2019 Barfly Top Ten: Ron Brown, our Man in Dimboola

ron brown 2019 top tenReleases and Gigs

1 “Open Season” – Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers
This abum is a must for any Screaming Tribesmen or Mesmerisers fan. Full of catchy tunes. My number-one easily.

2 Hits live
Hits played Collingwood/Melbourne. Never a dull moment when drinking beer with Dick (Rich) Richards

3 “Ann Arbor Revival Meeting” - Scott Morgan’s Powertrane
After having a shitty bootleg for years it’s great that this has finally been re-released on LP and CD.

4 Radio Birdman, The Stems, Los Chicos - The Croxton Band Room, Melbourne
What a line up of talent! The Stems’ sound was amazing, Best bit of the night thoughg was meeting legendary X singer Steve Lucas (pictured at right - hatless) and his lovely wife Joey.

5 The Johnnys – Memo, St Kilda.
The Johnnys are still the Cow Punk Kings of The World,

2019 Barfly Top Tens: Robert Brokenmouth

robert brokenmouth 2019Well. It's that time of year.

The time of year when all right-thinking folk set out the Santa traps on Christmas eve, hoping for a big, juicy Santa (and not the scrawny weasel we caught last year, jesus, no meat on him at all) and the traditional charcoal spit-roast Santa in the back yard with all your mates and beer a-flowing. Done just right, the flesh falls right off the fucker's bones and melts in the mouth.

Preferably with apple and cinnamon sauce, but maybe that's just me.

Truth is that, while I heard a lot of wonderful music this year, I really don't feel up to delivering a Top Ten. Sure, there are some which leap out, but I didn't really listen that widely, I don't think. And I hardly went out. All were reviewed, look 'em out if you don't believe me.

I mean, look:

Gigs to remember:

The Animals and FriendsThe Animals and Friends
Gang of Four
The Gig of Glory (which I didn't review, but was the same line-up as the Banned from the Fed gig, but with the immortal Sean Tilmouth bringing up Fear and Loathing to international status, and the proper line-up of the Filthy Gypsies - ditto international status)
Cradle of Filth
Chickenstones
The Drama Dolls

The Tribe has spoken

mark enbatta tribe Mark Enbatta’s Tribe - Mark Enbatta’s Tribe (Bam Balam Records)

Way back in the early ‘80s, The Vietnam Veterans were the first French psychedelic band to grace a turntable in the I-94 Bar. It was their debut ,"On The Right Track Now" LP, and the wigged-out faux '60s atwork and cover of Roky's "I Walked With A Zombie" (reprised, even) were as attractive as its bargain price tag as it sat in the Phantom Records rack. 

It was weird stuff and out of left-field for someone then on a strict listening diet of Citadel Records post-Birdman fare. Over the course of six albums, until dissembling in 2009, the Vets carved a niche for themselves and toured extensively around Europe.

Like KISS, the Eagles and various other outfits whose names I can't believe I typed, let alone throught of, it was one of those splits that really wasn’t one. Various members played together under different names - most notably as The Gitanes and Vietnam Chain. Founding Vets member Mark Enbatta was the glue in those collaborations an d now ropes in two of his comrades for this, his second album under the Tribe moniker. Keyboardist Lucas Trouble is absent because he passed away in 2016, and it’s to his memory that the album is dedicated.

2019 Barfly Top Tens: Ron Sanchez

ron sanchez on stageGIGS

Hot Tuna - Rialto, Septermber 10
Veteran duo in electric mode with drummer. As heavy as it gets. Jack and Jorma playing with the same fire they had 50+ years ago. At the climax of one of the extended jams, Jack pogoed across the stage. We got right up to the front of the small venue for full effect.

Tom Rush - Ellen Theater, Bozeman, August 31
An unexpected visit by first division folk singer does not disappoint. At 79 years, he still has his voice and nimble fingers. Funny too. 2+ hour show. He manages to avoid playing any of his signature tunes.

BOOK

Jeff Tweedy - Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)
Well written and very funny. Tweedy weaves a compelling story about his childhood, bands and years of prescription drug addiction. Plenty of insight into the workings of Wilco and his songwriting. One of the best musician-penned memoirs I’ve read.

MOVIE

So Good I Can’t Take It - Aug 2 Ellen Theater Bozeman
Kirk Leclaire document’s the Montana music scene of the' 70s and '80s. Jeff Ament and Steve Albini figure large in the story. I get some face time too, though I only just make it into the time frame. Donovan’s Brain music is featured. A great story of small town misfits tearing it up and terrorizing the locals. A universal story that can be enjoyed even if you didn’t grow up in Montana. A Donovan’s Brain MK 1 reunion followed the screening.

