Archive for the ‘What’s The Rockbrat Listening To Today ?’ Category

solo-elektro-cover“A post psychedelic Phil Spector style wall of sound. Solo Elektro flies the flag for a psychedelic indie blues artist who is only truly happy when he finds new exciting outlets for his oeuvre. It’s an album shot through with raw, brash, kick ass stoner rock with a blues heart’ Pete Feenstra – ‘Get Ready To Rock’ 

Solo Elektro is aware winning guitarist Gwyn Ashton’s new lo-fi garage one-man distort blue rock album. Full of chord crunching fuzz guitar, dirty octave dividers and slamming kick drum, it’s a 100% recorded in one take recording – sounding retro with a modern evolution.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. At Rockbrat, we have long considered Gwyn to be one of Australian rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest treasures, and with Solo Elektro, he has released one hell of an innovative blues/rock album bursting with an originality that is bound to re-energize even the most jaded of rock fans who thought they have heard it all before.

For those that weren’t paying attention the first time – here’s a quick intro, although fans of blues guitar greats like Junior Wells, Rory Gallagher, Steve Morse and Albert Lee can skip over this part as they are no doubt familiar with the highly respected Gwyn. Over the years Ashton has played onstage with everyone from Mick Fleetwood, Hubert Sumlin, Marc Ford to Canned Heat and has opened for Rory Gallagher, Ray Charles, Robin Trower, Vanilla Fudge, Wishbone Ash, Van Morrison, Jeff Healey, Tony Joe White, Johnny Winter, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John Hammond and Pat Travers to name but a few.  Just pause for a second and read over those names again. I’m here to tell you, Ashton is every bit as good any of those guys. Musical prowess aside, one of Ashton’s most endearing features (not including his humility – as he is one of the most unassuming, down to earth guys you could ever hope to meet), is that he breathes rock ‘n’ roll and it is his lifeblood. He is one prolific guy, who makes things happen for himself. He has never been one to sit around and wait for opportunity to come a knockin- instead – in true troubadour style, he takes his music to the people – all over the globe, and has done for years. He is always on the road. He has a bunch of albums out – all worthy of your attention. Prohibition, Radiogram, Fang It! and Heat to name but a few. Throw a dart at any of those and you are guaranteed to hit a bullseye.

Which brings me to the new album, Solo Elektro. Gwyn gives new meaning to the phrase – one man band, as he often performs solo – armed only with voice, guitar and bass drum. Solo Elektro features just those core ingredients – and it comes up trumps. Whilst he still maintains a blues backbone – he continues to push beyond any traditional musical confines, exploring new possibilities and sounds. This is one truly progressive artist who musically, cannot be pigeonholed.

Prior to the recording of this album, Gwyn came into possession of the bass drum used by Bill Ward to record Sabbath’s eponymous debut album. More than a fun fact, Gwyn uses this bass drum on the recording of the album, channeling Ward, and more than a little Iommi in fact – into the whole melting pot.  So in the midst of a Central European tour, Gwyn sets up his mobile recording equipment in a room in the Czech Republic and hits the record button. With the aim of capturing his live sound to disc, without any overdubs, he painstakingly spent each day experimenting and recording each song until the performance, timing and inspiration met to produce the ‘magic’ take.

The album opens with the stunning ‘Metaphysical Journey’, a psychedelic epic that would make Allen Ginsberg proud. Lots of effects – but the key is the intertwining of the vocal over each guitar note. What a trip. Great tune.  There’s also the riff heavy crunch of ‘She Won’t Tell Me’ – resplendently melodic and super catchy. ‘Dawn Of Tomorrow’ is evocative, spacious and dreamy – with a Rick Parfitt riff mid song. Love it. Blues pedants will dig ‘Please Allow Me’ whilst hard rock fans will be won over by the rifforama and rawness of  ‘In Your Blood’. Broad appeal people. 11 tracks and something for even the most discerning rock fan. There’s enough flanging, phasing and fuzz effects to appease fans of 60s Brit pysch and blues rock fans alike, yet if I’m forced to pick, I’ll go with ‘Shine Lover Shine’ as the album’s plumb. I dig the energy and full on approach to this tune. It’s got a ballsy chorus and seductiveness in the slide playing that just does it for me. This smokes.

