BARFLY TOP TENS: Mine Host, The Barman

Rossy and BarmanThe Celebrity Roadie informs The Barman that he can't go out in public like that. As usual, he's ignored. Kyleigh Pitcher photo.

This is a Top Ten of two parts. First, live gigs, and second, albums. You know. Second part, different from the first.The rule of not reviewing my own gigs goes right out the door from the get-go. Got an issue with that? See you in the carpark...

Chris Masuak and the Sydney City Wave Riders:
This was a sensational run of shows- a mini-tour in and around Sydney because that’s all that time allowed - by Klondike and his crack band of Tony Bambach (bass) and Stuart Wilson (drums). Great players, top blokes. Armed with a killer setlist drawing on most of Chris’s back catalogue, the guys fired from the get go. Many of the versions surpassed the originals with Maz playing two guitar parts, as few people can. The shows blew away much of the skullduggery and malakarey involved with certain ghosts from the recent past.

HITS at Marrickville Bowlo
You can’t keep playing the same old songs or you’ll get staid and there’s no sign of HITS doing that just yet. Members are now scattered the length of the East Coast so it can’t be easy getting together…or maybe that’s a blessing in disguise because it keeps things fresh. They continue to be THE Aussie band to follow.

The Conspirators at Marrickville Bowlo
This show was a long time in the making, thanks to the tyranny of distance and a debilitating injury, but this was Sydney underground garage rock as it was played in the ‘80s - as well as a gathering of a bunch of old mates whose feelings for each other run deep. It was an honour to be associated.

The Aints at The Factory Theatre
Not just the exercise in nostalgia that some might have expected if they hadn’t read the pre-tour press, this show was apparently a peak of the tour. Big, bold, brassy and energetic, Ed Kuepper’s marshalling of these troops was every bit as good as it could be, with promised recordings in 2018 a tantalising prospect. 

Datura4 at The Factory Floor
I didn’t get to The Stems extravaganza but Datura4 in a comfortably full downstairs room at the same Marrickville complex earlier int he year was as good a show as I saw in 2017. Dom Mariani’s heavy psych quartet has great songs and a sense of relaxed intensity in their playing that a great night is unavoidable. Mariani and Greg Hitchcock on guitar? Wow. What a pairing. Big wrap to Loose Pills for their support spot on the night. Pop par excellence. 

Sunnyboys with Flaming Hands and Shy Impostors at Enmore Theatre
The high tide mark was set early in 2017. The Sunnyboys are, by now, timeless. Shy Impostors were much better than they were entitled to be with so long between shows and how can you not love the soulful web woven by the Flaming Hands? Their warm-up show was a cracker, too. The Sunnyboys just keep doing it. 

Tamam Shud at The Bridge Hotel, NSW
Is there a reconstituted band from the past that sounds as fresh? I think not. The Shud resonates with new ideas and nods to the band’s back pages in equal doses. Tim Gaze is an amazing guitarist and Lindsay Bjerre’s voice defies Father Time. Gigs are sproadic but if you see one advertised, make sure you get to it.

Buffalo Revisited at The Bridge
Mark III made its debut with two new members and, with all respects to the guys they replaced, this configuration really clicked. Props to ageless leader Dave Tice and musical director Steve Lorkin. Rossy pulled a helluva sound on the night, too. 

The On and Ons at Marrickville Bowlo
At this point you will have noticed a similalarity with the Top Ten of another Barfly. Yes, we sometimes agree. I’m with Rossy on this: Best power-pop band in the land. Two great albums under their belts and a pile of live shows. Their album launch at The Bowlo was ace with able assistance form Murray Cook on 12-string.

X at The Factory Theatre
The vexed question of line-ups often raises its head, especially as Ian Rilen has passed on, but I have to call it as I see it: This was a vintage X show that deservedly pulled a healthy crowd. Steve Lucas continues to rock on and celebrate the music he was a part of and - importantly - do it justice. This was the first of two 40th anniversary shows in Sydney and, for intensity, it had the edge on the second (still good) at Marrickville Bowlo. 

Celibate Rifles at Miranda Hotel
The first of back-to-back nights with the Rifles for me and this one had the edge on the second, if only for the bumper crowd it drew to one-time regular stamping ground Carmens Miranda. The Rifles seem re-energised despite rumours of a wind-down - claims that have been put to bed by a veritable plethora of gigs and the fact that recordings are underway. Laconic, explosive and very Australian.

Honourable mention:
New Christs and James McCann and The New Invincibles at Marrickville Bowlo
James and band were in venomous form on an all-too rare visit to Sydney. The New Christs hadn't played in ages so were rearing to go.  

*****

So, to the albums. Why do I get two lists? Because my live gigs were too similar to The Celebrity Roadie's Top Ten and I run this joint. In no special order:

How Did I Find Myself Here? – Dream Syndicate (Epitath/ANTI)
I wasn't a big fan the first time around so I'm catching up, but what a stellar return.

Oh Crash...- The Volcanics (Citadel)
Totally underrated Perth band. Goes for the throat and doesn't let go. You won't be let down.

Gotta Lotta Move - Boom! - James McCann and The New Vindictives (Off The Hip)
Back to basics punk rock with spirit. Crack band and severely underrated leader.

X-Citations - X (Radio Rock)
A best of on vinyl with some surprises. Hangs together so well.

Super Natural - Jim Jones and The Righteous Mind (Hound Gawd)
Picks up were the Jim Jones Revue left off and goes somewhere else again. Get with it.

Rosalita - Thee Wylde Oscars (Off The Hip)
Thoroughly fun dose of early Pretty Things style garage R & B.

Pleasure Maps - Sand Pebbles (Kasumen Records)
Stunning set of songs from the mercurial Melbourne collective. Timeless.

Time and Time Again - Johnny Casino (Folc Records)
Johnny doesn't make dud albums and this one continues the record. Super songs, done exceedingly well.

The Lonelyhearts - The Lonelyhearts (Buttercup Records)
The ones who got away. Power-pop classics from long-lost Sydney band. Your loss if you don't get your hands on this vinyl.

disasterpiece – Powerline Sneakers (Kasumuen Records)
Gutter-punk meets girl group pop with a liberal dose of Bowery crunch. From Melbourne, of course. Sly Faulkner's vocal and guitar paired with John Nolan's guitar. Nuff said. 

Honourable Mentions That Have Been in The Top Ten And Could Easily Substitute For The Above:
Original 7” Tracks /Demos LP - ME 262/Trans 262 (Buttercup Records); Welcome Aboard - The On and Ons (Citadel); Rough and Ready - Scott Morgan (Rouge); Leave Home Deluxe Edition – Ramones (Rhino); Hush The Mountain - Sabrina Lawrie (Pig City); Hitchhiker - Neil Young (Reprise); Fantastic Plastic - Flamin' Groovies (Severn); Eight Years of Moonlight - Taman Shud (self released)

Compulsory Mention Even Though It's Not an Album:
Descent Into The Maelstrom. The best rock and roll documentary ever made.

Tags: sunnyboys, ramones, new christs, datura4, on and ons, chris masuak, powerline sneakers, tamam shud, james mccann, sabrina lawrie, flaming hands, dom mariani, greg hitchcock, shy impostors, descent into the maelstrom, flamin' groovies, dream syndicate, conspirators, ME 262, marrickville bowlo

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