• Patti Smith in Sydney

    Patti Smith in Australia

  • Robert Matheu photo

    Sonics Rendezvous Band - The One That Got Away

  • Murray Bennett photo

    Here Comes The Sun: Sunnyboys Live in 2017

Back in Byron with Tamam Shud - four decades later

shud byron2Tamam Shud back on stage at Byron Bay's Great Northgern Hotel.   Al Heeney photo

The Northern New South Wales Australian coastline has changed dramatically over the last 50 years.

Remember the pilgrimage of holiday time, with caravans lined up on the Pacific Highway…the tribe of kids in the backseat of the Kingwood (or Ford Falcons) bellowing out of boredom on the inteminable drive north? Then there was the weekend pilgrimage of surfers with their Sandman panel vans. Followed, of course, by the night drive back to work to Monday. It was a long trip back down to Sydney with car headlights on high beam, dodging speeding semi-trailers with speed-driven truckies, in-between stopovers at the Oak Milk Bar or the Big Banana.

Dotted along the NSW coast, from Hornsby to the Gold Coast, are memories. Of stop-overs at Frangipani-lined caravan parks, or pitstops at the homes of relatives. Memories marked by places like Foster, Nambucca Heads, Coffs and Byron. Sleepy little towns that were bursting at the seams on long weekends and Chrissie holidays.

Arrow Pierce My Heart - The Bonnevilles (Alive Naturalsound Records)

bonnevilles aliveDirty-ass R&B twisted into their own nasty, digging thing. 

It's awarded five bottles of beer. Maybe more. I’m too busy listening and dancing and making the car dodge those gigantic Woollies trucks.

Fuck this is fun. There’s only two of the buggers, a drummer and a guitarist and yeah, I know. The White fucking Stripes. Boy they were over-rated, weren’t they? Yeah. They were. But The Bonnevilles are the genuine crumbly biscuit, all warm and fuzzy from the hearth. Hearth?

Aquarium Session - The Red County (Grrif/ Burning Sound)

aquarium sessionNever heard of ‘em. The call themselves ‘TRASH-COUNTRY-GARAGE & BLUES-PUNK’ which is … oh, for fuck’s sake, why can’t bands be a little more adventurous and just skip the fucking definitions?

Oh. Cos then audiences won’t know what they’re like, and instead of giving them a twist on Spotify, will skip on to Bachman Turner Overdrive or something equally vile. Also, of course, their name brings up a swag of completely irrelevant sites, so it’s almost impossible to find out anything about these buggers.

Swing Cremona - Pierre Omer’s Swing Revue (Voodoo Rhythm)

omerOmer was one of the founder members of The Dead Brothers (of whom I’ve extolled the virtues of elsewhere on I94bar). However, I listened to the disc before I learned that. If you’re one of these cats who don’t quite ‘get’ how jazz as well as blues morphed into rock (the big bands in the '30s and '40s prided themselves on how loud they were), then all I can say is… dig this, suckers.

"Swing Cremona" is that rare item, a disc you can bop, hop and jive to, as well as dance like you’re tanked on tequila. So, it ain’t quite jazz, ain’t quite folk, blues and on and on. They said that about Django Reinhardt, and they were right. They squealed about Monk being too wrong to be jazz, and being too jazz to be pop, but he was both, and ended up in the bop basket.

Sydney just another step in Patti's spiritual, rock and roll journey

patti horses slSteve Lorkin photo

More than a decade ago, I was sitting in a Sydney pub with a beer after a Bob Dylan concert. I was amidst Dylan fans, including Jenny Kee, the ’60s fashion icon, “OZ” magazine figure and Buddhist. Jenny is a deep thinker and was peeling back layers on the Dylan show we had both witnessed. She turned to me in mid-conversation and asked a question I won’t forget.


“Do you think Dylan is deeply spiritual and has soul consciousness on stage?”

My answer after much thought was: “I can’t answer that, as I believe Bob lived many lifetimes and always felt he was guarded on that level, except in his born-again phase. That said, his songs are from the heart and mostly from his mind.” 

Jenny responded. “I saw Lou Reed last year. I believe he does, as he is on that journey.”

“I can’t say that about Bob or even Lou Reed. But after seeing Patti Smith live, I believe she does and that it comes from a very deep realm, in fact one could call it soul consciousness.”  

That was my answer all those years ago that night in Haymarket. I've always believed Patti is indeed a special performer.

Follow The Sun - Various Artists (Mexican Summer)

follow the sunQuestion: Who is this compilation of 20 songs of Australian folk obscurities of the 1970s for? Answer: Head to your nearest record collectors fair.

These are mythical gatherings, full of badly-dressed people with body odour problems who are entirely bereft of social graces. They clamber over each other, poring through crates and boxes while entirely oblivious to the other’s existence. They wear T-shirts commemorating concerts that nobody went to or that occurred before they were born. Or so the cliche goes.

Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall) & Silver/Lead - Wire (Pinkflag)

sublimeWire do enjoy their titles. “Akin to A Bell is a Cup (Until it is Struck)”, “Silver/ Lead” hints at alchemical alteration of roles and realities. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all…

Being from Melbourne, Charlie Marshall is more direct. He says exactly what he means. “Sublime” is his view of the machinery of the universe and our world - that stuff up out there, and that stuff all around us down here. What if what we assumed was one thing, wasn’t really that at all... 

silver lead wire

Both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” are magical. Both reach out and touch your heartstrings, both have a confident sensuality about them. Both wield lyrics like conversation: we discuss all manner of things, how we’ve changed our world, what it is, and our place in it. All this without being either preachy or boring; falling into both “Sublime” and “Silver/ Lead” is in like one of those enlightening conversations in a pub without an argument. Although both Sare in many ways rather different, they beat as two hearts. Both belong in your collection.

On Air - Queen (Virgin/EMI/BBC)

Queen On AirThe Barman didn’t want me to write this review, or submit it, or publish it. What is it about Queen, Barman? 

“Over-arranged, over-played and over-compensating for the fact that, at least initially, nobody liked them.”

Well, that last is true. But I think we can all name bands that nobody liked initially who became megafauna. Anything else spring to mind?

“Sure. Overblown pompous crap.”

Heartbreaker - Badass Mother Fuzzers (Pitshark)

badass mother fuzzersBadass Mother Fuzzers (BMF hereafter) is a trio from the French city of Toulouse, the name of which always brings to mind a famous Johnny Thunders throwaway line about being “born too loose”.

Musically, BMF is a much different kettle of fish but it’s a fair bet they’d appreciate the play on words being applied to their place-of-origin. They sound like they’ve been trying to corrupt Toulouse for years. “Heartbreaker” is more Hip Priests or Zeke than “Live At The Speakeasy”, but the intention is the same: Hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em again.

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