the wreckery - The I-94 Bar
Brilliant. Not my favourite Race record, but nonetheless, another of his albums I’ll be listening to over and over, year in and year out.
Why? Well, apart from anything else, this is one of the most commercially accessible LPs I’ve heard Hugo do. And I’m sure this is more or less by accident.
Jackdaw - Edward Clayton-Jones (self released)
I've been looking forward to hearing “Jackdaw” for a while, but I must confess I didn't expect it to be this damn good. The last thing I said to Ed was, “Well, look, you know me. If I don't like it or I think it's bad, I'll tell you I can't review it. I'd rather have the friendship.” He understood.
Bad reviews, pfft, they're mostly just juveniles showing off how clever they are, and I've got better things to do with my time. Also, I'm not clever. Years ago, the New Musical Express and Melody Maker used to hire such clever types and, while they could sometimes be amusing, they would often miss brilliance in preference to their own self-swagger (for example, XTCcopped endless daft reviews which completely missed how fucking sharp, funny and evocative they were). So to “Jackdaw”.
You have to admire record labels like Buttercup who dig up decades-old sounds from Australia’s music underground, chuck a new coat of paint on those mouldy old tapes and offer them up for a cash consideration to nerdy record collectors who crave those obscure Australian sounds.
A cynical person would file this Melbourne combo under “'80s Smack Rock”…and of course I’m a cynical bastard. But, hey, being inspired by The Birthday Party or the Bad Seeds isn’t a bad thing. Those groups wrote their own rule books and went where no bands has been before them and if you’re going to be inspired by somebody it may as well be by the greats.
I’m sure Buick KBT shared cups of tea with The Wreckery, The Moodists and The Sacred Cowboys. They certainly shared stages with Venom P.Stinger, Go-Betweens, X , The Laughing Clowns and Dead Kennedys.
Hugo Race makes a point
Adelaide's Wheatsheaf Hotel (aka the Wheaty) is one of those modernised, forgotten pubs with pricey but excellent wines and beers. Local families bring their kids and they run amuck.
There is a beer garden, but few people smoke (which I can’t understand). Coffee and hot chocolates are available at the bar. There are no pokies and no ATM (you withdraw at the bar). They have exhibitions of art, photography, hairdressing and whisky tasting.
The back room (where bands play) is essentially a newish tin shed with a ceiling, lights, formica tables and period chairs, and everyone squashes in somehow.
Lax Charisma photo
Alexa Clayton-Jones and I went out to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds last night at Sydney's voluminous and brand new International Convention Centre.
It blows my mind that for a few weeks in 1984, I played in the Bad Seeds, and I’m remembering bouncing around Europe in an old GMC wagon and some of the more colourful venues we played.
Dishee! - Hugo Race (Helixed Recordings & Films)
"Dishee!" is Hugo Race's umpteenth studio LP - I think the veteran guitarist has stopped counting (if he ever did). Race came up to considerable notoriety in The Wreckery in the 1980s in Melbourne (and Sydney).
On the Allmusic website, Mark Deming describes The Wreckery as "One of the more important bands on the Australian post-punk scene of the 1980s, Melbourne's The Wreckery played dark, atmospheric music informed by the blues and the same sort of chemical and cultural obsessions as their contemporaries Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds".
There's a lot more to Hugo Race; he's been involved in many recording projects; Dirt Music and The True Spirit spring to mind. Also, by dint of relentless touring and recording all over the world, he has built up a considerable overseas following. He also cannot keep himself still, creatively speaking; just recently he's played sizable gigs with The True Spirit, and a Doors' "LA Woman" tribute show. And there's a new one on the horizon...
Starbirth/Stardeath - Hugo Race and the True Spirit (Gusstaff Records)
Hugo Race: Troubadour, manic perpetuum mobile and musical engine, was fortunate enough to be in his home town of Melbourne while the global pandemic unfolded, trapping him in a world he never made. Gigs were cancelled around the world, his plans spun away...and he turned inward.
Then, outward. Even after the first few songs, it seems clear that Hugo is looking for some sort of reinvention, a crossing of a Rubicon. "Starbirth/ Stardeath" definitely marks a new phase.
Alright, for the uninitiated, I could cite Race's lengthy rep: noted spark in Melbourne's late 1970s and early '80s underground; former Bad Seed (on what is arguably Nick Cave's most sonically extreme album); leader of The Wreckery, and his own True Spirit; writer of books, soundtracks, and songs for other people and songs for us...but that tells you little.