Ron Asheton has the creepiest answering machine message on the planet: "LEAVE...A...MESSAGE.... Thanks a million."
James Baker and Joe Bludge: The Painkillers.
The name James Baker is synonomous with Australian garage rock. His musical exploits read like a who’s who of legendary Australian music – one third of legendary Perth proto-garage punk outfit The Victims, original drummer (and songwriter) with the garage pop incarnation of The Scientists, skinsman in the first (and best) line-up of Le Hoodoo Gurus, founding member of Australia’s best known rock supergroup, the Beasts of Bourbon and drummer with the sadly underappreciated Dubrovniks.
Photo by Greg Walsh of Grinda Pics
If they paid musicians retrospectively for being ahead of their time, iconic Australian drummer James Baker would be a billionaire. Picture his teen years growing up in The World’s Most Isolated Capital City (that’d be Perth) at the far end of Australia (that’s Western Australia.)
Dick Taylor, second from right, with the current Pretty Things.
Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor is down the line from Tunbridge Wells in the UK, ensconced at his mother-in-law's house, where he's preparing for a band rehearsal and in fine spirits.
In a wired world of passing trends, the Buzzcocks remain a comforting constant. One of the best of the first wave of UK punk, the original band plied their singularly melodic, buzzsaw trade from 1976 to 1981, disappeared and resurfaced in re-tooled form eight years later. They’ve been going strong since then, with two early line-up members intact.
It’s hard to exaggerate the impact Blue Oyster Cult band has had on what used to be Australian underground music - at least at the guitar-orientated, rockist end of its spectrum. Mysterious, energetic and hard-edged but, unmistakenly melodic, they were the ultimate cult band in the mid-1970s.
The Downtown 3 are (from left) Carrie Phillis, Craig Jackson, Scott Nash and Johnny Casino. Emmy Etie photo.
During some lean times for rock and roll in Sydney, two staples of the live scene have been Johnny Casino & The Secrets and the Booby Traps. Casino (aka John Spittles) is a guitar toting veteran of hard-hitters Asteroid B612 and a variety of bands also much of his own making, The Secrets being the most durable (and essentially a two city collective with bases in Sydney and Melbourne) playing rootsy but righteous rock. The Booby Traps were a wonderful collision of fuzzy garage pop and girl group pizzaz, fronted by fetching songstress Carrie Phillis.
Thirty-one years after they last graced a stage in Spain, US powerpop supremos the Flamin Groovies are out on the road again. Mid-period vocalist-guitarist Chris Wilson is back in the fold, teaming with originals Cyril Jordan (guitar-vocals) and George Alexander (bass.) One of the catalysts behind the regrouping is the Dig It Up! travelling festival in Australia, curated by fans and friends the Hoodoo Gurus.
Among the bands leading the great garage rock charge backwards in the 1980s, perhaps The Chesterfield Kings stood tallest.