A ground breaking rock album in every sense of the world. Christmas has come early – THE Australian album of the year. 10 out of 10.

Solo Elektro is released October 20, 2017 on Fab Tone Records UK. For more details, go to gwynashton.com

Listen to an interview with Gwyn Ashton on The Australian Rock Show from March 2016 here

Advertisements

bootleggers-front-hms-tape-bottom-2There’s a ton of live albums out there, yet when the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the world releases a new live record, it’s time to pay attention. This live album is a little bit special, and without going into the whole story, here’s the reason why. This live album is pulled from Dan Baird & Homemade Sin’s show at Bootleggers Bar, Kendal, a town in Cumbria, England (for the benefit of those who have never set foot in ol’ Blighty). Homemade Sin (HMS) were in the midst of a UK/Euro Tour when Dan Baird got sick. Bad sick. So much so, that within 24 hours of this gig on 26 July 2017, Dan was in hospital being treated for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

For anyone who has ever seen Dan Baird & Homemade Sin live, you know that they are the real deal. Ain’t no better live band anywhere. They deliver the goods EVERY show. In fact, you could release any of their gigs as a live CD  – and it would come up trumps – so if you put on hold for a second the reason for the release of this CD – this gig in Auld Grey Town is as good as any. It’s a double CD with nice packaging, liner notes and live photos. CD 1 has 17 tracks, the first 12 of which comprise the first set. There are many highlights. Opening with the one-two punch of ‘Younger Face’ and ‘Little Darlin’, there’s no respite as HMS launch into ‘Knocked Out Cold’, ‘Licka Sense’ and ‘Shake It Till It’s Sore’, three killer tunes pulled from my 2017 album of the year, ‘Rollercoaster’. (Read my review for that album here). Warner Hodges’ wailing guitar on ‘Knocked Out Cold’ is pretty damn palatable.

With exhaustion setting in, ‘Thousand Little Pieces’ gives Dan Baird the opportunity to catch his breath. Dan was no doubt feeling the effects of CMM, but you wouldn’t know it from this performance. He gives no excuses, no quarter given – just sings his heart out – and gives 100% as he always has.  Faced with the same situation, I’ve known other musicians who would have either cancelled, cut the set short, or provided an excuse. Not DB, one of a kind – and speaks volumes about the man’s convictions. Total respect. The band know how much Dan was struggling, so they all pick up their performances and give a little extra, with Warner Hodges in particular shouldering a lot more of the vocals. Dan hits the A chord and insists the crowd sing-along and help him out with ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’. They dutifully oblige. There’s a tribute by Warner Hodges to Jonty Martindale, a pillar of the Kendal live music scene and owner of Bootleggers who passed away suddenly in April this year.  ‘Movin Right Along’, another couldabeen/shouldabeen hit from the ‘Get Loud’ album rocks aplenty, before the band take it up a gear to finish the set on a high with two bonafide Dan Baird classics, ‘Julie and Lucky’ and ‘I Love You Period’.

If you are new to the world of Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, ‘The Red Wristband Special’ CD is as good an introduction to the man and his music as any album in his back catalogue.  Long-time DB fans however, will appreciate the five bonus tracks on CD 1. ‘Way Too Soon’ an outtake from the aforementioned ‘Rollercoaster’ album is a great tune with a smokin’ riff. Co-penned by Brad Pemberton. As well as being a monster drummer (currently with Steve Earle), he is no slouch in the song writing department either. ‘You Been On My Mind’, a previously unreleased Dan Baird demo also gets the thumbs up. Melodic, catchy, singalong chorus and memorable lyrics.  Also included is  ‘I’m Never Alone’, a brand new tune from Warner Hodges which will be included on his soon to be released solo album. Man this good. Cross Petty with Cheap Trick and you are on the money. Can’t wait for the album!

