the saints - The I-94 Bar
Also Sprach might have been the king of Eurodisco but Ed Kuepper reigns supreme as the Monarch of Re-invention. Of his contemporaries, only Kim Salmon comes close.
There was a modest risk in forming a third line-up of The Aints; the upside was that they'd pull crowds and make good cash, the other half of the equation being that it wouldn't take the legacy of the original band anywhere special. If you were a doubter, leave the room now...
Re-shaping un-recorded songs written for the original Saints was a masterstroke. So was Kuepper's selection of his band - the engine room of Paul Larsen-Loughhead and Peter Oxley was never going to be a dud - and his decision to colour the material with bold brass arrangements...that was inspired.
Australia's best old new musical group, The Aints!, are continuing their march to world domination with an EP and more live shows.
Ed Kuepper, Peter Oxley, Paul Larsen Loughhead and Alister Spence have added brass wizard Eamon Dilworth to the band ranks proper and are following up their debut album, "The Church of Simultaneous Existence".
As befits a band summoned to expand on the legacy of Kuepper's fabulous if reluctant punk pathfinders The Saints, the EP will be called "5-6-7-8-9", taking its cue from The Saints’ 1977 four-track release "1-2-3-4".
Click Read More to hear a track.
2017 was a great year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and "Forever Changes", the 40th of "(I’m) Stranded" and the 25th of something great (and local) which came out in 1992 that was more than likely one of Ed Kuepper’s. And speaking of Mr Kuepper, let’s launch into this Top Ten the Barman asked me to do.
I’ll just prattle on about live shows I’ve seen as they’re probably more entertaining than my thoughts on Cosey Fanni Tutti’s autobiography "Art Sex Music" which isn’t rock & roll enough or director Kriv Stenders’s recent feature documentary on the Go-Betweens which is probably too wimpy for readers in I-94 Land.
Fair enough - they’re not everyone’s cup of tea – especially if you prefer coffee.
1.-7. THE AINTS 2017 AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF THE EAST COAST
Apparently the best way to describe someone who follows Ed Kuepper’s shows from town to town is to call them an Edhead. In 1976, Saints fans were known as Kuepper Troopers as it was understood that even in those early days it was Ed’s band - up until 1978, at least.
So fast-forward to 2017, The Aints awake after a 25-year hiatus and decide to tour through the most of the country’s capital cities doing Saints material from ’73-’78.
2017...the year that was...and yes I have Sinatra's ''It Was a Very Good Year'' going through my head. Actually, it had its ups and downs but I'll focus only on the ultra good, in no particular chronology.
My musical year started with a performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as my backing band at The Tivoli. in Brisbane. We played my most recent album “Lost Cities” in its entirety, as well as a selection of material I did for the “Last Cab to Darwin” soundtrack, plus earlier solo and Laughing Clowns tunes. “Ghost Gum” and “Collapse Board” were real high points for me.
Richard Davis conducted and made the transition from the garage to the concert hall for me not only possible but an enjoyable experience. Robert Davidson did the orchestral arrangements and brought the songs to life in a context I'd often dreamed about doing but hadn't actually heard.
Richard Wenn put the whole thing together. It would not have happened without him. His enthusiasm for bypassing the “greatest hits” approach and general tenacity made it work. Thank you, Richard.
We did the show again in Cairns a little while later, this time with a slightly trimmed-back orchestra (even flat-stacking them, there are only so many orchestral musicians that fit into the back of my ute.)
This was also great and quite different due to the smaller orchestra. The whole thing has been a great learning curve for me. Thanks, one and all.
The next thing I went on to do was what was announced as my last ‘’Solo and By Request'' tour, this time taking in all those out of the way and rural places I don't get to that often. The idea for these shows started in 2013.
These are quite remarkable recordings. Yes, you've heard rehearsal tapes and demo recordings by garage bands before, but these are different. It's all about the timeframe, the intensity and the fact that they're Australian and were recorded in relative cultural isolation.
“Dumb-World” is a serious collection of raw demos and rehearsal tapes from future Sacred Cowboys leader Garry Gray and his early bands between 1974-1978, featuring Judas and the Traitors, The Reals and The Negatives.
To place this in a historic context, the Australian musical landscape was fairly frigid. The local artists’ soundtrack was blaring from commercial AM radio, but it that was drab even though the live scene was flourishing and there were so many gigs for local musicians to play.
Vibrations, yours and mine - Johnny Casino (La Vila Nova/Beluga Records/Golden Robot)
With the world turning to shit in every sense of the term, what's a poor boy to do other than play in a rock and roll band? The answer, in strange times of social distancing, is to record an album solo and pare the songs right back to resemble what they were like when first written.
