• First review of the album for James Williamson & The Pink Hearts

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

Lemme Alone b/w Nobody Wants Me - News (Buttercup)

lemme alone singleThere was a pop band inside late ‘70s Melbourne punks News (aka Babeez) and it was desperately trying to break out - just like the creature in "Alien". Molly might not to have wanted to touch them with a barge pole, but here’s the irrefutable evidence of their pop tendencies, thanks to the inventive folks, Scotti and John, at Buttercup Records.

The A side is a melodic punker - a demo, no less - that motors along on two guitars and Gavin Quinn’s sing-song/singalong melody line. "Lemme Alone"could have easily stood up as a 45 in its own right back in the day, but of course Australian punk bands weren’t as prolific as today’s laptop musicians and YouTube heroes. 

The flip is another demo - a piano version of the previously released Babeez track “Nobody Wants Me” revived from baked, quarter-inch tape. It’s a starkly bitter-sweet ode to finality that you can take any way you want - and it's distinctly “un-punk” in its delivery if you’re into cliches. Essential, really.

Go here before they run out. The 45 comes in the usual range of limited edition Buttercup variants.   

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Red Church - Marilyn Rose Veil (Marilyn Rose Veil) and Afloat - The Near Jazz Experience (Sartorial Records)

red churchI had these two on, over and over, back to back while I was cooking, driving and then again the other night. And then again, and again. There's a cool groove about both; and while I prefer "Afloat" to "Red Church", my tastes ain't yours (thankfully).

"Red Church" is nothing like "Afloat", when each finishes, the start of the next is a bit like getting to the top of a staircase and trying to climb another step which isn't there. A bit startling. Could be dangerous.

The seven songs on "Red Church" all favour Veil's huge voice; and here she must owe a debt of thanks to the very talented guitarist Henry Hugo, the ex-Argentinian New Australian (via Switzerland - and no, he's not a banker or a money lender in his spare time).

Most of Hugo's songs he recorded in Zurich, with overdubs and mixing by Hugo and Dugald Jayes (who adds an air of brash mystery to the proceedings) in Melbourne. Mark Steiner helped by recording Gunnar Motland's drums on a couple of tracks. Lyrics and vocals ... this is where "Red Church" comes to life.

The Haunted Writings of Lionel Johnson, the Decadent Era’s
 Dark Angel - Edited and with an essay by Nina Antonia (Strange Attractor Press)

incurableNina Antonia crops up at the I-94 Bar yet again. Perhaps best known for:

  • Her compelling, astonishing book (the first if you discount Morrissey's) on The New York Dolls (a band renowned for decadence at a time when decadence was almost a rite of passage),
  • Her bio of Johnny Thunders (the film currently out doesn't use her research, so you can guess what it'll be like),
  • Hr bio of Peter Perrett,
  • And a book with Pete Doherty.

One begins to rather wonder about Antonia's fascination with doomed, beautiful men... 

As she reveals in "The Prettiest Star" (nominally the story of Brett Smiley) she's clearly drawn like a moth to a flame; and she's been writing in solitude and sacrifice for well over 30 years ... suffice to say she should be better known. 

Wreckless Eric is having one for the road

eric hsAfter more than two weeks of raved-about Australian shows, English punk-era singer-songwriter Wreckless Eric heads home shortly. But before he does – and after he plays his sole WA show at the Rosemount (with guest Joe Bludge) on Monday November 26 - he’ll be playing one last gig in Melbourne, this Tuesday November 27 at the Merri Creek Tavern in Northcote.



Opening for Eric on the night will be the Merri Creek Tavern’s publican, much-loved singer-songwriter, Weddings Parties Anything mainman and Wreckless Eric superfan Mick Thomas.
 
Fans of either artist – Wreckless Eric or Mick Thomas – won’t want to miss this super intimate show, so get your tickets here.

RocknRoll Machine - Turbonegro (SLR/Burger Records)

rocknrollmachine tbngrConsensus is that Turbonegro peaked with 1998’s “Apocalypse Dudes” and have been delivering ever-diminishing returns since then. There might be some truth to that but since “RocknRoll Machine is the band’s fifth studio album since then, that’s a lot of backsliding over 20 years. 