Whilst Dan Baird is in respite and being treated for CLL, Homemade Sin are touring throughout the US and Europe with the great Joe Blanton out front and filling in for Dan. Blanton plays in a Nashville band called The Bluefields (also with Baird, Hodges and the aforementioned Pemberton) and is one of my favourite frontmen/songwriters. Some of the material he penned with the Bluefields (for example ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘If Not Now When’) are unknown classics that should be scoring airplay the world over. This cat has a penchant for melody, and the inclusion of one of his previously unreleased tunes, ‘That Was Now This Is Then’ hits another bullseye. Total Chuck Berry/Stones/Quo/Fogerty. Smoking tune. How about a solo album Joe ?  CD 1 is rounded out by ‘Falling’, a plaintive Mauro Magellan tune off his ‘4 Corners of Sweet Hell’ CD with much appeal.

CD  2 consists of the second set of the night, and opens with another classic from Rollercoaster, ‘The Other Side’, before the audience are treated to a couple of Satellites classics, ‘I Dunno’ (with Warner singing his absolute heart out) and ‘Six Years Gone’. I’ve written elsewhere about the greatness of ‘Crooked Smile’ a tune off the first Homemade Sin album. Live, it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and rightly so. This song is huge, and evokes images  of Neil Young jamming with Crazy Horse in the early 70s – and then some. The song belongs to Hodges – and is quite possibly the best 10 minutes of rock n roll that you are ever likely to see. In this brief period he finesses, shreds, bends, motors, taps and still finds time to throw his Les Paul over his shoulder, as he has been doing since the early Scorchers days. If you want to know why Hodges is so good – go watch this on YouTube.  The rapturous response from the crowd at Bootleggers tells me what I already knew – they got to see something just that little bit special. Why don’t more people know this song ? Go listen. It’s beyond superlatives. The ultimate tribute/commentary to Carny folk, ‘Fairground People’ gets another green tick, and then, the audience are treated to ‘Hell And Back’, a bitchin’ hard rocker from Warner Hodges’ 2014 solo album, ‘Gunslinger’.

‘Thin Disguise’, one of my all-time favourite Baird songs, and another of the couldabeen/shouldabeen hits from ‘Get Loud’ (see above) sounds hot, before a punishing version of ‘Railroad Steel’ ends proceedings. What a killer set. The between song banter is also left in, and I’m glad about that, as it makes the listener feel that they were there. ‘The Red Wrist Band Special’ is a live statement from the best band in the world.  Its warts and all. Its dog eared, its imperfect – but it hits you in the heart and soul like no other rock n roll can. There’s a realness, a legitimacy, and notably, a humility to Dan Baird & Homemade Sin that today’s artists clearly lack. You could have an army of Ed Sheerans and I’ll take one Dan Baird any day of the week. The CD scores 10 out of 10.

Having grown up in the halcyon period of Oz hard rock – when bands like AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, (Angel City), Divinyls, Cold Chisel etc  reigned supreme, I will probably never be swayed from my opinion that Australia produced the best live rock n roll bands in the world. After all these years, I can honestly say, hand on heart,  that guys like Dan Baird, Warner Hodges and Homemade Sin are also in that illustrious group. For they are quite simply – the best of the best.

The Red Wrist Band Special CD is available now from JCPL Music.

Click here to read a review of Dan Baird And Homemade Sin live in Australia from 22 April, 2017.

Click here to listen to an interview Cowboy Col conducted with Dan Baird at Newcastle, Australia on The Australian Rock Show.

the-rich-and-famous-take-us-to-your-leader-epIts 2017 – and Jeff Hoad, one of Oz’s rocks best vocalists & frontmen is back with a vengeance and releasing killer new rock ‘n’ roll – and for that we should all be thankful. ‘Take Us To Your Leader’ is a brand spanking new 5 track EP for the Rich and Famous – a Queensland 3 piece made up of Hoad, Dean Turner and Dean Reeson.

For the uninitiated, let me give you a little context. I’m on record of having stated that in the 1980’s, Jeff Hoad (with Kings Of The Sun) was one of the few Oz rock frontmen who was a genuine rock star that wiped the floor with all those late 80’s LA wannabe hair bands. He had musical chops to match the look and was cooler than Fonzie. Like most Australians though, he was, thankfully, down to earth, had a sense of humour – and a humility that the majority of sunset strip poseurs lacked.

