lovegrinderLovegrinder The Album – Lovegrinder (self released)

There’s a popular theory - perpetuated by a few fans of Junkie Rock from Australia’s southern state's capital city – that the so-called salad days of Sydney underground rock and roll were a farrago based on an overdose of second-rate Radio Birdman copyists. 

Call it a typically defensive Sydney response but while the "Detroit" handle became a tag of convenience, most of the Harbour City’s bands of the 1980s/early ‘90s had tenuous musical links to the Birdmen. There was a handful of short-lived clones, but for the vast majority it was the energy and undeniable fuck-you-we’ll-do-what-we-want attitude of the Radios that were the hand-me-downs, and not their unique, impossible to replicate mutated musical mix.

Which brings us to Lovegrinder, yet another in the long line of Sydney bands that never progressed higher than the lower support rungs of the very crowded local live scene ladder. Not that there’s any great shame in that. For many, headlining the Tivoli or Selina’s wasn’t the goal because they had no interest in being on the rosters of the omnipotent Dirty Pool, Nuclear or Harbour booking agencies. Playing music was more about knocking around with their mates, consuming beers (or something illicit) and having a good time.

Lovegrinder was the product of a 1989 meeting of the musical minds of vocalist Dave Slade (No Man’s Land, Savage Brides and now Lismore's SLUG) and bassman extraordinaire Tony “The Kid” Robertson (Hitmen, The 31st, The Naked Lunch, New Christs et al.) Both were between bands. With spare songs on their hands, the pair recruited Paul Hayward (Young Docteurs, No Man's Land, Ragadoll and more, recently, the unkillable Baddies) on guitar, drummer Dave Lornie (Some Kind of Justice), harmonica-toting keyboardist Nick Potts (The Moffs) and guitarist Greg "Ramrod" Leidreiter (Strap Ons, Savage Brides).

Lovegrinder played a handful of gigs, took themselves into Sydney’s then home of budget recording, Damien Gerard Studios, and laid down these seven tracks. Just to keep it chaotic, they roped in backing vocal help from assorted friends – Ron Peno, James Baker, Roddy Radajl and Jim Leone among them – who were mostly teammates from the infamous Redfern Brewers soccer team. 

And then, of course, Lovegrinder promptly broke up.

So all these years later, here's the evidence that these guys could play. "Lovergrinder The Album" has a nascent charm, regardless of whether it was intended for commercial release. 

The pick of the seven-song litter is “Who Needs Girls”. It isn’t the mysoginistic Johnny Thunders "my missus left me" ran tbut a jaunty, swinging rumble-in-the-jungle, done Heartbreakers style. Potts’ blues harp adds some R ‘n’ B sweat and it's racuous, and righteous.

“A Taste of Your Own Medicine” is a tough pop song with an underdone arrnagment. It's whipped along by wicked slide and stabbing rhythm guitar counterpoint with the middle-eight spiced up by some trilling licks.  

Slade’s stand-and-deliver vocal carries “Real Gone Thrill” (not to be confused with the Naked Lunch's “Real Gone”) while “Total Mind Fuck” has all the dynamic subtlety that you’d expect from its title. Annoying folk-pop standard “Look What They Done To My Song, Ma” is rightly desecrated with massive walls of feedback from all but rendering it unrecognisable. A clean-sounding reprise pops up at the end of the CD as some sort of symbolic coup d'état.

Not a life-changer but fun, all the same, and proof that the Sound of Sydney didn't end at 8952 Grand River Avenue (that'd be Detroit's Grande Balltoom if you're carching an Uber) or Stooge Manor.