Greg Sawers & Penny Ikinger - photo by Loene Carmen
Siolo artist and ex-Wet Taxis and Sacred Cowboys member
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2020 started with a bang! I was treated to an ear-splitting performance from X at their Bushfire Relief Benefit show at The Spotted Mallard. in Brunswick, Melbourne. It was like travelling through a time warp littered with gritty rock n roll riffs and howls. The ones that X do best. They’ve still got it!
I was taken on another spin by a stellar line up of Guitar Wolf (Japan), 5,6,7,8’s (Japan) and Rocket Science at The Tote and also saw Japanese band The Jetboys at the same venue. Guitar Wolf and The Jetboys, arguably two of the best punk influenced rock bands of this day and age, are brutal. They play loud & fast with utmost conviction. Whatever it was they were singing about I was sure it was sacrilegious. It felt that way and that’s what counts.
The Schizophonics (USA) also performed in Melbourne (The Tote again!). This relatively youthful three piece exploded all over the stage and reassured that rock 'n' roll is not dead. Not that I ever thought it was, but that’s what ’they” keep telling me…
X, Heinous Hounds, solo and many more
1.) Single Malt Scotch. Preferably Irish. Nine that peaty shit. Clean and clear.
You can pick them up easy... The Dubliner for example. Easy on the pocket and a very smooth drop. Writer's Tears is a favourite. But more expensive.
2.) Blended scotch. If I can't access a single malt then blended it is. Best value is, believe it or not, Dewar's White Label. You can get a litre for around $45. It goes down surprisingly well. I was given a bottle of Johnny Walker Black a month or two ago and was kind of stunned by how good it tasted. Had not tried it in years so i feel i should mention it.
3.) Vodka. There are so many choices. They range from rubbing alcohol to crystal clear tears of angels. Russian or Polish is good. It's worth spending a little extra on if you knock it back neat. It doesn't mean there are not some real bargains out there. Pyccknn CTAHDATP Russian standard gold is a good example. I am very partial to that at the moment.
Tickets for The Festival of Sue, the tribute to late Sydney music booker Sue Telfer, are now on sale here.
X, the New Christs, The Johnnys, Kim Salmon, Front End Loader, The Mis-Made, Penny Ikinger, The Holy Soul and The On and Ons have been announced in the first wave of bands on the bill.
Proceeds from the October 20 show - featuring a dozen bands over two stages at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville, Sydney - will go to Support Act, the charity for music industry members who have fallen on hard times.
It's a dazzling line-up with more names to be added and will run from 2-10pm. It will sell-out so don;t delay.
X in full flight in Sydney. Murray Bennett photo
Forty years of X and there’s a national tour to celebrate. Who would have thought? Certainly none of the original members, of which Steve Lucas is the only one remaining alive.
Lucas and bassist Ian Rilen were, of course, the only constant members of X. Almost. Even Ian was went briefly MIA from one line-up. The pair’s tumultuous relationship has been documented in many places and they were the heart and soul of the band.
I don't follow hardly anything new anymore. I turned 30 this year so my opinion probably isn't as relevant as it used to be. But here we go anyway. Until next year, your friend, James S. Doyle.
10. Hall and Oates- “Timeless Classics” (compilation)
Where should we start? The Dune Rats? Violent Soho? Clowns? No, lets just skip the popular upper-middle class bro-rock of 2017 and go straight to the heart of rock n roll. Re-packaged compilations that come out just in time for Christmas $10 bins.
If you are looking for a starting point for your Hall and Oates collection, this may as well be it. “Maneater” “You Make My dreams” “Rich Girl”.. they are all here, plus deeper cuts such as “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile”. A must for fans of Philly Grindcore.
9. The Afghan Whigs- In Spades (album)
I nearly forgot about this one. One of the rare cases of a band that goes away for a long time then somehow comes back better than they used to be. I would describe this album as "sad, yet gangsta AF" The internet says that this album has "generally favourble reviews" and I tend to agree with that also.
Make sure you read until the end. Let’s talk vinyl first:
The A side of this is where the voice (and guitar, for the most part) of X goes back to the ‘60s to show off his sentimental side. Steve Lucas pulled together a capable combo in Levi Franco (drums), Ryan MaCay (bass) and Herbie Mayhem (piano) to play his songs a couple of years ago, so strap yourself in.
“Ever So Lovely” is an ode to Mrs Lucas (hi Joey!), set to raunchy guitars and set off by Steve’s warm but chipped-at-the-edges vocal. Shades of A.R.M., his fabulous Oz Rock project of 20 years ago, here but not as excessive and fixed in the now.
Before there was punk rock there was Ian Rilen. Then there was X.
X weren't punks in the sense of the term that the skinheads understood but they were primal, punk rock and roll in one combustible package.
Sydney had never seen a band like X whose wrecking ball power centred on Rilen's bass-played-as-a-lead-instrument, the massive backbeat of fellow veteran Steve Cafeiro, the slashing guitar of Ian Krahe and the shredding vocals of Steve Lucas, the latter two rookies.
Living a quiet life wasn't part of the X creed. Krahe's submission to a heroin overdose left the already outlawed X even more out on a limb, but they grimly continued as a trio and proceeded to record their debut album with legendary guitarist Lobby Loyde producing.
"X-Aspirations" became an instant classic, setting a benchmark for a whole legion of new, uncompromising and minimalist bands.