In recent years, there has been a musical separation between the Hoad brothers with Cliff now doing his thing with Kings Of The Sun, and Jeff out with The Rich And Famous.  I dig both bands. Jeff and his brother Cliff are as Oz rock as The Angels, Chisel and Rose Tattoo and all power to both of ‘em.

The first thing that’s apparent to me when I press play on the ‘Take Us To Your Leader’ CD is just how strong and distinct Jeff’s vocal delivery is. Man it’s good to hear him back.  Track 1 is the title track, and it’s a corker. Behind a lyrical theme of reptilian alien invasion (V?) and fifth columnists – is a cleverly crafted rocker layered with subtleties ranging from an early 70s UK glam stomp on the chorus to an almost spoken word middle 8. I like this a lot. ‘Dirty Music’ is a full throttle rocker that simply kicks ass and grooves with a capital G. Ripping solo to boot.  I like ‘Have You Heard’ a lot, highlighted by some neat wah wah guitar and Jeff stretching himself vocally. In fact, all 5 songs on this EP get a green tick, yet if I need to select just one, ‘Blast Off’ is the EP’s plum for mine.  Catchy as all hell with a sing along chorus and melody galore, this screams radio hit. This is how The Darkness try to write ‘em.

This EP sees Jeff Hoad extending himself as a song writer, and going beyond the Kings Of The Sun formulae for which he is most known. Whilst anything he does will be referenced to KOTS, these songs display a diversity/growth that only add to his KOTS legacy.  That’s a good thing in my books. Jeff Hoad is back and sounding better than ever. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5. Pick up the EP and other killer albums by The Rich and Famous at www.therichandfamousband.com

Listen to an interview with Jeff on The Australian Rock Show here

 

jadeGifted French musician Juliette Jade took a couple of years out to hone her craft. Whilst her legion of fans pondered her whereabouts, Jade went underground, driven and committed –  focusing only on her fretboard.
Not only are we beginning to hear the fruits of that labor (her debut album ‘Terrarium’ was released late last year) – but her guitar playing has gone from razor sharp, to white hot. A few days back Juliette released the song ‘Lost Paradise’ – finally putting to tape one of her most well-known guitar solo’s. It’s good, damn good. Yeah I know they don’t ‘cut to tape’ anymore. That’s a bygone recording reference no longer used – retained by many older (and discerning) rock n roll folk – like us. We’ve been around the rock n roll block once or twice and have seen and heard plenty. Yet I gotta confess – they’re not many current artists who have me in a spin quite like Jade does.

This composition ‘Lost Paradise’ began life some years back as a YouTube video – it’s managed to attract two and a half million people and counting. The original video contains emotion-charged soloing that’ll leave you speechless – you’ll want to watch it again and again. Although not being included on ‘Terrarium’, it remained too good of a song to remain unrecorded – and it’s pleasing to see this recording come to fruition. Slow-paced and brooding with sorrowful lyrics sung in that soft voice of hers – I’m quickly transfixed. The 3.28 marks is when all hell breaks loose with a slashing solo which grabs you by the throat. This is the solo which really got me hooked on her, so many years back – it’s well written and executed to perfection.

The superlatives from her growing army of admirers is constant, they’re the fans who keep on coming back to view her videos – to hear her play. Yet what is it that Juliette Jade has which captivates so many ? My answer ? It’s her style and her sound – her flair, feel and emotion, that are etched in the way she plays – simple as that. It’s an original style that is all her own.

In today’s modern age – many artists have lost their way, often trading creativity for hits and likes. Juliette Jade is a breath of fresh air and an artist in every sense of the word – one who has the capacity to produce an amazing body of work. Highly recommended.

