R.I.P. Ed Yonker. At the time of his passing earlier in 2022, I was going to write a few words about this legend of the Australian music Industry.
This quiet achiever in an industry full of sycophants, where inflated egos don’t match their mediocrity.
There few gems I have encountered in “the industry” like Ed Yonker. He was one of the good ones. A hip cool cat with his leather jacket who, as a teenager, had seen the Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Animals in Holland in 1963-65. At first, he was not that impressed by what he found in the Australian musical landscape when he migrated here.
Ed was of the one first attendees at Beatle Village on Oxford Street in Sydney. He used to catch the train, avoiding the bogans who wanted to fight a cool kid in what was the early days of the Bohemian inner-city music scene. He was often at the gigs by The Easybeats , The Creatures and The Missing Links.
Jeez! I can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone early 2022. I do know the Dark Clouds played a lot. So much we nearly filled up that tiny little pocket on the front of our jeans from all the cash we made.
10. Private Function!!! Finally got to see them and bloody hell am I glad I did.
“What’s that mate? Never heard of ‘em."
How about you stop banging on about Doc Neeson being the best Aussie frontman of all time, park ya Zimmer frame by the duck pond and have yourself a little nanna nap”. Chris Penney is Neeson, Gleeson, Bon, Stevie Wright, James Reyne and Isabella Manfredi all wrapped into one and turned up to 11.
I saw a lot of shows this year but these guys were standouts. Amazingly entertaining. Chaotic, shambolic, funny & wildly insane. A performance that makes most bands look like chopped liver. A band that makes Jimmy and the Boys look bland. The only band I can think of that comes remotely close to such a wild performance is …. Nobody ya hear! Nobody. A true force of nature. Driving past Albury Wodonga will never ever be the same.
9. WAAX. The new album. What a creeper. Wasn’t too keen on it the 1st couple of listens but I’m glad I kept spinning it. Really cool album. Lyrically smart IMHO. It may not grab everyone. A bit too JJJ as they say but it’s classy! I Got to see them live too. Enigmatic, theatrical, mesmerising & aesthetically pleasing. Incredibly entertaining live band. Sounded just like the record. Maz DeVita is the bomb! What a voice. Superstar performer.
8. Do the Pop festival in Victoria. This was a cracker. Rock stars young and old. So grateful to have been on the bill. Too many brilliant acts over the weekend to mention but the surprise package for me was The Refuge. I bought the EP. It’s good, but as a live act they killed it. Even the guy napping by the duck pond would like ‘em. Check ‘em out 7. The Weed. The Tumbleweed lads have still got it. Whatever the nostalgia event was called, Tumbleweed kicked it off in world class style. Extra special for me because my kids got to see one of their favourite bands with me. Richie helped me out and got them in the press pit and they took some cracker shots for a school assignment.
Here's one. Pretty cool day out!
6. Stewart Cunningham of Leadfinger I’ve been a Stewart Cunningham fan my whole life. There hasn’t been a thing he has released that I didn’t like. Let’s hope he doesn’t release a Christmas album next year. Yeah - Nah I reckon I’d even like that. The new Leadfinger album. Well it’s got some dark clouds on the front cover so you know it’s gunna be good.
Seriously though, Stew has been dealt a pretty poor hand of late. I was therefore expecting a bit of a poor bloody me album. Couldn’t be further from the truth. It feels more like an album about love, connection and the lust for life. From the very first Brother Brick-ian strums of “You Think So” I was smiling. I danced, I cried, I air guitared and cried a little more (yeah yeah I played side 3 first). Incredible song writing. Beautiful record. Love the production and the packaging. Every silver cloud has a dark lining.
5. Mad Max It’s no secret we are big Mad Max fans. We have had the pleasure of hanging out with & playing our MFP tune to a lot of the original cast. Fifi, Goose, Charlie, The Night Rider, Cundalini but earlier this year singing “Johnny the boy has done it again” on the back of a truck with Johnny the Boy AKA Tim Burns standing in the crowd in front of me smiling was pretty special.
4. Wasteland At the drive in. No, not the band. Wasteland the documentary screened at the skyline drive-in in Blacktown. A Doco about Mad Mad Max fans. Forgot how much I loved the drive-in as a kid and then we got to see ourselves, very briefly on the big screen
3. Rot TV. Some pretty cool guitar picking on their debut album. It’s good, in a New Yorky, Detroitian, 1st wave British punk, ‘80s Melbourne, new era Scandinavian kind way. I like it. Well worth tracking down. Finger picking good.
2. The Owen Guns Yeah, they have a potty mouth. Yeah, I don’t quite get the contempt for either cyclist or ska music but The Owen Guns smashing out "C.S.M.F." live in Dapto was one of my rock n roll highlights for 2022.