Sunnyboys notch 40 not out

sunnyboys 40 small40 - Sunnyboys (Rocket)

New Sunnyboys studio recordings: They were long rumoured, but what they constituted and whether they’d see the light of day remained well-kept secrets. Now they’re here, they prove to have been worth the wait. 

There’s no need to recount the rise, fall and reincarnation of the Sunnyboys here. Let’s make the point that their second career is on a vastly different trajectory to their first. The pressure of being a major label money-maker on an endless treadmill is gone. Jeremy Oxley's health is good but he still needs to manage himself. It’s a measured gait for these Sunnies in 2019 - at least until they walk onto a stage - as befits four gentlemen of, ahem, enduring existence. 

Just like riugby league, the “40” record - a mini-LP, really, as it’s eight tracks long - is a game of two halves. Side one comprises the four songs released on the band’s self-titled “yellow” seven-inch EP on New Year’s Eve in 1980. The original vinyl version sold out in a couple of weeks, to be re-pressed in a re-mixed 12” version soon after, but this is the first time that the original mixes have made it to CD.

Compellingly sweet blues from a modern Animal

danny hadley epTwo Hundred and Ten - Danny Handley (digital release)

"My demon's always been a chancer/ Get up and don't get caught"

Danny Handley is the guitarist and compelling singer in The Animals and Friends. They're on tour around Australia at the moment. If you get even a quarter of a chance, go see them. They're great fun, and right now, what with half the country either still burning or about to burn, I'd say that (aside from grieving) the one thing which will lift your spirits is music, and The Animals & Chums do that.

Danny Handley is a huge frontman. He's been gifted with an immaculate, easy-to-conjure voice, a relaxed and engaging personality, the confiding air of the practised showman. Oh, the bastard has one of those effortless talents on the guitar, too. Not that I'm jealous (oh, no).

His style is a bit more modern than the original Animals, with distinct shades of sweet blues - and I should explain that I usually detest this style. In person, in Danny Handley's hands, these blues are absolutely beautiful.

2019 Barfly Top Tens: Mick Medew

mick medew triffid

Number 1
February 2 at The Lyrebyrd Lounge, Ripponlea:  The Lyrebyrd Lounge was the first of seven shows for me in Melbourne this year. It felt like coming home; what a marvellous club - run by my buddy Leon Storch. This show also featured Penny Ikinger and would turn out to be the start of something good.

Number 2
Late January marks the birth of my special new friend '' Arthur Robert Collie''

Number 3
Stephen Cummings at The Triffid on April 4:

An unlikely choice for my Top Ten but when you are hot you are hot. This was the gig of the year, no doubt about it. Clare Moore on drums and Sam Lemann on guitar.  

Ex-Harem Scarem bluesman gets under the skin

The Dog Beneath the SkinThe Dog Beneath the Skin. Rare and Unreleased - Christopher Marshall (digital release)

Chris Marshall's “The Dog Beneath the Skin” collection serves as a welcome reminder that the blues is a broad tapestry indeed. I repeat what I said above, my record collection does not have much modern blues. I do have some Harem Scarem, however, because they crash along a rough road twining hellish skronk and sweet blues.

There's a killer version of “Figurehead” here, and a fine version of “Dogman” (featuring the late Chris Wilson on harmonica); there's also unreleased performances of “Hard Rain” and “My Town” - the latter a band staple that was co-written with brother Charlie, but never otherwise recorded, with Christopher on lead vocals.

Like his fellow bandmate, the late Chris Wilson, Marshall's voice is quite extraordinary, and you can pretty much pick your own favourite blues-esque vocalist to compare him to.

2019 Barfly Top Tens: Joey Bedlam

joey bedlamTen bands Joey saw live in 2019 - or wishes she did and watched online:

  1. Bigger Than Jesus (Australia)
  2. The Heinous Hounds Blues Band (Australia)
  3. The Sick Rose (Italy)
  4. The Stems (Australia)
  5. Rough n Tumble (Netherlands)
  6. Radio Birdman (USA/Australia)
  7. The Casanovas (Australia and in expectation of their album launch cos I know it will blow my mind)
  8. Jeff Dahl (USA)
  9. Sonny Vincent (Testors)
  10. The Laissez Fairs (Ireland/USA)

Joey Bedlam was the leader of Melbourne's Doll Squad and will be releasing a new recording in 2020. 

 

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