165194-L-LOIf you need a reminder of why Australian rock n roll of the 1970 and 80s was the best in the world – then ‘The Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock’ is for you. Festival Records have done a superb job in capturing the best bands of that period, with a whopping 4 CD, 90 song set that has something for everyone. The obvious guitar heavyweights of the pub rock period are represented – with songs by Cold Chisel, The Angels, Divinyls and Rose Tattoo – yet what makes this comp a standout from others, is that the good folks at Festival have given some thought and insight when putting the project together. For example: Unlike other previous comps, where the ‘obvious’ hit was the choice to represent the band – on this CD, it’s not the case. The Angels tune is not the somewhat tired sounding ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’, but the Birdman influenced ‘Shadow Boxer’. The Rose Tattoo tune is ‘One Of The Boys’ which probably should have been released as a single. By taking this approach – it means that the CD set will appeal to seasoned punters who were actually there during these halcyon days – as well as those who weren’t. Smart move. The Skyhooks tune is even a non-Shirley tune – with the often overlooked ‘Over The Border’ sounding vital and relevant. Superb, McCainsh lyrical wit as you’d expect.

 It’s good to hear pub rock stalwarts The Radiators, a band that probably should have had success overseas in the early 80s, as well as Spy V Spy – both bands I saw in countless Sydney pubs in the 1980s.  My favourite Spy’s tune is ‘Sally Ann’, but ‘Hard Times’ reminds you why this band were pub rock kingpins in the mid 80s. Rose Tattoo’s Pete Wells ‘Between The Saddle and The Ground’ is one of the other highlights. Plaintive, Dylanesqe vocal delivery – outlaw country – melodic, memorable riff – a tune that should have been bigger that what it was.

 It’s good that the OL’55 tune is ‘C’mon Let’s Do It’ and not the go-to tune ‘On The Prowl’.  Ol ’55 had a lot more going on musically than just being a revival outfit, and this tune reminds you of that. Ol 55’s key songwriter Jim Manzie had a lot of pop sensibility, and once free of the restrictions of being in a 50’s revival band, (both a blessing and a curse no doubt ), he began to really explore his pop song writing chops. His work with post OL ’55 outfits The Breakers and The Fives is often overlooked. The long out of print Breakers tune ‘When I’m On TV’ is included on this comp and it sounds great. Superb hard edge pop with a stack of melody and catchy chorus.  Almost worth the price of the CD for that tune alone! Who else remembers seeing this on Countdown?

From the early 70s period that are tunes by Buster Brown, Jim Keays, Thorpie, Daddy Cool, and Fraternity.  From the mid 70s there are tunes by Taste, Hush, Dallimore and Supernaut (with one of their brilliant post punk tunes ‘Unemployed’). TMG are also here too with ‘Gonna Be Somebody’, a disregarded hard rocking single lifted off their 1978 ‘Disturbing The Peace’ album. This tune sounds killer – given the digital treatment. From the 1980s – there is more great Oz pub rock fare with the Baby Animals, Screaming Jets, Kings Of The Sun, Noiseworks, Nick Barker, Hoodoo Gurus, The Church and the Saints. There are so many great bands here – you’d be hard pressed not to find something to your liking. There’s also Kevin Borich, Stars, Richard Clapton, Moving Pictures, the Hitmen, Dingoes, the Ferrets and the Sports.

Painters & Dockers get a guernsey with ‘Die Yuppie Die’ whilst the Flowers tune ‘Sister’ is a good alternate choice to ‘We Can Get Together’.  I forgot how good Heroes were, and ‘I Can’t Go On’ sounds fresh. Who else remembers The Motivators, The Aliens, Flaming Hands, Young Modern and the Johnnys? That’s right – they are also represented here.

Whilst Russell Morris is getting all the accolades (justly so) for his recent blues albums, people often forget his great work in the late 70s / early 80s. My favourite album is ‘Foot In The Door’ and how can you go past ‘Running Jumping Standing Still’ as an example of an iconic tune – Australian or otherwise? This CD contains one of his tunes with The Rubes, ‘Walk Don’t Run’, which is melodic and catchy hard edged pop from a guy who has a truckload of great songs to his name. Forget about ‘The Real Thing’ and ‘Wings Of An Eagle’ – dig into his late 70s period!  ‘Walk Don’t Run’ will get your started.  

I hadn’t heard The Spaniards tune ‘I Want To Live In A House’ since I saw Starstruck at the movies back in 1982, and it’s also good to hear Mike Rudd & The Heaters – another guy whose extensive body of musical work post Spectrum/Arial is often overlooked. One of Adelaide’s great pub rock bands The Boys are here with ‘Weoh Weoh Weoh‘, and the fantastic Numbers also with Four Letter Word’. Annalise Morrow certainly had it going on, and The Numbers were just about guitar-pop perfection.

Another pleasant surprise was the female fronted Melbourne outfit The Kevins, whose single ‘Romeo Romeo’ was originally released in 1982 on the White Label. I’d forgotten what a great tune this was and it’s good to hear it unearthed and given a new lease of life. Nice deep that stacks up well against bands with a larger profile.

Mi-Sex were one of the best bands of the pub rock glory days, and ‘Graffiti Crimes’ sounds fantastic to my ears in 2017. In fact Mi-Sex’s music sounds better as time goes on. Testament to the songwriting.  The album winds up with Swanee out front of The Alan Lancaster/John Brewster version of the Party Boys – and ‘High Voltage’ is a nice recap of what I told you at the start – Australian rock n roll is the best there is. 

