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.
You, devoted I-94 Bar reader, may have noticed a review I did a few weeks back, for the album by New York-raised, now Ireland-domiciled multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Eric Mingus, called "Fog of Forgiveness". One of Eric's collaborators, Catherine Sikora, sent it to me out of the blue, and when I had a chance to listen, I was rather blown away.
Eric Mingus came to my attention several years ago, when a musical interpretation of "Tommy” (the Who double LP) played in Adelaide for the Festival Fringe, at the magnificent Her Majesty's Theatre (now being rebuilt). I thought that, since I wanted to ask Eric about a ton of stuff, I asked Catherine if I could do an e-mail interview with Eric. He doesn't seem to do that many interviews - possibly because of the nature of interviewers.
His dad Charles was a mighty jazz legend (if you know who I mean, then read on; if not, get Googling); however, if you have your own, distinct musical drive, people will always compare the first with the second. (Recall that Sir Winston Churchill named his son Winston Spencer-Churchill - imagine going to school with that millstone of a name...) Eric Mingus is a very different kettle of fish to his dad, and what he does is... well, it is to some extent beyond music to my mind.
Rather than a series of straight Q&As, I had more of an email conversation with Eric, so if the preambles seem a little involved... well, sod you. I'm writing this for your entertainment. Either be entertained, or don't be. There are a lot of musical springboards (ie, links in here. You're far too conservative in your musical tastes). Get corrupted and follow the links. Lastly, Eric writes in American English, and yes, he has spelled his words correctly.
Let’s be provocative right up-front and say that The Pretty Things are not entitled to still be making records this good. Not after 50 years and not even allowing time off along the way for bad behaviour.
It’s not a disc full of instantly catchy “hits” by any stretch - and if it was nobody would listen anyway. The Pretties’ name is a total misnomer. Putting aside the baby-faced engine room, this is a band of three grizzled old men.
So let’s talk about what it is.
Mod was a prominent part of underground music in Australia in the ‘80s - especially in Sydney and Melbourne. While their obsession with fashion was both a defining trait and a limiting factor, the mods had a great collective ear for what made British music great in the ’60s. The same goes for Adelaide band, The Sons of Mod.
Led by expat Pom Andrew McCulloch (lead guitar and vocals) and with ex-Ratcat bassist Amr Zaid in the ranks, The Sons Of Mod evoke the sounds of freakbeat, a retrospective term for music from the harder-edge of the original mod spectrum. Think The Move or The Creation as prime examples.