bellrays - The I-94 Bar
Annandale Hotel - August 1, 2006
If you don't like slobbering, breathless gushes, leave now. OK? I've already copped a broadside from someone about one review of a gig this week - and the fucker wasn't even at the show - but here goes...
What an in-fucking-credibly amazing show. Just about the best thing I've seen this year. The Stooges beats it (although that was surreal an experience I'm still not sure it happened). Soulful, rocking, energetic and dynamic. Perfectly paced and a testimony to a band at the peak of its considerable powers. Cruisey and light at the get go, it shaped as a righteously loud and grooving way to ease us all through a Tuesday night.
The world’s greatest exponents of down and dirty, heart breaking, soul shaking rock ‘n’ roll,The BellRays, are about to hit Australian shores again in August. The re-scheduled dates follow the cancellation of their planned double-headed tour of Australia with Supersuckers.
The ROCKPOCALYPSE Make Up Tour takes in three states and the national capital and includes forays into regional centres.
It’s late in Adelaide, I got work tomorrow, and I didn’t expect to be writing this. So why am I?
When you’ve seen a band who so effortlessly lifts your spirits, who convince you that you matter, and that they give a damn for the people they’ve come several thousand miles to entertain; when you see that band put out truckloads of energy, effervescence, fizz and smarts, fronted by one of those extraordinary showmen who make it all look so damn easy you want to form your own band … yeah, well, I owe them.
Never heard a song before tonight.
Mainstream entertainment world don’t know they exist. Across the road from The Gov is the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, lighting up the sky with a multicoloured display and one of those shifting electronic billboards advertising Neil Diamond, Elton John and Mrs Brown’s Boy and that Russell excrescence.
That’s where The BellRays should be playing. I once saw James Brown there. The BellRays may not be the same thing, but pound for pound they’re just as entertaining, and a damn sight more intimate and friendly.
Pic by Rick De Pizzol
The Iggy and The Stooges guitarist and the BellRays vocalist. Out July 29.
Okay. Let's get one thing straight. This album is great. Here's your six bottles, James. (Last time I tried to give you six bottles for something, the Barman turned me down but now we seem fine with that kind of thing). Now, if the Barman would do a quick edit we could be three for three. Six. Six. Six. Apt.
Of course there are elephants in the room. Great hulking elephants and the occasional five foot one elephant. I guess we'll just have to tackle them head on. (Can I pun my way through this whole review? ) As a spoiler, I've read Robert's review because I know he'll have a different take to me. I haven't read the Barman's because it is always funny how often we write the same review. There could be some overlap.
Eddie Spaghetti (left) of The Supersuckers thinks it's all a bit loud but Frank Meyer begs to differ. Ed Culver photo.
Los Angeles musician, author and filmmaker Frank Meyer is a surprisingly talented singer songwriter and a highly skilled, captivating raconteur. He seems like a genuinely all around good guy, so I'm a little embarrassed I did not get that hip to his extensive discography much sooner.
I first became aware of both Frank Meyer and fellow feature article subject John 5 way back in the hazy distant past-maybe like, 23 years ago, in the pages of a glossy punk ‘n’ roll bible, “Pop Smear”, with both my boyhood idols, Evil Knievel and David Lee Roth on the cover. I was workin' at a news stand in the Midwest where long lines of unhappy barflies flooded in front of my cash register all day, incessantly wanting to buy the scratch off lotto tickets. "I'll take ten Lucky Pots Of Gold and five Leprechaun's Rainbows".
Frank seemed to have won the rock ‘n’ roll lotto when he got to hang out with John 5 and David Lee Roth, live, and in-person, on multiple occasions, and then, went on to write books and form his own bands that criss-crossed the country. He was playing bills with all the other bands I liked at the time and releasing a long and prolific stream of records I never really heard.
Fifteen years ago, US-based rabid rock and roll fans in Washington DC launched a mission to issue a tribute album to the songs of Radio Birdman played by what were then contemporary bands.
Reaction to the "Flattery" tribute was so positive that Jake Starr and Dave Champion were forced to package it as three standalone CDs through their Fandango Records and Nomad Records imprints.
Now well into the 40th anniversary year of Radio Birdman's first gig, Spanish label Ghost Highway has picked up the idea and will re-issue the cream as "(The Best Of) Flattery", a vinyl double LP, funded through crowd-sourced finance. The LPs will be accompanied by a 7" single.
These bloody phone interviews. If you’ve never done one, this is how it goes:
First, you notice unfamiliar terms in the email from the publicist like AEDT and CST that refer to time zones. And that excremental daylight saving kicked in two days ago. Cue frantic fiddling on the computer to make sure you’ve got the right time.
You’ve been given a choice of times - if you’re lucky. Bit awkward if you get stuck with a time when you’re at work and you have to excuse yourself to go to the bog and do an interview. Trust me, you get looks.
“Who were you cackling away to in the toilet, Robert? New … chum?”
Cue: furious blushing.
This interview was with James Williamson, the guitarist for Iggy and The Stooges, who has a new solo album, "Re-Licked" in the racks. And I got lucky on another front this time, and the nearly-threenager grandchild didn’t arrive until after I’d finished, so assorted boing noises, yowls and her squeaky voice didn’t float up into the recording.
With most "phoners"you do have a strict 20 minutes to adhere to, a weird time (in this case it’s from 8.55am to 9.15 am). But you do worry that it’s 4.30 am where the interviewee is, and he’ll be off his head on Tequila and mushies. As rock stars do.
Just 20 minutes to gain rapport and probe the poor bugger’s most intimate self? Poor bugger? He’s on the receiving end of a long line of assorted gits like me for several hours.
One minute before the appointed time, you dial a local number - with the area code prefix. A recorded message asks you to select your language. I am always very tempted to fuck with this but have so far refrained. One day I’ll select Croat or Bulgarian or Tig or something.