Archive for the ‘Rockbrat Remembers:’ Category

It’s funny how time has a way of shifting the collective consciousness of the public. In 2018 – metal bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Metallica are very well known, even commonly known, bands and indeed – brands. For those of us who were into these bands in the early to mid 80s – they, and the metal genre, was very much underground. The irony that Lemmy is so iconic and influential to so many nowadays is not lost on me. Not sure how many of these people were around when Motorhead toured Australia in the early 80s and played the clubs – places like Shellharbour Workers and Nunawading Skate Park. Anyway. Whilst all the media are paying homage to Fast Eddie’s legacy and his work with Motorhead, few have mentioned his work post Motorhead, with Fastway. I LOVED Fastway. In 1983 Mr Rockbrat gave me a copy of Fastway’s first LP, and what a ripper it was. I don’t need Dave Grohl or Slash telling me how great Eddie Clarke was.

Fastway kicked serious arse, and had great songs, with the identifiable guitar sound of Clarke and Humble Pie’s Jerry Shirley on drums. No one sounded like Dave King on vocals. After the debut album, the next album, ‘All Fired Up’ was also killer. In 1986, Fastway made the soundtrack for the heavy metal horror film, Trick or Treat. The film flopped, but the soundtrack re-established Fastway as a hard-hitting metal band. The soundtrack was a moderate success, and stayed on the Billboard Top 200 chart for eleven months. Subsequent albums followed, yet none were as good as those first 3 or four years to 86/87. Fast Eddie Clarke died on 10 January 2018. Godspeed.

 

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UntitledIn a bygone era in Australia, when live rock ‘n’ roll was the dominate form of entertainment for kids, bands who had a large enough profile would tour different parts of the country and play to kids at Civic Centres, Community and Town Halls, Ovals, Parks and the like. Before rock n roll moved pretty much holus bolus into pubs/hotels, kids who were too young to get into pubs could get to see their favourite bands in one of these aforementioned places. If you were a Countdown band – even better. A 5-minute stint on Countdown got you into every living room across the country, and on Monday, record sales for these bands skyrocketed as a result.

Last week I was walking through Narrabundah Oval in the national capital and my mind wandered back some 40 odd years………The date is Saturday the 13th November 1976, and on this particular Canberra Evening a couple thousand kids, mainly screaming pre-and teenage girls got to witness three of 1976’s biggest Australian bands – John Paul Young, HUSH and Supernaut.  All three were prominent Countdown bands in that year. A couple of Canberra bands, Stone Rose and The Choke Brothers opened up proceedings. The Choke Brothers won the Canberra Battle of the Bands that year.

The concert was part of the Queanbeyan Festival celebrations and was originally scheduled for Seiffert Oval, and then relocated to Fraser Park, before being rescheduled again two weeks out to Narrabundah. Not sure of the reasons for the rescheduling. I’ve included a couple of adverts for the show, and a review from The Canberra Times on the following Monday. The show was almost cancelled due to all the young girls rushing the stage! I do recall seeing a lot of shows at outdoor venues over the years – and some that come to mind include Electric Pandas, The Radiators, The Expression, The Church at Brookvale Oval in 1984, Sharon O’ Neill at the aforementioned Seiffert Oval in 1988, Magic Dirt at a parknla_news-page000014544212-nla_news-article131795776-L3-82c65826d75cc8bc4f0cc093bb4e79aa-0001 in Wollongong in the early 2000’s also comes to mind. Who else has a memory of other outdoor concerts you may have seen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seb Meador: Photo (c) fakezombies.blogspot.com.au

