ASHLEY THOMSON Ex-Kelpies, Rollcage, Brother Brick, Panadolls Sydney, Australia
Top Ten Gigs I wish I was at drunk
Beatles - @ the Kaiserkeller - Hamburg, Germany. October 1960. From the era when the Beatles played four sets a night, 50 days straight, making themselves an extremely tight rock n roll machine. Heineken ja ja!
The Doors - @ Whiskey a Go Go - Los Angeles, USA. August 1966 Mostly I just want to hear a fat version of “The End”. I’d probably drop a trip as well. JD.
Coloured Balls/Lobby Lloyd - @ Sebastians, Melbourne. Saturday April 15, 1972 I’d make sure I was fucking hammered and slammed my head into the PA when they did their “torture rock porn” version of Heartbreak Hotel, suck more piss indeed. Just beer.
Robert Johnson @ anywhere around the Mississippi Delta, USA. 1935 “Hellhound on my Trail” is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. Moonshine.
The Byrds @ Whiskey a Go Go - Los Angeles, USA. 1966 So influential, changed everything, still listening to them. A trip as well? Not sure. Watermelon wine.
KEVIN "BIG DADDY K" CHERRY 2RRR-FM host of "Sydney Sounds" Sydney, Australia
I'm sure that everyone agrees that 2020 has been a shitty year. The worst I can remember in my 60 years on this planet. I'm not generally into reminiscing and my bad short term memory usually prevents me participating in these types of lists. Living on the Northern Beaches area of Sydney and being in lockdown for the second time, however, I've decided to attempt to give my impression of the year's music events.
The last band that I saw before the first lockdown in March (which resulted in all the gigs I had planned to go to in the following weeks collapsing before my eyes like a stack of dominoes) was THE MEZCALTONESat The Orient Hotel in Sydney’s The Rocks district.
THE MEZCALTONES are a fantastic Mewxican Hillbilly Surf band from the Northern Beaches fronted by COL “PADRE” PORTER, his guitar-slinging wife NERALYN and whip-twirling, go-go dancing, singing percussionist, MISS MIMI, as well as the three other members. They always put on an entertaining performance of original songs and crowd pleasing covers and obscurities. They attract an audience that loves to get up and dance.
I also saw them at a socially distanced performance at The Marrickville Bowlo, which was a different atmosphere due to the restrictions, which meant that none of the audience could get up and dance or even stand with a drink in their hand.
DARREN BIRCH Bass player for Black Bombers and former member of Gunfire Dance, Brian James Gang, Walter Lure and The Godfathers Birmingham, UK
It's been a funny old year! I managed to play one gig before the world shut down and didn't get to see any. From the beginning of March, I couldn't leave the house for 15 weeks so books and music became my friends....
My Top 10 for 2020:
1.) “Sing Backwards and Weep” by Mark Lanegan. His autobiography.
2.) “The War is Never Over” by Nick Soulsby. A book and companion piece to the Lydia Lunch documentary of the same name.
3.) “Just A Shot Away. 1969 Revisisted” Volumes 1 and 2 books by Kris Needs.
4.) “Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a UK Sub and Other Strange Stoies” (book) by Alvin Gibbs
BOB BLUNT Venue helper, organiser and frontperson for both Garry David and Beijing Bikini Sydney, Australia
2020 in a nutshell
Let's not start with the boring and the obvious - the moan that goes 'oh, what a shitty year that was' or how "Sydney is dead co's it aint what it used yo be'"- yawn. That rhetoric and emotion doesn't belong here - we're on an onward and upward trajectory - yep, the good gigs plus the other good stuff.
GUS IRONSIDE Louder Than War and Vive Le Rock magazines Whitley Bay, UK
Top Ten albums of 2020
Hector Gannet - "Big Harcar" (GUGA Records) Fronted by Aaron Duff, the best singer to emerge from North-East England since Eric Burdon, Hector Gannet conjured visceral seascapes celebrating the wild beauty of Northumberland and North Tyneside.
Snowgoose - "The Making of You" (Glass Modern Records) Sublime folk-rock from the Anglo-Scottish outfit's second album.
Suzie Stapleton - "We Are the Plague" (Negative Prophet Records) The promise of Stapleton's early EPs was fully delivered on this stunning debut album.
Michael J Sheehy - "Distance is the Soul of Beauty" (Lightning Archive) A late night slow-burner with shades of the third Velvet Underground album.
Speedways - "Radio Sounds" (Alien Snatch! Records) The new kings of power-pop set out their stall with a flawless album.
