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Another Heroic Friday night

leadfinger friday night factory

In an alternative universe where justice prevails, Leadfinger would be spending their Friday night cranking out a two-hour set to a packed Hordern Pavilion. Five-thousand sweaty people would be singing along to every word of every song from their newest - superb - album.

Instead, they’re middle-of-the-bill and out front of a half-full Factory Floor in Marrickville. And the thing is, to watch them and to listen to those brilliant songs played with such passion and fire and love, you wouldn’t know the difference on stage.

This was only my second Leadfinger show. My first was at the Blood Bank Benefit for Mick Blood in 2014. I’d heard of them but not heard them. I spent the next 40 minutes standing there with my jaw on the ground going “Who the fuck are these guys and where have they been all my life?” Now to be fair, I had waged a blitzkrieg on sobriety that day and only remember general amazement, and a scorching cover of “City Slang”, but I blabbered about them for ages to everyone I spoke to in the real and cyber worlds.

Vale L.A. author and Imperial Dogs frontman Don Waller

imperial dogs don wallerAnother one has passed. Hot on the heels of Norton Records co-founder Billy Miller comes news of the loss of Los Angeles writer, scenster and proto-punk singer Don Waller.

A founding member of the semi-legendary "Back Door Man" fanzine and indie record label, Waller had written extensively for Mojo, USA Today, Billboard, Variety, Radio & Records, L.A. Weekly, L.A. CityBeat and the Los Angeles Times.

The second-generation LA native was the author of best-selling "The Motown Story" (Scribner's, 1985). Waller also wrote more than 40 sets of liner notesand was a consultant to TV co ntent providers.

Long before that, Waller was a member of proto-punk outfit the Imperial Dogs -- who wrote and recorded the original version of "This Ain't The Summer Of Love", later re-recorded by Blue Oyster Cult. The band recently unearthed an hour-long video performance, "The Imperial Dogs: Live! In Long Beach (October 30, 1974)", released in 2009 and available from theimperialdogs.com

Don is survivied by his partner Natalie Nichols. To honour Don Waller's passing, we've unearthed this September 2009, interview by leading Australian documenter of the pre-and-punk scenes, former Dog Meat Records owner David Laing.

Cobra’s Blood - Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two (Off The Hip)

cobras bloodComing out of Melbourne with long-player number two, Kit Convict & Thee Terrible Two have come up with a great little album. It’s full of jangly guitar riffs, a huge drum sound and a fabulous bass player holding down its bottom end and keeping it as tight as a cat’s arsehole.

I’ll tell you now that they did not fuck around with the recording of “Cobra’s Blood”. It was all written by the band, recorded in two days (the 12th & 13th of March this year, to be precise) at the wonderful Sound Park Studios in little old Northcote. Mastered by Mikey Young, it's an album that grows and grows on you. Exactly as was intended.

Dumb-World - Negatives, Reals and Judas Iscariot & The Traitors = 1974-1978 (Loaded Skull Discs/Shock)

dumb worldThese are quite remarkable recordings. Yes, you've heard rehearsal tapes and demo recordings by garage bands before, but these are different. It's all about the timeframe, the intensity and the fact that they're Australian and were recorded in relative cultural isolation.

“Dumb-World” is a serious collection of raw demos and rehearsal tapes from future Sacred  Cowboys leader Garry Gray and his early bands between 1974-1978, featuring Judas and the Traitors, The Reals and The Negatives.

To place this in a historic context, the Australian musical landscape was fairly frigid. The local artists’ soundtrack was blaring from commercial AM radio, but it that was drab even though the live scene was flourishing and there were so many gigs for local musicians to play. 

Bigger Than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Natural Sounds)

bigger than lifeIf Jack Lee went to his grave only known as the guy who wrote the Blondie hit “Hanging On the Telephone” he’d be more noteworthy than all of us combined and then some. The irony is that only music publishing houses and fans of his former band, The Nerves, would know this. Sad, but that’s the state of music in the ‘00s.