The Werewolves were a band from out of Dallas, Texas who signed to RCA and released two amazingly underrated albums brimming with first rate power-pop / country melodies. Don’t know the name ? OK, fair enough. Put down your can of Gilley’s Beer and read on. Let’s dig a little deeper. Before the Werewolves, in the annals of Texas rock history you will see there was a band called The Gentlemen, a garage rock band who existed from 64-68, and are best remembered for their killer tune, “It’s a Cry’n Shame’, often regarded as one of THE garage rock songs from that era. Their guitar player/ song writer, Seab Meador was a hotshot on guitar, and a big fan of Jeff Beck’s style, which you can hear in his playing too. Meandor developed a reputation as one of the unknown guitar greats from Texas in the 60s/70s. Jimmie Vaughan, later a member the Fabulous Thunderbirds and brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, served a brief stint for several months in The Gentlemen in late 1965 and early 1966, but did not appear on any of their recordings. The Gentleman were heavily influenced by the Brit beat invasion sound, and would go on to support acts such as Mitch Ryder, James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis amongst others. In 1967, with their record company out of cash, Seab Meador left The Gentlemen, and the group lost momentum splitting in 1968. Meador went on to form other bands such as the Houston based Hurricanes, and later the Werewolves, in the late 70s, which is, in a roundabout way, the main topic of this post. The Werewolves were managed and produced by former Rolling Stones svengali, Andrew Loog Oldham, with the band cutting and releasing two major label albums, both worthy of your attention. According to AllMusic, “ The first of two albums in 1978 for this discovery of producer Andrew Loog Oldham, the Werewolves’ self-titled debut has less focus than the follow-up, “Ship of Fools”, the band undecided whether to try their hand at being Bad Company-lite, a slowed-down version of Cheap Trick, or R.E.M. by way of Rossington Collins Band. The jangle with tinges of Southern rock could hardly help the glam image projected by the Mick Rock photos. There’s a cover of an early Elvis Presley nugget, “One Night of Sin,” from his 1957 Loving You album. It’s called “One Night” here, and that avenue, coupled with the folk-blues of “Too Hard” with acoustic guitar and Peter Wood’s accordion ensemble, makes for a strange mix. That the Presley cover is next to a harder-rocking song entitled “Deux Voix” gives a hint of the jolts the listener is put through. The band is adequate, and everything is recorded oh so precisely, but there’s little to excite” Who is this reviewer and what the hell does he know ? Cowboy Col will give you the tip that this album COOKS, and is as every bit as good as any of those aforementioned bands he mentioned. And I’ll throw in The Babys to boot. The vocals of Brian Papgeorge are smooth and similar to John Waite, (and Paul Rodgers), and that’s a good thing in my books.  The bitchin “The Flesh Express” is total early 70’s Stones, and “Hollywood Millionaire” is also a killer tune, as is ‘City By The Sea’. With a genuine guitar protégée on board, (who can shred, rip and also finesse in equal parts), it astounds me that this band didn’t reach the heights. Almost 40 years after its release, this album still sounds great and has not dated – testament to the songwriting and quality of the songs. (Chew on that Allmusic). The Werewolves headed to NYC and released their second album, ‘Ship Of Fools (Summer Weekends And No More Blues)’, also worthy of your attention – yet any further attempt at reaching the big heights of success were halted on January 24, 1980, when Seab Meador died tragically of a brain tumour. Seb’s amazing talent can be heard today still, via any of his recorded works – the Werewolves are a great starting point. Recommended!  Be sure to check out the excellent “I Was a Teenage Fake Zombie” site for first hand memories of Seb.

 