Plenty will testify that going naked in front of a microphone is harder than it sounds - even with very few people watching. Johnny Casino's "Vibrations, yours and mine" was recorded in a modest Spanish studio in four hours, with some pedal steel and backing vocals overdubbed later courtesy of Hendrik Rover (Los Deltonos).
It was done pre-COVID but serves as a good template for how to go about things - which is with loads of emotional investment, a good deal of spontaneity and, importantly, heart.
It’s renowned as one of Melbourne’s most spectacular rock and roll shows and it hits Sydney’s Factory Theatre at Marrickville on Saturday. Epic Brass is the brainchild of Hunters and Collectors horns man Jack Howard and employs a stellar cast of underground stars to showcase the songs of the Saints, X, Laughing Clowns, Painters and Dockers, the Hunnas and Midnight Oil.
Former Sydneysiders Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Steve Lucas (X), Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) will join Jack Howard and Fiona Lee Maynard, with John Archer (Hunters and Collectors) on bass and Ash Davies on drums. Tickets here.
If you’re of a resident of Sydney’s Inner-Western Delta, you won’t have far to catch two sideshows before and after Saturday. Steve Lucas plays a free solo show at the Golden Barley at Enmore from 8pm on Thursday night with Penny Ikinger backing up at the same venue at 7pm on Sunday, also gratis.
Hoodoo Guru Dave Faulkner adds his autograph to a copy of "Product 45" at the Sydney Spencer P Jones Benefit. Emmy Etie photo
It was a few weeks ago that a parcel was waiting for me on my veranda. This is not unusual as I often order my vinyl from overseas. I even get the odd review copy of a record. This package was much larger and there was much more weighty. It was the stunningly beautiful book Product 45 Australian Punk/Post-Punk Single Record Covers”.
I sat down and carefully unwrapped the packaging, opening the first few pages, and my first impression was the high-weighted GSM quality silky paper. This was not the standard book that you would pick up at Dymocks. It had the sense of a limited edition, extremely high-standard production by people who had taken so much care and pride with their talent invested in the design.
The Aints in full flight: Peter Oxley, Paul Larsen and Ed Kuepper, with Alastair Spence obscrured. Mandy Tzaras photo.
You knew something special was up in Adelaide tonight because as you approached The Gov, heading determinedly back to the carpark was a small group of lone pushing-toward-pensioner men, each clutching the same record: “The Aints Live at The Sarah Sands 1991”. There can’t be too many left of this, they only made 300; get yours at the gig; two LPs, $50.
Ever hear of Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman? Good. Now you have.
The first comic came out, it must’ve been 30 years ago. I had a T-shirt, gave it to Bob, who has cherished that damn thing for about 25 years now. I did my heart good to see Bob bouncing around tonight in that tattered t-shirt. “I thought I told you to SHUT UP!” Fleming bellows from the shirt. It perfectly matches the night.
No need to apologise for liking the nostalgic side of The Aints! That’d be the part represented by the segment of their live show, comprising the songs of the Kuepper Saints from their first three studio albums. This live document - culled from their 2018 Australian gigs - showcases the songs in all their sweaty, over-driven glory.
While a bracket of the “new” Saints songs would have been equally welcome from the studio album "The Church of Simultaneous Existence", there’s no complaining about this collection. Ten tunes, classics mostly, and all breathing fire.
Have you heard that the people at Warner Bros are working on a re-make of the Road Runner cartoon? Hollywood has unfailingly screwed up the legacy of almost every other iconic TV show with a lame makeover, so why the hell not?
Rock and roll has its own history of reinvention and Australia’s master of the art is onetime Saint, Ed Kuepper.
Kuepper’s enduring career has been through more twists and turns than Wile E. Coyote navigating a cliff-side road on an ACME corporation-sponsored suicide mission, but unlike the bird-seeking missile of cartoon fame, he usually delivers his payload with unerring accuracy.
So make no mistake: “The Church of Simultaneous Existence” is a controlled demolition that’s worthy of comparisons to his most seminal work.
“What's he doing reviewing THAT?”
Only people of a certain age will “get” this review. The term "Guilty Pleasure" will not be used at any point.
Admit it, punk. If you grew up in Australia in the 1970s and ‘80s (OK, you were might have been underage and still growing up, but you could sneak into licensed premises) and lived anywhere outside of Melbourne and Sydney’s inner-city regions, a dose of Pub Rock was unavoidable. A way of life, even.