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When giants strode the earth: Gun Club at the Strawberry Hills in 1983

jeffrey leeCelibate 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.”

The Psychedelic Confessions of a Primal Screamer – Martin St John (Lulu Publishing)

primal screamerI interviewed John "Joogs" Martin for a piece on his upcoming book last year. Following its appearance on Louder Than War, the website was contacted by representatives of Primal Scream's management to respectfully request that it was removed before legal proceedings were initiated.

To be fair, the interview was helluva incendiary in parts as I'd basically given Joogs free rein to vent and some of the material (which he'd had pent up for 27-odd years) was vitriolic and, at times, verging on libellous. It was also very, very funny.

At that point, Joogs (his nom de guerre was flipped by himself to Martin St. John during the PS early days) was looking for publishing for the book that he'd laboured over in his night shift job for several years. He'd actually hand-written it and part of the problem was finding someone to transcribe it all before it was touted around.

Manhattan Project - Kevin K (MVD/Real Kool Kat)

manhattan projectA 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.

Tingalingin’ - The Lincolns (The Lincolns)

TingalinginThe Lincolns are sharp, smart and write damn fine, modern songs, play with punch and verve, and crowds come out of the undergrowth wherever they play (I’m guessing they’d pull in the middle of the Simpson Desert), and most of the crowd get all gussied up and dance till the pompadours collapse like upset bowls of black pasta.

The Lincolns tour around the country; barely a weekend goes by without another sell-out Lincolns gig somewhere. They work hard at day jobs, too, so the band is their release; yet they drive to every gig and there’s more than 140 songs in their repertoire. Yes, really. And they live in Adelaide. And, their overseas tours have been extremely successful, and there’s another one sorted out for 2017.

A Place Called Bad - The Scientists (Numero Group)

a place called badBarman, how many bottles can I get away with putting on this? If you’re a literalist, it’s five. Because you can’t go over 100 percent, by definition, can you?

Can you, fuck! Eight bottles, Barman. (ED: Go home, Robert, you're drunk!) This is a special, wonderful box set. Long overdue.

Antarctica - Marilyn Rose and the Thorns (In the Vault Records)

antarcticaThis 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.

Make your Festive Season jangle for free

Tis the season to be jolly, as if you didn’t know, and Perth-based international pop collective The JAC have a Xmas present for us all. 

The JAC is Perth musician Joe Algeri whose bands include Jack and the Beanstalk, The Britanincas, The Outryders and, most recently, The Jangle Band.

Each year, Algeri releases a Xmas song. On “Christmas Without Maria” Joe’s on vocals and guitar and he’s ably assisted by The Christmas Crew. On this recording, they’d be Briitannicas bassist Herb Eimerman (USA), Swedes Steffan Johansson (the Lemon Clocks, the Melted Hearts) on drums and Lars Brusell on keys, Finn Andy J Prinkkila (the Lieblings, the Sugarrush) on guitar and Paul Colombini (The Outryders) on guitar. Egomaniac Music personnel Erika Algeri and Lydia Algeri assist on backing vocals.

Recorded over the Internet in various studios around the world, it’s a free Bandcamp download - so get to it.

Blue & Lonesome - Rolling Stones (Polydor)

StonesBlueandLonesomeFour bottles? No, five. I s'pose.

In conversation with one of Sydney’s veteran rock’n’rollers, Doc Ellard of Chickenstones made the point that, to some extent, the early Stones were “trying to get away from being English, because of what America and Americana represented: freedom, freedom of expression, expansion, wealth and exotica”.

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