A couple of surprises on the album were the Cockroaches tune ‘Hey What Now’ which is close to hard rock (on the verses anyway) and a long way from the Anthony Field Wiggles era –and the Warumpi Band’s ‘Stompin Ground’ which is indeed hard rock. Good tune too.

This is not a hastily thrown together comp. Like other recent Festival compilations, (Boogie!, When Sharpies Ruled, Silver Road etc), the bands and songs that represent them have been well considered – with a finished product that serves as a great audio document of a wonderful period of Australian music history. The package contains an excellent booklet with exhaustive liner notes, band info and cool images – including front page covers of many old issues of RAM!

Note that this is volume 2. Volume 1 also contains a monstrous 90 odd tracks and is equally worthy of your attention. Good work Festival. Keep up the good work Dog! 9 out of 10. Available everywhere.   

b225c83a-ebcd-42e5-80f8-3148f8aad0de.jpgThe answer to this question is – arguably, yes – yet I need to qualify the response. If you ask a dozen people the same question, you will no doubt end up with twelve different answers – for the word ‘best’ is of course subjective. Yet in order to be somewhat objective – lets ensure that the ‘best’ band has to be contemporary. It’s meaningless to throw out names like Oasis or Zeppelin or U2, Skynyrd, the Black Crowes or whoever. As the timeline shows – at various point in history – these and many many others had their hands on that title – but in 2017, no.  And before some blinkered KI$$ fan emails me with their fist in the air telling me that the redundant caped clowns are the best – don’t even bother. If it was 1977 – maybe so, but they are nothing more than a cash register on wheels who offer zero in terms of new material. And in recent years their ‘new’ material is neither vital, engaging nor relevant. Retarded rock ‘n’ roll. I digress.

Revivalism is popular in the music bizz nowadays – but to again reiterate- be the band old or new, are they releasing quality NEW material? People tell me that Ed Sheeran is the best artist in the world – but I don’t see it. Not sure he has the songs/originality to justify all the hype that has been bestowed upon him. He is hugely successful, multiplatinum in an era where people don’t go multiplatinum no more – yet that has more to do with mass modern social media pushing his wagon than anything else. Noel Gallagher he ain’t. As a singer songwriter – will he go down in history as a modern day James Taylor ?  The best ? Time will tell.

Music-Homemade-Sin.jpgYet in my humble opinion, if you define the ‘best band’  in the authentic Chuck Berry/blue denim /beat up Telecaster /ramalama tradition – then Dan Baird is all that and more. There is a legitimacy to anyone who rides the same road (which started with the blues), as greats like Steve Marriott, The Yardbirds, The Stones/Faces etc. Yet Baird ain’t plying revivalism rock ‘n’ roll. He continues to release creative new material that is both memorable, original and relevant – a nod to the past and a tip of the hat to the present. And that right there- is why he is the best. Not many artists have that capacity. Springsteen does, Neil Young does – so too Mike Ness.

Baird has always been cool – and I have always dug his lyrics. His lyrics have a twist that reflect his sense of humour and down to earth, unpretentious  southern heritage. Anyone who can write about Carnys (Fairground People), can use the word ‘parenthesis’ in a song (I Love You Period), write about 8 track stereos, Firebirds, and use lickety split in a song (Red Light) is a true wordsmith as far as I’m concerned.  Baird is having fun – and that comes across in the delivery of the songs – both musically and lyrically. Yet he aint no one trick pony. If you think he just churns out carbon-copied runka runka  styled tunes modelled on ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’ – you are clearly mistaken.  He is capable of writing extraordinarily memorable songs that are heart wrenching – that can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up – Check out ‘Thousand Little Pieces’ from the Circus Life album as evidence of this. Be in no doubt though, that the other reason Baird rock n roll is in the upper echelons is due to his band – Homemade Sin.  The calibre of personnel in this band is top shelf. Baird’s right hand man is Warner Hodges – the guitar players guitar player. Since Hodges came on board some years back, the Dan Baird band has become more muscled up, an even tighter unit – and a band that musically – consistently fires on all cylinders. Hodges is rock solid – who himself has a rich body of work to dive into if you aint already familiar with him. This includes his stuff with Jason & The Scorchers, or any of his rippin’ solo albums, ‘Centerline’ ‘Gunslinger’ or ‘Preachin’ The Gospel’.  The engine room is made of long serving (and ex Satellites) drummer Mauro Magellan and bass player Micke Nilsson, formerly of Swedish rockers Bonafide. This rhythm section are the core of the sound, and often don’t get the accolades they deserve, yet they should. They are the pulsating, never erring backbone that allow Baird and Hodges the room to move.

In many ways – In 2017 Homemade Sin are the modern equivalent of an early 70’s Mach 1 Mustang or Chevy Camaro – they ooze character when all others around them are made of plastic, and all look the same. A shit load of horse power, solid steel, sharp lines – and true style.

