Headliner Kim Salmon: No fish out of water. Campbell Manderson photo
Every time I go to Melbourne, something elbows me in the ribs and, somehow, things don’t go according to plan. The last few weeks have been short pay weeks, so I didn’t have quite enough dosh as I expected.
Of course, I had also completely forgotten that hotels now want a deposit against impromptu extra day stays and so forth, just in case you take the toaster into the shower or, to settle an argument, see how just far down the emergency stairs you can surf on the bed.
So, somewhat impoverished, I set off for St Kilda, a once-magical place of genteelly-crumbling art deco, dread gangsters (the real kind), assorted equally impoverished students, musicians, dealers and migrants and so on and so on. The event is the 16th A Day By The Green, a long-running Melbourne rock and roll institution.
2017 was a great year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and "Forever Changes", the 40th of "(I’m) Stranded" and the 25th of something great (and local) which came out in 1992 that was more than likely one of Ed Kuepper’s. And speaking of Mr Kuepper, let’s launch into this Top Ten the Barman asked me to do.
I’ll just prattle on about live shows I’ve seen as they’re probably more entertaining than my thoughts on Cosey Fanni Tutti’s autobiography "Art Sex Music" which isn’t rock & roll enough or director Kriv Stenders’s recent feature documentary on the Go-Betweens which is probably too wimpy for readers in I-94 Land.
Fair enough - they’re not everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you prefer coffee.
1.-7. THE AINTS 2017 AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF THE EAST COAST Apparently the best way to describe someone who follows Ed Kuepper’s shows from town to town is to call them an Edhead. In 1976, Saints fans were known as Kuepper Troopers as it was understood that even in those early days it was Ed’s band - up until 1978, at least.
So fast-forward to 2017, The Aints awake after a 25-year hiatus and decide to tour through the most of the country’s capital cities doing Saints material from ’73-’78.
2018 kicked off with the release of Amy Rigby’s “The Old Guys” (Southern Domestic). That was probably my outright, most spun album of the year and always played from start to finish in its proper sequence. Produced by Wreckless Eric, this really should be on every year end list. I hope that one day, the world will catch on because it could sure use her music as a balm right about now.
The Dahlmanns “American Heartbeat” mini album (Beluga/Ghost Highway) features six songs whereupon Moss Rock City’s finest team up with Björne Fröberg (Nomads) and Chips Kiesbye (Sator) to deliver another chapter in timeless pop. It has a semi-baroque, almost folk quality. Line’s voice really has that Linda Thompson quality come to the fore. When I say folk of course I mean the LOUD variety, not that finger in one ear malarkey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
My patience with one and two-person acts is often stretched but The Courettes are the exception to that rule. This fuzztastic duo make records that actually live up to the dynamite show. It’s nice to see them receiving the praise they deserve and how things are actually growing for them. “We are The Courettes” is their latest and unreservedly recommended album.
Lucy and The Rats, who are in Australia as I tap away, were the best thing I saw at the Wurlitzer Anniversary weekend in Madrid this past September.
The name James Baker is synonomous with Australian garage rock. His musical exploits read like a who’s who of legendary Australian music – one third of legendary Perth proto-garage punk outfit The Victims, original drummer (and songwriter) with the garage pop incarnation of The Scientists, skinsman in the first (and best) line-up of Le Hoodoo Gurus, founding member of Australia’s best known rock supergroup, the Beasts of Bourbon and drummer with the sadly underappreciated Dubrovniks.
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.
Leanne Cowie (nee Chock), Boris Sudjovic, Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis. Collectively known as The Scientists.
Ever have an attack of the stupids?
No? Must be me then.
See, The Barman asked me to do this interview with Kim Salmon to mark an Australian Scientists tour with the classic "experimental" line-up. A phoner. I wrote back saying, I couldn't, I'd be in Melbourne.
Brian 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.
For many years now I’ve been damn glad I don’t live in Melbourne. There’s more quality musicians there per square metre than almost anywhere you can name. The worst of it is, see, I don’t like to go see a brilliant band just the once. No, that’s not how you’re called to music.
Here in Adelaide, I would relentlessly follow - and record - my favourite local bands. The Lizard Train, Bloodloss, I couldn’t get enough of. There were others I liked, but not like this. If I lived in Melbourne, I’d have to have myself cloned.
Kim Salmon, expat Perthian (we think they’ve stopped worshipping Baal, we know they no longer eat their young at Easter but the inbreeding remains a problem) and one of a handful of musicians with the strongest and most extraordinary creative imperative in the country, plays here tonight with a pickup band (the only way the gig would work).
Mark this one in your diary: Kim Salmon is taking the late period line-up of The Scientists out on the road in Australia for just four gigs later this year.
Guitarist-vocalist Salmon, bassist Boris Sudjovic, guitarist Tony Thewlis and drummer Leanne Cowie (nee Chock) were the 1988 configuration of the band, based in the UK and responsible for some of the band's most striking and harsh music. They'll be hitting Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in October and November.
