steve - The I-94 Bar

Deniz Tek and The Bad Men live in Norway

Lady luck must have been looking out for me; I get sent on a last minute work trip to Oslo, and discover Deniz Tek will be in town for the opening night of his 2014 European Tour. The venue turns out to be a leisurely five-minute walk from my hotel. Easy Street.

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock and Roll in America’s Loudest City– Steve Miller (Da Capo Press)

detroit rock city bookCall me biased and armed with far too much hindsight for my own good, but for a brief time in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Detroit was the lesser-known but undeniable epicentre of genuine rock and roll. The music industry, as it was, might have had its moneyed roots deeply planted on America’s East and West Coasts, but the real action was occurring deep in the US Midwest.

Sure, there was Motown and its over-ground success that eventually shifted to L.A. to mutate and die but we’re talking a parallel universe here that was populated by a different cast of characters plying a blue-collar strain of music. It’s an eternal truism that musical scenes never last. The Motor City’s rock and roll had its moment but succumbed to fashion, drugs, shifting attention spans – whatever factors play to your own historical biases – and has never recovered.

Let Me Turn You On - Various Artists (Real O Mind/Easy Action)

let-me-turn-you-onCompiler Geoff Ginsberg of Real O Mind Records nails it in the opening words of the liner notes when he observes that rock and roll is music for old people, made by old people. Not only is no-one appearing on this collection of 20 songs aged under 40, some have offspring who have been on the planet for longer than three decades. The clattering of canes and rattling of Zimmer frames never sounded so good.

Something Quite Peculiar. The Church. The Music. The Mayhem. by Steve Kilbey (Hardie Grant)

something quite peculiarAfter nearly 40 years in the music industry, you can excuse Steve Kilbey for forgetting a few things. The lack of detail is the only real quibble with what’s one of the best Oz music reads of the last few years.

I approached this book with mixed feelings. Kilbey has a reputation for being a bit of a narcissist. The Church’s music is hit or miss for me - which is to say I left them alone after their first two albums, dipped back in at “Starfish” and walked away after the stodgy “Gold Afternoon Fix”, with only occasional revisits. So this was a book to be read from a position of not having much skin in the game.

Then I got sucked into the whole melodramatic, up-and-own, self-destructive and ultimately self-redeeming saga, and warmed to Kilbey’s flawed and fallible ways. I consumed “Something Quite Perculiar” in a couple of satisfying gulps.

Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 with Deniz Tek and The Bad Men live

tek-electric-thumbI had this one marked on my calendar for months. On paper it doesn’t get much better – two of my all-time favorites on one bill at an excellent venue. And, Steve was planning an all Lou Reed set.

I realized when Lou died that I loved him more than anyone I had never met. When he went, it wasn’t like when I lost my parents or other loved ones, but I had never met Lou, not even at a book signing or anything. And when he died I really felt the loss.

Stunning X recording makes it to vinyl

x-spurts-lp

 

Remember that sublimely raw set of demos by the Australian X that came out as the “X-Spurts” CD a few years ago? Canadian label Ugly Pop Records has just re-issued it on vinyl after doing the same with the “X-Aspirations” album. 

Recorded in a lounge room in Sydney's Surry Hills and stored for 35 years, "X-Spurts" pre-dates "X-Aspiration" and features the oririginal X line-up in stunning form. This is one of the greatest "lost" recordings to have been unearthed of any band. You can procure a copy here and there is an Australian distributor if you prefer the bricks and mortar store option. 

 

The Small Faces: Here Comes The Nice - Small Faces (Charley/Immediate)

here-comes-the-niceFor us fans in the USA, the Small Faces were the band that was always on the “coming soon” board at the Fillmore. It wasn’t until "Itcyhcoo Park" that there was a record you could easily buy locally. A couple of rare early period singles had been released, but none of us had ever seen them.