I have been a Dan Baird fan for what, 30 years now. I picked up obscure Satellites and solo records in different parts of the globe on different travels. There were two tours of Australia, including a support of Johnny Diesel & The Injectors in 1989. Then it became a long time between drinks – with Baird finally coming back to these shores three years back as part of Bobby Keyes’ band. Small venues – but big rock n roll. Baird has been incredibly prolific over the past 20 years – and has released a slew of albums with many bands. All worthy of your attention. Throw the dart at any of these and you will hit the bullseye every time. Once the Satellites folded, he went solo, and released the first of many solo albums – with ‘Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired’. Check out the video of him performing ‘I Love you Period’ on Letterman. Cooler than Fonzie. And over the years there have been more albums, both solo and with other bands including the Yayhoos and The Bluefields amongst others. Buffalo Nickel, Out of Mothballs – so many great albums. In fact – if you want a good starting point, pick up either the ‘Circus Life’ or ‘Get Loud’ albums – top to bottom – both superb albums.

Some of my favourite all time Dan Baird songs are far from the obvious or expected. If I had to come up with an album’s worth of material for a “Dan Baird Desert Island Disc” it would include tunes such as The One I Am, I Love You Period, Lost Highway, I Want You Bad, Picture On The Wall, Thin Disguise, What Are We Waiting For (Yayhoos), Younger Face, Fall Apart On Me, All The Same, Thousand Little Pieces (what a song……) and Outlivin’. Note that have not included any tunes off the brand new spanking Homemade Sin album ‘Rollercoaster’ as its only released this week – nor off Dan’s new solo album -SoLow either.

Australia – tour dates are locked in for April and May 2017. Y’all get ready for the BEST rock n roll band in the world. Real rock n roll – for un real times. More information at http://www.danbairdandhomemadesin.net/

Last week I was listening to the Ki$$ podcast called ‘3 Sides of the Coin’ and they were discussing the merits of the best Motley Crue albums – ranked from best to worst. It got me thinking. I was into Motley as far back as 1983, so I figure I’m no less qualified than the 3 bozos on 3 sides to offer my two cents worth. Enough with the (Au)coin puns. Yet before I delve into it, can I just say that I do listen regularly to the ‘3 Sides’ podcast and, on occasion, it’s quite interesting, particularly when they interview people who have worked with KI$$ over the years – and proceed to geek out on infinitesimal (look it up) details. Yet of the 3 hosts, the only one’s opinion which really carries any validity is the guy from Detroit, Cicchini. He brings an insight to the table that that the other two clearly lack. He doesn’t get into the “I was into Ki$$ before you’ kind of crap, as most Ki$$ fans/drones do, but he was a metal head back in the day and rates stuff like Angel City, Rose Tattoo and Accept. Nuff said.

The other two ? Both a little grating with their smug sense of self as KISS fans who can lay claim to the band in a manner that you, the listener, cannot. The jibes, taunts and digs that these two throw at Cicchini are as flat as the never ending meatloaf gag. Whilst he takes it in his stride, from a listeners point of view, it’s unnecessary cheap shotting that’s a little cringe worthy. As these two fan-boys lack the guy from Detroit’s panache in terms of rock knowledge, and come across as somewhat inferior, they have to try to claw some of that fan-legitimacy back by over fabricating their stories about how many times they’ve seen Cheap Trick, or how when they were 6 Ma or Pa took them to the local hayseed record store on Main Street to buy their copy of Rock n Roll Over. You win. You were into KI$$ before me, you have more merch than me. Boring. Whatever. The Colonel Sanders lookalike has an overinflated opinion of himself and the importance of his teeny weeny role in the KISS world, resting on his laurels that he ‘worked for KI$$’ ie: ran a KI$$ website, and also rates the horrid Crazy Nights album as his favourite album. “Nobody’s gonna change me, cos that’s who I am!” Barf. I only listen to 3 Sides in the vain hope that he one day will reveal the secret herbs and spices recipe!  The third Stooge recently dismissed Australia’s great hard rock band Heaven as ‘crap’ and states, “it was only when KI$$ had Farter Pussycat as an opening act did they have a decent double bill.” Friend, guys like Alan and Kelly and Laurie from Heaven were the real deal – and came from a lineage of AC/DC- Rose Tattoo etc. Heaven would have SMOKED that drag queen era of KISS in no uncertain terms. Remove those Ki$$ blinkers and be a little objective if possible. Faster Pussycat? P–lease. Limited musical ability, complete Aerosmith/Hanoi rip offs (both in look and sound) who were around at the right time. I bought the Faster Pussycat LP at the time – and it was OK, yet it’s no Sergeant Peppers or Let It Bleed for Christ sakes! That entire LA sleaze/junkie scene/sound from 86-89 was time limited, and these boofheads with scarfs a flowing,  low slung Gibsons, cowboys boots, dyed black hair, ciggies and pouting lips were a dime a dozen. Steven Tyler shoulda copy writ that scarf/mic thing – it was his shtick.  They all looked like Johnny Thunders clones without an inch of his authenticity. The guys looked a million bucks. They looked better than their girlfriends. But they cannibalised each other with the sound. Didn’t the drummer from Faster Pussycat get arrested once for one Fed-exing heroin to his own address? Duh. So where was I? Yes, the 3rd bozo on 3 sides loves this kind of low cal late 80s cheese metal, particularly Motley Crue – which brings me back to the subject matter – Motley Crue. I figure I’m just as credentialed as these 3 knuckle heads to give my judgment on Motley’s best albums. In 1983-87, Mr Rockbrat and I devoured US metal /hard rock mags like Circus/Hit Parader/Faces etc. Aussie heavy rock / metal bands like Boss/Heaven/Bengal Tigers etc were way better than anything coming out of the US, but couldn’t get exposure over there. By reading these mags though, invariably, I was exposed to bands like the Crue.

