Who Will Save Rock and Roll? Re-constituted Dictators are The Next Big Thing

roth and bossKeith Roth, Albert Bouchard and Ross The Boss. 

The Dictators
Debonair Music Hall
Teaneck, NJ USA
November 2, 2022

By Geoff Ginsberg (with help from Frank "Geoff couldn't edit his way out of a wet paper bag" Friedman)

Dictators assemble! They're baaaack!!

And there was much rejoicing.

Andy Shernoff and Ross The Boss have reconstituted the band and they're doing gigs and recording again.

Before I get to the show itself, a bit of semi-recent history. I'm going to assume if you're bothering to read this, you already know the big picture history - punk forefathers, the NYC band between the Dolls and the Ramones, etc.

In 2006, CBGB was wrapping up their historic run on The Bowery. Many CB's legends came out of their apartments to perform on that stage one last time and give the venue the send-off it so richly deserved.

The penultimate night featured Walter Lure (RIP) and The Waldos, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, and the first performance by the Dictators in several years. They had done some gigs in 2003 as a four piece since Scott "Top Ten" Kempner had moved out west, but this was the full complement: Handsome Dick Manitoba, Ross, Top Ten, Andy and JP Thunderbolt Patterson.

Hit the road, Jack, if these Clouds don't rock your world

my way or the highway cvrMy Way Or The Highway – The Dark Clouds (self released)

It took ‘em a couple of goes but it’s finally recorded and released and it’s a triumph. The Dark Clouds’ second album “My Way Or The Highway” is as bombastic, in-your-face and rocking as you could have hoped.  

It’s seven years since “After The Sun” but cut ‘em some slack: a plague intervened and that managed to fuck up the plans of the best of us. The Wollongong band did convene in a studio in-between waves of COVID, but weren’t happy with the results.

“After The Sun” had its best moments when it wilfully matched the best Aussie underground sounds of the ‘80s to lyrics laced with wry societal observations. The state of rock and roll, the inane cult of celebrity and the dumber side of life in The Lucky Country all got their comeuppance, done in a style that nodded in multiple directions.  

Spice up your life with The Square Tugs

square tugs cvrMonster Hits – Square Tugs (self released)

If variety is the spice of life, Brisbane’s Square Tugs are the celebrity chefs of Australian punk rock. The trio’s debut album “Monster Hits” is a curry with enough popping flavours in it to set off your tongue, and lyrics to get your brain into gear at the same time.

They’re not of pensionable age but they’re not spring chickens either, so the odds are short that a glimpse into the Square Tugs’ record collections would throw up some interesting and familiar selections. 

Did you know Square Tugs originally formed as a Circle Jerks tribute band?

Neptune Power Federation fly that freak flag high

screaming loz sutchScreaming Loz Sutch. Credit: Neptune Power Federation website

Neptune Power Federation
Frankie’s Pizza, Sydney  
October 9, 2022

It’s official! The Neptune Power Federation are my new favourite band.

Their last two LPs, “Memories Of a Rat Queen” and “Le Demon De L’amour” have been on high rotation at the home stereo system all year, but due to various life challenges I had never seen them live. So the gig at Frankie’s was a do or die mission to get there.

Heavy Rock is NPF’s bag..and heavy baggage they have in spades (Heavy Rock…not to be confused with its ugly bastard grandchild Heavy Metal). If you listen closely you can tell NPF (or The Feds as their fan club call them) have been sprinkled with the magic dust of the giants in that field. I’m talking first three albums of Queen, ditto for Blackmore’s Rainbow, Motorhead, AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Led Zeppelin and Buffalo (whose first guitarist John Baxter could even tell).

Bar band brilliance

down on seventh avenue cvrDown on 7th Avenue b/w I will Give up – Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders (Dangerhouse/Heavy Medication)

Some people use “bar band” as an insult when it’s a badge of honour. There is no more exacting proving ground. Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders  are the best bar band in the world and here’s the proof.

