I was at Muscle Shoals Records Fayre, on Lygon Street in Melbourne, when I received the unwelcome news from one of my dearest friends, a character in and out of bands in Adelaide for decades, who I doubt you’ve heard of, but whose name (when you have to use it) you will always spell incorrectly, as I do: "Bad" Bob Lehermayr.
I was less than charitable with Bob, and he rightly gave me a serve.
Then he told me about Charlie Tolnay dying.
After Bob (also rightly) hung up on me, I received a text message from The Barman. Bad news had travelled fast.
Half a Cow in the inner-western suburb of Glebe was the coolest bookshop in Sydney; an advocate of the underground with shelves bulging with left-of-field fanzines, authors who had been banned and musical output from alternative voices.
It was a literary anti-establishment. It all came crashing down, in my view, one afternoon in early 1993, during my fortnightly visit to the shop.
A phone call had been made earlier that day and I witnessed the removal of issues of “Lemon” magazine from the shelves.
I asked: “What has Lou done?” and was shown a review of indie-folk pop stars Club Hoy, buried in the back pages.
It was just six words: “These girls deserve a good raping."
"Lemon" magazine was now officially banned. It started one of the most controversial weeks in the history of the modern Australian music industry.
Indeed, it was the flashpoint of the underground openly clashing with the mainstream.
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!
The story of the Celibate Rifles starts in 1979. We're looking back at their gestation - in schools, surf clubs and garages on Sydney's Northern Beaches - and eventual birth.
As we take it up, our narrative stars a stark collection of individuals. Some of them were there fron the start, others came in later.
Punk turned peace activist Ivan Suvanjieff - originally known as Mark Norton from the Ramrods - is a former Cream writer and film maker as well. Here's episode one of his series, Detroit Punks, featuring interviews with pre-eminent Motor City music names. This is with John Brannon of Easy Action and Negative Approach.
Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Eagle head PeaceJam, a multiple Nobel Prize-nominated organisation working for social justice. More information at Peacejam.
Christian Houllemare (centre) with the reformed Happy Hate Me Nots, with the author, Matt Galvin, next to him, second from the right . Mark Roxburgh photo
It's hard to remember how I first got to know Chris Houllemare. Was I a fan, a friend or a bandmate?
I was 15 when The Happy Hate Me Nots released their first two singles, in 1985. I saw them by accident at the Strawberry Hills Hotel after walking down Foveaux Street (fuck, EVERYTHING is French this week) from a World Series Cricket one-dayer, and I used my bus pass as ID to get into a gig at Hurstville Master Builders club not long after.
I was smitten. It was kinetic, real lyricism, real heart, really fucking fast. All at once.