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Home made CD of pre Motley demos 

Let  me just state up front that from 83-90 I dug Motley Crue – big time. Let me do a ‘3 sides’ and show you just how credentialed I am to comment on the Motleys. I forked over my hard earned for the Helter skelter picture disc, I had a white ‘Girls Girls Girls’ t shirt that I wore to death, (which I bought from Gooses T Shirts at Brookvale. There used to be a shopfront to the factory outlet, where they would let members of the public come in and buy t shirts off the rack for $3.99 or something. I got t -shirts by Anthrax, Motley, Metallica and others I now forget). As history as shown, those first two Motley albums are landmark albums. Timeline though folks. If a kid of 15 hears that nowadays – what’s he gonna think ? Not much probably, as it’s all been done – but in 1981, 82 and 83 – these two albums were THE shit. Let’s take a look at ‘Too Fast For Love’. As a teenager, Live Wire kicked ass like nothing else. So many great tunes on this album – Come On and Dance. Public Enemy #1, Too Fast for Love” Piece of Your Action”. The band were young, hungry, and had a look and sound that edged them ahead of their peers. Vince Neil, dressed in red leather and blonde hair screams and hits notes he can no longer hit – he was a great visual contrast to the dyed blue/black haired other three. Fire, blood spitting, as a teenager I soaked it all up. Yet looking back through mature eyes, the band were musically limited, and some of the tunes on the album sound a little underdone-  Starry Eyes, On With The Show, Merry Go Round, Take Me To the Top. The band stole heavily from many of its influences/peers in terms of look and sound – including KI$$, Alice Cooper, Johnny Thunders / Dolls, Sweet, even LA peers like Blackie Lawless and the much maligned Lizzie Grey had their ideas/images/themes/music ripped. Johnny Thunders shoulda somehow copyrit his pioneering NY Dolls rock star look, cos EVERYBODY from Nikki Sixxcheeseburgers onwards copied it. Yet as a teenager – I lacked the discerning perception that comes with age to know all this – it simply kicked ass! It rules!

So, let’s look at the second album. I picked up ‘Shout At The Devil’ on cassette and thought it was the beez kneez. Great look, great songs. Again, I was a teenager though, and Motley made fast-food heavy metal for teens – and most shrewd adults had the common sense to see it for what it was.  ‘Shout’ though, did have some great tunes and I have some fond memories of this record.  How could you not ? I think this was the best look that Motley had too. The single, “Looks That Kill” was ultra-cool – and I must have played the video clip to death. Badass. The album’s title and the band’s use of a pentagram brought the band a great deal of controversy upon its 1983 release, as Christian and conservative groups claimed the

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Cowboy Col’s ‘Shout’ era action figures. The best Motley ‘look’ was 1983/4.

band was encouraging their listeners to worship Satan. The Devil sells records, the kids lapped it up. The oldest trick in the book. Parents will hate it – kids will love it. Nikki Sixxcheeseburgers at least did his homework with this one. Reviews at the time said, “The whole point of bands like Motley Crue is to provide cheap thrills to jaded teens, and that’s where the album ultimately disappoints. One reviewers said, “a distressingly mild-mannered distillation of Kiss and Aerosmith clichés”. The reviewer here was slightly off the mark as this album IS rebellion for disaffected kids in the suburbs in white bread  America in 83 – and I loved it. “Looks That Kill”, (I still dig that riff), “Too Young to Fall in Love” , “Bastard”, “Red Hot”, “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid”, “Ten Seconds to Love”. With the exception of ‘Danger’ this album is pretty consistent top to bottom. I used to lay awake for hours listening to this cassette over and over on my Walkman. If you wanna see the band in all its glory from 83, go watch the band’s performance at the US Festival 83. I had the demos from this album and there were great songs like ‘Black Widow’, Running Wild In The Night and I Will Survive that sounded great and coulda made the album. This then, is probably the second best Motley album.

Which brings me to 1985. I rode my bike 15 kms to the store to buy Theatre of Pain, only to get home, and like others, was somewhat disappointed when I threw it on the turntable. This was NOT metal, it was glam. The production was way slick, the new look was pink, and Vince was wearing garter belts! What happened ? If you were a kid who thought 18 months before Motley were all about Alistair Crowley and old Beelzebub – you must have known you’d been conned to the hilt when you heard this. The first single – Smokin’ in the Boys

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From bullet belts to garter belts. What the hell happened Vince?

Room, was a Brownsville Stations COVER. What happened ! A COVER  as your big follow up to ‘Shout’? No original songs at all good enough as a first single? Great tune and all – and I’m sure Cub, bless his soul, must have appreciated the royalty checks and the fact that people outside of America were now hearing one his tunes, but in no uncertain terms – Motley had polished a turd pink, and this was the result. Even Sixxcheeseburgers has gone on record saying words to that effect. “We could serve up shit on a platter and people would buy it”. A truer word never spoken Frankie. I bought the bloody thing!  That’s not to say that the album was without its merits – City Boy Blues was OK, as was Louder Than Hell, an old demo written during Shout, but “Keep Your Eye on the Money” and “Home Sweet Home” ? This was Bon Jovi, not Motley Crue. In fact, most of side 2 is dross – “Tonight (We Need a Lover), “Use It or Lose It”,  “Save Our Souls” , “Raise Your Hands to Rock” (cliché) “Fight for Your Rights” (double cliché). Yawn.

