Catharsis through music is not new but Astrid Munday manages to weave a dignified and reflective joy into “Beauty in the Ordinary”, a tribute to her departed husband Tony Cohen.
It’s been 14 years since her last album and three since the passing of Cohen, one of the greatest producer/engineers to occupy an Australian studio in the last four decades. If you’ve heard an album by the Beasts of Bourbon, Hunters & Collectors, The Go-Betweens, The Cruel Sea, Dave Graney, Kim Salmon, the Birthday Party or the Blackeyed Susans, chances are that Cohen had a hand in it.
The Beasts The Johnnys The Gov, Adelaide March 17, 2019 Photos by Alison Lea
It's the last night of the Adelaide Festival and the city centre is abandoned to the tourists, and no doubt some "end of festival" official shindig, doubtless adding anodyne "vibrancy" (one of Adelaide City Council's favourite buzzwords) to the joint.
Meanwhile, Adelaide's finest and most intelligent people are voting with their wallets and pile into the Gov, many having come from miles around. One bloke is here with his wife from Kangaroo Island (more expensive than a trip to Melbourne or Sydney); another bloke flew 300 miles to arrive at 4pm, with a return flight at 8am. There are many happy drunks.
Tonight was the most beautiful gig I've seen in years, if not ever. I cannot remember a more wonderful, cathartic experience.
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
Sydney actor-cum-musician Terry Serio is supplementing his star-studded band The Half Truths for his June 13 show at Leadbelly’s in his hometown with a very special guest. Charlie Owen (Beasts Of Bourbon/Paul Kelly/Tex, Don and Charlie/New Christs) is coming from Melbourne to play slide guitar behind Terry’s vocals.
In April 2007 I sat opposite Spencer Jones and Greg ‘Tex’ Perkins in a booth downstairs at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. The occasion was an interview to promote the release of the Beasts of Bourbon’s first studio album in 10 years, "Little Animals". Having recently arrived back from a short tour of the United States, Spencer and Perkins were weary from the long-haul flight.
Perkins was in Beasts mode – cocky, enigmatic, and just prickly enough to remind you who was the tough guy here. Spencer was, as he always was, just Spencer – the cowboy hat, a faint smile, and a reassuring honesty that defied his decades of service in the duplicitous, ego-obsessed world of rock’n’roll.
A fraught fraternal atmosphere hung over the interview. Spencer and Perkins had been friends, band mates, fellow reprobates and occasional antagonists for the past 25 years. They were like brothers, Perkins once mused, and like brothers they loved and fought. And Spencer and Perkins were the only remaining links to the genesis of the Beasts of Bourbon, an irreverent make-shift band thrown together to fulfil Perkins’ gig commitments at the Southern Cross Hotel, way back in June 1983.
Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Kim Salmon, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen are The Beasts.
The Beasts of Bourbon formed, somewhat by accident, in 1984. If you were 12 today, would you really be inclined to take the trouble to listen to something recorded by a bunch of blokes who started back then?
Well, the hell with your boring old 12-year-old self. The new album by the Beasts of Bourbon's direct descendants, The Beasts, is called "Still Here" and it rates seven (if not eight) bottles (out of five) in my books. It's really simple: "Still Here" is essential if, as you claim, you're a Beasts of Bourbon fan, or if you think of yourself as someone who loves rock'n'roll.
After an extremely emotional final performance with the Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins hit upon the idea of getting all of the band’s members, past and present into a recording studio with no particular agenda other than to do just that.
It was more of a celebratory thing he had in mind than anything. Sadly, bassist Brian Hooper didn’t make it along as he passed away a week after the Beasts’ last show.
Assembled in Melbourne's Soundpark Studio a couple of weeks later were, Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Tex Perkins. They were unprepared, save for some some sketchy ideas, loose ends and a couple of covers. With limited time the band knocked together a collection of jams pretty much true to the crazy modus operandi employed back when “The Axeman’s Jazz” got laid down in that fateful eight-hour session in 1983.
As ethereal and otherworldly as when it came out on CD in 1995, “Tendrils” continues to defy easy categorisation on LP.
It was the first album for the pairing of Joel Silbersher (Hoss, GOD et al) and Charlie Owen (New Christs, Beasts of Bourbon and, again, many more) and married seemingly disparate guitar approaches to restrained vocals against an background of minimal percussion.
By then, Joel and Charlie were two of the so-called underground’s best-known players. Owen was - and still is - a consummate guitar player’s player and had had national success with the Beasts; Silbersher was the diminutive and cocky ex-GOD rocker whose current band, Hoss, seemed poised for much bigger things. He should be internationally lauded to thsi day. Putting them together in a studio was always going to produce something interesting.
MARVELLOUS MUSICAL MOMENTS OF 2022 AND MORE MUSINGS:
Firstly, thanks to The Barman and I-94 Bar contributors Keith Claringbold, Dylan Webster, Matty Ryan and Edwin Garland who included my shows with my band in NSW and Melbourne in their Top Tens for 2022. That is so cool and greatly appreciated! Thanks to everyone who came to these shows! It was fabulous to see so many “old” friends there!
Thanks to the musicians who played in my band – Tim McCormack on bass, Jason McGann on drums, Julian Held on guitar, Sam Billinghurst-Walsh on guitar and Ryan Oliver on keyboards. They are worthy of the attention they have been getting.
In fact, thanks to all the musicians who performed live on the indie rock circuit in 2022. These are not easy times for many musicians, and it’s been fantastic to see so many artists back in action on stage, in the post lockdown world. Often, I cross paths with them when they attend other people’s gigs as well. It’s a wonderful thing to behold - intrepid rock’n’roll soldiers leading the charge to bring live music back into the forefront of our hearts and minds!
Thanks to all the punters who have been supporting live gigs. Thanks to the music journalists for reviewing our shows and new releases and to the radio presenters who have been playing our music. Thanks to the venues and the promoters, with a special thanks to The Barman for his tireless efforts to keep our rock scene alive and well.