Once more with feeling
Extract From the Fungus - Celibate Rifles (self released)
Consider it a last will and testament. Eleven songs, cobbled together from restored quarter-inch tape or cassettes, all but one track previously unreleased. It’s music written by other people, which isn’t a detraction ‘cos the Rifles always had the best covers. These are remnants of recording sessions from 1984 right up until a few years ago, but they’re much more than throwaways.
The Celibate Rifles have a special place in the hearts and minds of most who saw them. A bunch of suburban Sydney boys fronted by a worldly and older larrikin, they began more brazen than cool. Before long, they fitted in with the exploding Australian underground of the ‘80s and ‘90s better than many critics realised.
Sardonic, left-field and equal parts high energy and anti-fashion, there was something quintessentially Australian about the Cellies, and that’s why vocalist Damien Lovelock’s loss to cancer in August 2019 hit so hard. Well read with a laconic wit that was drier than parchment, Damo was the heart and soul of the Rifles. The release stands in his honour.
Two versions of “Six Days On The Road” - one sung by cultural icon Barry Crocker - sit near the start and right at the end of the CD. “Rolling and Tumbling” is a steamrolling blues romp and the alternate title are of “Gimme Danger” (one of the jewels in the crown of “Hard To Beat”, the all-Aussie Stooges tribute record from 1988) burns brighter than ever. Only X did Del Shannon’s “Runaway” better.
You can feels the sparks flying off “City of Fun” (which dates from ’84 with James Darroch on bass) and the ache is tangible in “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”. Recordings by the “Turgid Miasma of Existence” line-up form the backbone, but there’s also a cover of the Purple Hearts’ “I’m Gonna Try” that was Damo’s final recording.
The Rifles would tackle a song like “Hot Stuff” (it’s here) because it was fun and often because the choice of number was “uncool” in the eyes of The Critics. It worked because they were an incendiary rock and roll band, and we were all in on the joke.
All things considered, the sonic quality is good to nearly great, and the performances spirited. There are no overdubs. It is what it is. It’s a limited pressing and going here is the only way you’ll score a copy. Props to Guru Stu and Kent for caring.