Hedonism was the word of the day – and Motley lived the life and then some. Booze, drugs, birds. Combined with ego and recklessness and – the fuse was lit – and which is commonly known – resulted in the tragic death of Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle, in a car being driven by a sozzled Vince Neil. Neil effectively killed the career of Hanoi Rocks – another band knocked off in their prime and whose looks/sound was ripped off by LA Guns, Guns ‘n’ Roses and a zillion other LA sunset strip poseur bands……nice one Vince. The Theatre of Pain album is evidence of a band on the brink – and as a result, the album was underwhelming.  Talk about alienate fans of more trad. hard rock./metal in one fell swoop.

mp9yvwc_e5issnbeknbnsxqThe decadence continued with Motley being in their prime in 86/87. 1987 of course saw the release of the Girls, Girls, Girls album, the fourth studio album. The Motleys attempted to reel in any slack from the estranging ‘Theatre’ album, by releasing a more harder rocking album that was probably the logical album follow up to ‘Shout’. It also contained a more blues riffed style than their previous albums. How can you not have heard “Wild Side” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. These were massive songs that garnered huge airplay and MTV exposure. Lots of leather, a strippers ode – what was not to like? Motley needed to put out all the stops to secure their place as the #1 bad boys of the whole glam/hard rock shootin match – and they did it in no uncertain terms with these tunes. And they had to come up with a cherry – cos in the 18 months/two years since ‘Theatre’, the wave of hard rockin hair bands was of tsunami proportion –  with Cinderella, a rejuvenated Whitesnake, Leppard, and Bon Jovi in particular pushing ahead in rapid terms.  Yet as a whole, does the album stack up ? Is this a contender for the BEST Motley album of all time ? Lyrically, let’s just say that Bernie Taupin was not on the payroll to delicately craft the words. DUUUUUUUDDDDDDE – the lyrics reflect the band’s hard-living lifestyle, paying homage to their love of riding Harleys, drinking whiskey, drugs, life on the Sunset Strip, and spending nights at strip clubs. There is the power ballad – ‘You’re All I Need’ and the average “Dancin On Glass”, and “Bad Boy Boogie”.  Most of the second side is again, filler. ‘Five Years Dead’. “All in the Name Of…”, which isn’t a bad tune, “Sumthin’ for Nuthin’ and an unnecessary cover of “Jailhouse Rock” (live) (which I already had on a compilation album called ‘Time To Rock”. If they HAD to include a cover, what was wrong with including the cover of Tommy Bolin’s ‘Teaser’ they also recorded. An Elvis cover ? What gives ? Maybe all and sundry were far too coked up during the recording sessions to actually say, “Duuuudes, is this really necessary?” At this time, Motley Crue were unquestionably the kings of LA rock, and probably the biggest hard rock/metal band in the world at that time. The title tune as well as ‘Wild Side’ were so heavily rotated via MTV that they really couldn’t fail with this album in terms of sales success. I think it went to number 2 on the charts in the US. Yet by 1988, they’d been knocked off their perch somewhat by a bunch of up and comers called Guns n Roses.

So anyway, by 1989, Nikki Sixxceeseburgers had died and come back again, and the Motley’s had to contend with Bon Jovi and Guns N Roses for the top rock dog mantle. Metallica had also elbowed up to the top of the pyramid. It was clear that they had to come up with something pretty big. The first thing they did was ditch Tom Werman and go with a hungry for success producer called Bob Rock – keen to follow on from his success with Metallica’s None More Black album. The result was the ‘Dr Feelgood album. The band are all straight jacketed and teased hair on the rear cover. Didn’t Quiet Riot first do the straight jacket thing ? Another aping Nikki ? Anyway – this album went all the way to number one, and is arguably more consistent than either ‘Girls’ or ‘Theatre’. Yet let me take a look. ‘Kickstart My Heart’, Same Old Situation. Two great tunes, even with the corny ‘kitty kitty’ lyrics.  Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”. Fantastic tune, and one of my all-time favourite Crue tunes.  Without You also gets a tick – one of the better power ballads. So what’s that, 4 good tunes? Would have made one hell of an EP ? But the rest? Passé songs both musically and lyrically- “Slice of Your Pie”, “Sticky Sweet” , “Rattlesnake Shake. What’s was up with all the hair metal bands and the rattlesnake obsession? Little miss muffet, 58 Chevy, ‘She Goes Down’. No no no. Dr Feelgood was pretty much the end of the Motleys for a while. This was their peak, the top of the roller coaster, the days of excess had to end, no more f….g ridiculous revolving drum sets (can you imagine Phil Rudd doing that?), no more private airplanes, no more world tours. Mr Rockbrat saw the Motleys  in London in 1991,(read about that here) but by 1992, Motley, like most others of the hair variety were victims of their own success –and were languishing whilst the Seattle bands were on the rise.

Yet by 94, Vince was gone and the Motleys released the self-titled album with John Corabi. I’ll be honest here, and say that in 1994 I had zero interest in the Crue, yet I did like the first single, ‘Hooligans Holiday’ a lot. By 1997, the company line read that the Motleys realised the fans expected Motley to have a blonde singer (the real reason apparently being that the band bowed to record company pressure and made the original band reunite), so Vince was drafted back in, and the result being 1997’s Generation Swine’ album. Shit sandwich. Even with a reworking of ‘Shout At The Devil’, 1997 version. No one cared. Nor should they have.

