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.
One of Australia's most soulful rock and roll bands, Leadfinger, is unleashing its new album “Friday Night Heroes”. The Sydney leg of the launch tour is at The Factory Floor in Marrickville on July 15...which, fittingly, is a Friday night.
Leadfinger's fifth album was recorded in mid to late 2015 at Sydney’s Linear Recording with Wade Keighran (Wolf & Cub, Steve Smyth Band) behind the controls. It is out now on vinyl, CD and digital through Conquest of Noise Records.
Supports for the Sydney launch will be Melbourne band Powerline Sneakers making their first trip to the Harbour City and Newcastle’s Rangers of the Universe.
Powerline Sneakers feature Sly Faulkner (Splatterheads) on vocals and John Nolan (ex-Powder Monkeys) on guitar, Katie Dixon (ex-Ripe) and Mark Hurst (Guttersnipes/Yes Men) on drums.
Rangers of the Universe is a new band featuring Scott Nash (ex Asteroid B-612/Carrie Phillis & the Downtown 3) and Jason Maljers (ex-Jim Cobain) on guitar.
It might just be the ultimate baby boomer pop experience. The rumours are true. The Monkees are bringing their 50th anniversary tour to Australasia.
Assembled in Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the television series The Monkees, the quartet of Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and the late Davy Jones brought a singular mix of pop, rock, psychedelica, Broadway, and country to their music.
The show itself paid tribute not only to The Beatles, but also to the comedy stylings of The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy as well as the pop-art sensibilities of Warhol and the emerging San Francisco psychedelic scene.
The Monkees’ first single, “Last Train to Clarksville,” was released in August 1966, hitting #1 and serving as advance publicity for their series, which debuted on September 12. When the group’s self-titled debut album arrived in stores a month later, it quickly headed for the top spot of the Billboard charts, where it would ultimately sit for 13 of the 78 weeks it remained in the Top 200.
By the time the group’s TV series aired its final new episode on March 25, 1968, The Monkees had seen three further albums top the charts – “More of the Monkees”, “Headquarters”, and “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.”, all released in 1967.
Garage-punk pioneers and stand out performers at 2012’s inaugural Dig It Up! Invitational in Australia, The Sonics, return Down Under this September-October at the invite of Wollongong’s Yours & Owls Festival and for headline shows around the country.
The Sonics laid down the blueprint for garage-rock back in 1963 with the release of their first single The Witch. They followed that up with even up with even more grease and oil soaked nuggets in “Psycho”, “Boss Hoss”, “Cinderella”, “Strychnine”, “He’s Waitin’”, “Shot Down” and “Have Love Will Travel” before calling it quits in 1968. Reuniting briefly in 1972 and again in 1980, The Sonics then took permanent leave while the rest of the world caught up with them.
Americana Rock and Roll is the new black. No, make that orange. Or whatever colour’s in vogue this week. Make no mistake though: If the trend stays still for five minutes, Jeremy & The Harlequins will be huge.
Jeremy & The Harlequins are from Brooklyn, which is the epicentre of what’s left of New York City’s rock and roll scene. Before that, Jeremy and brother-drummer Stephan came from Toledo, Ohio, where they assembled The Harlequins from remnants of other NYC bands. Their first album was mixed by Matt Verta Ray (Heavy Trash) so you know what sound they were shooting for.
Don’t judge a book by its cover or a band by its promo shot. They might look like wholefood bearded hipsters in their publicity materrial but even less than a considered listen to their third album “Law And Order” reveals there’s a quirky glam-pop heart beating within.
Ulysses hails from Bath in the middle of England’s West. Now, putting to one side generic Australian jokes that we love so much about Poms and soap, these blokes have been soaking in a tub of diverse influences. The bio cites The Cars, Thin Lizzy (especially), Alvin Stardust (check the label name - ha!), Hot Chocolate (huh?) and Supergrass (of course) but that’s just a start. You could toss in Alice Cooper, The Sweet, The Glitter Band - and a few dozen others.
Fast Cars grew out of the Sydney mod scene of the 1980s. Home turf was the fertile Sussex Hotel and they made a modest mark with a couple of EPs before moving on. This five-song CD is their first release in 30 years.
Here’s what a mod band sounds like after it grows up. That’s not being trite or dismissive. Creative people don’t stand still - and bands like Fast Cars were no exception. Guitarist Fabian Byrne went on to the dance-orientated Fiction Romance, shifted into management and ran the Method label that gave a leg-up to bands like Allniters, Paul Kelly, Spy vs Spy and The Amazing Wooloomooloosers. So you’d expect “More?” to sound different to Fast Cars of the ‘80s.
Has this debut album really been three decades in arriving? The details of how and why are more than a little shrouded in mystery but what counts more is that it’s here and it delivers.
Young Docteurs materialised in Canberra in 1978 with a potent brew of punk-psych that has always been hard to categorise. They made the move to Sydney in the early ‘80s and became part of the rich tapestry of life that was Surry Hills and the Sydney Trade Union Club scene. Despite some heavyweight backing (Jeremy Oxley, Nic Dalton and Steve Kilbey were fans), they never emerged to major prominence nationally and have flashed off and on like a lighthouse in the thickening fog ever since.