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Nerd is the word …..

Are Talking Heads the most overrated band of all time ? They are certainly up there. I never understood Talking Heads. They were a band whom never spoke to me – and as a consequence, were a band I never had any time for. Nerds. Art school nerds. History as shown that they came up as part of the NYC punk scene and were a CBGB’s band – but they weren’t a Ramones/Dead Boys/Blondie CB’s band – no leather jackets and ripped jeans rock ‘n’ roll – Polo shirts and tucked in jeans – they were art school geeks with quirky lyrics, thinking music for listeners with Asperger’s – Arty farty crap. Nerd Rock. They came up through the punk period – but they weren’t a punk band. Art punk ? Punk bands of that period were bands like The Boys, The Lurkers, The Damned. Whenever I bought a punk compilation LP and Talking Heads were on it, I skipped the track.  Its arguable that had they come up as part of the UK punk scene, they would not have made it. According to Wikepedia, “Talking Heads helped to pioneer new wave music by integrating elements of punk, art rock, dance, pop and world music with avant-garde sensibilities and an anxious, clean-cut image.” Really? Who wrote that dross?  Their breakthrough song – “Psycho Killer”, was so at odds with everything else being released by their peers. Byrne’s annoying screech on the chorus ‘Run Run Away, I , I , I , ay” – is painful to listen through. I read a review once that called him a ‘Genius’? Genius ? Hardly. Even Byrne himself said in recent years that he was borderline Aspergers. Looking back, that’s pretty apparent. Which is neither good nor bad – just how it is, and not a

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The result of consulting Liberace for costume ideas…….ghastly.

criticism or judgment. A big deal was made of the fact that they had a female bass player – they became known for that. Who cares ? I think she originally was only in the band cos she was the girlfriend of David Byrne, she couldn’t play bass. Apparently, Byrne “unable to find a bass player in New York”, persuaded her to learn the bass. David Byrne was a complete nerd. He must have been intimated by his peers of that time – Joey Ramone, Stiv, Debbie Harry and the like. He had an awkward style, dressed like a nerd, and was geek personified. That they became big in the mid 80s was odd to me. Stop Making Sense? Not if they were the other option. Baggy suits, burning down the house. Just shows you what a shit time this was for music. As the late 70s and mid 80s rolled through, Talking Heads were all about African beats / disco funk. Ugh. In the mid 80s you couldn’t turn on MTV without having that Stop Making Sense nonsense forced down your throat. Songs like “And She Was” and “Wild Wild Life, ‘Burning Down The House’, were irritatingly given unnecessary exposure – and subsequently became hits – yet this was a time when the charts were filled with this kind of nonsense. Whenever I hear ‘Like Humans Do” or “Once in a lifetime”, I feel like puking. Looking back, that the band had major international success was an anomaly to me. They must have been tedious to see live. That David Byrne has had a sustained career and enjoyed an international profile doesn’t say much for peoples tastes. Same reason why people bought records by Simply Red or Phil Collins records I guess. Passé. That Talking Heads are also in the banal ‘Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame” says more about what a redundant organisation that truly is. Kudos to Steve Miller for calling them out for what they truly are. I’d love to know if others think I’m being somewhat harsh here. Prove me wrong! Maybe there are other overrated bands Ive missed……..

