beasts of bourbon - The I-94 Bar

30 Years Of Borrowed Time - Beasts of Bourbon (self released)

beasts30Here’s one of those ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-out’ releases. It’s a limited edition (500 copies), triple CD set of three recent live shows by as many different line-ups, each representing a particular phase of the Beasts’ rocky and storied lifespan. Need it be added that it kicks the living shit out of ‘most anything else the band’s committed to tape or hard drive?

A Call to You b/w Won't Say it to My Face - The Art Gray Noizz Quintet (Robellion)

art gray noizeThe last time I saw Stuart Gray was in Adelaide in 1990, at a grotty pub on Brighton Road which is now another craft-beer haven for the smug and pointless, and Bloodloss were playing what would be their last Adelaide gig, and the final with that line-up. They'd been hanging out with Stuart, and he'd been persuading Renestair EJ and Martin Bland to join his band Lubricated Goat.

It was quite an evening, somewhat bereft of punters, and The Goat promised, at the very least, overseas adventures. And, possibly, more punters. Frankly, it was a better opportunity for them than slugging out the gigs and LPs of great music to an uncaring town, so Ren and Martin left...

I'd seen Stu in several bands by that stage; The Bad Poets and The Brats, notably. Each time Stu joined an existing band, he'd lifted them mightily. Eventually, he left for Melbourne and Sydney, as all ambitious Adelaide artists did. I expect you know the rest; he was with Tex Perkins' outfit Salamander Jim and there was a stint with the Beasts of Bourbon.

A roomful of love amid the loss

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The Beasts
The Johnnys
The Gov, Adelaide
March 17, 2019
Photos by Alison Lea

It's the last night of the Adelaide Festival and the city centre is abandoned to the tourists, and no doubt some "end of festival" official shindig, doubtless adding anodyne "vibrancy" (one of Adelaide City Council's favourite buzzwords) to the joint.

Meanwhile, Adelaide's finest and most intelligent people are voting with their wallets and pile into the Gov, many having come from miles around. One bloke is here with his wife from Kangaroo Island (more expensive than a trip to Melbourne or Sydney); another bloke flew 300 miles to arrive at 4pm, with a return flight at 8am. There are many happy drunks.

Tonight was the most beautiful gig I've seen in years, if not ever. I cannot remember a more wonderful, cathartic experience.

Bandmates rally to help a seriously ill Spencer P. Jones

spencer benefitLiving legend Spencer P Jones is seriously ill and in need of your support. 

The storied veteran of bands like the Beasts of Bourbon, The Johnnys and many of his own outfits is under medical care and currently unable to work.

Mates James Baker and Tex Perkins have arranged benefit shows in Fremantle (March 20) and Melbourne (April 15) respectively. UPDATE: A GoFundMe account has been opened here for anyone unable to make the gigs.

Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), KISStake, The Painkillers, Beautiful Losers, Midfield Legends (featuring members of the Bad Seeds and The Triffids, Soulfisters, Maurice Flavels Intensive Care and more will play the Fremantle show at Mojo’s.

The Drones, Paul Kelly, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen, Adalita, Renee Geyer, Two Am I, The Pink Tiles and mystery guests head the Melbourne line-up at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda.

A silent auction will operate in conjunction with the WA gig

Fremantle benefit Facebook event

BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne music scribe Patrick Emery

patrick 2018Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.

Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.

Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.

Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.

The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.

Beasts documentary in the pipeline

Adelaide author and I-94 Bar staffer Robert Brokenmouth has been busy producing a movie. Here's a sneak preview of his Beasts of Bourbon documentary, "The Brass Ring".

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Collaborators and friends give Brian Hooper's posthumous album a St KIlda welcome

brian hooper charlie marshallIt was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.

And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.

The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.

Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.

Dubrovniks announce one-off Oz show

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The Dubrovniks are playing a one-off Perth show before embarking on another European tour.

The band reformed for Australian and European shows this time last year and is off overseas again.Their only local appearance will be Thursday June 2 at the Rosemount Hotel, supported by The Volcanics. Tickets are on sale now from http://www.rosemounthotel.com.au/

Dubrovniks world jaunt book-ended by shows in Perth and Melbourne

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After a 22 year hiatus, the Dubrovniks are temporarily back together and will be playing shows around the world, book-ended by gigs in Perth (June 6) and Melbourne (July 18).

“I’m Flipped Out Over You” is the theme for the Australian dates, the first leg of which is a show at Perth’s Rosemont Hotel with the original Scientists. It also happens to be the wedding reception for Dubrovniks and Scientists drummer James Baker and features the Television Addicts (two-thirds of the Victims, Spencer P Jones and  The Runaways (Spencer P Jones and Kim Salmon.)

The Melbourne version of “I’m Flipped Out Over You” becomes a two-stage garage punk extravaganza at the Corner Hotel with a gloriously loud bill that also includes the original line up of the Scientists (Kim Salmon, Baker, Boris Sudjovic and Rod Radalj), They’ll be joined by Rocket Science, Spencer P Jones & The Escape Committee, Hits, The Pink Tiles, The Electric Guitars and Girl Crazy.