kevin13I only recently heard about the sad passing in January this year of Ohio’s Kevin Junior (real name Kevin Bain Gerber). According to Billboard magazine, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior—who spent his most prolific and fruitful years in Chicago—died at age 46. The story says “the cause of death is not clear,” but as Gossip Wolf reported in 2011, he’d suffered from the life threatening heart disease endocarditis, which required open-heart surgery. He moved back to his native Akron, Ohio, a couple years ago, putting together a new version of his band Chamber Strings. Junior’s troubles over the years with heroin were well-documented, and this addiction impeded his music from ever reaching the audience it deserved. As Ray Borchers wrote in the Chicago reader, “ Junior’s sartorial sensibility and roosterlike hairdo telegraphed the kinship he felt with Johnny Thunders, and he eventually worked closely with Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. He first led a trashy glam band called Mystery Girls, which morphed into the Rosehips; then he blossomed as a pop auteur with Chamber Strings in the mid-90s. The group made two terrific albums of delicate, soul-streaked orchestral pop, but not long after the 2002 release of the second, Month of Sundays, Junior’s life disintegrated. He spent much of the rest of his years fighting drug addiction and health problems, trying to get back on his feet. “ I first became aware of Kevin Junior’s band The Rosehips via a newsletter from either Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden. He played a style of rock n roll I always dug. Stones swagger, Thunders styled, the Jacobites, blue eyed soul, Nikki Sudden, blues, early 70s outlaw country- here was a guy who could also write memorable rock with a truck load of melody, hook, harmony and chorus’.  Hell, he even looked like Ron Wood or Thunders. The Chambers Strings album, ‘Gospel Morning’, was just about pop perfection. Not dissimilar in many ways to the musical hooks that the Jayhawks were scoring big with around the mid to late 90s.  Nikki Sudden released an album in 1999 called ‘Red Brocade’, an album I licenced and subsequently released into Australia on my old label Vicious Kitten Records. The album was recorded in Chicago and was very much the result of a musical collaboration between Kevin Junior and Sudden. I exchanged some emails with Kevin around this time and told him how much I dug Month Of Sundays. I still love a tune like ‘Dead Man’s Poise’.  Kevin was complimentary of both Vicious Kitten fanzine and also what Vicious Kitten records was trying to achieve. In 2001, the second Chamber Strings album, ‘Month of Sundays’ was released, and was critically well received. Blue eyed soul, pure pop, strikingly original. 15 years later this album shows what a high calibre song writer Kevin Junior was. I had lost track of Kevin Junior until around 2007, when I read he was back making music. I didn’t know about his 5 years of heroin hell, which explained why he dropped off the radar. In January, 2007, Journalist Bob Mehr wrote an eye opening article about Junior’s descent into heroin and homelessness in an extremely articulate article in The Chicago Reader that I implore you to read. There is also an insightful interview with Kevin from 2010 on  Sugar Buzz magazine that is also worth reading.   I would rather not think about his drug issues. Rather, he should be remembered and celebrated for his music – superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that will endure. If you are not aware of any of Kevin Junior’s music, start with either of the Chamber Strings’ albums, ‘Gospel Mornings’ or ‘Month Of Sundays.  Kevin Junior was born on December 26, 1969 – and passed away January 16, 2016. He is survived by his mother, Gloria Gerber; father, Roger Gerber; and sister Kimberly Edgemon. Rest In Peace.

220px-RenegadePickerLife is indeed, uncertain. I only blogged a couple of weeks ago about the greatness of Steve Young, and then I read on the weekend that he passed away last Thursday. His music maintains a quality, a richness, and a humility that you would expect from someone of his vintage and era in country music. It’s a realness that is hard to find nowadays. He never rose to the heights of his outlaw country peers, but in my mind, he was every bit as good as Kristofferson, Guy Clarke and the like. According to the press blurb, “Singer-songwriter Steve Young, who was best known for writing the song Seven Bridges Road, died on Thursday, March 17 at the age of 73.  Young was born in Newnan, GA and grew up in states across the south. Throughout his youth, he was influenced by the southern sounds of blues, country, folk and gospel and incorporated it into his first songs which he wrote in his late teens. Returning to Alabama, he started to make a name for himself in the local music scene before moving to the west coast in 1964. Steve initially worked with the likes of Van Dyke Parks and Stephen Stills before joining the early psychedelic country band Stone Country. In 1969, he released his first solo album, Rock, Salt and Nails which included contributions by the likes of Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons and Bernie Leadon. Over his career, Young recorded twelve solo albums but it was his actual songs for which he became most famous. Seven Bridges Road, from Rock, Salt and Nails and the title song from his 1972 album, has been recorded by a long list of artists, most notably by the Eagles on their 1980 live album. Young said that he started writing the song in the mid-60’s and it evolved over several years. Others who have recorded the song include Eddy Arnold, Joan Baez, Tracy Nelson, Ian Matthews, whose version the Eagles based their track, Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson.  Young’s Lonesome, On’ry and Mean was used as the title song for Waylon Jenning’s 1973 album while Hank Williams, Jr. recorded his Montgomery in the Rain. Young, himself, also charted with the album Renegade Picker (1976 / #48 Country Albums) and the single It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way (1984 / #84 Country). Steve’s son, Jubal Lee Young, posted the following on Facebook: “Turn supernatural, take me to stars and let me play. I want to be free, Alabama highway.” My father, Steve Young, passed peacefully tonight in Nashville. While it is a sad occasion, he was also the last person who could be content to be trapped in a broken mind and body. He was far too independent and adventurous. I celebrate his freedom, as well, and I am grateful for the time we had. A true original. Scroll below for the article I wrote a couple of weeks back, and if you haven’t seen it already, go and watch Steve in ‘Heartworn Highways’. RIP – the great Steve Young.

