lobby loyde - The I-94 Bar
Before there was punk rock there was Ian Rilen. Then there was X.
X weren't punks in the sense of the term that the skinheads understood but they were primal, punk rock and roll in one combustible package.
Sydney had never seen a band like X whose wrecking ball power centred on Rilen's bass-played-as-a-lead-instrument, the massive backbeat of fellow veteran Steve Cafeiro, the slashing guitar of Ian Krahe and the shredding vocals of Steve Lucas, the latter two rookies.
Living a quiet life wasn't part of the X creed. Krahe's submission to a heroin overdose left the already outlawed X even more out on a limb, but they grimly continued as a trio and proceeded to record their debut album with legendary guitarist Lobby Loyde producing.
"X-Aspirations" became an instant classic, setting a benchmark for a whole legion of new, uncompromising and minimalist bands.
These words (and those that follow) were written for the liner notes for the 2009 re-issue of X’s debut album “X-Aspirations” but were inadvertently shelved. We’re reviving them to coincide with the 40th anniversary tour by the X line-up that lives on after the passing of all original members except guitarist-vocalist Steve Lucas. Lucas has crowd-sourced a Best of and Rarities collection ("X-Citations") on vinyl, copies of which will be available at the gigs. Read on.
Following in the tradition of acclaimed compilations like “Boogie” and “(When The Sun Sets Over) Carlton”, Festival Records and WMA are releasing a new collection of music from Australia’s sharpie subculture of the ‘70s.
“When Sharpies Ruled – A Vicious Collection” is a power-packed 23-track CD packaged with a slipcase, 28-page jewel case booklet with liner notes and a separate 60 page booklet of Sharpie snaps. It’s billed as “the ultimate aural and visual statement on the infamous Australian youth movement and gangs of the ‘70s” and who are we to disagree?
Sharpies were a uniquely Australian, working class phenomenon from the late ‘60s to the late ‘70s. Notorious for causing trouble, they’re remembered for their startling style sense - tight Italian cardigans and razor cut hair were favoured – and outrageous dancing.
X-Aspirations - X (SL Express)
The (mild) hype accompanying the 40th anniversary edition was deserved and - and then some. This is as essential an Australian “punk” album as the Radio Birdman and Saints debuts - even if comparatively few people noticed at the time.
The reputation of “X-Aspirations” as the ultimate in primal, spontaneous and minimally brutal music fron this part of the world (Australia) has grown with every re-issue, and this re-mastered vinyl version is surely the last word.
Sydney-reared and as street-level as a band could be, X had all but been destroyed by reputation and reality by the time they went into Trafalgar Studios in 1979. Venue owners despised them and the crowd they attracted. Gigs inevitably ended with a full house, physical damage, spilled blood and a warning for the band not to come back.
There’s always something to recommend Unbelievably Bad even if their tastes extend to the extreme end of the cultural scale (black metal, splatter movies, hardcore) compared to your average, probably older, I-94 Bar reader.
There’s not much in the ranting of Cannibal Corpse’s ex-frontman Chris Barnes or the chick from the so pretentious Circle Pit to trouble me, but on the other hand a lengthy chat with Ian Cunningham from Birdman fans The Chosen Few is alway going to be a worthy read. Issue 16 is a cracker with the other stand-out an interview with Ian “Bobsy” Millar, the last surviving link to Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls. It’s also timely with the “When Sharpies Ruled” compilation recently dropping.
Depending on which side of the footpath you were on in the Australian 1970s, Sharpies were either misunderstood working class rebels or teenage thugs and bullies.
One Sydney Sharpie who went by the name of Big Victor (name changed to protect the guilty) would wait at suburban railway stations looking for long-haired surfers with the intention of breaking their surf boards and, if need be, a bone or two in the process. The Sharpies in Melbourne may have been different.
This is their soundtrack - ironically of mostly long-haired bands. The only real sharpie bands would have been Lobby Loyde and the Colored Balls and Buster Brown, whose singer Angry Anderson was a sharp. Certainly, Billy Thorpe had a sharpie haircut for while. The music is Australian 1970s pre-punk heavy rock/glam and as a collection that's representative of this era, it is nothing short of excellent.