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

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

On Top - Straight Arrows (Rice Is Nice)

on top straight arrowsThey’re not its most prolific band but they’re one of Sydney’s best. The Straight Arrows seem like kids but have been around for nearly a decade and this is only their third long player. It’s doubtful they care about keeping score and neither should you.

What you need to know is that “On Top” is uncomplicated, nicely raw and melodic. Two guitars, bass and drums and well-crafted, economical songs. Tight but loose. Cleaner-sounding on this record than before but still rough enough around the edges. 

Owen Penglis writes good songs, alright. Cock an ear to the grinding yet light fuzzfest of “The One” or the buzzsaw burst of album opener “Nothing To Me”. They’re instantly catchy - like early Ratcat to cite a band that was around before these guys were born. Penglis and Al Grigg weave curtains of fuzz with their guitars and the energy level never sags. 

Roadies. The Secret History of Australian Rock ’n’ Roll by Stuart Coupe (Hachette Australia)

roadies bookThe “Secret History” part could have been easily replaced by “Sex, Drugs, Rock ’n’ Roll and Driving…Lots Of Driving”. There are more miles in Stuart Coupe’s book than a shipping container load of Gregory’s street directories, but it’s much more fun to read. 

The concept is simple: Speak to Australian road crew about their experiences and shape a chapter around each conversation. Do it chronologically. Change very few names to protect the infamous. You can guess a few of them anyway. This boat doesn’t need a lot of rowing. In most cases, the stories tell themselves. 

If you’ve ever worked with, alongside, as a payer of or have been reliant on a roadie because you were performing, you’ll know that the good ones are (a.) usually full of war stories and (b.) indispensable. They are, quite simply, the people who make rock and roll shows happen. They see the good, bad and the ugly parts. They know where the bodies (and the drugs) are buried. 

There’s No Bones in ice Cream. Sylvain Sylvain’s Story of the New York Dolls by Sylvain Sylvain (Omnibus Press)

sylvain bookThere are two undeniable take-outs from "There's No Bones In Ice Cream." One is Sylvain Sylvain's deep and abiding love of the New York Dolls and pride in their legacy. The other is a feeling that things could have turned out much differently had they been given five minutes during their time on the roller coaster to catch their breath.

If you're reading this review at the I-94 Bar you don't need to be told who the New York Dolls were or how important they are. Glam rock probably still would have happened without them, but punk's birth would have been very different.

The Dolls are influential because they proved that you didn't have to be good to be great. Their lack of virtuosity was as influential as their style.

Mainstream America didn't want to know about the Dolls. The image was just too fag-ishly confrontational. Their first lifespan was only two albums. Others who trod the same path - who moderated the look and sound and stuck at it like Alice Cooper and KISS - cashed in, big-time.

Get some Cosmic Love with Malcolm Hill

Signed-up member of the Melbourne Music Mafia, Malcolm Hill, is premiering a new single with his band Malcolm Hill and Live Flesh.

"Cosmic Love", and its companion song "Anybody Seen My Girl", are a digital precursors to a full album later this star from Geelong-born Hill, a writer and staple of the 1980s Melbourne underground music scene with Buick KBT and Head Undone. Hill has guested with the likes of Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes, Nick Cave and The Dirty Three so he's well-credentialled to say the least.

Grab a download of his new songs here.

Thanks, you Pretty Things. It's been fabulous.

dick and phil marrickvile 2018Dick Taylor and Phil May of the Pretty Things. 

Lou Reed posed the question: "What becomes a legend most?" and it's a fair bet that playing a Wednesday night in Sydney at theFactory Theatre wasn't an answer uppermost in his thoughts. 

But that's the lot of the Pretty Things on this temperate Aussie evening. A fact of life for one of the original wave of British blues-rock bands and a band who were contemporaries of the Rolling Stones, briefly giving Mick and the boys their first bassist before they'd even settled on a name.

Bellissimo! A new Radio Birdman book hits the shelves

roberto birdman bookItalian journalist and occasional I-94 Bar correspondent Roberto Calabro has had a Radio Birdman book published.

It's called "Radio Birdman. Il rito del suono selvaggio" (that would be “Radio Birdman: the ritual of the wild sound" for non-Italian speakers) and it’s published through Tuttle Edizioni.

Not just a historical recounting, it covers the whole story of the legendary Sydney band from the early days up to now with chapters about The Visitors, the New Christs and the work of individual members.

It’s only in Italian right now but Roberto is keen to have it translated and published in English. You can order a copy here. Comprendere?

 

Tamam Shud returns with short run of summer shows

tamam shud 2018 gigsWhere were you, and what were you doing when Australian surf and psychedlelic legends Tamam Shud last played some of their tripped-out live shows on the University Scene during the acid movement of the '70’s?

Most people probably wouldn’t remember and those who do probably weren’t there.

However, everyone recalls Tamam Shud for their input and timeless tracks contributed to Australian surf film classics, “Hot Generation, Evolution and the seminal Morning of the Earth”.

It wasn’t long ago Tamam Shud were onboard for the sold-out national tour for "A Long Way to the Top" arena spectaculars and "Delightful Rain: A celebration of Australian Surf Music" shows.

More recently the band has undertaken a brief East Coast tour in 2017 with Andrew Kidman & The Windy Hills, played a double-header with Buffalo Revisited and did sporadic shows on Sydney's northern beaches and in its inner-west.

The Shud has just wrapped up recording a new LP and with this release, an opportunity to celebrate their latest recording.

Melbourne launch for posthumous Brian Henry Hooper album

brian henry hooper rip carbieCarbie Warbie photo.

On 20 April, 2018 the world of rock’n’roll lost one its most charismatic and talented soldiers, Brian Henry Hooper. Best known for his work in the Beasts of Bourbon and Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, Hooper’s resume extends to stints with Charlie Marshall’s Body Electric, Rowland S Howard and Andre Williams.

When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2017, Hooper was mid-way through putting the finishing touches on his new album, What Would I Know?, one of two solo records he'd recorded over the previous two years at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room Studios in Nagambie.

Is Arlo Guthrie important? Go ask Alice

arlo guthrie

The I-94 Bar is definitely the place to see a reminder that '60s icon Arlo Guthrie a) still exists, and b) coming to Australia. Why? Who is Arlo Guthrie? Is he important? 

I think so, but then I was a slightly aware teenager (just) from the middle of the '70s, and I remember watching a late-night movie called "Alice's Restaurant" on TV. So hilarious, smart, fun, pithy that I realised that although a hell of a lot of hippies were total knobs, some had good points.  

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