before-the-devil-knowsIt seems a lifetime ago when the two great outposts of Sydney rock and roll were its northern and southern beaches. They were feeder tributaries to the inner-city and spawned bands like the Celibate Rifles and the Trilobites, to name just a couple. 

The venues that were their spawning grounds have long closed down, the bands willing to play their own music thin on the ground. Only a hardy few are still willing to take a risk and make the swim up-stream.

Veterans of numerous bands in the ‘90s and ‘00s, Chickenstones are among the northside flag bearers still standing. They go under the leadership of Andy "Doc" Ellard (guitars and vocals.) Their brand of rock and roll constitutes a great night out. They’re a musical smorgasbord and the seven-track “Before The Devil Knows Your Dead” reflects that.

Dive in and and take your pick. There’s the relentless boogie of “Got Nothing” (ushered in by an MC5 style declaration but in reality a close cousin of ZZ Top’s “La Grange”), the Detroit-tinged leather-wearing swagger of “Never Say No” and the reflective country shuffle of “Round And Round.”

“Senses” could have done with a little more of that nice Tatts-style slide from Doc. The ’stones rope in promoter-about-town and 99th Floor vocalist, Miss Tiffany Palmer, to duet with their second guitarist, ex-Panadoll Phil van Rooyen, on the closing “Throw Your Love Away” and it works a treat. A mention also to gest harp blower Big Blind Ray who adds ample grease to "Got Nothing" and poignancy on "Round And Round."

This is good, honest rock and roll. The whole shebang (mini-LP? maxi-EP?) was recorded at Damien Gerard in Sydney and although the production is a little clean it does the job well enough. Hell, some radio types might even play it. You, on the other hand, just need to hit up the band on Facebook to procure your copy.

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