Contrary 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…
There are supposed to be two types of Scientists fans: those who like the first punky-pop incarnation from Perth and people who like the latter, swampy line-ups that sprang up in Sydney and moved to the UK. Of course that’s nonsense. The world isn’t binary. You’re free to love ‘em both.
Getting a handle on the recorded legacy of either, however, is no easy task. The grunge Sydney-UK Scientists recorded in fits and starts, falling out with their then-record company and seeing their stuff released in forms that did not please them.
You'll drop big money tracking down original vinyl but the output of the Perth Scientists has been reissued several times over in jigsaw fashion. At one stage their legacy did suffer from a poorly produced self-titled record (the posthumous so-called Pink Album) being their only LP. Thankfully, there’s enough out there to give a more complete picture of their sound, to which “Not For Sale” adds much.
Of the four albums by The Painkillers since 2006, this is the first to feature a full band. It also reprises five of its nine songs from earlier recordings.
The Painkillers were formerly a duo - guitarist-singer Joe Bludge, a bluesman, and drummer James Baker, a man who surely needs no introduction.
Coming from Perth (yeah, yeah, the most isolated capital city in the world) kept them a secret from the rest of Australia. I remember rushing across town one Saturday night, after an opening spot by Wrong Turn at The Empire (RIP), to catch a rare East Coast Painkillers show at Sydney’s Excelsior Hotel (RIP again), and finding the band barely outnumbered by punters.
Once upon a time, a review of the first album from Lubricated Goat could have used the line: “There’s something here to offend everyone” and left it at that. In these days of live-streamed jihadi beheadings, jaded millennials and older people with permanent confected outrage, however, you have to do better than that.
Most people will recall The Goat from their appearance on the Australian national broadcaster, nude and lip-synching a song called “In The Raw”. Yes, they flashed their wedding tackle. A media meltdown followed.
Of course the raison d’etre was to outrage. To go to a Lubricated Goat show in Sydney in the late ‘80s at Max’s Petersham Inn or The Evil Star you had to be severely disconnected from the rest of society, chasing the band’s offer of free beer for turning up naked or on smack.
The Palais & The Prince of Wales, St Kilda, Melbourne, October 26, 2013
I have a lot time for the All Tomorrows Parties as a festival, it is ultra-cool. Awesome vibe. In fact, my festival going was a dim memory since the late Nineties until the ATP Sydney Cockatoo Island of a few years ago. It a lineup of was The Saints, Rowland S. Howard and Bad Seeds. No brainer really, It was an awesome day. Nor, was it a no brainer to get down to Melbourne for another dose of ATP with a lineup that included Jesus Lizard, Television, Scientists, Breeders and the Roland S Howard tribute Pop Crimes.
Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Kim Salmon, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen are The Beasts.
The Beasts of Bourbon formed, somewhat by accident, in 1984. If you were 12 today, would you really be inclined to take the trouble to listen to something recorded by a bunch of blokes who started back then?
Well, the hell with your boring old 12-year-old self. The new album by the Beasts of Bourbon's direct descendants, The Beasts, is called "Still Here" and it rates seven (if not eight) bottles (out of five) in my books. It's really simple: "Still Here" is essential if, as you claim, you're a Beasts of Bourbon fan, or if you think of yourself as someone who loves rock'n'roll.
If they paid musicians retrospectively for being ahead of their time, iconic Australian drummer James Baker would be a billionaire. Picture his teen years growing up in The World’s Most Isolated Capital City (that’d be Perth) at the far end of Australia (that’s Western Australia.)
As if an inaugural US tour with the Scientists wasn’t memorable enough, Kim Salmon is packing a lot more into the back-end of 2019 and the kick-off of 2020.
He’s launching his Douglas Galbraith-penned biography, “Nine Parts Water One Part Sand. Kim Salmon And The Formula For Grunge” in Melbourne on November 9, heading a bill that includes King Congo (backed by Harry Howard and the NDE) and Dave Graney and the MistLY.
Salmon is being inducted with the Scientists in the WA Music Hall of Fame on October 31 – along with former teen idol and Young Talent Time TV host, Johnny Young (!)
Iconic bands recording new music years after their prime-time is fraught with peril. Recapturing old magic is nigh impossible when every member has inevitably moved on, musically speaking. Only a few succeed.
The Scientists - as in the Salmon-Thewlis-Cowie (Chock)-Sudjovic line-up - have been an off-and-on, reformed concern for years, coming together for occasional festivals or the odd juicy support tour as, and when, members are available. They put together this five-song 12" vinyl EP between Australian shows and released it to promote their first US tour in 2019.
These days, their laboratory is spread over two continents with guitarist Tony Thewlis living in the UK and the rest of the band in Australia, so parts of the recording have been worked up inisolation and stitched together. Knowing how the sausage was made, in this case, doesn't detract from the taste. The EP, and the single (an updated oldie) that goes with it, rocks in its own uniquely primeval way. Completists should note that it was was proceeded by a digital-only single in 2017.