed by the most extraordinary series of cacophonies, "Saint John's Eve" is simply magnificent, an overarching achievement which makes me wonder,,,where to next?
Stafford Glover is on the autoharp, bass, guitar, piano and assorted sound manipulations - that last a task shared by John Hannon, who also plays the violin and drums. Michael simply writes and sings the lyrics, and plays guitar - well, his is the sonic holocaust which makes our fillings melt.
I'll give you a link, the track is inexpensive and you really need it on your shufflypod. Also, Plater has been busy this last year, and
there's plenty to hear on his page. Just... magnificent.
- Mushroom Planet
- Ben Gel
- Tom Redwood
1/2 - Geezergosis
- Michael Plater