I’d like to think that I’ve always been into cool rock n roll. Yet its admission time. There was a slight blip on the radar there in the late 80s where I slipped up and was buying LP’s by (gulp) Poison, Warrant, White Lion, and others of the so called ‘big haired variety’. There, I’ve admitted it. Good to get that off my chest.  Hindsight is indeed – a wonderful thing. With the benefit of hindsight, we would not have done certain things right ? With the benefit of hindsight, and indeed being a little more discerning  or judicious, there is no way I would have been into any number of, what is now termed as ‘hair’ bands. So how did it happen? It was the time right? These bands were massive, and like a flash flood, it was easy to get swept along. Before I knew it, I was swept along. Interestingly, I was never, ever into Bon Jovi.

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Pucker up. No its not Carlotta. CC of Poison looking every bit the drag queen….

The other day I was watching the four part documentary about Heavy Metal called ‘Heavy’, and it raised some interesting points about the late 80’s LA sunset strip period and the big haired metal excess. In the documentary, Dee Snider, accurately I think, blamed bands like Mr Big, Extreme and the like for going ‘unplugged’. Combined with the power ballad, (which all labels insisted on releasing as the 2nd single, after the hard-rocking anthem first single. This was a successful formula, yet by the early 1990s audiences lost interest in this approach) this sounded the death knell for the genre that was best defined by bands like Priest in say 80-82, although if you look at stuff like Mr Big, someone had lost the blue print to how it was originally meant to be. By the way, if you haven’t seen the series, it’s on You Tube so check it out.

So now I’ve fessed up , let’s examine this a bit more.  Mr Rockbrat and I always loved shock rock, and certain bands who had a glam lineage: ie: The Dolls, Ki$$, Sweet, T-Rex etc were cool – but these late 80’s Sunset strip dudes took it to a whole new level. But it wasn’t just Poison and Warrant. It was bands like the god awful Roxus, Winger, and any number of bands with the big hair. So how does it happen? In 1985, (pre Bon-Jovi ‘Slippery When Wet’ mind you, which is, as I’ve often stated, the line in the sand for the whole sugary hair metal thing), I knew what was cool – it was stuff like Dio, Scorpions, (pre Hysteria) Leppard, Boss, Maiden, Ozzy, Keel, Priest, Motley Shout/1st album etc, and then two or three years later, I am buying and listening to rubbish like the W bands – Winger, White Lion, Warrant, the nauseous late 80’s version of Whitesnake with all their posing, and the extremely hard to listen to Vinnie Vincent Invasion etc. Being blues/Zep influenced, I suppose Great White were the obvious exception and I must admit to liking Frisco’s Vain,  although when I saw them live they were as limp wristed as the hand shake I got from the band’s main man Davy Vain.

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Roxus: Australia’s answer to Bon Jovi? Not quite. Cliches aplenty and zero originality

I quickly figured out how lame it was though. Live, witnessing both Poison and Warrant was observably underwhelming. Lamentably, yes, I saw them both live. Molly’s mates Roxus were typically, capital L for lame (and who the hell are you Juno Roxas to flame Dave Evans? Your band  were nothing more than a pre-fabricated boy band with long hair and volume. You friend, paid no dues and were gifted with these international supports), yet people could see through the facade from a bunch of try hards without decent material, which is why Roxas never became Australia’s version of Bon Jovi. Fact. BB Steal were a way better band)  A truly forgettable evening of sufferance with light weight, thin sounding, shallow, low calorie hair rock of the worst kind. Is it still too late to ask for a refund? With interest ? Thankfully, I saw how banal these bands were – and I’d moved back to the Australian hard rock/indie guitar rock scene (Hitmen, Tribesmen, Dubrovniks) which was way more comfortable and without the pompous carry-ons of wannabe’s like Juno Roxas. This territory was real, and very familiar.

I knew what was cool, and in 2016, where lately I am spending time listening to all the legitimacy/realism of artists like Gary Moore, Gwyn Ashton, Rory Gallagher, James Gang and Steve Earle – it’s like this blip on the rock radar never occurred. But deep in the back of my mind – I know it did. Fashionably robed in attire of the time including black Faberges and white denim jacket, exist it did. At least I had the sense to never wear tassels. Thank God.