1. Psychotic Turnbuckles Coming out of the rock ‘n’ roll Corona abyss for a tag team rumble with the Psychotic Turnbuckles in front of a very solid crowd at the Marrickville Bowlo was tops. They were on fire. The lead up banter with Jesse and the girls was pretty cool too. There is no disputing The Turnbuckles are still the undefeated champions of the Universe.
And Best song of 2022 goes to Bad//Dreems… What ya think about that? Jack!
10. Fifteen blokes of a certain age in a dodgy bar somewhere. In the latter part of 2022 I quipped on FB that our (Joeys Coop) lot in life appeared to be to play to the same 15 blokes of a certain age in a dodgy bar somewhere. I got a bit of feedback from some of my musician age peers that I’d pretty well hit the nail on the head.
Now my quip might sound like a bitch about bands with a collective history, but no heritage, not being able to get a decent gig – and to be fair in part it is – but in truth it was also a celebration of the fact that after 40 odd years of playing we could still get a gig in a dodgy bar (my favourite kind) somewhere and we could rely on 15 blokes of a certain age to turn up to support us. That sure beats the fuck out of playing golf, going to fancy restaurants with pretentious retired couples, playing bridge, accompanying the better half to a musical, or other age-appropriate activities.
So, to Keith, Graham, John, Ian, Murray, John, Kev, Dan, Tony, Chris, Ben, Jeather, Henny, Sue, Diane, Adriene - OK that is 16 and some of them are gals of a certain age but you get the idea – we and every other band of a certain age thank you for joining us in not acting our age. We love youse all. You make it all worthwhile.
The lines are so blurred these days that you can’t guess where most bands applying a defibrillator to rock and roll’s ailing heart come from. So-called scenes are fragmented and the means of production rest in many sets of hands, thanks to technology and the information democracy of the Internet.
Wind back the clock a couple of decades and JJ and The Real Jerks could be from snowed-in Sweden or inner-city Sydney rather than sprawling Los Angeles.
This 12-inch, eight-song EP is razor sharp, fun garage rock and roll in the style of The Hives crossed with Dead Boys. Big twin guitars and occasional sax punctuate the songs, which throw up plenty of hooks.
It’s a four-song EP from an obscure (at least on the other side of the country) Adelaide band that deserved prominence - and might have managed it if they’d come from Sydney. The Preytells formed in 1986, shared stages with just about every worthwhile underground local band of the era.
These songs were among sixn recorded in ’92 for release by Greasy Pop. Alas, the band fell apart before that could happen, and singer Mick Reed left this world a month later. The tapes have been exhumed by boutique label Fantastic Mess Records and are superb ‘60s punk-inspired rock and roll.
1. Craig McRae I’ll get to music in a second, but I need to give kudos to the Human Fly, Craig McRae, for his amazing job as first year coach of Collingwood. From second last to one point off a grand final appearance. I don’t want to overhype him and I’m aware he’s only just started the role, but I think it’s safe to say McRae is on track to be Munster’s person of the decade.
2. TISM- The Croxton and Prince of Wales Bandroom After nearly two decades of nothing, it was wonderful to see the return of the band that put Melbourne’s South East on the map. Two brilliant warm up shows (missed the third), I was amazed that after all these years, the band, now approaching retirement age, put on a no holds barred show that included crowd surfing and the full contact dancing that you only see at a TISM show. The crowd was mixed of people that came back to relive the glory days, and plenty of young people seeing TISM for the first time. The songs are still brilliant, and hearing two new Ron Hitler Barassi diatribes proved that TISM are just as relevant now as they were in there 90s heyday. And these secret shows were a godsend, meaning I could keep well far from that odd festival they were on at.
Supersoncic Stargazer – Trip Pilots (self released)
No shock to discover Hawkwind is a cited influence for this UK trio. The EP’s title and band name are obvious clues. The revelation is that the CD’s four songs are a solid addition to the psych-stoner rock genre.
Swirling feedback and electronic chirping, some talking and a repetitive rhythm bed build an ethereal platform on opening track “Supersonic Stargazer” from which guitarist-vocalist Johnny Sharp solemnly intones. Spiralling guitar lines abound.
I always have trouble cutting it down to just 10, and this year is no exception. Lots of good gigs, lots of good albums. Here's a grab bag of highlights (mostly gigs) from 2022 in no particular order.
Chad Morgan & The Johnnys, Link and Pin, Woy Woy, NSW in May I missed the previous NSW Chad gig with The Johnnys when I was Canberra-based for a bit, so I was keen to catch him this time. He was at the Mazza Bowlo on the Saturday when I was seeing Dave Hole (see below), so I caught the train to Woy Woy on the Sunday to put things right.
