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.
40 - 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.
The 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.
Two 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.
A Comedy of Horrors - Burn in Hell (Beast Becords)
“It’s rock and roll, Jim, but not as we know it.”
That might make sense if you’re a Trekkie, but of course you’re not.
(ED: Sorry. Robert Brokenmouth has hacked this review. Normal transmission will be resumed, momentarily.)
Burn in Hell is from Melbourne and is as rock and roll as AC/DC. Makes sense. The band comes from the home of AC/DC Lane, for fucksakes. They just play their songs as readily in waltz time as in 4/4. “A Comedy of Horrors” is their fourth album in close to 10 years and it’s off-the-wall, curious, warped, challenging and thoroughly enjoyable. It's an album for people who hate the mundane.
Old Habits Die Hard - Junkyard (Acetate Records)
It ain't no easy gig being a rock 'n' roll singer.
I'm re-reading that old hardback Steven Tyler book I bought second hand at a thrift store for two dollars, 10 years ago, for entertainment purposes right now. When I'm not busy doing stuff, because I'm at that time of year where every stray dime must go towards providing the impossible Santa haul for kids brought up in a capitalist culture of insane competition and peer pressure and mandatory conforming to the never ending juggernaut of acquisition and updating and unboxing and having the latest special edition gizmo and gadget and sports celebrity running shoe.