ragas-coverRajas, Jugs and Mojo Hands is the new album from the Australia’s best guitar player Gwyn Ashton (sorry Tommy, sorry Phil – I still love ya both) and is a collaborative effort between Gwyn, long-time friend and musical mentor Chris Finnen, and stalwart Peter Beulke on bass. Finnen has shared the stage with some of the world’s best, including Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Witherspoon, Roy Buchanan, Eric Burdon and Keb Mo. Is an introduction to the great Gwyn Ashton really necessary ? For those who weren’t paying attention the first time, Gwyn Ashton has spent the past 30 years touring Australia and Europe, recording with some of the biggest names in blues and rock including musicians from Deep Purple, Robert Plant’s and Rory Gallagher’s bands and touring with the likes of Buddy Guy, Mick Taylor, Peter Green and many more. Much of Gwyn’s material on this new album he wrote while on the road in Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK. How to describe Rajas, Jugs and Mojo Hands? If you are thinking down-the-line Delta or Chicago blues – think again.  Sure, there is evidence of that, but what sets this album apart is the way that Ashton and Finnen weave other musical sounds/influences into the mix – from Indian/Eastern, Arabic and African sounds – and all work amazingly well with the sound of dual National resonators. Throw in equal parts Ashton’s and Finnen’s unique Australian flavors, and you end up with a roots/blues cocktail like no other.  ‘I Can Feel That Mojo Working On Me’ is the ideal opener. Beyond catchy, tasteful slide, catchy chorus, with Indian/Eastern influences set to a Deep South blues groove – man can Gwyn Ashton write a tune. He sure has his mojo going on with this one. This song segues effortlessly into the second track, the all instrumental, Eastern influenced ‘Moravian Rhapsody’ – which is in many ways, a companion piece to the opening track, with the appealing slide resonator guitars up front and foremost. Super catchy, and would no doubt get the nod of approval from George Harrison. ‘Duchcov’, an ode to the Czech Republic town that sits at the foot of the Ore Mountains, is a strikingly atmospheric instrumental that scores big points –  highlighted by subtle playing, fingers delicately finessing strings, and melody galore.  Blues purists will love ‘Lonesome Road’ and ‘Givin Up The Church’, both great slabs of traditional blues played and sung the Finnen way – complete with a wry sense of humour. With its lyrical sexual innuendos, ‘Keep Your Oven Warm’ would no doubt bring a smile to the face of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Keep your jam tart sticky, so I can lick my fingers clean J. There’s an authenticity about all those old blues guys that does not diminish with time  – and that’s what so many people love about the blues. I’m here to tell you folks that Chris Finnen has that same blues authenticity in spades. The album closes with the Eastern sounding instrumental ‘Migration’, a glorious cacophony of sympathetic strings and slide guitar set with Shankar-like ambience. Top shelf. If I’m forced to pick, my personal fave is ‘Who’s That Knockin’, a sing along ditty with catchy chorus that reminds me a lot of ‘On The Beach’ era Neil Young. That’s a good thing folks!  What’s great about this album is that is that it was recorded over two evenings with no rehearsal or pre-production. Everything was recorded live, first or second take, on acoustic guitars and National resonators, with Ashton also on Weissenborn, and Finnen adding chumbush, darbuka, cajon, clay pot and banjo into the mix. Just goes to show you what happens when musical chemistry exists between truly great players. The result is surely one of the best blues/roots albums to come out of Australia in recent years. 10 out of 10. Buy it from Fab Tone Records, or head to Gwyn Ashton’s web site here. You can also check out the official promo video for the album here.

Episode 65 – L7 Interview

Posted: September 30, 2016 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

The mighty L7 – re-united and re-ignited hit Australia soon for a run of shows around the country.  On episode 65 of The Australian Rock Show we chat with Donita Sparks about the re-union, her memories of previous Aussie tours and much more ! Turn this one up loud !

Music by:

L7, Cosmic Psychos

Check out this episode!

Episode 64 – Airbourne Interview

Posted: September 23, 2016 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

The new album from Airbourne ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ is released today ! It’s loud, defiant and in-your-face – and an album which you definitely need to hear. On episode 64 of The Australian Rock Show, we chat with drummer Ryan O’Keeffe about the new album, crank some cool tunage and lots more. Play loud !

Music by:

Airbourne, The Poor

Check out this episode!

