BARFLY TOP TEN: Sydney's Celebrity Roadie Peter "Rossy" Ross

rossy 2018It's almost 2019… and the world seems to be going mad. But the big question I ask myself… is rock dead?

I see alternate styles of music like rap, hip-hop and commercial pop dominating youth culture. I wouldn’t recognise Drake or Flume if they dropped their USB sticks in front of me. In closeted rock’n’roll enclaves such as the I-94 Bar dirty rock’n’roll seems to be thriving, but one by one icons are dropping off the perch. How much longer can it survive?

The benchmark I’ve been looking at is guitar sales. Electric guitar sales have slipped 22.7 percent since 2008… the price of guitars is rocketing, yet it appears that the acoustic market is on the up… Something like a 15 percent increase over the same period. Although insipid, whiny vocal sounds have probably been tied to the same trend.

The trend that parallels the increase of Ed Sheeran wannabes is the rise of vinyl sales. I’d guess that pot smoking hippies, listening on their Technics SL1200 to Bob Dylan re-masters trying figure out how to play protest songs while avoiding the dreaded F chord are to blame.

Despite my sense of foreboding I did manage to catch some quality rock’n’roll but I put that down to confirmation bias. My personal faves:

We Are The Clash: Reagan, Thatcher and The Last Stand of a Band That Mattered by Mark Andersen and Ralph Heibutzki (Akashic Books)

we are the clashHistory, so observers say, is written by the winners. More often than not, those observers are the victors so they would say that, wouldn’t they? Nonetheless, it’s a truism that carries weight. 

That’s why you’ll see scarce mention of The Clash’s career after Mick Jones was kicked out and it’s partly why the final studio album under the band’s name, “Cut The Crap”, has been excised from the official - read: survivor-approved - body of work. Indeed, that one’s not even available to stream on the ubiquitous Spotify and never had a hope in hell of making it to the extravagant “Sound System” box set.  With good reason, say most of us who have heard it…

Which brings us to “We Are The Clash”, an exhaustively researched and well-written book that chronicles the last Clash line-up, a back-to-punk-basics outfit whose ranks included only two “real” members in Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon.  The so-called “Clash Mk 2”. 

“We Are The Clash” is an important book in so many ways - and not just because it makes up for a lack of documentation of this period of the band. 

BARFLY TOP TEN: Derrick Ogrodny of Heavy Medication Records

DJ Derrick OgrodnyGreetings from Warsaw, Poland! I don't know how many of these Barfly Top 10s will be from folks outside of Australia, but I'd wager a year's salary that mine will be the only one from a former Eastern Bloc country. Here are Top Seven things I enjoyed in 2018:

1) Starting a record label
2018 was the year a long-dormant dream became flesh. All the planets had aligned just right: some good local bands had appeared on my radar, I had a steady income that allowed for occasional extravagance, and the label name had been bouncing around my head for months, inspired by an Action Swingers tune.

And thus in July, Heavy Medication Records was born, and it's been a most-rewarding learning experience since Day One. I got turned on to a lot of cool bands, networked with like-minded labels and music fans, and even got some exceptional reviews that convinced me I wasn't wasting my time. The damage so far: three releases in the can, another three in the works, and a bunch more on the horizon.

I must admit, I didn't listen to many 2018 releases, outside of the ones I put out myself. It's rare that I feel the urgency of snatching up a band's new record as soon as it comes out. There were a few notable releases that caught my attention however...

BARFLY TOP TEN: Phase 4 Records & Cassettes and LCMR label co-owner Donat Tahiraj

donat 2018Once 1999 clicked into 2000, I struggled to recall one year from the next. What I do know is LCMR (Late Century Modern Recordings) released a blue vinyl version of Razar’s "Stamp Out Disco" 7” and (unsurprisingly) it popped up on various selling sites like mushrooms as the 100 pressed had all sold just after lunch on Record Store Day.

