This four-song single and accompanying 10-track CD is a labour of love, a mission completed at the request of the late Chris Wilson, the celebrated Melbourne singer and X collaborator who was claimed by cancer in 2018.
Steve Lucas is backed by a San Diego band on the single, and augmented by Melbourne players on the rest. The majority of instrumentation is by Lucas, The CD includes the vinyl tracks so you're good to go in whatever format you please.
This is the X singer as you haven’t heard him - unless, of course, you’ve been to one of his thoroughly entertaining solo shows where he does away with stylistic boundaries and sings whatever takes his fancy. Mostly-acoustic, largely recorded live but augmented by sympathetic players, it resonates with raw spontaneity.
“By Request” has a distinctly Americana mood to the music. That should not surprise - the EP tracks were recorded with Mexican musicians in America, as Chris Wilson asked. Their number includes Hector Penalosa of The Zeros but they are all accomplished local players.
You can’t separate Steve Lucas from his X history – at least not in this bar and not in this part of the world.
The early members of X eschewed the punk tag because they regarded themselves as a rock and roll band. The delivery might have been rawer than a steak in a trendy French bistro but the band’s musicality raised it above the average two-chord wonders.
Since the deaths of most of X’s many members since formation, Lucas has firmly held onto the band’s legacy, while not limiting himself musically. Bigger Than Jesus is proof of his determination to branch out.
We all might say we hate labels but we all still use them. If X was (and is) his “punk” band, The Groody Frenzy his blues rock outfit, Pubert Brown his psych-Kinks trip and A.R.M. his Oz Rock monster, Bigger Than Jesus is Steve Lucas’s “metal” group. And how.
2019 was first year for a while that I wasn’t doing a radio show and being in Canberra for work, I felt I was little bit out of the loop. Nonetheless, it was another memorable rock ‘n’ roll year and here’s my top10 in no particular order.
Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests at Marrickville Bowlo in Sydney This took me back to when I first started seeing bands in Melbourne in the mid ’70s. It was no-nonsense loud rock. Two really good guitarists on top of a solid rhythm section. I loved how the band occupied half the stage and hardly broke formation through the gig. The record’s pretty good, too.
Sue Telfer Tribute in Sydney It was really sad to lose Sue. She was seriously special and it was great to see so many people come out and so many good bands turn it on. All the bands I saw were great with X as a four piece the standout. I reckon it was the best gig I’ve seen Steve Lucas do.
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 & Pinas 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.
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.
Greg Sawers & Penny Ikinger - photo by Loene Carmen
PENNY IKINGER Siolo artist and ex-Wet Taxis and Sacred Cowboys member Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2020 started with a bang! I was treated to an ear-splitting performance from X at their Bushfire Relief Benefit show at The Spotted Mallard. in Brunswick, Melbourne. It was like travelling through a time warp littered with gritty rock n roll riffs and howls. The ones that X do best. They’ve still got it!
I was taken on another spin by a stellar line up of Guitar Wolf (Japan), 5,6,7,8’s (Japan) and Rocket Science at The Tote and also saw Japanese band The Jetboys at the same venue. Guitar Wolf and The Jetboys, arguably two of the best punk influenced rock bands of this day and age, are brutal. They play loud & fast with utmost conviction. Whatever it was they were singing about I was sure it was sacrilegious. It felt that way and that’s what counts.
The Schizophonics (USA) also performed in Melbourne (The Tote again!). This relatively youthful three piece exploded all over the stage and reassured that rock 'n' roll is not dead. Not that I ever thought it was, but that’s what ’they” keep telling me…
STEVE LUCAS X, Heinous Hounds, solo and many more Melbourne, Australia
1.) Single Malt Scotch. Preferably Irish. Nine that peaty shit. Clean and clear. You can pick them up easy... The Dubliner for example. Easy on the pocket and a very smooth drop. Writer's Tears is a favourite. But more expensive.
2.) Blended scotch. If I can't access a single malt then blended it is. Best value is, believe it or not, Dewar's White Label. You can get a litre for around $45. It goes down surprisingly well. I was given a bottle of Johnny Walker Black a month or two ago and was kind of stunned by how good it tasted. Had not tried it in years so i feel i should mention it.