These words (and those that follow) were written for the liner notes for the 2009 re-issue of X’s debut album “X-Aspirations” but were inadvertently shelved. We’re reviving them to coincide with the 40th anniversary tour by the X line-up that lives on after the passing of all original members except guitarist-vocalist Steve Lucas. Lucas has crowd-sourced a Best of and Rarities collection ("X-Citations") on vinyl, copies of which will be available at the gigs. Read on.
Je T'aime Moi Non Plus b/w Je T'aime Instrumental - Steve Lucas & Joey Bedlam (Radio Rocks)
This is the I-94 Bar Singles Bar, isn't it? "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus" (translated: "I love you no more") is a lovingly-crafted cover of the Serge Gainsborough song he wrote for for Brigitte Bardot, sung by X's Steve Lucas and his better half Joey Bedlam, most notably of Dollsquad.
Everybody from Kim Salmon and the Surrealists to Nick Cave and Anita Lane, TV siren Abigail and Bob Downe has had a lash at "J T'aime", so it would be a pity if you had to self-isolate and not have the chance to sing along with your own nearest and dearest and steam up some windows.
It's a faithfully-rendered version and a million miles from X, but it's also a bunch of fun. Flip the sucker over and there's an instrumental version that you can karaoke with or record along to. Grab a copy at Bandcamp and see the uncensored cover that Facebook banned.
Steve Lucas at the Newtown Social Club. Murray Bennett photo
X is a Sydney band.
I can’t think any other outfit that personified the street-level, brutal and at times minimalistic music of Sin City Sydney of the late ‘70s like X. Theirs' was a world of squats with a city awash with Terrence Clark's cheap smack, the odour of brown bags of dirty money and nightly beatings at Darlo police station.
It was a world of corrupt pollies and police in the post-Askin Sydney. X captured that harsh, nihilistic inner-city world. One that has long since been gentrified.
It’s renowned as one of Melbourne’s most spectacular rock and roll shows and it hits Sydney’s Factory Theatre at Marrickville on Saturday. Epic Brass is the brainchild of Hunters and Collectors horns man Jack Howard and employs a stellar cast of underground stars to showcase the songs of the Saints, X, Laughing Clowns, Painters and Dockers, the Hunnas and Midnight Oil.
Former Sydneysiders Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Steve Lucas (X), Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) will join Jack Howard and Fiona Lee Maynard, with John Archer (Hunters and Collectors) on bass and Ash Davies on drums. Tickets here.
If you’re of a resident of Sydney’s Inner-Western Delta, you won’t have far to catch two sideshows before and after Saturday. Steve Lucas plays a free solo show at the Golden Barley at Enmore from 8pm on Thursday night with Penny Ikinger backing up at the same venue at 7pm on Sunday, also gratis.
Onetime X howler Steve Lucas returns to the record store racks with a couple of seven-inch singles, this first one under his own name. If you’re hoping for “Hate City” you’re fresh outta luck.
“Living & Loving In The USA” is a double-headed ode to marital bliss that could have been called “Where We Went On Our Honeymoon”. It's the (true) story of two people eloping. Clean guitar, sweet backing vox from Mrs Lucas (aka the very rocking Joey Bedlam from Dollsquad) and all done without a hint of fuzz or distortion. It’s rocking mid-tempo pop with bongos, a hint of Tex-Mex and a great and heartfelt vocal from Mr Lucas.
The Melbourne music scene is world-renowned for being a bubbling volcano of rock 'n' roll fire and creativity that throws up rare diamonds and musical gems. The Leaps and Bounds Music Festival honours its stars each year with its Living Legends series.
Beginning in 2014, the Living Legends feted that year were rock gods Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Charlie Owen. This year the honour is bestowed on another trio who are fully legendary in the eyes of their peers and music lovers.
The Strawberry Teardrop takes off where Steve Lucas’ fab Pubert Brown Fridge Occurrence from the early ‘00s left off. It’s a pared-down studio line-up - a trio with Lucas handling vocals, bass and guitar, helped out by drummer Levin Franco and percussionist Herbie Mayhem - but the single’s ’60s garage-psych origins are patently obvious.
A side “Love On The Run” couples a knowing Lucas vocal to a basic rocker that plods a little and takes a while to get out of second gear. Perhaps this one could have done with some extra trimmings. B side lead-off “Corporate Girl” switches the mood to fuzz guitar snarl with chunky chording and a straight-up backbeat pushing Lucas’ ready-for-the-weekend vocal to the front. More than a little bit of alright.
Mainstream media’s full of stories about the re-birth of vinyl, but anyone with half a clue knows the format never died. What’s glossed over in all the breathless reportage about black platters is the Art of the Seven-Inch Single. Consider the facts…
Back in rock and roll’s heady days of the ‘60s - long before FM radio and the LP format took hold - singles were the deatyh or glory, one-shot-at-the-prize for many bands. The A side of a 45 was a distillation of a band’s essence. The B side was for experimenting.
Melbourne musician Steve Lucas is a big fan of the 45 and acutely aware of the place in music that the format holds.
X-Aspirations - X (SL Express)
The (mild) hype accompanying the 40th anniversary edition was deserved and - and then some. This is as essential an Australian “punk” album as the Radio Birdman and Saints debuts - even if comparatively few people noticed at the time.
The reputation of “X-Aspirations” as the ultimate in primal, spontaneous and minimally brutal music fron this part of the world (Australia) has grown with every re-issue, and this re-mastered vinyl version is surely the last word.
Sydney-reared and as street-level as a band could be, X had all but been destroyed by reputation and reality by the time they went into Trafalgar Studios in 1979. Venue owners despised them and the crowd they attracted. Gigs inevitably ended with a full house, physical damage, spilled blood and a warning for the band not to come back.