The Devil Won't Take Charity - Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests (Beast Records)
KIm Volkman and the Whiskey Priests come from Melbourne. No shock there. Most of the best Australian rock and roll does. And this is a record - like most of them - with a beginning and an end. No shit again, Sherlock. The distinction is that the songs at each end book-end and define what's inbetween - and it's pretty fucking great.
The slightly frayed vocal of opening track "I'm Still Standing (Alive and Well)" and its swaggering, Oz Rock chug suits its survivor sentiment to a tee. And the cover of the Jagger/Richards classic "Silver Train" that closes the album is pulled off with consummate, ragged ease.
Stones and Oz Rock. They're children of the blues. Throw in the inevitable Ian Rilen and the Love Addicts comparison (more on that later) and you'll appreciate how "The Devil Won't Take Charity" nails its colours to the masts.
And how. Kim Volkman's glowering vocal and the stinging, dirty ruckus he and his bandmates summon make this album a classic. Recorded in up-country Victoria over a run of 40 degree-plus Australian summer days while bushfires raged through the surrounding district, it's loose-tight blues rock with character - as the best usually is.
One man's use of the journeyman term is another man's badge of honour. Author and guitarist-bassist Kim Volkman's been a member of Ian Rilen the Love Addicts and X as well as his own bands. It would be a surprise of some of the grime and intensity of the former two outfits hadn't rubbed off.
That history is addressed wryly in "I'm Watching You" in which Volkman invokes the words of a punter: 'You're no Ian Rilen/But you'll get there soon enough'. That's not so much acknowledging the elephant in the room as shooting it between the eyes.
The other members of The Whiskey Priests are no mugs. Guitarist Timothy Deane's a member of the Hired Guns and has membership of James McCann's and Ron Peno's bands on his resume. Bassist Rick Studentt had a spell in X. Not sure about Joe Cunliffe's priors but he sure lays down a wonderful feel.
"Closing Time" throws up some Gram-ified Keef guitar. "Pontiac" could be a lost Tatts song without Wellsy's slide. Volkman and Deane's guitars duck and weave about in this one - like prize fighters in a ring - while the engine room lays down that solid rock and roll groove.
"Here Comes Johnny" is a ragged story about living on mean streets in which the guitars take a leaf out of Crazy Horse's book and go for a ramble. "Cryin'" switches the mood to stark blue. A smokey, 5am lament with probing guitars and Kim's vulnerable vocal ripping it open and letting it bleed.
And on the subject of that Stones cover...,many's the band that's tackled a Glimmer Twins song and come off sounding silly. The Whiskey Priests nail "Silver Train" and jam it out just so well. It'll get you reaching for the last album by this band back in 2014 or flipping the LP over for another spin.
Raunch and roll might not be flavour of the day but the harder they try and bury it, the more resolutely it pushes off the coffin lid and bellows for attention. You couldn't kill "The Devil Won't Take Charity" if you tried. Chase down a copy on LP on mail order (it's on French label Beast) or through your more enlightened Aussie bricks and mortar store. You won't be sorry.
Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests launch "The Devil Won't Take Charity" with an I-94 Bar Sydney gig at Marrickville Bowling Club on Novermber 16, with special guests The Cool Charmers, Simon Chainsaw and The Light Brigade. Tickets here.