I went there to pay tribute to an under-recognised icon and the Sheik from Scrubby Creek was in fine form, both in voice and on the guitar. He was supposed to play for only 20 minutes, but went for the best part of an hour. Much laughter in the audience with the 89 year old (true) picking up more fans.
The Johnnys were in fine form too and the Link and Pin is a great venue.
Dave Hole, Bridge Hotel, Rozelle, NSW in May On the same weekend as Chad and speaking of old blokes still doing the business, Dave Hole tore up the Bridge. I first saw him in Melbourne in the ‘70s in Matt Taylor’s band. His playing is just as explosive now as it always has been. He’s 74 by the way.
We had seen Robben Ford the night before. He was great. He always is, but the Factory (which was the venue) needs to do something about the sound. Dave’s loud and raucous power blues the next night was just what the doctor ordered.
Glitoris, Oxford Art Factory Gallery Bar, Sydney, NSW November Canberra fem-punks Glitoris (it’s hard to call them punks when they’re such good players) put on a ripper of a politically and socially charged set of mostly new songs from their next album. Brave! Hopefully they’re in the main room next time. I hope to have them on show when the album comes out.
Raising Ravens in support were pretty damn good too and I’m looking forward to having Jess in the studio in the new year. Grindhouse, Mazza Bowlo, June Taking spiritual guidance from Peter Russell Clark and eating nothing but cheese for a week, Mick and the boys drove the Grindhouse SLR 5000 to the Bowlo for a night of Sex Punk Power! Great stuff and looking forward to more of same!
Jaguar Jonze, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW, July I first met the incredible Deena Lynch back in 2015 and have watched her rise since. 2020 looked like it was to be her year but COVID had other ideas. Things lined up better in 2022 with the release of the debut Jaguar Jonze LP “Bunny Mode” (there had been a couple of excellent EPs previously).
Prior to this year, she and the band had only played in the Gallery Bar at OAF. This time, Jaguar Jonze put on a killer show launching “Bunny Mode”. As for the album: yep! Get it. It’s excellent.
Jesse Dayton, Mazza Bowlo, July First time the Beau-monster had been here and with a top notch rhythm section, put on a fantastic genre-hopping show. We reckon he was just testing the water here, and with any luck, he’ll be back again soon.
If you’ve never heard of him, pop his name into your preferred search engine. You’ll be gob smacked.
Spurs for Jesus and Dave Favours were excellent in support.
Mick Medew Firstly, “Love is Calling”, the debut album from Mick Medew and Ursula is quite frankly a ball-tearer. Everyone’s been raving about it (as they should) and I can’t add much to what’s already been said.
Secondly, Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers made the long trek from Brissie in November to mesmerise us at the Bowlo and they did just that. It seemed like ages since they last played here and they delivered another tight power pop show.
The On and Ons and Pocket Watch were terrific in support. On and Ons are always great and Pocket Watch are ones to watch.
Ron S. Peno and the Superstitions, Mazza Bowlo, November Jeeze, for a bloke who’s supposed to be taking it easy, Ron put on a killer show with his all-star band. I think they’ve done three albums now and it’s turning into tight unit for Ron to work with.
Gold star to MD Horne’s Last Stand for closing the night. Scattered Order, Katoomba, NSW November I had seen them with Melbourne’s Black Cab at the Red Rattler in 2015, and they reappeared on my radar in 2022, with their latest album “Where is the Windy Gun?”
The show in a small room in Bursill Lane in Katoomba was loud with lots of effects and very trippy visuals. Seriously good and I’m now a big fan.
(Note to self: talk to Andrew from Black Cab to get a double bill happening in Sydney.) Mitch Jones from Scattered Order was the studio guest on the December 23 show.
Thursday Evening Gunk, Mosh Pit It was back again on a different night and it was lots of fun. I was privileged enough to host two shows and I hope it comes back because I’m up for it!vThat’s it but there could be heaps more – there were lots of excellent albums released during the year.
Chris Virtue presents “Virtual Unreality” on 2RRR 88.5 FM on Fridays at 19:00 Sydney time.
Harry Howard Presents: Slight Pavilions – Harry Howard (Cranes Records)
If you'd made this LP, you'd be bloody proud. It's a triumph, as far as I'm concerned.
How to get your attention?
Remember those “Nuggets” compilations when they first came out, tipping what we knew of the 1960s upside our heads? How so many of those tracks had such a unique joy of life, such a moving intimacy?
“Slight Pavilions” sounds nothing like those “forgotten” independent records of the 1960s, but it certainly does have that joy of life, a profound intimacy, and more than a touch of the backyard rebel. It also echoes that strange late 1970s and early '80s period when so much experimentation was taking place... Technologically, the difference between then and now is profound and borderline unbelievable.