Just the facts: Their recorded output was scant but The Nerves were one helluva great power-pop band, operating out of LA in the mid-‘70s, and Jack Lee was (and probably still is) a consummate songwriter. Lee formed The Nerves and played guitar. His similarly talented bandmates were Peter Case (bass) and Paul Collins (drums.) They all sang and wrote the songs. That’s probably too much talent for one band and of course they didn’t last long…

Thrills & Chills – The New Trocaderos (Uncle Mike's RnR)

thrils and chills“Thrills and Chills” is full of old school rock 'n' roll combined with big power-pop songs. This album is a winner, from the fantastic opening track “What The Hell Did I Do” until the closer, “Business To Tend To”.

This wonderful album is the New England band's first full-length effort after a string of EPs and has a little bit of everything for everyone. Led by the three guitars of Brad Marino , Kurt Baker and Jeff Palmer (who swap between rhythm and lead and bass guitar), the band also mixes the lead vocal role. Kris Rogers and Rick Orcutt fill out the ranks on keyboards/piano and drums respectively.

R.I.P. Billy Miller of Norton Records

billy roy miriam

Billy Miller (left) with ex Flamin Groovies frontman Roy Loney and Miriam Linna.

Co-owner of legendary label Norton Records and former member of the A-Bones, Billy Miller, has passed away after battling long-term health complications.

Miller founded the label with his future wife Miriam Lina (a former Cramps drummer) in 1986, originally to issue the music of Hasil Adkins.

Hundreds of releases followed for bands as diverse as The Wailers, The Sonics, The Dictators, Reigning Sound, Esquerita, Ramones, the Pretty Things, the Flamin' Groovies, the Alarm Clocks, Question Mark and the Mysterians, Dale Hawkins, Andre Williams, Jack Starr, the Flat Duo Jets, the Untamed Youth, the Phantom Surfers, the Hentchmen, Wade Curtiss, Jackie & the Cedrics, the Church Keys, and Iggy Pop’s alma mater, The Iguanas.

Miller had lost a leg to complications from diabetes a year ago. He had been back in hospital in recent months.

The Man He Used To Be: Stewart Cunningham tells the Leadfinger story

Leadfinger Heritage 2016
Leadfinger in full flight at Bulli's Heritage Hotel with Carrie Phillis assiting on backing vocals. 

They've been around for a decade but I've gotten into Leadfinger a bit late in the piece. I had heard word that they were one of the best bands in Sydney, and I knew their leader, Stewart Cunningham, from previous outfits like Proton Energy Pills and Asteroid B612, with whom I’d shared stages. So we went all the way back to 1989. 

The penny finally dropped at the Tim Hemensley Memorial at the Tote in Melbourne about three years ago. Bombarded by the hard Geelong-Melbourne garage rock sound, it was Leadfinger (along with HITS) who were the highlights for me.

Leadfinger played upstairs. I watched a band that was thoughtful, with a great collection of songs and a broad variety of influences. The guitars chimed and lashed out, there were great vocal hooks, and the tunes were memorable. I decided that I liked them a lot.

Dirty and Dumb - Labretta Suede and the Motel 6 (self released)

lab suedeA lot of you guys have got me dead wrong. I don’t actually want to write reviews tearing bloody strips from your flesh. I don’t want to kick you in the balls. I don’t want to take your daydreams of fame, glory and love and cruelly crush them. But sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do.

I’d like to say that it wasn’t your fault and it was mine. But I’d be lying. It’s all these crap records you keep making. And you know you’re doing it.

You keep including self-written third person press releases announcing your godhood. You present me with expectational cheques your butt can’t make good on. The general idea is, you have to convince someone else to write something nice about you in the third person. If you write about yourself in the third person, you’re asking to be slapped down. So, find someone else to sing your praises. But that’s not going to be me.

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