https://juliettejade.bandcamp.com/track/lost-paradise

Listen to a recent interview conducted with Juliette Jade here


With an absolute plethora of internet radio stations out there, one could say that the choice of stations open to the listener are infinite. Plenty of options yes, but more often than not the options presented are not offering anything new in terms of playlists. How does one differentiate the cream from the crap? Listen to TuneIn Radio or any number of similar sites – throw a dart and you will more often than not land on a “station” that is airing classic rock / AOR that is akin to AM radio. That’s fine every now and then, but sometimes I want to hear new bands, and guitar rock I haven’t heard before – or, deep cuts from classic artists. How about something from Ronnie Lane I haven’t heard in a long while,  a new Chuck Berry cut I haven’t heard, or something off the new Alice Cooper album? How about some new Americana/ classic rock / Alt county from Whiskey Myers or Tom Petty or Steve Earle? Borstal Boys from The Faces maybe? If the answer to this is yes, like me, you need to be tuning in to “From The Underworld”, (named after The Herd tune) one of the best radio shows out there, which is aired every Saturday night on Phoenix FM from out of Brentwood, Essex in the UK.  (By the way, the aforementioned tunes were just a few of the songs aired on the last couple of episodes). From The Underworld is kind of like the radio equivalent of Classic Rock Magazine for your ears – except better. I used to use that magazine as a source to discover new bands, now I rely on DJ Brian Ager to hip me to the latest sounds. Living in Australia, how else would I have discovered the great new album by Magpie Salute (ex-Black Crowes) or Fireroad, one of the UK’s best bands? Brian has his finger on the pulse and knows what’s cool – and so should you. You don’t have to listen live, as each show is available for free streaming/download, which means you can listen anytime. I get to work on a Monday morning, and diligently listen to Brian’s current show –and so should you. It’s the best out there. And while you are there, check out some of the other cool shows on Phoenix FM – there’s plenty to dive into. Recommended. Check out the current From The Underworld show here.

Untitled

484724d3d8927e1a593fda4ef95aa433595d95a2.jpgThe Undermines from Canberra have been at it for a couple of years now – shaping and  sharpening their sound and have just released a killer debut album in TENZEROEIGHT. With a sound that fits effortlessly between Radio Birdman and the New Christs, these guys are the real deal who unashamedly wear their influences on their sleeve – yet don’t for a second think that these guys are carbon copying the Ashton/Tek blueprint. Far from it. Points of reference are important, yet they only paint half the picture, or sound for that matter. For the Undermines have their own hi-energy sound that owes as much to the distinctive vocals of front man Mick Preiss and the melodic twin guitar attack of Jason Sharples/Dylan Webster as anything else. All guys who paid their dues and have a pedigree that extend back to some of Oz rock’s lesser known yet no less significant outfits (including Hell Yes, The Fools, Maui Waui Cowboys amongst others).

In today’s day and age, it’s harder than ever for original Oz guitar rock to get a fair hearing ( I wrote a recent article that broached upon that subject here), less so for those playing Detroit-inspired garage rock. Yet cop the tip from me. The Undermines play unpretentious rock n roll the way it was meant to played – full tilt and in your face, not unlike way the Lazy Cowgirls used to ply it, albeit with a little more finesse that the Cowgirls. The band’s press blurb is also pretty accurate when describing TENZEROEIGHT. “The album offers a melodic, hard edged guitar driven collection of rock ‘n’ roll tracks underscored by a heavy rhythm section with vocals and lyrics inspired by dejection, betrayal, and vindication. TENZEROEIGHT is influenced by the angst and revolutionary attitude of 1970s US Garage Rock with the power and edge unique to an Australian guitar band. All true. TENZEROEIGHT has been quietly released without much fanfare, but I’m here to tell you this is a MONSTER album, with all 12 tracks scoring big points for sheer power, melody and intensity.

From an album chock o block with strong tunes, it’s hard to pin point favourites. The album opens with ‘Get Down Or Lay Down’, foot to the floor garage rock intensity that does not forsake the melody.  ‘Self-Sabotage’ is pure hi-energy, highlighted by some splintering lead guitar work an catchy chorus. Top shelf. There’s the hi- energy action of ‘Shake It’, and ‘Long Gone’ stands out due to its super catchy chorus and melodic lines. Total New Christs – and that is a good thing. Vocalist Mick Preiss has a strong voice, and he sounds great up front and centre in the mix, as he does on ‘Ghost’. Harmony vocals abound and that only adds further value to these tunes. Many other great tunes on display. There’s the brooding ‘Prey’, and ‘Caged And ‘Broken’ probably the album’s plumb for mine. This is garage rock supreme. This tune, like others on the album is highlighted by some searing lead guitar, neat time changes and a memorable vocal delivery. It ain’t ‘Born Out Of Time’ or ‘Face Of  A New God’ , but its heading down that highway – and that is not a comparison I make lightly. High praise but justified. ‘Caged And Broken’ is one hell of a song.

