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…
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.
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.)
The Scientists have announced an extensive European tour in May-June, covering seven countries and featuring the band's classic 1986 line-up of Kim Salmon, Tony Thewlis, Boris Sudjovic and Leanne Cowie.
The run follows an Australian tour of mostly sold-out shows.
MAY UNITED KINGDOM 31 - London @ The Borderline JUNE 01 - Glasgow @ Nice & Sleazy 2 - Newcastle @ The Cluny 3 - Brighton @ The Albert FR 6 - Rennes @ Mondo Bizarro 7- Paris @ Petit Bain 8 - Périgueux @ Le Sans Réserve GERMANY 13 - Freiburg @ Café Atlantik 14 - Berlin @ The Roadrunner’s Paradise Club DENMARK 15 - Copenhagen @ Loppen NORWAY 16 - Oslo @ Krøsset ITALY 29 - Salsomaggiore Terme @ Festival BEAT #26
Expectations are one thing. Outcomes are another. The Scientists reformation (as in 35th anniversary of the original line-up) show at Sydney’s Factory Theatre failed to deliver for any number of reasons.
Pro Tools were bloody good. Drums bass guitar. Bassist I've seen before. Guitar is now Pete 'the Stud', who is a ridiculously talented, good natured show off. And damn good value. See them if they come to town, track them down and invite them if that society wedding promises to be a bit dreary.
Tony Thewlis and Kim Salmon fronting the Scientists at Sydney's Southern Cross Hotel in 1982.
The Scientists at their peak were unmatchable. A glorious collision of droning, caustic, fuzz guitars, minimalist bass, anguished lyrics about alienation and ominous, funereal rhythms, they created something unique after landing in Sydney in 1981.
Originally ragged New York Dolls-inspired popsters back in Perth, the re-constituted Scientists stripped their music back to its darkest roots, concoting their own brand of psychedelia and incorporating influences like Suicide, the Stooges and Captain Beefheart.
Too big for their own Surry Hills backyard, the band moved to the UK in 1982 and, in typical expatriate Australian underground band fashion, starved before going on to influence countless other acts into the ‘90s and beyond.