rockabilly - The I-94 Bar
Holy North Pole! These Finns know sure how to host a hoedown. It must be all that midnight sun.
The fourth album by The Country Dark is like a downhill luge ride on amphetamines with a bellyful of rye whisky. Previous exposure to 2016’s “Hypnic Jerk” serves as a great primer but “Cookie Trail” kicks the weirdness up by a considerable notch. This is where the early Beasts of Bourbon butt heads with Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
"Cookie Trail" is Americana with a severe genetic flaw. The perpetrator is toothless, last seen hanging around a murder scene and left driving a stolen muscle car. The Country Dark wear hob-nailed cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat. The hills they occupy do have eyes. The Country Dark carry an axe and they aren't afraid to use it on all nine of these tunes.
If they weren’t really a duo from Holland, The Sensational Second Cousins would be double Dutch to most of us. Sorry, the puns should stop now. You don’t need them clogging this review. But they really are a duo and they do come from Holland.
The Sensational Second Cousins play stripped-back rockabilly with a punk edge, excessive reverb and a heap of humour. What’s more, the band members ARE second cousins. Hectic Henri (guitars/ and vocals) and Ravin' Jerk (stand up drums) take rock and roll back to its elemental roots and squeeze its throat. Hard.
Okay, hands up, please. What are Croatians famous for being passionate about?
The Ustashi, says one. Well, once upon a time the Ustashi did arouse passions, but they seem thankfully forgotten. That's not the answer I was hoping for. Any one else?
Confusing civil conflict!
Hmmm. You're a cynical bunch. No, Croatia is renowned for being passionate about their football, or 'soccer' as we here in Australia call it. (The term "soccer" is a mangulation of "association football", BTW).
So, ho to the Croatian Sports Centre, home of the Adelaide Croatia Raiders Soccer Club, is at the end of a curving drive and situated between a Woolworths unload and reload depot and the Adelaide Superdrome, the headquarters for Cycling SA.
So, ho to the Governor Hindmarsh, best rock pub not only in Adelaide but in Australia as far as I’m concerned. Off to see The Rteverend Horton Heat. Dead opposite the monstrous Ent Cent with its vast bowl of an arena, where the punters, grim at the thought of mystery beer in a disposable plastic cup at a fool’s price, head to the Gov for food and drink made by real human beings for real human beings.
It occurred to me tonight, that if I lived around the corner, it’s likely this place would see me once a day for something or other, whether it be for lunch or the occasional after workie, or a slap-up dinner for four mates - rowdy, but still, you know, civilised. The bar staff, without exception, have always been excellent, which is not something you can say of most pubs. Those in the band room tonight are brilliant.
Rockabilly has had a huge revival over the last couple of decades. I remember the first revival, spearheaded by the Stray Cats tour in, I think, 1981; a large number of punker types went and, the following weekend, about five percent were wearing quiffs. And it kinda grew from there, I think, mostly as an underground thing, but it never quite had the spotlight turned on it in the way that the Cats copped it.
But with the Reverend Horton Heat playing alongside what they call “punk rockers” in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and sharing the same label, Sub-Pop, as Nirvana, when Cobain and co. suddenly broke all over the world, everyone interested in Cobain and co. bought LPs from Sub Pop - and the Heat had a sudden increase in fans world-wide. Without really intending to, Jim Heath (as his custom scratch plate declares) was the spark-plug that triggered an engine of revolution.
The Lincolns are sharp, smart and write damn fine, modern songs, play with punch and verve, and crowds come out of the undergrowth wherever they play (I’m guessing they’d pull in the middle of the Simpson Desert), and most of the crowd get all gussied up and dance till the pompadours collapse like upset bowls of black pasta.
The Lincolns tour around the country; barely a weekend goes by without another sell-out Lincolns gig somewhere. They work hard at day jobs, too, so the band is their release; yet they drive to every gig and there’s more than 140 songs in their repertoire. Yes, really. And they live in Adelaide. And, their overseas tours have been extremely successful, and there’s another one sorted out for 2017.
Way back in the last century, there was a band kicking around Sydney called The Milky Bar Kids. They were minimalist rockabilly, stripped back to the bare basics of stand-up bass, twangy guitar and a tiny kit. They had simple songs, in the style of early Elvis, and they were wonderful.
Fast forward to a bar in Wales a year or two later and I laid eyes (and ears) on a similar band whose name is lost in the mists of time. Again, it was a bunch of people tapping the source of rock’s roots and it was as enjoyable for its raw simplicity as its songs.
The international angle is important because the band being reviewed has that sort of history. Vocalist-guitarist Ben Edwards is an ex-Sydneysider based in Melbourne and has another line-up of Plastic Section based in Bangkok.