The Hellfire Club - "A Different Song" (Strength in Numbers) Rousing Americana with a Glaswegian twist.
GRAHAM STAPLETON Blogger and punter Mermaid Beach, Queensland, Australia
Now, I'm just a punter, not someone you'd all know, but I like my music and you've probably noticed me posting or commenting here or elsewhere, so here's my top 10 of 2020 in no particular order.
1. MONDAY EVENING GUNK A real breath of fresh air for people locked down over the world, great conversations, reviews, and live music streaming to the masses for free, and enjoyed by the few lucky people that could attend the shows.
2. OUTTA SPACE PRESENTS There must be something in the water on the Central CVoast of NSW, 'cause Milly D'Alton and Adam Brzowski and crew have released some great LP"s and 7"s through their label OUTTA SPACE PRESENTSthis year. I've gotta head down to Woy Woy and check out their new venue Link & Pin as well sometime.
3. VINNIE'S DIVE BAR Ha! Who woulda thought in the rundown Crackhead Central of Southport, Queensland, here'd be Resch’s Silver Bullets at a discounted rate (if you know, you know). Wish they still had draught on tap though. Anyway, probably one of the first venues in Australia to welcome back live music, and they've really been "thinking out of the box" by recently opening a record and other merch store in the venue, so grab some cool vinyl whenever you pop in.
GERRY RANSON Vive Le Rock magazine writer and Mule Freedom PR publicist London, UK
TOP TEN TRACKS FROM 2020
Like going deaf or blind, a lack of gigs seems to have sharpened my other music-loving senses, so I’ve been digging more sounds than ever this year. This is just the tip of a very big, and very loud, iceberg. Working as a PR, I’ve taken the flaming liberty of including some of my own wares in here – can you spot ‘em? But I make no excuses: I’m incredibly lucky and privileged to get to work with people whose stuff I love. I hope after reading this, you’ll love it too. - Gerry x
PS - The Celibate Rifles' "Extract From The Fungus" would’ve been No.1 if I’d heard it yet.
10.) James Williamson & Deniz Tek – "Jet Pack Nightmare" They may be getting on – ain’t we all? – but Ann Arbor’s finest can still cut the Stories For Boys action rock! A venomous boogie riff to kick off "Two To One", the album that was bound to happen one day.
9.) Blue Öyster Cult – "The Alchemist" It’s taken them nine years to come up with a new studio album and when they do, it’s recorded in lockdown conditions. And it’s still the best thing the boys from Stony Brook have done in donkeys’ years. Fourteen newly minted and totally Cultish songs, "The Symbol Remains" is conspicuously low on epics, but this six-minuter – with its "Flaming Telepaths" dink-dink-dink – hits the spot.
CHRIS VIRTUE Sydney radio host* Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Top Ten in Twos
1. Two Hendrix covers
Lucie Tiger – The Wind Cries Mary" Sydney country singer transcribes one of Jimi’s more melodic tunes for solo piano with stunning effect, but leaves the song intact. Lucie acknowledges where it’s come from, but takes it somewhere new. Hear it.
Lachie Doley - "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" Sydney blues and soul keyboard master gives the whammy clavvy a serious workout on this. Check out the vid.
2. Two political songs
Chuck Prophet – "Get Off The Stage" Subtle demolition job on the soon to be Toddler-in-Chief. The late great John Prine rates a mention even though the song was recorded pre-Covid because (as Chuck said when I interviewed him) everyone needs to listen to John Prine.
Matthew Caws– "When History Comes" Nada Surf front man delivers one of the best protest songs in decades. Totally in your face without being cruel and ends with a rallying call to vote because “it’s important”.
JAMES McCANN SCAG, New Vindictives, Dirty Skirt Band, Spencer P Jones, Selfish Gene, Gutterville Splendour 6, The Drones, Nunchukka Superfly, Harpoon Melbourne, Australia
Here's some music i picked up in 2020 that made my year a little more fun! But first, some news.
I've resumed work on the James McCann & The New Vindictives album produced by Rob Younger at SoundPark Studios, Melbourne. We should be doing the finished mix with Rob in February. We are happy to announce James McCann & the New Vindictives with guest Claire Birchall at the Tote Hotel, Melbourne, on Saturday, March 20.
I've recently finished production work on Voluimer One of the double vinyl Spencer P Jones Tribute Album, which i co-produced with Spencer himself over the last six years. To be released on French label Beast Records, it will feature Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Adalita, The Drones, Chris Bailey, Violent Femmes, Jim Moginie, Alejandro Escovedo and many more!