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New Tattoo era – no T-Bone. The great Randy Castillo.

And so it was that in late 2000 I stumbled across the ‘New Tattoo’ album, and I have to tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. New Tattoo combines the best elements of Shout At The Devil, Too Fast For Love and Dr. Feelgood. It’s the eighth studio album, and shows the band going back to the earlier musical style that gave them commercial success in the 1980s. This is the only album by the band not to feature that detestable human, drummer Tommy Lee, who left the band a year before to become a rapper, and was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne / Lita Ford drummer Randy Castillo on the album. (Lee split also because of long-term animosity between himself and Vince). The songs, “Hell on High Heels”, which charted at number 13 on the mainstream rock charts, “New Tattoo” and “Treat Me Like the Dog I Am” were released as singles for the album. All killer tunes.  The album artwork was inspired by the cover of Bruce Dickinson’s album Tattooed Millionaire, whose title track is said to be about Dickinson’s wife cheating on him with bassist Nikki Sixxcheeseburgers. This is BY FAR the most complete, consistent Motley album. “Hell on High Heels”, “Treat Me Like the Dog I Am”, “New Tattoo”, “Dragstrip Superstar, “1st Band on the Moon” (points here Nikki, great tune), and “Punched in the Teeth by Love”. All killer tunes. ‘Side one is almost faultless. “She Needs Rock & Roll” reminds me of a tune by Starz or any great US hard rock band of the 70s. Great chorus, catchy hooks. Just goes to show you what Nikki Sixxcheeseburgers is capable of penning when he is clean and sober. Further evidence of this is on the ballad ‘”Hollywood Ending”.  Great bare tune highlighted by the pairing of Vince’s vocal with acoustic guitars. ‘Porno Star’, with its ‘nah nah nah’ singalong chorus aint bad, yet I can do without the tuned-down guitars of ‘Fake’. The cover of the Tubes “White Punks on Dope” works well, and rounds out an album that was, in my opinion, their strongest since Dr Feelgood, and arguably, Shout At The Devil.  The album debuted at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 and slid down shortly after. The album has sold about 203,000 copies in the U.S. to date. Right before the tour in support of the album, Castillo fell ill with a duodenal ulcer. He was consequently replaced by Hole drummer Samantha Maloney for the New Tattoo tour. It’s a shame that the band didn’t garner more success with this album, and it’s also a shame that more ruepeople didn’t get to hear it.

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The best Motley Crue album-New Tattoo

I hadn’t seen Motley since the 1990 ‘Dr Feelgood’ tour of Australia, and it was only that Motorhead were  on the bill that dragged me along to see Motley Crue in Sydney in 2005. Motley were abysmal. Tired, clichéd, worn out old whores. BAD MOVE having Motorhead on first. Plug in, play, (LOUD), leave. No nonsense. I was kind of hoping that Motley might include something off ‘New Tattoo’ in their set, but as Tommy Lee, (IMO – one of the most obnoxious scumbags of all time – with WAY over stated relevance), didn’t play on it, no dice. I was subjected to his adolescent behavior of walking around the crowd with his ‘titty cam’, getting girls to lift their tops, which the entire crowd could then view on the big screen. This kind of infantile shtick may have worked back in 83 when excess (ie: snorting ants with Ozzy) was tolerated, but by 2005 the audience were noticeably cringing. I PAID money to see this kind of behavior ? Who the hell do you think you are? Turd. As a result,  I didn’t even give a listen to ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ as I’ve heard it all before, so therefore, best to worst, are the following Motley Crue albums.

  1. New Tattoo
  2. Shout At The Devil
  3. Too Fast For Love
  4. Dr. Feelgood (as a 4 track EP)
  5. The rest

 

coverT’was the night before Christmas – and all through our house – the creatures were indeed stirring – cos the blazing guitar sounds of France’s Juliette Jade Valduriez were ripping round the rockbrat walls ! Yes folks, I was not expecting the magic of Christmas to bring forth a rock n roll miracle like this – but indeed it did. A loyal Rockbrat reader alerted me to the fact that Juliette (an artist who has generated immense interest on YouTube – before then vanishing) had recently resurfaced ! But not only is Juliette back – she’s got a whole album’s worth or original material out and about ! Fantastique !

It’s no secret that we are fans of Juliette – in fact the previous blog posts we’ve penned about her still generate heavy stats. Before penning this review I re-watched some of her YouTube videos to get in the zone. Man, the tone and feel she has whilst wailing away on her solo’s still captivate me. I reckon it’s that tone and natural flair Valduriez has which is what had me hooked first time round. Make an effort to search our her videos on YouTube. Her take on Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ – viewed by millions by the way, always earns top marks, whilst her interpretation of Jake E. Lee’s fret work on Ozzy’s ‘Bark At The Moon’, just plain rocks.

I am not gonna speculate why Juliette – (now known as Juliette Jade) went AWOL. The fact that she is back and has finally released an album’s worth of original material – is all that matters. Released in late December – the digital-only album ‘Terrarium’ – is a gathering of 11 home demos which displays her vast musical talent. ‘Allegory’ is the album opener – no hidden meaning here folks  – just one very solid sounding track with a very distinguishable Valduriez (ooops Jade) sounding guitar solo at 1.30 – which damn-well brought a smile to my face. She really is back !