Our label also released one of the weirdest pop records to come out of Brisbane by Sneaky Radio. A week or so after the release, Ross Lovell (the man behind the moniker) phoned me to ask how many copies we’d sold. I said about 40. He quickly replied without a second’s thought and said in his soft, inimitable voice: “That’s 40 more than what I did!” Needless to say, if you like outsider music, may I recommend it to you.

It goes without saying that I thought The Aints! most recent tour on the back of their "Church of Simultaneous Existence" was exceptional. Audiences in Brisbane were treated to solo set of mostly tunes from his last (and some say final) solo album "Lost Cities" followed by a set of Saints tunes, topped off by the new Aints! LP in full and a long encore - with my maths suggesting a sonic extravaganza of about three hours.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Sydney bassist for The Smart Folk and The Amazing Woolloomoloosers and avid gig goer Keith Claringbold

kc on bassI couldn’t find a clear winner for Gig of the Year for 2018. Here are 10 that were special.

TODD RUNDGREN – Oxford Art Factory.
His Toddness, the runt ,the hermit of Milk Hollow. Backed by a cracking band Davey Lane’s Drunken Blue Roosters, Todd took us from The Nazz, through his AM hits and on a detour to play many songs he admitted to not having played live for some time, if at all.

Great songs, top musicianship and Todd really seemed to be enjoying himself.

BARFLY TOP TEN: 2RRR's Chris Virtue of the Virtual Reality Show

chris virtue 2018Another bumper year for the discerning music fan with some cracking releases and choice gigs. It’s a fine time be a punter and the challenge will be keeping this review of the year to just 10.

Speaking of challenges, as I get older and my brain gets more addled, trying to remember what I had for breakfast is enough of a challenge, let alone trying to remember what I happened in the first half of the year. So, if I left something or someone off, be kind.

Amy Helm – This too shall light
Amy is the daughter of Levon Helm and Libby Titus and she (Amy) was a regular member of her dad’s band in the latter stages of his career. This is only her second solo album (she’s nearly 50) and with a pedigree like hers, you just have to check it out. In short, it’s a wonderful mixture of country, folk, soul, gospel and rock. Great voice and great backing. One of the albums of the year.

Other albums worth mentioning in the US sort of country space include Kim Richey (Edgeland) and Dawn Landes (Meet me at the River). Both excellent singers and songwriters. Kim’s ‘Leaving Song’ is one of the songs of the year.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne garage rocker Joey Bedlam of DollSquad

joey bedlamFavourite 10 Frontmen she listend to in 2018:

Dave Aguilar - Chocolate Watch Band
Rod Stewart - Faces
David Johansen - New York Dolls
Wally Tax- Outsiders
Steve Lucas - X
Greg Prevost - Chestetfield Kings
Rudi Protrudi - Fuzztones
Smokey Robinson - The Miracles
Jim Keays- Masters Apprentices
Joey Ramone - The Ramones

BARFLY TOP TEN: Viveiro Wave Riders and ex-Radio Birdman and Hitmen guitarist Chris Klondike Masuak

maz 2018

Hmmm. What wondrous things have defined my year?

I suppose my prevailing sentiment has been one of simmering frustration and anger at a world more out of control and stupid than I can remember. Perhaps it’s always been this way and I’m only noticing it in my dotage.

Whatever the reason, I’m noticing that personal selfishness and cultural callousness are the new black and that I just haven’t been able to continue being my usual conciliatory self.

BARFLY TOP TEN: theDean of Wollongong band The Dark Clouds. Facebook, Rock n Roll and all that Jazz.

the dean

Earthlings! We The Dark Clouds don’t care who you are! If you like polls, surveys and lists or if you think Shannon Noll is the pits. You’re all going under The Thunder.

1) You know that guy. The keyboard warrior, the one always going on about there is no good music these days. The guy with Brian Mannix as his profile pic. Well strike me lucky and call me Shirley you Putz. Here’s 10 bands in ten seconds: Port Royal, Legs Electric, The Lazys, MASSIVE, Aberration, Grindhouse, Dead Set, The CRAW!, East Coast Low, Electric Mary. See how easy that was. 10 ripper bands in ten seconds.

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