There was a moment during last year’s Victorian lockdown, probably early September when shit was at its worst. The bleakness of the climate - cold, grey and crappy, in the way that Melbourne does it - matched the desolation of public spirit, provoking in me a desire for old school punk rock attitude and resistance.
Not resistance in the form of conspiratorial wingnuttery nor the specious proclamations of human rights and freedom imported from a dying empire, but just anything resembling a deviation from the obsequious adherence, self-adorned piety and moronic retributive attitude which seemed to have descended upon the state.
Sitting out in my shed one Saturday night I decided to play the angriest records I could find in my collection – Bikini Kill, Dead Kennedys, Bits of Shit, DOA, Kill Rock Stars compilations, Crush, X. It didn’t make any difference, really, but it was cathartic and energising.
Another collection of Joe Strummer material hits the market on March 26, this time from major label BMG. “ASSEMBLY” follows 2018’s “Joe Strummer 001” and showcases what the label calls “carefully curated singles, fan favourites, and archival rarities from the Strummer solo catalogue”.
The selection includes “Coma Girl,” “Johnny Appleseed,” and “Yalla Yalla” (with The Mescaleros) to his iconic rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and soundtrack contributions like “Love Kills” (from the 1986 film, “Sid and Nancy”.)
The 16-track compilation features three previously unreleased versions of classic Clash tracks, including the never-before-heard “Junco Partner (Acoustic)” and electrifying live performances of “Rudie Can’t Fail” and “I Fought The Law”, the latter two recorded by JoeStrummer and the Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy on November 24, 2001. The collection includes exclusive liner notes by lifelong Strummer fan, Jakob Dylan.
Los Angeles-via-Detroit underground punk legends The Dogs have unleashed a new digital single “Under The Coast” that was co-written with and features fellow rock ‘n’ roller Frank Meyer (The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs,James Williamson & The Pink Hearts) on guest vocals and guitar.
The socially conscious, topical song is available now through Chicanery Chick Records/Die Laughing Records on all digital formats, and deals with the chaos and dissonance of modern times.
Everything is Radiant Between The Hates By Rich Ferguson (Moon Tide Press)
Rich Ferguson is the best poet in the world, if you ask me. All his words have medicinal properties; they are magic spells and healing incantations. If you love John Cooper Clarke or Lydia Lunch, Exene, Nikki Giovanni, John Trudell or Tupac, you'll probably love Rich Ferguson, too.
If you are lonesome, isolated, alienated, suffering, worried, exiled, dry-drunk, evicted, locked-down, locked-out, tripled masked and permanently veiled in black lace mourning, abandoned, back-stabbed, betrayed, robbed, in grief, forlorn or melancholy, remember there is power in the word.
"Everything Is Radiant Between The Hates" is my newest sidekick, imaginary friend, silver bullet, rosary, garlic and crucifix, force field and holy water, pepper spray and hip-flask, trusty shank and pimp-stick, Marlboro Reds, harmonica, Roy Rogers holster, double secret fan club only secret decoder ring, 45 spindle, miniature spy camera, flashlight, utility-knife and I-phone. Flash Gordon spacegun. Secret scrolls, wobbly jukebox at the last greasy spoon in town. It's probably the most rocknroll artifact I've unearthed since the Humpers from Long Beach released that CD, "Positively Sick On Fourth Street", like 25 years ago.
If you're like me, you’re used to carryin' nothin, mighta spent most of your life empty pocketed, no watch, no wallet, no keys, no credit card, no proper identification, or name-tag, or money-clip, but once you get this book in your hands, you'll probably keep carrying it around with you. It's become essential to my sense of wellbeing, like a guitar slide, or bottle opener, Brill Cream and unbreakable comb. You won't leave home without it.
It's a Greyhound ticket to another time. Drinks for free. Mirrored sunglasses. Feather earring. The gospel truth confirming all the good ghosts you got floatin' around inside your traumatized skull. Like a rhinestone horseshoe, a Best Western ashtray, a universal remote, or black cat bone. It's like Pete Seeger's Wobblies songbooks. You better get a copy, now. Also look for "8th & Agony" (Punk Hostage Press).
Born in the Suburbs – Suburban Urchins (Aeroplane Records)
The concept of “let’s get the band back together” isn’t new. Not by any stretch. And the thought of yet another obscure ‘80s garage rock crew reassembling and trumpeting how good they were/are doesn’t automatically fill anyone with confidence.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. If only every band’s midlife crisis sounded this good.
Suburban Urchins were a mid-‘80s band from Hobart, the epicentre of a small but fevered Tasmanian underground music scene that notably spawned The Philisteins, with whom they shared stages.
If pressed to name a heartland for rocking hard pop you don’t normally nominate Birmingham. Call it the loudmouthed opinion of an Aussie who blew in once to drink some warm pints, but its Industrial Revolution décor and shitty weather makes it more of a Black Sabbath kinda place.
Of course the West Midlands of England has pumped out its share of pop (Duran Duran, anyone?) but, musically speaking, if you’d heard of Cult Figures you wouldn’t put them be among that crew. (Fun Fact: Roger Taylor drummed for them for one show.)
The forthcoming Hard-Ons documentary by "Descent Into The Maelstromn" producer Jonathan Sequeira has qualified for tax-deductible donation status with Film Australia. There are no crowd-sourcing rewards other than enduring gratitude (and maybe a name-drop) but don't let that stop you. You can tell from the trailer that it'sgoing to be great. You can send some cash here and claim it on your tax return if you're Australian.
Back in the ‘90s, Darren Smallman was immersed in the fertile Geelong-Melbourne punk rock scene in Australia as a player, label head and manager. These days, the ex-member of Toad, Warped, Thee Vinyl Creatures, The Wells Collective and The Sound Platform lives in the UK, working in the charity arts sector and producing his own music under the moniker Dez Dare.
Dez Dare and Melt Citizen (El Paso, USA) have unleashed a DIY fuzz EP , "Spl;itz", that they promise will “melt your brains and hearts”. It’s available through Bandcamp with a crowdsourcing campaign underway to get it out on vinyl.
In the pair’s words: “Hidden away in spare rooms and makeshift studios while in very different pockets of the earthly domain, there were two who worshipped at the altar of guitar pedals and heavily discounted recording plugins. This split EP digs deep into the cacophonous divide between reality and the two countries entrenched in denial, grasping to find a way out of the long grass. Back into the light.”
Philadelphia is a place that’s always punched above its weight. Bill Haley, Todd Rundgren, Hall and Oates (yikes) and Pink are among musical offspring of the City of Brotherly Love. And for the fourth year in a row, Philly has more homicides than New York City, a place four times its size, and currently ranks second on the USA per capita Murder League Table.
So here’s a recommendation if you’re a fan of rough ‘n’ ready, no bullshit garage rock and roll: Look up Thee Minks. Hook into this album like there’s no next week. Go to their Bandcamp and plonk down your credit card number or Paypal handle. Do it right now, baby. Thank you. You’ve been a great audience. I’ll grab my hat and coat.