There’s a few key elements that make this is quality album. I have never heard Mick Preiss sound better. His vocal delivery is strong and distinctive.  I must also mention the guitar interplay between Dylan Webster and Jason Sharples. These guys are both ripping players who built a chemistry when they played together back in 1990’s Newcastle outfit The Fools and their fretwork on this record is killer. There are some truly blistering riffs and solos on display. TENZEROEIGHT has great songs, and by that I mean tunes that are catchy, memorable and have melodic lines. Plenty of bands have great riffs, power or intensity – but no hook. No hook, no song if you get my point. Melody is just as significant – and this album has it in spades. Whilst the Undermines clearly know where Birdmen flew, there’s also an originality to the material that makes it distinct.

Any rejuvenated interest generated as a result of the recent Radio Birdman documentary and current tour should justly point those fans towards the Undermines –a band who should be on your rock radar if not already. TENZEROEIGHT is a good starting point, and scored 9 out of 10 from Cowboy Col. You can buy CD copies of the album via the band’s website for $15 or digital copies for $9.99. Money well spent.  For more information head to www.undermines.net

Take a listen to the tune ‘Transcontinental’ below.

143814-L-LO.jpgFestival Records thankfully continue to reissue/repackage and reinvigorate great Australian rock ‘n’ roll that would otherwise be lost to time. ‘When Sharpies Ruled’ is a 23 track compilation CD with exhaustive liners notes, a superb photo book and a wealth of first hand insight – not just into the music – but the whole Sharpie sub-culture as well. Vicious Sloth Collectables from Melbourne ably assisted in this compilation – with head Sloth Glen Terry providing insightful liner notes. Sharpies, or Sharps, were members of suburban youth gangs in Australia, most significantly from the 1960s and 1970s who were particularly prominent in Melbourne, but were also found in Sydney and Perth to lesser extents. The name comes from their focus on looking and dressing “sharp”. Sharpies would often congregate in large numbers, regularly attending live bands at town hall and high school dances and early discos. They were identified by their distinctive close cropped haircuts and attire of Lee or Levi jeans, cardigans, jumpers, and T-shirts.

The most well-known of all ‘Sharp’ bands— were the Coloured Balls, and they are well represented here with three songs, ‘Time Shapes,’ ‘Flash’ and ‘Love You Babe’.  The Coloured Balls had the ‘sharp’ look, right down to the haircuts, and were the most identifiable of all sharp bands – and arguably the sub-cultures musical embodiment. Their hard rocking boogie sound was due to the distinctive guitar of Lobby Loyde, a player who still hasn’t got his dues for pioneering influence on Oz guitar rock.  From the Brisbane days of Purple Hearts right though to Rose Tattoo and even latter day material he recorded with Fish Tree Mother – his impact cannot be overstated. And let’s not forget the hand he played as a producer on many of Australia’s punk and post punk bands including X and the Sunnyboys.  Dig deep into his musical history – the Coloured Balls is a good place to start, and on this comp you get 3 top notch Balls tunes. Dig the solo on ‘Time Shapes’ and you will get a glimpse of why he is revered by so many – but not enough in my books.

Thorpie is also included here with ‘Let’s Have A Party’, a deep live cut from Sunbury ’74, as are Buster Brown with ‘Roll Over Beethoven. If you have never heard Angry pre-Rose Tattoo, this is a good starting point. As is well known, Buster Brown included future members of AC/DC and Tattoo in their ranks. The inclusion of Skyhooks, another of Melbourne’s early 70’s cutting edge outfits is noteworthy, as Greg Macainsh, as an art student, had put together a film on the Sharps called ‘Sharpies’ in 1974. Macainsh’s liner notes and photo stills from his film add greater authenticity to the CD as a whole. One of, if not the, song writer of his generation.

Finch are remembered most for having hot shot young guitar player Bob Spencer in their ranks, yet one listen to ‘Out Of Control’ or the glam punk hit ‘Hey Spunky’ reminds the listener that charismatic front man Owen Orford had a great set of pipes and were a great band who wrote great hard rock hits with melody aplenty. Yet its Orford’s stout vocal delivery that lifted the Finch material. I still think that ‘Hey Spunky’ sounds like ‘Bad Boy For Love’, at least on the verses. Hey Spunky sounds great given the digital treatment.  Finch were killer, as were there reincarnation, Contraband.