a0566583140_10.jpgMany albums by Australian hard rock/heavy metal bands of the early to mid-1980s are long out of print, and often fetch high prices on eBay and the collectors market. When these records were originally released, they were more often than not released on independent labels and in limited numbers, hence the reason why many titles have become scarce as hens teeth and fetch those high prices. There were albums by bands such as Surrender, Tough Luxury, Bengal Tigers, Blackjack, Axatak, Snake – and others I forget, that now go for good money. Scott Ginn’s ‘One Man Army’ was one kick ass album from 1986 that has been long out of print – until now. 30 years later, this underrated album of melodic Australian hard rock has been dusted off and digitally remastered and is now available again, and for the first time, in both CD and digital formats. I still have my original LP, but I gotta tell you, it sounds great to hear these songs given the digital treatment and a new lease of life. This album was every bit as good as material being released back then by prominent hard rock bands in the USA and Europe, yet due to geographic isolation and the fact that it was an independent  release, meant that it wasn’t heard by the masses that it should have. Songs such as ‘Torment In Tehran’, ‘One Hand Held High’, ‘Heartbeat City Blues’  and ‘Watching The Lines Go Down’ are all top shelf hard-rock oozing melody and hooks aplenty. The multi-talented Scott Ginn really was a one man army – as he played all the instruments, sang all the tunes, and produced and engineered the whole she-bang. He also has one of the best rock voices ever to come out of the antipodes. Fresh from his time with BOSS, this was his first solo release, and was recorded at his own Montreux Studios in Sydney, Australia. a3158733681_10.jpgFor this 30th Anniversary re-release he has remastered all the original album tracks and added two additional bonus tracks that were recorded around the same time as the album. A couple of years later, in the late 80s, Ginn put together a band called Rags N Riches, guys who had all been his touring band for the ‘One Man Army’ LP.  Rags N Riches were prominent on the Sydney scene during the late 80s / early 90s and had a solid following. They played a unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll they termed, ‘Rag ‘n’ Roll’ – a blend of commercial hard rock and hair metal with an emphasis on good songs, partying and having a good time. One single was released on coloured white vinyl “Dance Baby Dance w/ Money Can’t Change Your Mind”, which is long out of print. The band’s debut album ‘Shipwrecked Out In The Street” was recorded between 1990 and 1993 at  Montreux Studios but was never released. The band stopped performing after 1993, and the recorded archive of Rags N Riches material sat idle for many years. During 2015-2016 Ginn digitally remastered the original recordings and now, after more than 20 years this killer hard rock album has finally seen the light of day.  I saw Rags N Riches live on many occasions, and at that time was disappointed that an album of original songs never saw the light of day. I have memories of many of the bands tunes including ’Dance Baby Dance’, ‘Hotline’ and the title tune – and it’s great to finally hear these songs again after all these years. Scott Ginn is a guy we have a lot of time for here at Rockbrat HQ, and it goes without saying that both these albums are essential purchases. If you dig melodic hard rock – this stuff is right up your alley and highly recommended! Forget your next cup of coffee and buy a great album of original Australian hard rock. You can buy either CD for only $10 each, or the digital albums for only $5. Head over to https://mazz-xt.bandcamp.com/ for more information and you can also listen to sound samples as well. Australian rock n roll is and always has been, the best in the world – these albums will remind you why.

a2184348725_2The new single from The Fiascos arrived at Rockbrat HQ and it’s a corker.  If you dig old school ‘77 style punk with a modern edge and infectious pop overtones – look no further than this lot.  Melodic pop punk with hooks galore and catchy as, ‘Olivia’ is instantly likeable. If you dig The Wildhearts / Hey Hello  – this is right up your alley. It’s a rifforama, yet also super melodic, with layered harmony vocals and sing along chorus too. Why ain’t I hearing this on the radio ?  ‘Built For Speed’ is on the flipside and it’s also a killer tune. Faster tempo yet still super melodic, complete with a spoken word breakdown. I was a big fan of both the New Bomb Turks and Turbo AC’s, and if you need a reference point, this tune sits somewhere in between – yet I can also hear a lot of Honest John Plain in this tune as well. That’s a good thing in my book!  The guitars on both tracks are way up front, with Richie and Keef both rippin’ guitar players. These cats hail from Croydon, South London (only a short double decker bus ride from where Mr Rockbrat and I used to live in Bromley) and they have a web site where you can pick up these killer tunes for the generous price of only a quid per song. They also have a facebook page so you can also keep track of any gigs. Can’t wait for an album. Recommended!

Episode 63 – Owen Campbell Interview

Posted: September 16, 2016 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

Owen Campbell is currently back home in Australia – doing shows in support of his amazing new album Breathing Bullets (from which we recently named the title track as our ‘song of the year’). A talented guitar player, Owen Campbell is also a wonderful storyteller and songwriter. On episode 63 of The Australian Rock Show, we chat with Owen about his new album, his fascinating musical journey and much more. Essential listening !

Music by:

Owen Campbell, Jeff Lang

Check out this episode!