Paul Kelly: The Man, The Music And The Life In Between (Hachette Australia)
By Stuart Coupe
“I hear you like music. Do you like Paul Kelly? I’ve just been reading his autobiography, "How to Make Gravy". I love his music. Always have.”
It was an innocuous and inoffensive simple conversation starter one Sunday afternoon, uttered by a friend of my wife’s. To the extent there was question in there, it was almost opaque, and more likely rhetorical. Everyone likes Paul Kelly. How could anyone not like Paul Kelly? As it was, I fumbled around for an answer, and mumbled something about not having had the chance to listen to any of his music for a while.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t like Paul Kelly’s music. I’d first heard and seen him back in the early 1980s on Countdown with his then-band, The Dots. A few years later Kelly appeared again, this time with a new band, the Coloured Girls, and a batch of songs that would become staples of commercial radio playlists: "To Her Door", "Darling It Hurts", "From St Kilda to King’s Cross" and "Before Too Long".
Do You Remember - The Lincolns (Trater Records)
Howlin' Threads - Howlin' Threads (Meinschaft Records)
Astral Flight - Astral Flight (Iceage Productions)
Nervous Breakdown - Destination Lonely (Voodoo Rhythm)
I've invented a new meaning for a word! Surely, with all the incredibly stupid behaviour rotating about COVID-19, surely there is actually a state of being "covid": "to behave in an irrational, impatient and/or rude manner in response to something not understood'.
You can have "coviddery", too, and "covidacious", if you like; "covidacious" would have to mean that the coviddery behaviour also indicates that they are a Grade A, thick-as-pigshit, fuckstick. But, what if the behaviour isn't quite dreadful enough to be called "covid"? Well, you might call their carry-on "SARSpicious".
Alright, I might have blown it with that last one. Still, these jerks should wear identifying caps, or badges, or something.
Beauty In The Ordinary - Astrid Munday (Behind the Beat)
Catharsis through music is not new but Astrid Munday manages to weave a dignified and reflective joy into “Beauty in the Ordinary”, a tribute to her departed husband Tony Cohen.
It’s been 14 years since her last album and three since the passing of Cohen, one of the greatest producer/engineers to occupy an Australian studio in the last four decades. If you’ve heard an album by the Beasts of Bourbon, Hunters & Collectors, The Go-Betweens, The Cruel Sea, Dave Graney, Kim Salmon, the Birthday Party or the Blackeyed Susans, chances are that Cohen had a hand in it.
One of the most important people to come out of Perth's music scene since the 1970s is Dave Faulkner. Whether he’s playing punk, pop or electro music, he's always trying to create something new and exciting. The Hoodoo Gurus’ latest single “Hung Out To Dry” is a perfect example.
Faulkner picks a target in the current US President, someone who has been a punching bag for many people, and sticks it to him in a fresh and personal manner.
As well as the new Gurus single, Faulker's reconstituted former band The Victims had their first release in many moons this year. It was a physical EP featuring recordings of four songs (“Charlie”, “Horror Smash”, “I Wanna Be With You” and “Everynite”) that were written, but never recorded, when the legendary band formed in Perth in the 1970s.
The re-born Victims reunites Dave with original member James Baker and new recruit, the great Ray Ahn of the Hard Ons, who give a slightly modern touch to some classic tunes that were birthed at the dawn of punk rock.
Dave spoke to me via Zoom in Sydney where he tells me he is fresh from mastering the next Gurus single.
45th Anniversary - Live In London - Blue Oyster Cult (Frontiers Music Srl)
To fully appreciate the epiphany that the cognoscenti (and especially the unwitting) experienced on their first listen of the debut album by Blue Öyster Cult, one has to remember the turgid and bleak musical landscape of 1972.
The top artists of that year are Roberta Flack, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Don McLean, Nilsson, and Sammy Davis Jr. Sure, Chuck Berry is in the charts, but that’s with “My Ding-a-Ling”. (If you bought the single, you haven’t listened to it since then.)
Vibrations, yours and mine - Johnny Casino (La Vila Nova/Beluga Records/Golden Robot)
With the world turning to shit in every sense of the term, what's a poor boy to do other than play in a rock and roll band? The answer, in strange times of social distancing, is to record an album solo and pare the songs right back to resemble what they were like when first written.
Plenty will testify that going naked in front of a microphone is harder than it sounds - even with very few people watching. Johnny Casino's "Vibrations, yours and mine" was recorded in a modest Spanish studio in four hours, with some pedal steel and backing vocals overdubbed later courtesy of Hendrik Rover (Los Deltonos).
It was done pre-COVID but serves as a good template for how to go about things - which is with loads of emotional investment, a good deal of spontaneity and, importantly, heart.
The original Stooges.
Ben Blackwell is one of the most important figures to come out of the Detroit music scene in the past 30 years. Whether it be his drumming with the Dirtbombs, his work crewing for and archiving The White Stripes or his running of Third Man Records, Ben is yet another in a long line of significant musical names to have come from the Motor City.
Third Man Records has just dropped the Stooges album “Live at Goose Lake”. Recorded back in August 1970, the show it documents is a seminal and infamous moment in the band’s history. It was the last gig the band played with bassist Dave Alexander.
Favourite expatrate Sydney son Johnny Casino (Asteroid B612, Johnny Casino & The Secrets, The Egos) has a new album out on August 21. "Vibrations, yours and mine" is a stripped back and expansive sounding record, recorded live in the studio in his adopted home of Spain over four hours, with additonal pedal steel from collaborator Hendrik Rover (Los Deltonos).
It's a mix of trademark heartfelt Johnny Casino originals and intruiging covers, including versions of Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown", the New Christs' "Dropping Like Flies" and The Saints' "Ghost Ships".
"Vibrations, tours and mine" will be on LP through Beluga Records in Sweden and La Vila Nova Recordings in Spain and on CD and digital out through Golden Robot Records in Australia.