Celibate Rifles singer Damien Lovelock once said to me that the Sydney music scene between 1978 and 1985 was as strong as anywhere in world, at any time.
When a city’s musically on fire, it becomes the rock capital of the world…especially for the people that live there. It could been New York City in the mid-’70s, London in 1966 or San Francisco in the late ’60s. Sydney was right up there with them.
I remember I was out seeing bands every night of week. It could be every Wednesday with the Triffids’ residency at the Strawberry Hills Hotel, upstairs at the Trade Union Club for the Laughing Clowns, or some punk band down at French’s Tavern. You could finish with Paris Green at 3am in Kings Cross.
There were so many gigs that stood out: the Birthday Party, Scientists and X at the University of NSW Roundhouse, the amazing New Year’s Eve gig with the Celibate Rifles at the Trade Union…and The Gun Club at the Southern Cross, later re-named the Strawberry Hills Hotel.
The Strawberry Hills Hotel in Surry Hills was OUR pub. We were still aged in our late teens and we virtually lived there. There was cheap (or feree) beer and amazing music every night of week. I actually lived in a cheap shared house, a few blocks down the road.
One night in 1983, the publican told me to turn up on Monday. He said that “a Yankee band, The Gun Club, are playing.”
A bunch of New York City’s rock and roll past and present recently gathered in Manhattan to celebrate and play the music of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.
Led by the eternally cool Walter Lure, who was assisted by Blondie drummer Clem Burke, ex-Lower East Side resident and MC5 member Wayne Kramer, Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and a bunch of guest vocalists, the band played four sold-out shows. And they were reportedly underwhelming.
This album is worth four bottles. Possibly more. I’ll know in a year’s time, when I’ve finished listening to it. “Antarctica” is a sleeper, and it’ll get you in the end. Probably at night, it feels stronger at night. Lex from Seedy Jesus did the cover, and it’s a beauty, really smart.
And, yes, I’m going to repeat myself: the world is currently awash with brilliant music, much of it - like “Antarctica” - very strong and remarkably commercial. Given the airplay and the backing, "Antarctica" should be in thousands of homes around the world; certainly the USA would like this outfit. That said, I’ve not yet seen Melbourne’s Marilyn Rose and the Thorns - but I’ll rectify that as soon as I can.