Don’t be put off by the band name, appropriated as it is from a cheap ‘80s men’s cologne, or the inside cover shot of the group members that drips unadulterated hipsterism. Stripped back Melbourne garage duo Blue Stratos pepper “Diamond Afterlife” with enough primal gems to dazzle the most demanding fencer of stolen jewels.
Fifteen years ago, talented Victorian songwriter Danny McDonald told me that Little Murders was THE great lost power-pop band of Australia’s halcyon musical underground days of the 1980s. They were defunct at the time and an Off The Hip re-issue of their early material - and another reformation - were away off in the future.
Of course, Danny was right. He’d grown up with the band’s songs and they’d left a permanent mark. Little did he know that in 2015 he’d join Little Murders for their fifth and latest studio album “Hi-Fab!” - or that it might be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
They were around for only a year and were well short of being a household name in Australia by the time they played their final note in 1967, but Steve & The Board left a handy collection of recordings in the wake. Legacy label Playback has applied love and diligence to this historical release and more power to them for preserving Australia’s musical past.
Steve & The Board played beat pop, pure and simple. Some of it carries the aroma of a stab at the charts, other songs shows broader love for the hard-edged R&B of the times. Most Australian bands in the mid-‘60s were in the thrall of the British Invasion that had hit the USA and Steve & The Board were no exception. Their recordings aren’t world beaters but have vibrancy and some occasional grit.
Pop – Simon Chainsaw (Bad Apple)
The ‘80s isn’t such a bad place to hang out. Simon Chainsaw has been there, musically speaking, since his former band The Vanilla Chainsaws, tasted success 30-something years ago, and this is his 14th album under his own name.
That '80s reference isn't inferring Chainsaw's musically moribund. Simon rarely sits still and was already Sydney's hardest-working musician before COVID fucked without the universe. The Chainsaw sound is instantly familiar, a sweet but tough mix of melody and downstroke power, and naturally uses what was learned during a golden time of Australian music. It's translatable toi places where Real Rock and Roll survives.
"Lavish" and Easy Action are synonymous - as the latest box set of raw power from the Pop attests. Ya gets four discs in long box format, derived from live shows and studio outtakes (mostly) by the band that recorded "The Idiot". There's also a booklet written by Kris Needs. Not only an important documentation of a man full of piss and bad manners and on the comeback trail, but an ideal gift for the obsessive Ig-fan in your life.
Subtract-S warm up The Gov. Rick de Pizzol photo.
The Magic Numbers Subtract-SThe Gov, AdelaideMarch 26, 2019Photos by Rick de Pizzol
Ho to the Gov once more, to attempt to find a car park which may not exist, to finally succeed in an adjacent suburb, and plodge back the way I drove, feeling not remotely conspicuous as a I pass several pubs with the locals whooping it up, trailing behind a herd of badly-dressed bumpkins heading, it seems, in the same direction.
No, thankfully, they're not; the Entertainment Centre across the road has another do on and the streets are filled with the aforesaid bumpkins and, perhaps needless to say, their cars. I don't know whether the local council is aware of the hideous car parking problem in these suburbs, caused mostly by the Ent Cent, which I thought had ample parking, but I have decided every night from now on I shall drive to where I left my car tonight, and walk to the Gov and back. Excellent cardio.
I can remember a time back in the dark ages, a period I like to call my high school years, when a Stooges album was harder to find in Detroit than, well, the Stooges themselves, especially after that Michigan Palace brannigan immortalized on “Metallic K.O.”
There's not much more information than what's on the poster but onetime Stooge Jimmy Recca (now living in L.A.) is playing a show in Arlington, Virginia. If you want to know about Mr Recca and his Stooges history, you could do no better than reading this interview by Ken Shimamoto originally penned for Easy Action Records.
Rhetorical question: Why? Answer: Because he can.
Cranberry-swilling Ken Shimamoto and I were only discussing this in the Bar the other day: We both mark Iggy harder than those so-called legends who present with a far less memorable back catalogue.
His studio recordings are up and down like a hypoglycaemic's sugar levels but the one place Iggy Pop delivers the goods consistently is the stage. This 1979 taped-for-radio recording from San Francisco in 1979 finds the Pop at the very top of his game with a killer band in attendance.
Perth’s powerpop label punching way above its weight, Zero Hour Records, has announced a double CD tribute to Cheap Trick.
The 38-song collection includes music from The Affections, Rob Smith and Danny McCarthy, Plasticsoul and Spike Priggen and is due out on May 22.
Pre-orders get a swag of extras and you can take the plunge here.
You can also pick up dirt cheap stuff from Dom Mariani (his unplugged acoustic album is an underrated gem), Turnaround and a slew of lesser-known acts from the garage-pop underground.
Yesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (self released)
There’s a treasure trove of slightly backward-looking, beat and mod-based pop by veterans coming out of the UK on a coterie of labels like State Records and Damaged Goods right now. Aussie band The Smart Folk would be right at home on either of them.
It doesn't have the explosive pop brashness of The Embrooks or the raw swagger of Graham Day or CTMF, but “Yesterday Repeating” displays its own slightly darker charm.
Born out of a mod revival duo in Sydney six years ago, these old codgers have become a staple on their hometown’s small but tenacious live scene. “Yesterday Repeating” is their debut full-length album and it’s reflective of the quartet’s stylistic starting point without being limited by it.
Whatever happened to the split-single 7” where bands of a feather got pissed in a studio together, slapped out a song each and whacked out a record with a song on either side? The styles didn’t always blend but that was much of the charm. The split single seems to have fallen from favour, despite the resurgence of vinyl. Reality is that it never really went away and here’s a great example from two Sydney bands.
It was 35 years ago - May/June 1978 - when the two greats of high energy Detroit rock ‘n roll, Fred Smith and Iggy Pop, got together to bring a roadshow to Europe.
Didn't have much time for mods, generally. Growing up in Sydney in the heyday of great, Birdman-inspired music in the 1980s, their thing seemedmore contrived than anything else (although, in retrospect, there was a great deal of energy in evidence on the Sussex Street scene, when it crawled up the stairs and seeped into the Trade Union Club.) The Green Circles are a mod-influenced band from Adelaide, and the good news (for me) is they're more V-6 than Vespa.
The Golden Age of Iggy and The Stooges continues unabated. With the band on indefinite hiatus, “Raw Power” era guitarist James Williamson is shining new light on a batch of mostly unreleased or never-properly-recorded gems from the band’s back-pages.
Guitar pop like this has no equal. Rob Griffiths has been writing and playing it longer than anyone can remember. Little Murders are a Melbourne institution and the current line-up is the longest serving. Each of these facts is connected.
The Golden Rail are bringing their consumate Mellbourne via Perth guitar pop to Sydney for two shows this month to launch their new album “Sometimes When”.
As direct participants (or side players) in The Palisades, The Rainyard, Header, Summer Suns, DM3 and, more recently, The Jangle Band, The Golden Rail are eminently qualified to give Sydney a jangle pop lesson, and you can catch them at two shows.
Friday, February 16 finds them at a new venue, The Butcher’s Block, In Dulwich Hill where they’ll be supported by Inner Western Delta locals The Smart Folk. The next afternoon, The Golden Rail will play Gasoline Pony with John Kennedy’s 68 Comeback Special. You can hear and buy the album here.
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