“Down On 7th Avenue” was written the night before Los Angeles’ finest went into the studio and it’s delivered as only a band that knows itself inside out can. A scorching rocker propelled by a tight-as-a-fish’s-arse engine room, crunching guitars and Todd’s impassioned vocal, it jumps off the turntable. The reprise is the sting in the tail.

B side “I Will Give Up” is more mellow, a ‘50s rocker with some tasteful Duane Eddie licks and tinkling piano that’s reflective of the band’s rootsy ethos.

Buy or die. There's no excuse for not owning this. 

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Buy it  

Ghosts are immortal

these immortal souls posterThese Immortal Souls
The Tote, Collingwood, VIC
Saturday, 12 November 2022

These Immortal Souls didn’t really have much of a physical presence in Australia, at least during the band’s creative peak. Rowland S Howard had first conceived the group in the immediate aftermath of The Birthday Party, though it took a false start with Barry Adamson, Chris Walsh and Jeff Wegener, and a brief tenure in the European incarnation of Crime and the City Solution, before

These Immortal Souls took permanent form with Howard, Genevieve McGuckin on keyboards, Howard’s brother Harry on bass and Kevin Godfrey (aka Epic Soundtracks) on drums.

For much of its time, These Immortal Souls lived a penurious, underground (literally and metaphorically) existence in the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. An Australia tour over the summer of 1988-89 would be the only time the band would grace these shores until the band’s repatriation in 1994.

By late 1998, These Immortal Souls had departed into the dustbin of history.

An episode of Thursday Evening Gunk to Treasure

The replay of last week's Thursday Evening Gunk, the I-94 Bar Internet show, is here so kick back and watch. Host Chris Virtue of 2RRR speaks to Sydney's King of Urban and Western, John Kennedy, and bassist Phil Hall (Dropbears, Sardine v, Lime Spiders) about the John Kennedy's 68 Comeback Special album "Raining Treasure Vol 2" before a set by the band.

This Thursday at 8pm Sydney time go to the Moshpit Bar Facebook for the "Chicks Who Rock" episode, in which guest host Heather Goodman of Orbital Radio will talk to Jess Finlayson (Rasing Ravens, Nitrocris) and Bianca Kotoulas of young Sydney band Euterpe about the Sydney scene and women bands.  Join the Facebook event here.

Night of power and pop recalls the best of times

mick salutes bowloMick Medew and the Mesmerisers
+ The On and Ons
+ Pocketwatch
Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney
Saturday, 5 November 2022

Photos by Vic Zubakin of Look Sharp Photography

The 1980s was in many ways a dire period in music: if you look at the charts or are forced to endure a few re-runs of “Countdown”, you’ll agree. Mainstream music was based on synth and a chorus pedal, gated snare and re=recordings of “Funky Town”. And there was fucking Phil Collins and his drums.

The padded shoulders and “eat the poor” mentality that saw the rise of the trickle down economics of Reagan and Thatcher.  Whenever I see any sentimental recall of the ‘80s, I run the other way. The exceptions lie in pockets of underground music

Sydney particularly reacted against the culture of Ken Done tea towels and pastels and third rate sounds. We real street music with some of best bands in the world, many of whom you could see live for five bucks.

Just as then, we still have a Sydney underground music scene in 2022. We can still see shadows and glimpses of the past and talented young bands who have been handed the baton.

Velatine's "greasy, sweet corruption"

whisper park cvrWhisper Park b/w One and Only – Velatine (Spooky Records)

Damn, “Whisper Park” is dark and groovy. Just listen to that rippling rhythm, those soaring cadences..and Maggie Alley's louche, almost deadpan vocals. By god, she's got a voice on her.

Band member/producer Loki Lockwood has shot another sterling ICBM into an uncaring stratosphere, look out Shen-zen, here comes detonation... and yes, Velatine do provoke that effect. At least on me. A graceful, deadly shot into the air, where it lands, god won't help you.

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