Let’s cut the Denim Demons some slack here. “Dudes” was a masterpiece, a clever and visceral cop of many of rock’s great moments, unashamedly woven into a punk-glam merkin and proudly worn in public. You liked “Ass Cobra” better? Buy yourself a sailor hat. 

“Self-parody” is a term many reverred acts have had thrown at them - often by critics who can’t abide a band playing to its own strengths, or not knowing that a purple patch of three or four consecutive great albums is a rarity for a long-running outfit. Just ask the Ramones- if you can find one still living) - or the Cramps (although they did morph into something approaching a conventional rock band.) 

First Australasian tour announced for Texan legend Alejandro Escovedo

alejandro posterLegendary Mexican-American singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo will tour Australia for the first time in March 2018 on the back of his acclaimed new immigration-themed album The Crossing.
  


Escovedo is a seminal figure in Texan music and one of the most acclaimed American songwriters of his generation. He’s a recipient of the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award and will be honored with the Townes Van Zandt Songwriter Award at next year’s Austin Music Awards.


Alejandro has released 11 solo albums and contributed to numerous others, as both band member and guest. His songs have been recorded by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Cowboy Junkies, and Calexico, and he’s shared stages with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to John Prine to Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter. 

Alejandro’s latest album, "The Crossing", released in September 2018 on Yep Roc and one of the most acclaimed of his career, looks at matters of immigration and the broken Promised Land that is America through the focused and unflinching poetry Alejandro is known for.

It includes cameos from underground rock royalty in the personages of MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, Stooges guitarist James Williamson and Peter Perrett and John Perry of The Only Ones, Texan country great Joe Ely and acclaimed novelist and Richmond Fontaine/Delines songwriter Willy Vlautin.
 


REM’s Peter Buck and the Velvet Underground’s John Cale have both served as Alejandro’s sidemen in addition to being his producers, a role also filled by legendary Bowie and T.Rex producer Tony Visconti, who produced a run of three albums for Alejandro spanning 2008-12.
 

Egomania - Hank Van Hell (Sony)

egomaniaMost people outside of his native Norway would think it’s been a long time between drinks (or other substances) for Hank von Hell, The Artist Formerly Known as Hank von Helvete of death-punters Turbonegro

Lifestyle issues twice rendered him an ex-member of his old band and he finally pulled the pin on them in 2010. A second spell in rehab (via a conversion to Scientology) put him back on his feet. Since then, he’s been a radio host, starred in a film, written an autobiography, appeared as a judge on Norwegian Idol, married a model and fatheried a daughter. All of which proves that fact is stranger than fiction when you consider Hank kick-started his career singing about having an erection..

Hank had a number-one hit in Norway as a solo artist in 2009 and fronted the post-Turbonegro supergroup Doctor Midnight and the Mercy Cult for a time. He’s now back on the boards in his own right with the release of “Egomania”, a record that might be a concept album themed loosely on the pitfalls of performing.

Collaborators and friends give Brian Hooper's posthumous album a St KIlda welcome

brian hooper charlie marshallIt was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.

And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.

The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.

Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.

They reign in Spain and now Adelaide says Yes to Senor No

senor no tourGod bless those wonderful creative people who say: "Screw this boring world, I'm gonna do what I want to do". Because, when all is said and done, we won't be here forever, and if what you fancy makes other people dance and leap about like they've got uncool illnesses, so much the better.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone who claims to love rock'n'roll has their own idea of what rock'n'roll is.

And, it's a suspicion of mine that a hell of a lot of rock'n'roll bands exist because no-one is playing the kind of rock'n'roll they want to hear (this may have been one of Kim Salmon's reasons for re-emerging with another Scientists in 1982).

Last week we saw The Animals, sharp and bright as a new nail, rejoicing in the simple power and beauty of the r'n'b explosion, and the determination to stay stable in a troubled world. 

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