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

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

The Island Years - Ultravox! (Caroline International/Island)

Ultravox The Island YearsIt's rated five bottles. What's so good about Ultravox!? 

Really simple. First, great songs, unique construction and clever use of synths; second, powerful, heady stuff. Pretty much essential. My favourite is the middle LP, but I have always loved the other two.

You could argue that, given that the band was riddled with elements of what would become electronica and dance, but with dub reggae, glam and funk also welded into place, Ultravox! offered a step forward, beyond punk, yet before punk had even happened. 

They're not just a fucking important band, but they're a damn fine band.

There are box sets and there are box sets. If you don't have anything by Ultravox!, or, if you like, you found the “Vienna”-era band a tad gooey on the nerves, this set brings their first three LPs together plus an extras disc. 

Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 - Wire (pinkflag)

pink flagCertainly the deluxe edition re-issues are part of their time. Can't help that.

You know what they say of the younger fans of Green Day, on the occasion of their first listen to The Clash? "Golly, they sound just like Green Day!" ...

One of the weirder things is revisiting old men's records and realising that their leaps forward 40-odd years ago did the spade-work for mega-selling buttonhead bands by the hundred. I mean, come on. The late '80s and mid-'90s Britpop thing owes a huge debt to Wire.

What is astonishing here, apart from the vibrant inyerfaceness of the pre-"Pink Flag" demos (recorded between May and August 1977), is that, like The Buzzcocks and The Clash, or Siouxsie and the Banshees around this time, how broadly creative Wire were over such a short space of time. Like The Clash and the Banshees, Wire were part of the punk burst, but didn't rely on its DNA.

Appeal launched as Spencer P Jones fights on

spencer p jones 7Spencer with The Escape Committee. Richard Sharman photo.

An emergency GoFundMe account has been opened for legendary Australian guitarist and songwriter Spencer P Jones as he continues his fight against terminal liver cancer. 

Spencer's longtime partner Angie has had to take a cut in her working hours in her day job to care for Spencer and the couple are finding it hard to make ends meet. Donations can be made here. More info in our story here.

Mr Telecaster swings through Australia

Albert Lee webGrammy winning guitar legend Albert Lee is returning to Australia for his first local shows this decade. He’ll play a stack of headline gigs across the country, plus make appearances at Adelaide Guitar Festival, Melbourne Guitar Show, Sydney Guitar Festival and Gympie Muster.

Albert Lee is one of the greatest guitarists in both rock and country music history. Included on Albert’s cv are performances and recordings with Keith Urban, Tommy Emmanuel, Dave Edmunds, Willie Nelson, Bill Wyman, Carlene Carter, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Bert Jansch, Herbie Mann, Keith Richards and Dolly Parton.

With a live show that kicks off with a blistering rendition of Fat’s Domino’s “I’m Ready” and makes joyous pit stops for classic tunes by Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Hoyt Axton, Buddy Holly, Jimmy Webb and Ray Charles, we’re assured a sensational night of fabulous music from a man renowned as a living history of rock and roll.

Inspired by Elvis’s guitarist Scotty Moore, British born Lee first displayed his awesome chops trading licks with the likes of Jimmy Page and sharing stages with Deep Purple, Humble Pie and Grand Funk Railroad as part of the fabulous Byrds/ Flying Burrito Bros inspired Heads Hands & Feet.

He moved to the USA where he recorded three albums as a member of The Crickets, and then joined Joe Cocker at his peak. In 1976, Albert become part of Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band alongside Ricky Skaggs and Rodney Crowell.

Roxy - Tonight’s the Night Live – Neil Young (Reprise)

roxyThere’s a Neil Young biography (maybe one of the earliest about him) by Johnny Rogan from 1982 that documents the great man’s “Ditch Trilogy” period in some detail. A section about Neil’s 1973 UK tour - before the release of “Tonight’s The Night” – makes him sound unhinged.

Rogan’s telling has Young believing his own audience patter that he’s “in Miami Beach” (tagline: “It’s cheaper than it looks”) and delivering ramshackle, desolate songs that the audiences had never heard before – when all the punters wanted was a run-through of the hit album “Harvest.”

Besides criticising the op shop stage décor, Rogan painted Young as near incoherent, bombed out of his brain on whatever was handy and mumbling. It’s like the man’s mind was a bottle short of a full case of Corzo.