Eat Your Young - Bitter Sweet Kicks (Beast Records)

eat-your-youngMelbourne’s Bitter Sweet Kicks believe in the ethos of hitting hard and fast and then moving on. Each of their three releases to date has been a seven-track affair, long on dirty, high energy rock and roll and short on indulgences.

Fuzz it up for Spencer

axemans fuzzBrisbane’s leading luthier and musical equipment emporium, Tym Guitars, is getting behind fund-raising for the ailing Spencer P. Jones by launching a limited edition fuzz pedal.

A whopping $200 of the $250 price for The Axeman’s Fuzz pedals will go to Spence, who is battling a chronic health condition and is unable to work.

You can pick up one of these monsters via Tym Guitars website.

The musically-challenged of us who can’t use a guitar pedal very well can make a donation at this GoFundMe site.

Ghosts of the fallen honoured as The Beasts take shape

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The Beasts

Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC

Saturday, February 23, 2019

I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.

Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.

The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.

He Gets Up Again

brian and the angelsBrian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.

Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.

It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.

Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.

Hookline and Singer - Kim Salmon (Tym Records)

hookline and singerIt was the moment I knew the relationship was in trouble. It was April, 1993 at Le Rox in Adelaide. Ed Kuepper was headlining, but it was support act Kim Salmon - in solo mode - who was holding our attention. 

Just as Salmon strummed the opening chords to “Words From a Woman To Her Man’”– still, when push comes to shove, one of my two favourite Salmon tunes (the other being its companion piece, “Something to Lean On”), a punter in front of us turned and rebuked my girlfriend for disturbing the aural ambience with her loud commentary.

I knew the relationship was in trouble because I wanted to side with the anonymous interlocutor from the crowd.

Melbourne launch for posthumous Brian Henry Hooper album

brian henry hooper rip carbieCarbie Warbie photo.

On 20 April, 2018 the world of rock’n’roll lost one its most charismatic and talented soldiers, Brian Henry Hooper. Best known for his work in the Beasts of Bourbon and Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, Hooper’s resume extends to stints with Charlie Marshall’s Body Electric, Rowland S Howard and Andre Williams.

When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2017, Hooper was mid-way through putting the finishing touches on his new album, What Would I Know?, one of two solo records he'd recorded over the previous two years at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room Studios in Nagambie.

My Script - Kim Salmon (kimsalmon.com.au)

my scriptContrary bugger that he is, while this hasn’t quite been released, quite a few radio shows are playing tracks; this is probably because the DJs have all contributed to Kim’s crowdfunding site and have been snaffling the thing. And no wonder, because My Script is a ripper of a CD, all raucous yet bedroom-y, intimate and deafening by turns.

It’s also quite clear that this is Kim’s first "real" solo LP, allowing us to see the full gamut of his talent. Miles Mumford is in the production chair, in between contributing poignant soundscapes.

On the back cover, “All Rights Reserved” is followed by “All Wrongs Righted”. In a way that’s typical of the man Salmon; I mean, yeah, it’s bit of flung-out wordplay, but imagine setting out a task so hopelessly impossible to complete…

Still Here - The Beasts (Bang! Records/Rocket)

still hereIn April 2007 I sat opposite Spencer Jones and Greg ‘Tex’ Perkins in a booth downstairs at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. The occasion was an interview to promote the release of the Beasts of Bourbon’s first studio album in 10 years, "Little Animals". Having recently arrived back from a short tour of the United States, Spencer and Perkins were weary from the long-haul flight.

Perkins was in Beasts mode – cocky, enigmatic, and just prickly enough to remind you who was the tough guy here. Spencer was, as he always was, just Spencer – the cowboy hat, a faint smile, and a reassuring honesty that defied his decades of service in the duplicitous, ego-obsessed world of rock’n’roll.

A fraught fraternal atmosphere hung over the interview. Spencer and Perkins had been friends, band mates, fellow reprobates and occasional antagonists for the past 25 years. They were like brothers, Perkins once mused, and like brothers they loved and fought. And Spencer and Perkins were the only remaining links to the genesis of the Beasts of Bourbon, an irreverent make-shift band thrown together to fulfil Perkins’ gig commitments at the Southern Cross Hotel, way back in June 1983.

Still living, The Beasts emerge with an album and a tour

beasts still living

After an extremely emotional final performance with the Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins hit upon the idea of getting all of the band’s members, past and present into a recording studio with no particular agenda other than to do just that.

It was more of a celebratory thing he had in mind than anything. Sadly, bassist Brian Hooper didn’t make it along as he passed away a week after the Beasts’ last show.

Assembled in Melbourne's Soundpark Studio a couple of weeks later were, Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Tex Perkins. They were unprepared, save for some some sketchy ideas, loose ends and a couple of covers. With limited time the band knocked together a collection of jams pretty much true to the crazy modus operandi employed back when “The Axeman’s Jazz” got laid down in that fateful eight-hour session in 1983.