Grande Ballroom movie released and it's Louder Than Love

It’s been years in the making and "LOUDER THAN LOVE", the long-awaited documentary paying tribute to legendary Detroit music venue the Grande Ballroom, is finally available.

The Grande was the birthplace or breeding ground for the likes of the Stooges, the MC5, The Up and The Rationals. It also became a notorious killing field for visiting international bands who had to undergo a "trial by support band" where the locals did their best to blow them off the stage (sometimes succeeding.)

“LOUDER THAN LOVE: The Grande Ballroom Story” is Tony D’Annunzio’s first independent film as a producer and director.  His movie chronicles the Detroit music scene in the late 1960s, as told through the eyes of the legendary bands that played there.

Fortean Times – The Holy Soul (Damn You)

fortean timesEver heard an album from a band you’d thought had all but put the cue in the rack only to be knocked out of your seat?  The Holy Soul has been slogging away around Sydney for a decade or more as one of those acts playing the all-too-familiar Game of Diminishing Returns.

You know that one. It’s where, through a combination of fickle fandom, demographic-driven media, venue turnover and diverging member interests, a band fades from view like the white dot on an analogue TV screen.

Appearances are deceptive. There’s been a bit happening in the background. In terms of getting onto the mainstream radar, however, The Holy Soul have been perpetual victims of their own nature. People like to grasp the familiar and The Holy Soul has traded in a strange mix of blues-rock that’s impossible to pigeonhole. So let’s all resist trying.

A Psychotic Xmas as the Turnbuckles prevail

jesse factoryJesse the Intruder of the Psychotic Turnbuckles

The Kings of The Combat Zone, the Psychotic Turnbuckles, returned to Sydney from Pismo Beach last Saturday night for a one-off Xmas show, presented by the I-94 Bar.

They were joined by Melbourne's Stoneage Hearts and Sydneysiders The Prehistorics in a no-holds-barred tag-team contest at Marrickville's Factory Floor. Shona Ross captured these images as the Turnbuckles triumphed in front of a packed house. Click more to see the images.

James McCann and The New Vindictives - James McCann and The New Vindictives (Beast Records)

new vindictivesTags are annoying to most musicians but even James McCann must acknowledge he gets to wear the ‘veteran’ badge when he arrives at the company Xmas party by now. There at the earliest days of The Drones and Nunchukka Superfly, he’s been one of those “best kept secret” solo artists Australia seems to bury for more than a decade, making a name for himself in his adopted home of Melbourne (and in France) but deserving much wider attention.

“James McCann and The New Vindictives” was a couple of years in gestation with French label Beast Records taking its time to squeeze it into their schedule. Contrastingly, the band and the recording came together with spontaneity very much the name of the game.

Good Night and Good Riddance. How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped Shape Modern Life by David Cavanagh (Faber)

peel bookHe was a BBC DJ. On the back cover there are heartfelt quotes about him from musicians as diverse as Jack White, Johnny Marr, Elton John, Robert Plant, Nick Cave and Elvis Costello.

His name was John Peel.

Here’s a comment about him from Carlton Sandercock, who runs Easy Action Records in the UK:

“John Peel was quite possibly THE most important person on the radio anywhere ever ... to find a DJ that championed new bands, unsigned bands, punk bands, bands of every genre…and encouraged growth when he was employed by one of the biggest corporations in UK is staggering to say the very least … I never met him but did have him stamping on the floor trying to get me, Annie Nightingale and Nikki Sudden to shut up…

Come back Lucinda, all is forgiven

lucinda live

Truth be told, Lucinda Williams’ last tour of Australia in support of the "Little Honey" album was a little disappointing.  And by a little you can read a lot.  I had pretty much said I would never attend one of her concerts again.  Ever.  All right.  It was more severe than that.  Blood was spilled and oaths were sworn.  A goat may have been sacrificed. 

So what was wrong with that show?  Vague and disorientated, Ms Williams stumbled around the stage in a manner suggesting someone had slipped her a Rohypnol and it may well have been her.  She kept telling us how great it was to be playing in a rock and roll club.  The “rock and roll club” in question was the all-seated Enmore Theatre. 

The seats were so tightly jammed against each other that you couldn't clap for fear of putting someone's eye out.  The band laid down a brutal four-on-the-floor boogie.  She indulged in strange off beat dance steps, shifting weight from foot to foot and clapping hands above head.  These activities seemed to bear no resemblance to the placement of snare and bass drum.

The Hydromatics – The Hydromatics (Easy Action)

dangerousWhat do you reckon we’re gonna say about it? One of the greatest releases of the 1990s – a downright patchy time for Real Rock and Roll – that’s been given a re-mastering spruce-up and coupled with a stack of bonus cuts? Damn right that it rocks - far more than any grunge or shoegazer crap of its time.

Originally entitled “Parts Unknown” and issued on the White Jazz label in 1999, this album has been impossible to find for years now and it’s more than stood the test of time. The Hydromatics were a “supergroup” led by Michigan rocker Scott Morgan joined by Nick Royale (Hellacopters) on drums, Tony Slug (Nitwitz, BKG) on guitar and Theo Brouwer on bass (both hailing from Europe’s own Murder City, Amsterdam), they kept the light burning for the music of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band.

The Prettiest Star. Whatever Happened to Brett Smiley? By Nina Antonia (SAF)

prettiest starThis book completely beggars belief. Top marks and way, way beyond. It’s also utterly brilliant as well as being compelling reading. It’ll have you ranging your emotions from laughter to sorrow and is so well researched (Nina doesn’t bother much with academic references as her books come mostly from her own interviews and experience) and put together … words completely fail me.

If you’ve read any of Antonia’s other books (on the New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders and The Only Ones) and enjoyed her style and intelligence … The Prettiest Star is so far ahead that it may as well be the best fiction you’ve ever read, except it’s all true.

I can’t believe that you’ll recall Brett Smiley. He had one hit, “Va Va Va Voom”, in the UK in 1974, at the height of that bizarre post-6ts glam and pop period where decent songs were generally in short supply in the charts. Oh dear, much like now? Really? I’m shocked.

New book lifts the lid on the art of Aussie punk and post-punk 45s

45 psychosurgeons

Pressed for a Xmas gift for that special Rock Action person in your life? Worry no more. “Product 45” has landed.

“Product 45” is a lavish book released this week that focuses on the years 1976-1980 and showcases single cover art from the Australian punk/post punk era. This is the first book in a series of three that looks at the art of packaging Australian music as told by the musicians, the artists and the fans.  

This lavish coffee table masterpiece has been lovingly compiled by Sydneysider Murray Bennett who has carved a career packaging records for Australian independent and major labels.

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