Fascinating dive into Oz music's hit factories and backyards

suburban songbookSuburban Songbook. Writing Hits in Post-War Pre-Countdown Australia
By Clinton Walker
(Goldentone)

Only got this one recently, but I'm damned glad I did.

Once upon a Big Day Out, an event I only occasionally attended, I was mildly shocked by the text messages winding their way across a big screen (people paid a small fee to have their inane twatter up in on a big screen - you know, 'Best summer evah!' and 'Totally awesome!') which dissed 'old people' in favour of 'us hip cool young folk'...

Now, I won't say I wasn't like that to some degree when I was a teenager (and even in my twenties). But I don't recall being quite that dismissive of music simply because it was 'old'. I was brought up on my dad's music, as so many of us are: big band stuff, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, as well as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole ... you get the idea. Proto-rock'n'roll, you could say.

So when I got interested in modern music at the age of 12 (courtesy my chum Paul's record collection) we both knew that it didn't matter how old something was ... as long as it wasn't boring. We investigated everything we could lay our hands on ... dismissed so much, revelled in long-lost jewels. It was our secret joy - no other bastard seemed interested.

Fast forward a few years and Clinton Walker's first book, “Inner City Sound' came out. (A revised edition has recently been published - get it here. Mick Middles wrote in “Record Collector'”: "A shockingly vast document ... the most striking aspect is the prevailing musical sophistication". Well, yeah. 

Marching out to Aussie pop's beat

marching out of time cvrMarching Out of Time – Various Artists (Popboomerang)

With 115 releases to its credit, Melbourne’s Popboomerang is as an amazing independent record label success story and a beacon for under-the-radar Australian pop. Presuming, of course, that success is measured in quality music and not sheep stations.

The labels been a long-time labour of love for owner Scott Thurling and that passion makes his decision to close it down, at least for now, all the more noteworthy. In his own words:

Being locked up can do funny things to you! I will admit to feeling a little frustrated on July 24, 2021, when I made the announcement to end Popboomerang Records. The news might have been a surprise to some, but it was one I had been contemplating for a while.

Covid-19 challenges to running a label were the tipping point after 18 months of cancelled live events and the gigantic increases in the price of international postage which was making exporting almost impossible.I had also recently established a new record label, Sound As Ever 90-99, focussing on Australian ’90’s indie music, which was taking off, and it felt impossible to do justice to both ventures at the same time.

WHAT'S LEFT OF THE LEFT? NOTHING WILL CHANGE SQUAD IS JUST FASCISM WITH PRETTY PILLOW-TALKERS...

dubbyaOh my God. It happened. I can't believe it really happened.

During a speech in Dallas at Southern Methodist University’s George W Bush Presidential Center this month, the man himself, George W Bush, did the best thing ever. I am pretty sure it is the single best thing that has ever happened. I do not believe I am exaggerating when I say that.

While criticizing Russia for having rigged elections and shutting out political opposition (which would already be hilarious coming from any American in general and Bush in particular), the 43rd President made the following comment:

“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq. I mean, of Ukraine."

And then it got even better. After correcting himself with a nervous chuckle, Bush broke the tension in the empire-loyal crowd with the words, "Iraq too. Anyway." He then quipped that he is 75-years-old, leaning harder on his "Aw shucks gee willikers I'm such a goofball" persona than he ever has in his entire life.

Unrelenting feedtime and Examplehead satisfy a full-house

feedtime bowlo feedtime's Rick Johnson.

feedtime
Examplehead
Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney
Friday May 20, 2022

Having never seen either bands live back in the day, this was going to be an extra special night. The original gig was postponed from June 2021 and then January due to COVID and tonight it was going ahead. I have been a huge fan of feedtime for many years, owning their self titled album, “Shovel” and “Cooper S”, along with a couple of singles from back in the 80s.

It is not often that either band play gigs (Examplehead have a few coming up and are worth checking out) so this was a rare opportunity to see both bands.

Historic double-header matches legend Chad Morgan with The Johnnys

 
How do you spell Royalty? The I-94 Bar is presenting two very special shows this weekend with The Johnnys teaming with Australian copuntery legend Chad Morgan. Catch them at Marrickville Bowling Club in Syndey on Saturday with MD Horne's Last Call and The Link and Pin at Woy Woy on Sunday with The Howlin' Rats. Tickets for Marrickville are here and Woy Woy here

"The Kids Are All Wrong" returns

A slightly edited version of the mockumantary about Sydney '90s garage punk misfits The Crusaders, "The Kids Are All Wrong", is back on Vimeo after some sad sack had the oriignal cut taken down. Enjoy! 

Patti raises Cain while living on Tulsa time

patti in oklahoma

Patti Smith and her Band 
Cain's Ballroom
Tulsa, OK  U.S.A.
Friday 6 May 2022

Patti Smith and her band were booked to play Cain's Ballroom as part of the Bob Dylan Center Grand Opening Celebration here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

After visiting the Bob Dylan Center earlier in the day, she posted on Instagram that she'd be "Raising Cain at Cain's".

I saw The Patti Smith Group at Cain's back in 1978. It remains one of the greatest concerts that I've ever experienced.

Kinda blue and cooking, X man Steve Lucas pushes his own boundaries

cross that lineCross That Line – Steve Lucas and The Rising Tide (Aztec Music)

Steve Lucas, last man standing from Australia's mighty underground legends X who, back in the day, I expect would have thought of themselves as a powerful rock band. Live, no-one would want to follow them ... and like The Saints and even Radio Birdman, they got called "punk" anyway. Pigeon-holing is for pigeons and gugs. I'd love to have been able to see X and Rose Tattoo in the same week.

Like many veterans of the music industry, Lucas has an unavoidable musical legacy. Which I expect can be both a blessing and a curse. So, for those expecting X Mark 32 and won't take no for an answer ... "Cross That Line" ain't for you. I always thought 'punk' was a state of mind about expressing the individual, not everyone wearing the same uniform and going to the same gigs. My approval or t'otherwise of any record is irrelevant, no matter what the genre. Remember, I'm a big fan of (among others) Gzutt, Peg Leg Sam, Thelonious Monk and Jon Wayne.

A '70s tale of tragic mis-steps

Jobriath A.DJOBRIATH A.D. (2002)
Written, produced and directed by Kieran Turner

Weird times we live in, to paraphrase John Waters. We've gone from people rebelling against rules, to becoming fanatical lil' rule-mongers, themselves. That's some crazy shit, and you gotta wonder what's up with all that.

Probably the most moving film I've seen since "Beautiful Darling", the also poignant Candy Darling story, is "Jobriath A.D." You might know he was one of the first openly gay, glam, wouldbe seventies rock stars, who was first discovered whilst singing in the Broadway play, "Hair". In the hippie dippy era, he made a baroque pop album with a band called Pidgeon. He was drafted by the army, went AWOL, and did time in a military psychiatric facility. He came from a tragically broken family and his mom never fully accepted him, because of his sexual identity which caused him acute pain. He was a really sweet, upbeat, positive force as a young person, a painter/singer/composer/piano playing prodigy but the cruel music industry weasels around him kinda turned him more cynical and sad, almost overnight.

He was living in an unfurnished squat in L.A. as a male hustler when it seemed he was rescued by a huckster manager famous for nightclubs in NY named Jerry Brandt-Brandt overhyped Jobriath as the next Elvis, Beatles, and Bowie all rolled into one. He appeared on oversized billboards in Times Square, in splashy magazine advertisements and on the sides of buses in major cities. He had a cool live band actually, called the Creatures, with some kooky costumes by Stephen Sprouse.

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