3.) Vodka. There are so many choices. They range from rubbing alcohol to crystal clear tears of angels. Russian or Polish is good. It's worth spending a little extra on if you knock it back neat. It doesn't mean there are not some real bargains out there. Pyccknn CTAHDATP Russian standard gold is a good example. I am very partial to that at the moment.
Tickets for The Festival of Sue, the tribute to late Sydney music booker Sue Telfer, are now on sale here.
X, the New Christs, The Johnnys, Kim Salmon, Front End Loader, The Mis-Made, Penny Ikinger, The Holy Soul and The On and Ons have been announced in the first wave of bands on the bill.
Proceeds from the October 20 show - featuring a dozen bands over two stages at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville, Sydney - will go to Support Act, the charity for music industry members who have fallen on hard times.
It's a dazzling line-up with more names to be added and will run from 2-10pm. It will sell-out so don;t delay.
Forty years of X and there’s a national tour to celebrate. Who would have thought? Certainly none of the original members, of which Steve Lucas is the only one remaining alive.
Lucas and bassist Ian Rilen were, of course, the only constant members of X. Almost. Even Ian was went briefly MIA from one line-up. The pair’s tumultuous relationship has been documented in many places and they were the heart and soul of the band.
I don't follow hardly anything new anymore. I turned 30 this year so my opinion probably isn't as relevant as it used to be. But here we go anyway. Until next year, your friend, James S. Doyle.
10. Hall and Oates- “Timeless Classics” (compilation) Where should we start? The Dune Rats? Violent Soho? Clowns? No, lets just skip the popular upper-middle class bro-rock of 2017 and go straight to the heart of rock n roll. Re-packaged compilations that come out just in time for Christmas $10 bins.
If you are looking for a starting point for your Hall and Oates collection, this may as well be it. “Maneater” “You Make My dreams” “Rich Girl”.. they are all here, plus deeper cuts such as “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile”. A must for fans of Philly Grindcore.
9. The Afghan Whigs- In Spades (album) I nearly forgot about this one. One of the rare cases of a band that goes away for a long time then somehow comes back better than they used to be. I would describe this album as "sad, yet gangsta AF" The internet says that this album has "generally favourble reviews" and I tend to agree with that also.
Make sure you read until the end. Let’s talk vinyl first:
The A side of this is where the voice (and guitar, for the most part) of X goes back to the ‘60s to show off his sentimental side. Steve Lucas pulled together a capable combo in Levi Franco (drums), Ryan MaCay (bass) and Herbie Mayhem (piano) to play his songs a couple of years ago, so strap yourself in.
“Ever So Lovely” is an ode to Mrs Lucas (hi Joey!), set to raunchy guitars and set off by Steve’s warm but chipped-at-the-edges vocal. Shades of A.R.M., his fabulous Oz Rock project of 20 years ago, here but not as excessive and fixed in the now.
The ghosts of '80s St Kilda will meet the spirit of '71 when Hugo Race - mainman of St. Kilda icons The Wreckery and foundation Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds guitarist - together with his band The True Spirit performs two special shows in April with special guest Steve Lucas of X.
Lucas, whose legendary X called St Kilda home in the late '80s and early '90s, has joined the bill for Race's upcoming L.A Woman 50th Anniversary shows at Theatre Royal in Castlemaine on Saturday 17 April and the Memo Music Hall in St Kilda on Friday April 23.
Hugo and band will be performing The Doors' apocalyptic “L.A. Woman” in its entirety to mark 50 years since its original release in 1971. Steve will open each night, performing a solo set of his favourite tunes from the same year, including selections from the Rolling Stones' ”Sticky Fingers” and Rod Stewart's “Every Picture Tells A Story”.
Before there was punk rock there was Ian Rilen. Then there was X.
X weren't punks in the sense of the term that the skinheads understood but they were primal, punk rock and roll in one combustible package.
Sydney had never seen a band like X whose wrecking ball power centred on Rilen's bass-played-as-a-lead-instrument, the massive backbeat of fellow veteran Steve Cafeiro, the slashing guitar of Ian Krahe and the shredding vocals of Steve Lucas, the latter two rookies.
Living a quiet life wasn't part of the X creed. Krahe's submission to a heroin overdose left the already outlawed X even more out on a limb, but they grimly continued as a trio and proceeded to record their debut album with legendary guitarist Lobby Loyde producing.
