This is a mind-blowing album on several fronts.
Firstly, because Tamam Shud formed almost 50 years ago: and could be last Australian band still standing from the ‘60s (certainly from the alternative and underground.) I cannot think of anyone else. The album features two of the founding members, Lindsay Bjerre (vocals and guitar) and Peter Baron (bass) from 1967; and two more members who were there four years later, in Tim Gaze (guitar) and Nigel MaCara (drums) from the ”Morning of the Earth” soundtrack era.
Historically, Tamam Shud was the first Australian band to put out a an album full of original compositions when “Evolution” was released late in 1968: There is not one Australian band that I can think of with original members, from their heyday; that has come up with a new album nearly 50 years later so the release of this on vinyl is an historical event.
This is a mind-blowing album on several fronts.
What a strange, fuzz-drenched trip this boy-girl duo from Naples in Italy take us on. The Devils are as basic as rock and roll comes, playing music that’s stripped barer than a Christmas leg ham in a tankful of piranha.
The story goes that Voodoo Rhythm honcho Beat-Man was in the same French studio as The Devils when Jim Diamond was recording this, their first album. It was love at first listen and Beat-Man had a pen and a contract in their hands quicker than you can say: “Fuck me, that shit sounds distorted.”
Reviewers still have a hard life, don’t they? All those free CDs and free gigs and backstage perks. Not this little black duck. The free CDs arrive and, as this ain’t the day job, they bank up a tad. Because I review music because I love it, if La Bastard were merely playing soft-core mimicry to a “classic” period, with that mushy, vacant intent, you wouldn’t be reading this.
I’ve listened to “Ooh La La Bastard” (“surf-rock party animals from Melbourne, Australia!” the back cover announces) several times now. Loved it more, each time. The front cover is a rather brilliant modern pastiche of ‘50s LP artwork which makes everyone look peculiar, French, and spectacularly jaded. Lluis Fuzzhound must be some sort of genius at large. Let’s just say La Bastard live a full life, and lay it down on the disc.
One thing about being a reviewer, apart from the teetering pile of CDs getting in the way of real life, is that you encounter bands you probably would never go near.
La Bastard is such a great name for a band that, if you were schlepping past a pub on the way to nowhere in particular (as so many of us are) and you saw that a band called La Bastard were playing, you’d stop dead, turn and walk right in. No question. If you instead saw an Aussie band named “Infinity Broke”, you probably wouldn’t.
Iggy and Jim Jarmusch at a media conferecde in Cannes.
“Gimme Danger” is not a great movie. It is flawed.
That said, no-one expected the Citizen Kane of rock documentaries. This was a cut about the MTV Iggy doco that you can see online for free, but was mixed in with arty pretensions.
“Gimme Danger” is screening at major film festivals around the world. Tonight (June 17) it is the turn of the State Theatre and the Sydney International Film Festival. The audience is evenly split between film people who might not have heard of the Stooges and are there to judge a film on its filmmaking merits, or hardcore rock pigs who want be blasted with Stooges music.
It's becoming increasingly obvious that some people just can't be given nice things. They've just got to pull them apart because... hell. I don't know what their problem is.
Case in point: Jim Jarmusch's cinematic love letter to the Stooges "Gimme Danger" that screened in Sydney, Australia, last Friday and Sunday nights. A world famous director makes a film about your most favouritst band in the whole wide world and you're going to have a massive sook fest? Why didn't they break out a fucking ouija board and interview all the dead guys?
Dunno what all the online backlash is all about. Jim Jarmusch called his film “a love letter to the Stooges” and that’s precisely what he delivered when “Gimme Danger” made its Australian debut at the Sydney International Film Festival on June 17.
“Gimme Danger” was never going to be a deep dissertation about what made the Stooges tick. Read Paul Trynka’s magnificent “Open Up and Bleed” for that. It was more like a shallow duck dive into the broad history of the band. Or bobbing for apples.
I enjoyed "Gimme Danger" but this was the Stooges, dumbed-down for beginners. Or “Stooges 101” as someone later said.
We are not kind to our musical legends in Australia.
The Yanks and the Poms put up plaques and statues at a place where a musical legend bought a hamburger. In Australia, we seem to keep our legends and pioneers in vaults as cherished diamonds that are rarely spoken about. Except for a few who want to document our past and celebrate the unique scene, our music has to be sought out like hidden treasures.
When I look at the local ’60s underground legends, a few names crop up. In Melbourne, there was Lobby Loyde, once with The Purple Hearts in Brisbane and then later fronting the Wild Cherries.
And in Sydney we had Lindsay Bjerre (pictured right) with his bands, The Sunsets and Tamam Shud.
Australian punk was never the widespread movement as it was in England, or parts of Europe, where for a time, it was mainstream. Unlike Australia. The Sex Pistols(unofficially) went to number-one with "God Save the Queen". The Clash , The Buzzcocks, The Jam and Stranglers consistently charted,alongside Elton John and Cliff Richard.
Kids in the UK sat glued to radio and listened to John Peel as a holy ritual. In the UK there was a certain set of circumstances that led to the rise of “Punk Rock” from the kids who saw Iggy, the Ramones, Patti Smith and Thunders live. Factor in brilliant (if accidental) marketers like Malcolm McLaren and their ilk. Mix in the fact that, in the grip of a serious economic recession, England was a depressing place. It all gave rise to a powerful and widespread movement.
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