2020 Barfly Top Ten: The Barman
I-94 Bar barkeep
“Monday Evening Gunk”
My favourite thing to do on a Monday night. Props to Jill, Wax, Pat and Sonja at MoshPit, News and Brews co-pilot Rossy, tech-head Zac, photographer/chronicler of choice Shona Ross, and the many guests and hosts involved. My original Top Ten was going to be a chronological list of Gunk episodes because it would be like picking a favourite child.
“Goose Lake” – The Stooges (Third Man Records)
What a fucking trip.
"If This Is The Hand I'm Dealt" and "I'm Gonna Cheat As Much As I Can" solo albums by Peter Black
Got to these very late in 2020 and the Hard-Ons and Nunchukka Superfly guitarist just goes from strength-to-strength with his quirky, catchy and compelling solo work. One acoustic, one electric. Get a full hand.
Everybody loves an underdog and anyone who’s run a small underground music label knows the struggle is real, but Aussie labels Outtaspace Records, Wreckless Enterprise and Eviltone Records deserve special praise in this toughest of years. Punk rock gets fresh lungs. Overseas, German label Hound Gawd (Pat Todd, Jim Jones) never puts a foot wrong and Warsaw’s Heavy Medication (Bella Wreck, Doojiman & The Exploders) is keeping the freak flag flying. You can’t go past Fantastic Mess for cult 45s (check their re-issue of the Bored! classic “Feed the Dog”.)
The On and Ons keep getting better. Their “Menacing Smile” mini album was powerpop supreme and there’s more where that came from. The stark “Vibrations, yours and mine” by Johnny Casino was noteworthy for its earthy heart, and the archival “Primitive 1969-76” by Sonny Vincent’s early bands Diamond Distance and Liquid Fury was scorching. White Knuckle Fever’s “RSA Blues” continued the raunchy tradition of their debut EP. Honourable mentions also to The Dry Retch from the UK for their CD of Stooges skronk, Australia’s BotBots, Smalltown Tigers from Italy and the Lobby Loyde re-issues campaign from US label Just Add Water. Whoever doesn’t own a copy of the posthumous Celibate Rifles release “Extract From the Fungus” needs therapy. Props also to Malbourne fuzzmeisters River of Snakes' "Sleight of Hand" album, heard very late in 2020 with a review to follow.
“Psychopharmacologist” – Mick Medew (I-94 Bar Records)
Conflict of interest declared as it’s on I-94 Bar Records. It was a pleasure to release this and hear almost universal expressions of love for it from people who bought it. Mick pushed the stylistic boat out and came home with a wet sail. Mick’s streaming shows with Ursula were a Sunday afternoon highlight.
“X-Aspirations” - X (SL Express)
Re-issue of this or any other year. The aural spice-up, courtesy of Gil Matthews’ mastering job, really did make a difference.
Rural NSW-Queensland run with The Johnnys
As a break from what in retrospect was one of the shittiest day jobs of all time, this was more fun than you can imagine. Weak bladders, poor navigation and old man jokes were supplemented by copious beers and excellent shows. Last bit of live action before The Plague struck. Thanks Hoody, Billy and Slim.
Not all streaming of live music works and it’s no replacement for the real thing, but there were high points as Australian performers embraced the digital option. I didn’t catch Steve Lucas as often as I should have but the streams I did watch were genial and entertaining. Kim Volkman did a killer stream from The Dogs Bar in St Kilda. MD Horne launched his debut album in style. The On and Ons did a couple of masterful streams from MoshPit (one of them for Monday Evening Gunk) and Chris Masuak and the Viveiro Wave Riders blitzed us from lockdown in rural Spain. It was also fun to see the Psychotic Turnbuckles sneak into Australia to play a streamed show from the MoshPit before high-tailing it home to Pismo Beach.
Digging the Archives
Old age or lockdown-induced, I’ve been re-discovering or tracing back through the old stuff by a handful of artists. Among them are Moot The Hoople’s Island label albums (packed in a box set with live stuff), notorious Virginia punks The Candy Snatchers, the remixed deluxe version of Johnny Thinders' "Que Sera Sera" and various live Suicide shows (inspired by Kris Needs’ “Dream Baby Dream” bio.)