ALL YOUR LOVE – Mick Medew & the Rumours (I-94 Bar Records)
With a decade and a half between trips to the studio, it was beginning to look as if Mick Medew had turned into Mick Mildew, the former voice of the Screaming Tribesmen taking a giant step back from a scene that developed in glorious isolation and just now clearing his slate and his head for another tour of duty.
It should come as no great surprise there’s more lunging and snarling guitar hubub here than you can shake a pick at; after all, Medew’s never been one to trim back the volume or worry himself much about something as inconsequential as broken strings, fried tubes, or inner ear damage. The Rumours (Ash Geary – guitar, Paul Hawker – bass, and Chris Dixon – drums) are on hand to conjure up something that at times sounds like the end of the world cranked up to 10.
But Medew’s not simply soldiering on for the sake of nostalgia. He seems to be on a mission to dirty things up, inspired anew by the simple locomotive rush of ringing guitars which nearly smother things here. And in my world, that’s known as a good thing. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Walk tall or don’t walk at all. See Track #5.
Most of “All Your Love” reverberates with the type of energy normally reserved for rocket launchings, snapping, hissing, and crackling throughout eight lean-and-mean originals and a cover of the Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet” (complete with scorching pick drag – nothing beats a good pick drag, right?) that roar like a panzer division of diesel-powered howitzers set on “stun.”
It doesn’t take Medew long to get up and running, the chainsaw roar of “Spinning Wheel,” “When the Wood Is Brown,” and the title track signaling the beginning of Molotov-cocktail hour down under, an up-close-and-personal encounter session filled with battery-acid leads, shards of chopped chords, Medew’s patented icy, detached vocals, and a rhythm section beating the bejesus out of whatever you put in front of them. In other words, more fun than a garbage can filled with vodka and Gatorade.
The production here, by the band and Jeff Lovejoy, doesn’t rely on use-‘em-once studio gimmicks but is basic, brutal, and sparse, the aural equivalent of assault and battery with a blunt object. No flashpots, no fireworks, no fog machines; Medew simply flips down the blinders and plays himself into the maelstrom, emerging on the other side still in one piece, bloodied but unbowed, smoking, shredded speaker cones left in his wake.
A survivor? I hate that word but OK, have it your way. - Clark Paull
It’s certainly a sobering realization that punk’s Class of ’77 is now pushing 60, and a couple of years ago, when a buddy of mine was trying to start a rock school for kids, I was astonished to discover that the snotnoses had absolutely no idea what a I-IV-V progression was, let alone who Chuck Berry was. But then how would they know, having grown up saturated in a media bath of hip-hop, grunge, and plastic celebrity-pop? Common knowledge ain’t that common, and the music we consider heartbeat, while always a minority taste, is starting to seem antique, if not yet consigned to the dustbin of history. (How did this happen? Oh, yeah: We didn’t die.)
Among lovers of Rock Action, Mick Medew’s is a name to conjure with. The guitarist-singer’s pedigree dates back to 1979, when he formed the 31st with Ron Peno. Starting in 1981, he fronted the Screaming Tribesmen, a band that hit the mainstream big time in Orstralia and even got a shot at U.S. MTV with 1987’s "Bones and Flowers" - big hair, pointy guitars and all. Now Medew’s got a new band with Ash Geary, his guitar foil from an early ‘90s Tribesmen lineup, and drummer Chris Dixon formt he same band, plus a new boy in the engine room, bassist Paul Hawker.
All Your Love’s a half-hour packed with eternal verities: big, crunchy guitars; a roiling riddim section; and riff-driven, hook-laden songwriting. This is an album for lovers of truly immense-sounding guitars that dominate the mix in a way that we haven’t heard since, I dunno, Turbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes, or maybe the Dictators’ D.F.F.D. Cue up any track and you’ll find yourself swimming in layers upon layers of ‘em. Medew and Geary can really play, and they like to show you how: in the manner the ‘Tators’ Ross the Boss or Medew’s old bandmate Klondike Masuak, they’re flashy and fiery, but in a way that’s always roots (that’s Berry filtered through Keef and Williamson)-referential, never crossing over into neck-tapping Italo-American territory.
From its telegraphic intro, opener “Spinning Wheel” (inspirational rhyming couplet: “You’ve got me turning like a spinning wheel / I’ve been a sucker for the shit you deal”) is a mid-tempo pounder with lots of nifty arrangement touches that give the band a chance to show of its tightness and the guitarists the first of many opportunities to flaunt their prowess. “Ready To Fall” has a stop-start riff and singalong chorus that recall the Celibate Rifles’ “O Salvation!” “Overdo Everything” is a paean to excess that serves as a sort of preamble to the Rumours’ cover of Brit punk fellow travelers the Only Ones’ “Another Girl Another Planet.”
The title track’s chord-blast is dark and dense enough to be an outtake from the New Christs’ Lower Yourself, with a Medew vocal that’s reminiscent of Grant Hart’s contributions to Warehouse: Songs and Stories. “Mary Jane” rides out on a tide of ringing arpeggios and cracking snare-shots. Overall, this is the kind of album I didn’t think anybody made anymore in 2009: a bona fide Big Rawk Rekkid, brimming with fistfuls of guitars and melody. Git some! - Ken Shimamoto
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