Rose Tattoo’s blistering ‘Remedy’ fits with the album’s theme, and sounds superb. The song belongs to Mick Cocks, the man with the fastest right hand. The precision, the guitar tone – it never sounded better than on ‘Remedy’. A song that almost 40 odd years later would still blow most others away for sheer power and intensity.

Timeline is important. Whilst sharps weren’t purely a Melbourne based sub-culture, this is where they were most prominent.  In today’s homogenised society, people forget that their once existed a Sydney Melbourne rivalry. The whole Speedwell Malvern Star thing. Melbourne had trams, they played VFL, Sydney was a rugby league town where Tooths or Reschs were the brewers of choice.  You remember the scene in ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ where the Sydney cab driver tells Graham Kennedy to get back to Melbourne? Lines were drawn –and this also extended, to a lesser extent, to rock n roll. Whilst bands like Hush, TMG and Newcastle’s Rabbit never sported any crew cuts, musically, they had broad appeal that attracted the sharp crowd – in the same way that a band like Slade did, with their infectious glam boogie stomp. The great blues player Kevin Borich also gets a couple of tunes on the CD, one with the La De Das and also with the KB Express. ‘I’m Goin’ Somewhere’ in particular is a lesser known Oz hard rock/blues classic and reason enough for you to buy this CD. Great tune.

Other prominent Melbourne bands to get a guernsey on the CD are Taste with ‘Tickle Your Fancy’, the title track from their debut album – and also La Femme, with the ’79 punk classic ‘Chelsea Kids’. La Femme may have sounded like they came out of Bromley, but they in fact had Sharp bloodlines, and included ex Sharpie gang members in their ranks. ‘Chelsea Kids’ is a classic. Fact. If you thought the Sharpie influence on music/fashion/culture had died out by the late 70s, you were mistaken. Some may recall Tracy Mann’s character ‘Samantha’ in the 1980 movie ‘Hard Knocks’. I digress.

As a fan of Oz rock, what makes this an essential purchase is the inclusion of three songs by Fat Daddy, Bullet and Fatty Lumpkin. The singles by these three bands are near impossible to find, yet have been dusted off, digitalised and made available to all – and this is where Festival Records excel. No other Australian label has the dedication, devotion nor commitment to long lost Oz rock quite like the good folk at Festival – and they do it very well.

Fat Daddy released a great slice of boogie back in ’76 with their single, ‘Roll Daddy Roll’ on Brian Cadd’s Bootleg label. Its inclusion here is important as Fat Daddy were popular with the sharps. On a side note, Fat Daddy morphed into another great Melbourne hard rock band called Texas. (I interviewed Ken Murdoch of Taste/Texas a couple of years back and we talked about these bands and this time period in Melbourne rock. Listen to that interview free here). Perth’s Fatty Lumpkin released four singles in their four year existence yet never an album. ‘Movin’ from 1976  is great, original hard rock with John Meyer’s distinctive fret work prominent. Meyer later turned up in Perth HM band Saracen and then Rose Tattoo. The inclusion of ‘Movin’ on this CD is gold – a nugget that deserves to be heard.

The inclusion of the glam-edged ‘Rock My Lady’ from long forgotten mid 70’s Sydney hard rockers Bullet is further reason to pick up the album. Bullet only released one single on the Atlantics label, Chicago Records. Man this rocker has groove with a capital G and sounds revitalized given the digital treatment. Festival could also have gone with ‘Mover’ the equally rockin B side, and lost no slack. 23 tracks in total – and no filler in sight. I must also mention the artwork and packaging that accompanies this CD. Festival have really gone to town with this one. Nice slip case and two booklets laden with information, reminiscences, facts, musings and a stack more. One booklet is 28 pages, the other a whopping 60 page photo book stacked with original images provided by sharpies from the period. All in all – a no risk ten out of ten from Cowboy Col. Available where all good CD’s are sold, including here. Thoroughly recommended.