The slower paced ‘Room 7’ again has that Juliette-signature guitar sound all over it – no complaints here. Yet I gotta confess – after solely viewing her guitar playing online – it’s actually her pleasant sounding vocals which I am finding surprising ! Mellow, at times haunting – at times a little reminiscent of Lori Carson – very nice. Love it love it love it.
Diadème could be my favourite track on the album. Sung solely in French – it’s hauntingly beautiful with Jade’s appealing vocals and tasteful guitar solo – the key ingredients here. Wow.  Straight-down-the-line rock n roll is gonna win me over every time – which is why the tunes ‘Hélicoptère’ and the frenzied ‘Frozen Time’ – clocking in at a Ramones-like 2.18 gets the thumbs up from me. I dig it. The bar-chord heaviness of Hélicoptère would be great in the live environment, and contains some of Valduriez’ most potent soloing. ‘Killer’, for me is another album highlight with some powerful lyrics – and another blazing guitar solo. It’s captivating as it is eerie and ‘Killer’ is indeed something special – jostling with Diadème or ‘Hélicoptère’ as my choice album cut.

This girl can shred with the best of em – we know that – but if you are looking for an album’s worth of shredding, look elsewhere. Yes, the guitar work is etched all over the album, but it is far classier than your average guitar rock record and you will be pleasantly surprised. I’d go so far to say that ‘Terrarium’ is an album which sounds better and better upon each listen and is a remarkable debut. One omission here is ‘Lost Paradise’ –  one of Juliette’s original YouTube recordings which did not make the cut  – shame, as it’s had over two million views online and is stellar. Maybe if she gets picked up my a major, or large independent label – it can be included later. It’s too good a song to remain unreleased.

Final words on this review are courtesy of Rockbrat Reader Eddie_Lyons who – when summarizing Terrarium on Juliette’s bandcamp page – accurately concludes…it’s ‘a powerhouse of guitar-driven introversion, peppered with signature Valduriez solos. A perfect blend of lyrics with a haunting voice. An album that wouldn’t be out of place in a collection of the best of the late ’70s and early ’80s. A worthy debut, and worth the long, long wait! Bravo! Too difficult to choose a favourite from a quality collection’.

Folks this is a stunning – long-awaited debut which does not disappoint. I have once again put in an interview request which will hopefully come to fruition. Terrarium set me back 7 EUR and you can get it from https://juliettejade.bandcamp.com/

It is high time more people were made aware of one of France’s best kept secrets.

8521d6_ac1187ffe978438e9609187579ff7d28The sun has almost set on 2016, and one of the highlights of the year has been the reformation of the Ted Mulry Gang (TMG). The fact that TMG are playing out live, 40 years after their halcyon days is quite incredible – and something we should all be thankful for. Not just playing out though – for if you’ve seen them live on any of their handful of dates in the latter part of this year on their ‘This Ones For Ted’ tour – you will be all too aware that live, they are more than delivering the goods – and are killing it as a live unit. If you told me a few years back that TMG would be out and about playing live in 2016 sans Ted, I would have told you, “Not a snowball’s chance in hell, never in a million years”. Yet with Ted’s younger brother Steve Mulry out front – it all makes perfect sense.

I think the last time I saw TMG was at Promises at Sylvania, or somewhere in Sydney’s south in 1995 or 96 supporting Suzi Quatro. I remember thinking that Quatro was boring and TMG blew her away. Twenty years later, TMG are kicking major ass, and are one of the hottest live tickets doing the rounds right now.  Vocalist Steve Mulry  is certainly doing justice to the TMG material, and is singing his absolute heart out. I’m sure Ted is looking down on his brother and old band mates with a smiling nod of approval. Yep – they are more than doing justice to the TMG legacy – and with Steve out front – are adding to it. In fact, after seeing the band a couple of times on this current tour, I can say hand-on-heart that Steve is making the material well and truly his own. With Steve coming from a heavy rock background, TMG in 2016 are tougher sounding, more muscled up, and a tighter rocking unit. Part of that is due also to having rock solid Mark Evans of AC/DC on bass.

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TMG – carving it up at Dee Why RSL 9/12/16 – photo (c) D. Gray

It is short sighted to pigeonhole or stereotype TMG as a ‘Countdown band’ or a band known for only ‘that song’. For some people, I’m sure the revival or nostalgia tag is a reason that gets them along to see the band, yet take my word for it – TMG have a depth and quality to their songs that have seen their material endure incredibly well over time. It’s the aforementioned reason though, (a misguided opinion shared by the mainstream who see the band as a one hit 70s teen band), that has precluded TMG from being inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame. It’s an injustice, and no doubt political, as to why TMG have not been inducted into the Hall Of Fame. It would be a just acknowledgement, yet at the end of the day who really cares. Who gives credence to this two-bit, self-serving organisation anyway? As someone who likes to think I know a little bit about rock ‘n’ roll, take my word for it instead when I tell you that TMG have several albums worth of memorable, original, catchy rock that has stood the test of time – and still sound killer. Great melodies, great choruses, great songs. Some of their best material in fact is off their last couple of albums, ‘Disturbing The Peace’ and ‘Locked In’.