"X-Aspirations" became an instant classic, setting a benchmark for a whole legion of new, uncompromising and minimalist bands.
These words (and those that follow) were written for the liner notes for the 2009 re-issue of X’s debut album “X-Aspirations” but were inadvertently shelved. We’re reviving them to coincide with the 40th anniversary tour by the X line-up that lives on after the passing of all original members except guitarist-vocalist Steve Lucas. Lucas has crowd-sourced a Best of and Rarities collection ("X-Citations") on vinyl, copies of which will be available at the gigs. Read on.
Je T'aime Moi Non Plus b/w Je T'aime Instrumental - Steve Lucas & Joey Bedlam (Radio Rocks)
This is the I-94 Bar Singles Bar, isn't it? "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus" (translated: "I love you no more") is a lovingly-crafted cover of the Serge Gainsborough song he wrote for for Brigitte Bardot, sung by X's Steve Lucas and his better half Joey Bedlam, most notably of Dollsquad.
Everybody from Kim Salmon and the Surrealists to Nick Cave and Anita Lane, TV siren Abigail and Bob Downe has had a lash at "J T'aime", so it would be a pity if you had to self-isolate and not have the chance to sing along with your own nearest and dearest and steam up some windows.
It's a faithfully-rendered version and a million miles from X, but it's also a bunch of fun. Flip the sucker over and there's an instrumental version that you can karaoke with or record along to. Grab a copy at Bandcamp and see the uncensored cover that Facebook banned.
This Satrurday in Sydney will be huge when X return to the city of their birth. All-girl leather-clad groovers DollSquad and teenage tyros Pocketwatch will be in support at Marrickville Bowling Club with tickets selling here. If you're quick, you can pick up two tickets for the price of one by using the code RETURNOFX at the check-out.
Steve Lucas at the Newtown Social Club. Murray Bennett photo
X is a Sydney band.
I can’t think any other outfit that personified the street-level, brutal and at times minimalistic music of Sin City Sydney of the late ‘70s like X. Theirs' was a world of squats with a city awash with Terrence Clark's cheap smack, the odour of brown bags of dirty money and nightly beatings at Darlo police station.
It was a world of corrupt pollies and police in the post-Askin Sydney. X captured that harsh, nihilistic inner-city world. One that has long since been gentrified.
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.
Cross That Line – Steve Lucas and The Rising Tide (Aztec Music)
Steve Lucas, last man standing from Australia's mighty underground legends X who, back in the day, I expect would have thought of themselves as a powerful rock band. Live, no-one would want to follow them... and like The Saints and even Radio Birdman, they got called "punk" anyway. Pigeon-holing is for pigeons and gugs. I'd love to have been able to see X and Rose Tattoo in the same week.
Like many veterans of the music industry, Lucas has an unavoidable musical legacy. Which I expect can be both a blessing and a curse. So, for those expecting X Mark 32 and won't take no for an answer... "Cross That Line" ain't for you. I always thought 'punk' was a state of mind about expressing the individual, not everyone wearing the same uniform and going to the same gigs. My approval or t'otherwise of any record is irrelevant, no matter what the genre. Remember, I'm a big fan of (among others) Gzutt, Peg Leg Sam, Thelonious Monk and Jon Wayne.
Onetime X howler Steve Lucas returns to the record store racks with a couple of seven-inch singles, this first one under his own name. If you’re hoping for “Hate City” you’re fresh outta luck.
“Living & Loving In The USA” is a double-headed ode to marital bliss that could have been called “Where We Went On Our Honeymoon”. It's the (true) story of two people eloping. Clean guitar, sweet backing vox from Mrs Lucas (aka the very rocking Joey Bedlam from Dollsquad) and all done without a hint of fuzz or distortion. It’s rocking mid-tempo pop with bongos, a hint of Tex-Mex and a great and heartfelt vocal from Mr Lucas.
The Melbourne music scene is world-renowned for being a bubbling volcano of rock 'n' roll fire and creativity that throws up rare diamonds and musical gems. The Leaps and Bounds Music Festival honours its stars each year with its Living Legends series.
Beginning in 2014, the Living Legends feted that year were rock gods Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Charlie Owen. This year the honour is bestowed on another trio who are fully legendary in the eyes of their peers and music lovers.