Retrospectively, the English ‘hair’ bands of the late 80s, (and I hate using that capture all tag), were WAY better than the collective LA Sunset strip shooting match (and that includes Guns N Roses, a band who audaciously aped Hanoi Rocks and Rose Tattoo and weren’t fit to string Pete Wells’ guitar. The only one worth his salt in that line up being Izzy Stradlin). You know why? Cos bands like the Quireboys and the Dogs D’Amour and even Thunder were rooted in the best of the UK early to mid-70s fare – T Rex, Faces, Bad Company, Mott The Hoople etc. I loved the Quireboys and Dogs. Yet I should have stopped there.

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Cowboy Col looking out at Hollywood 1993. Where did all the hair bands go?

I look back on that whole LA late 80s thing with a kind of voyeuristic curiosity. By 1991, the Sunset Strip was bursting at the seams with hedonistic, homogenised copy-cat bands who all looked and sounded the same. The scene was littered with hordes of B and C grade bands whose presence only necessitated a faster death to the whole scene. The genre lost mainstream interest in the late 1980s as the excesses of hair / glam metal created a backlash against the genre. It was fat, boring, stale and needed a quick death, which as has been well documented, grunge took care of. Penelope Spheeris‘ film Decline Of the Western Civilisation accurately captured the scene in all its overblown ugliness. I remember seeing this film in 1989 and walking out void of feeling thinking, “what a bunch of poseur wankers”, and shaking my head at the whole emptiness/shallowness of the LA scene. The music had become lame. The bands lame, the guys looked like women. It was all too much. Mediocrity like Nadir D’ Priest was given a voice, believed his own hype and genuinely thought he was a star. Musically limited bands like Motley Crue were bestowed upon them the status of Gods. (let’s call a spade a spade, with the exception of say ‘New Tattoo’ and ‘Hooligan’s Holiday’, Motley have been musically redundant since Dr Feelgood. Think about that.

It’s hard to register why major labels were still releasing product by these hair bands in 92 and 93. You think bands like the aforementioned W bands or Poison etc were lame? Have a look at the LAMER bands that rode on their sequined coat tails. Remember bands like the irritating Trixter, Roxy Blue, Baton Rouge, Bangalore Choir, Baton Rouge, Steelheart, Banshee, Casanova etc. The horse had bolted, but nobody bothered to tell these jokers. Death came swiftly not long after…..It needed to be killed off.

It’s not surprising that the one band to emerge from the 1980s heavy metal period as the perennial did not come from the hair metal genre – and that includes Bon Jovi. It was Metallica. Now a universally known word, a brand name as common as Coca Cola. Scores of kids in the late 80s turned off the glam stuff and headed to Metallica territory cos it was real. It was authentic, and they could relate to it – as opposed to a man wearing lipstick and mascara and cowboy boots, prancing and pouting and telling you to party hard dude.

So there you have it.  Here is another article penned about Poison in Sydney 1989. Makes you wonder how many kids will look back in twenty years’ time and kick themselves for being into the retarded dork band that is Seven Seconds of Summer.  Cut your losses now kids. Who will save rock n roll ? Nobody. The old girl has seen better days. Largely, it’s just going through the motions.

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The Gun Club – live review Sydney 1983 (with Spencer Jones. Click here to enlarge

On the eve of their 1983 Australian tour, before leaving from the UK, Jim Duckworth and Terry Graham refused to get on the plane. As is now commonly known,  without a guitarist or a drummer, Jeffrey Lee Pierce had the supporting act (The Johnny’s) drummer (Billy Pommer Jr) and guitarist, Spencer Jones fill in for the tour. With all the recent talk of Spencer Jones’ ill health, I thought it worthwhile to remind readers of how significant a contribution Jones has made to Australian rock n roll over several decades now. Like many others of his era – he is rock n roll – pure and simple. No pretensions. It must be 20 years now since Jeffrey Lee Pierce passed away – yet his legacy has only grown. For the uninitiated, Jeffrey Lee Pierce arose from the punk scene in Los Angeles as the singer and guitarist with The Gun Club. Their fusing of the blues with a furious punk spirit was considered by many to be revolutionary, and their first three releases Fire of Love (1981), Miami (1982) and the Death Party EP (1983) and considered classics, a blue print for artists like The White Stripes.

Anyway, today I was thumbing through an old issue of On The Street (Sydney street press) from 1983 and I found this live review of The Gun Club in Sydney from that tour. Makes interesting reading, with a young Celibate Rifles in support. Enjoy.