Top Tens for 2022: Melbourne writer and drummer Robert Lastdrager
Tony Bishop, Rob Lastdrager and Leon Beveridge. See item 2.
With the world and me still waking up from the pandemic in 2022, my Top Ten consists of some old friends and favourites, re-visited, remembered and revived.
Experiencing Covid for the first time at New Year’s and enduring a heatwave in Melbourne, I’m not complaining. It’s given me quiet time to think and a chance to raise a glass to all my departed rock and roll compadres. RIP Chris Bailey especially. The raw energy of the early Saints powered my escape from Brisbane in the '80s, something for which I will be eternally grateful.
1. Mow it down – FALLOUT re-release
Recorded in 1985 on four track and rediscovered during Covid by friends up in Queensland. I lobbed this on You Tube for posterity this year. I wrote this song after Cloudland Ballroom was tragically and illegally demolished in the middle of the night by the Bjelke-Petersen government. Within days of that recording, I headed south to Sydney with a car full of drums and $400 in my pocket. I crossed the Harbour Bridge in Monday peak hour with The Saints’ "Prehistoric Sounds" roaring out of my car cassette player. I felt triumphant. First stop was the Sandringham Hotel where I saw Louis Tillett’s Paris Green with Louis Burdett on drums. Forever in my top ten gigs of all time, this was a colossal and profound introduction to the Sydney music scene.
2. No Name Party Band - reunion
One of this year’s highlights for me was reconnecting with an old band mate, bass player and all-round legend Leon Beveridge. I first met Leon at the Sando in 1985 when he was a doorman at the Chevron in the Cross and well connected with the Manzil Room around the corner. Leon and I soon began jamming, joined by pedal obsessed guitarist Tony Bishop. We were suddenly offered a party to play in Kirribilli the following Saturday night and jumped at the chance.
Despite having nothing rehearsed we set up in the basement and started to play at 10pm to a full house. At 1am we took our first break. I stumbled upstairs to take in the luxurious surrounds and views of the Harbour where I noticed a beautiful young woman crying and surrounded by friends. “What’s happened?” I asked. Her friend turned and explained, “It’s her 21st and she HATES the band! She was expecting the COCKROACHES!”. I bit my lip and backed away discreetly.
I don’t remember what we played for the next three hours, but we soldiered on before finally calling it quits around 5am. We headed home over the Harbor Bridge as the sun rose, when the cops pulled us over and carted Phil off for unpaid parking fines. Stranded in the middle of the Bridge I had no option but to jump in the driver’s seat and nurse the van back home to Newtown. That was our first and final gig as a band. We never got paid.
3. Punters Club ABC Radio Melbourne - The Friday Review.
All hail rock and roll! Listen here.
4. The Last Rowdy Hour.
We’ve all been there.
5. Drouyn Drums – A needle in a haystack
Snaring a set of Drouyn drums at a bargain basement price courtesy of a well-timed Sunday arvo browse through Gumtree. The ad had been up for just 10 minutes and the seller was two suburbs away. Serendipity! Scrambling for my keys and boots I rang the bloke’s number. Fifteen minutes later I was at his front door as it dawned on him that he might have underpriced them. “Well, my bloody phone’s gone crazy since you rang!” I could well imagine.
Drouyns are the unicorn of vintage drums. I have long worshipped them from afar and been in awe of the bands who used them, such as the Atlantics, Easybeats and the Oils. In 1980 as a cocky but reverential 17-year-old, I made a pilgrimage to the Drouyn drum factory in Stones Corner, Brisbane to price a custom-built kit. The place was unforgettable - like Santa’s workshop, with old blokes in leather aprons, ankle deep in wood shavings. My dream kit was way out of my range back then, but the Gumtree finds have the classic Drouyn factory markings, dating the Rose Alder hardwood shells to 1969. A deep warm rumble elevates these drums above anything else I’ve ever played. I added a late 1970s Slingerland steel piccolo snare to compliment the setup. Just killer.
6. Oslo Davis – Oslo’s Melbourne – Book
Witty, warm and humorous collection of works from Melbourne cartoonist Oslo Davis. We need more cartoonists! More here.
7. John Cooper Clarke – I Wanna Be Yours - Book
Saw John Cooper Clarke on my birthday in around 1982 supporting the Stems at a little club in Brisbane. An eternal class act.
8. Cambodian Space Project - Brunswick Ballroom, Melbourne.
Old bandmate Julien Poulson returned with his Cambodian posse who have been in hiatus since the tragic death of their singer a few years ago. They were back in Oz to play a single warmup show in preparation for their Adelaide festival theatre performances titled “The Rat Catcher of Angkor Watt”. The gig was loads of fun psych rock fuzz wah wah groove goodness along with the surprise of Hunters and Collectors Jack Howards excellent punchy brass ensemble adding meat to the tone. And I gotta say I love hearing music in any ballroom! Higher ceilings, loads of room to move, to view and great big warm sound systems. Just excellent.
9. The Beach – Warwick Thornton - movie
A reliably comforting rewatch as I end my year in Covid Iso.
10. Community Radio
Here’s to an invaluable cultural institution and community network. Dig deep and support it however and whenever you can.