Death of the Vinyl Boom - Alien Nosejob (self released)

alien nose job epIn the truest sense of DIY, this bedroom-recorded EP comes with hand-drawn inserts or a cover either smeared in blood or bearing glued-on pieces of a smashed 45. Shades of The Psychosurgeons with the red and white corpuscle edition and the music’s of a similar mind.

Alien Nosejob is Jake Robertson (of Ausmuteants, Hieropants and Frowning Clouds) and the four songs are bedroom recordings, augmented by a full-blown horns section in one instance. “Caffeine OD” sound slike early Devo on a meth trip with its stuttering guitar and jerky rhythms fitting perfectly. 

The Cramps tackled the topic first but songs about flies should proliferate in Australia. We’re infested with them. “Flyblown” marries an odd juvenile melody to lyrics about wanting to be a fly. It’s equal parts aggravating and addictive. “Sydney Sizzles” and “Over The Bridge” are a pigeon pair of punk rockers; the former doesn’t do a lot for me before the horns kick in, a la “Prehistoric Sounds”, while the latter scoots along like a Wipers tune before whipping itself into a furious breakdown with more horns. 

All in all, pretty wonderful and this Bandcamp link makes it so easy to procure. 

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Tragic news as Spencer P Jones wrestles "inoperable" cancer

Spencer Jones by by Steve FordMuch-loved Australian rocker Spencer P Jones is terminally ill and may have months to live.

Spencer’s wife, Angie, confirmed the news on Facebook about 5.30 this afternoon. In a statement, she wrote:

First of all Spencer & myself would like to thank everyone in the community for all the love & support since Spencer was struck down with illness in 2015, rendering him unable to pursue his creative musical career.

For the past two years, we have been under the wing of the wonderful peeps at Royal Melbourne Hospital. Unfortunately after another scan in March this year the doctors found a cancer tumour in Spencer's liver. 

In short , as a result Spencer has now been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer.

Rumours that Spencer’s health had hit a new hurdle had been circulating for weeks. His Beasts of Bourbon bandmate, Brian Henry Hooper, passed away on April 20, just days after a benefit show for him while he fought cancer. 

Lick My Wounds/Firestorm – SC/TC (self released)

sc tc coverNever became obsessed with that Oz Rock thump-clomp beat to the same extent as many, if not most, around me, but there’s no denying the global impact of the Alberts sound. This two-song CD single contains primo examples of the same, courtesy of the ubiquitous Simon Chainsaw (“SC”) and his new partner in rawk, Tony Currenti (“TC”).

For those about to confess ignorance, Tony Currenti was the session drummer on AC/DC’s seminal “High Voltage” and on hits for Stevie Wright (“Black Eyed Bruiser”) and, um, John Paul Young (“I Hate The Music”.)  He would have joined Acca-Dacca fulltime, too, but for the facts he already had a band and touring on the back of his Italian citizenship would have exposed him to that country’s military draft.

Tony owns a Sydney pizza shop (Torino’s at Penshurst) and plays on occasional AC/DC tribute bills. Globe-trotting Simon Chainsaw has relocated from Brazil to Australia and roped in Currenti for recordings and live shows over a chianti and Pizza Margherita. The result is a combo of that trademark Chainsaw punk-pop roar and good ol’ fashioned Oz Rock.

Currenti’s not big on dramatic fills but drives his big Ludwig kit (the same one he played for Acca Dacca) like a reliable old bus. He fairly nails the feel to the floor on the OK rocker, “Lick My Wounds”, but the second song is where it all comes together. “Firestorm” is wall-to-wall guitars with a seriously solid beat and a rocking hook. The drums were produced by Mark Scully (ex-Ratcat, Deadly Hume) and sound ace. It's a free download here or use the link on the Bandcasmp page to ask Simon for a physical copy.

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Drunk and Disorderly: Episode 36

Yee-ha! Episode 36 is live. You’ll hear from S to S, Heartbrokers, James Williamson and The Pink Hearts, Alejandro Escovedo, The Conspirators, The Hellacopters, Shifting Sands, The Sand Pebbles, Suzie Stapleton, The Scientists, P76, The Yardbirds, Stiff Richards and Mark Taylor (Lipstick Killers).

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