Many of Australian biggest bands of the 70’s had a second bite of the cherry in the 90s (including John Paul Young via ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and Skyhooks in 1983 and 1990/91). Those that didn’t have this second run were given their dues as part of the Countdown concerts in the mid 2000s, with bands like Supernaut, Cheetah, Hush and of course Sherbet (arguably the biggest Australian band of the 70’s), reforming with both Clive Shakespeare and Harvey James on guitars. Ted’s passing in 2001 precluded TMG from taking part in the Countdown Concert series.  In the early part of the 90s though, TMG did do a bunch of shows and TV appearances a part of a short lived 70’s revival – including Hey Hey Its Saturday and 70’s themed nights. Yet to me, this early 1990’s revival of the Seventies music and culture, was more about having a swipe at the music and fashion of that period – and was taking the piss out of it. It was ‘daggy’, it was uncool – so that made it cool right?  Which really missed the point.  I dig Australian rock ‘n’ roll – it’s the best in the world. From AC/DC to Rose Tattoo, Skyhooks, The Angels, Screaming Jets, Screaming Tribesmen, Radio Birdman, Easybeats, Saints and all points in between – In my opinion, TMG are one of the best band’s this country has ever produced and in a just world, should have/could have been as big as AC/DC.

Mr Rockbrat and I have a connection with TMG rock n roll that still resonates to this day. I have fond memories of sitting in my brother’s bedroom playing the TMG Greatest Hits LP over and over again. Man, they sounded better than Slade, better than Quo. Listen to those killer riffs. A lot like AC/DC……AND they were a Sydney band, unlike Skyhooks or Taste (in those days friends, there was still a Sydney Melbourne rivalry). They lived in the suburb next to where I grew up. As kids, my brother and I used to see the TMG band truck everywhere (with Ronnie Roadie no doubt at the wheel). They were a hard rocking, hardworking band playing memorable, original hard edged rock n roll. What was not to like?

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Rare West German & US TMG LP’s

Yet let’s get back to the present. Highlights from the current TMG show are many. ‘My Little Girl’ ‘Crazy’ ‘Wanted Man’, ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Lazy Eyes’, and ‘I’m Free’ to name a few of the highlights. Les Hall, as well as being one of this country’s most underrated guitar players, also wrote many TMG staples that have gone on to become Oz rock standards – people forget that fact. To see Les spitting out blistering solos in 2016 at stage left is a sight (and sound) to savour.  To hear Gary Dixon run through spot-on acoustic versions of ‘Julia’ and ‘Falling In Love Again’ is another highlight of the show, reminding you just how great these songs are, what an outstanding songwriter Ted was, and what an appealing voice Gary possesses. As guitar players who have had a major impact on Australian rock ‘n’ roll – both Gary Dixon and Les Hall are deserving of way more respect. They are rock ‘n’ roll personified. Drummer Herm Kovac, the backbone of TMG, keeps the beat and hits hard as he always does – Mr Reliable behind the kit. It’s always a joy to see Herm belting out the songs and keeping time. Unrelenting, no frills. The band deliver a ball busting rendition of AC/DC’s ‘It’s a Long Way To The Top’ that sends shivers down your spine. This is as close as you are gonna get to the vintage AC/DC sound- and as I’ve said before, these guys are Australian hard rock royalty – and deserve all the successes and accolades owed to them – more in fact.

TMG have a lineage that is entwined with AC/DC and what became known as the “Albert sound”.  They are the only ‘Alberts Band’ out there today playing with any real conviction.  Consider also that in 2016, other seventies band  like Sherbet, Hush, the original Angels, original Tatts etc will never ever be back – with so many of their key members now having sadly passed on. The starkness that TMG are the ONLY band of this ilk still out there doing it – and doing it bloody well, cannot be understated. When I saw TMG last weekend, Angry Anderson got up and belted out ‘Bad Boy For Love’ as an encore. Does it get any cooler than that in 2016? I think not. Rock fans in Europe would kill to see this kind of event. (Way more needs to be done in Australia to honour the legacy of Australia’s great hard rock bands from the 70s, bands that are revered overseas. There exists an ambivalence amongst the music industry, Government’s and the population at large towards bands from this era of Oz rock. Melbourne has AC/DC Lane? And Sydney ? The HOME of AC/DC and the Young’s. Why is Chequers a Chinese owned massage parlour? Why can’t Chequers revert to a rock venue akin to Melbourne ‘Cherry Bar?  Where is the statue to Thorpie? To Tattoo’s legacy? The attitude, the apathy at large is pretty apparent. Yet I’ve digressed. These are issues for another time).

TMG in 2016 are one lean, hard rocking band firing on all cylinders – playing material from the 1970s that sounds relevant and vital, and one can only hope that this recharged line up of TMG enter the studio to release some new material. TMG in 2016 is not revivalism. This is not nostalgia. This is a kick ass rock ‘n’ roll band – the last of their kind. Get out there and see them whilst you can.  If you only see one show in 2017 –make it TMG. Satisfaction guaranteed.  Go to the band’s web site for details of upcoming shows in 2017.

Check out Episode 62 of the Australian Rock Show – An interview with Steve Mulry, Rick Lum from Hush and TMG fans conducted at the Ted Mulry Memorial Day 3/9/16 here

Check out Episode 42 of the Australian Rock Show – An interview with Ronald Clayton  – TMG’s long time roadie (you can meet Ronnie at any of the current TMG shows at the merch table). Listen here

Rockbrat Wonders – Why TMG Are not in the ARIA Hall Of Fame

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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.