The Subterraneans performing at Sydney University in 1986. From left to right, Peter Coutanche (X, Kamikaze Kids), Marty Willson-Piper (The Church), and James Griffin.
Photo, Kim Sandeman.
James Griffin, onetime inner-Sydney underground music household name now living in Melbourne, is poised to play his first show in living memory in his old hometown of Sydney this month.
Griffin will play the Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore solo on Sunday, May 19, reprising his extensive back catalogue of work with The Subterraneans, The Agents and as in his own name.
A successful poet, songwriter and broadcaster, James Griffin began his performing and songwriting life in the early '70s. Originally an alt-folk/punk-folk solo acoustic artist, he built a successful live performance career around such songs as "20th Century Blues", "I Smoke Money", "I Don't Think I Drink Enough", "I thought It Was You On the Boulevard" and "Australia's Just A Suburb of the USA".
The Gov, Adelaide
April 24, 2019
Jeremy Tomamak photos
One of the things that really got to me the very first time I saw the film "Alice's Restaurant" (on late night telly, back in the days when Adelaide only had four stations) was the mutation of black humour, intelligence, and improbability running through the film like a twisted thread of opal.
Not least is the fact that Arlo was (in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War and the draft) declared by the US Army as “not moral enough to join the army.”
As Arlo told Rolling Stone: "I never thought of “Alice’s Restaurant” as being an anti-war song, but you can’t run a war being that stupid. You won’t succeed in the war and you won’t succeed in other things either. And I think that’s some of the lessons we still have yet to learn, you know?"
And tonight, I wonder what we're in for. His father, underground folk guitar hero Woody Guthrie, died of Huntington's disease (HD), also known as Huntington's chorea in 1967, at the age of 55, and when Arlo was just 20.
This is an intruiging and charmingly all-over-the-shop album on which this Sydney five-piece sheds its alt.country label and heads for a garage in a swamp. There's more variety in this Licourice than a pallet-load of Darrel Lea Allsorts.
The Ramalamas have been around for a decade or so, led by Chris Nielsen (vocals-guitar) and subsisting in their city’s fragmented live circuit while putting out a string of albums, of which this is their fourth. Nielsen name-checks the usual ‘60s references (Kinks, Stones) with a nod to the US West Coast’s psychedelic folk-pop scene.
As well as owning a serviceable pop voice and playing nifty guitar, Nielsen is an award-wininng illustrator and his work adorns the CD cover and inlay.