As I’ve penned elsewhere, I am a regular listener to ‘From The underworld’, an engaging and informative weekly radio show which broadcasts out of Phoenix FM in Essex every Saturday night. The host of the show, Brian Ager, has his ear to the ground when it comes to all the latest (and best) bands worth hearing, and you can do a hell of lot worse than to tune in and check out his show. You can also download or stream it at a later time, meaning you don’t have to get up at 3 am and sit by the wireless like we would have in days gone by. On a recent show, he aired a single by Bad Touch called “Baby Get It On”, a rippin’ rock tune that features the vocals of Steve Marriot’s daughter, Mollie Marriot. Whilst this is a great take that is pretty true to the original – hearing it did send me back to the original, in my opinion, one of, if not the best tune penned by Ike and Tina Turner. Ike Turner is in many ways the father of rock n roll, and a total bad ass who oozes attitude. Check out the video below. People forget what a great voice he had. The Ikettes, (whatever version he had), radiated sex appeal –and they could sing and dance their asses off. Beyonce has made a career off of Tina Turner – in both style, song and dance – and unlike today’s clinical world of entertainment –back then it was all live, no recorded backing track, EVERYTHING live. From 1960-75 Ike and Tina Turner cut a swathe through established rock n roll and broke the mould like few others have done before or since. So here they are, both versions, Bad Touch up against Ike and Tina. Check em both out, and kudos to Bad Touch for bringing a great rock tune into contemporary times.

 

 

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dirtyrhythmbandIn 1992 and even into 1993 – some bands just failed to recognise that the good ship hair metal had sailed, the gate had closed, and Kurt, Eddie and others had killed off the bloated hair metal excess that had reached its peak in 1991 with Guns n Roses’ overblown and over indulgent “Use Your Illusion” extravaganza. Like kids hanging on to the previous years out-of-fashion toys, there were a ton of bands in this period who still assumed that by donning the Cowboy boots, skintight jeans, flowing locks and open shirt – and singing about chicks and their dicks – guaranteed their ride to rock stardom. Bewilderingly, major labels were still throwing cash at these bands and rolling a thousand to one shot that one could still be the next G ‘n’ R. Snake eyes only.

These second or third wave bands including such names as Bangalore Choir, Casablanca, McQueen Street, Roxy Blue, Heavens Edge and the subject of today’s post – Dirty Rhythm. Dirty Rhythm hailed from Portland, Oregon and released their debut album, ‘Hard As A Rock’ in 1992. 26 years after its release, I’m sure plenty of people who look to be offended will find the album cover offensive. A well endowed blonde in denim shorts. In 2018, the rainbow types will tell you that this image objectifies women – yet in the age of 80’s big hair rock n roll – it was more about exalting the virtues of attractive women – note the distinction?

Having said that – the song is derivative and lacking originality. It has a guitar that squeals and an annoying widdly widdly solo – and he’s singing about his dick. Yawn. Check the lyrics. “I bet you give good loving, I bet you give good” ….and “Roll me over baby”, Hard as a rock, give it everything you got”. Dylan eat your heart out. Let me sink you with my pink torpedo.

There were bands like this on every street corner, plying an insipid flavorless style of hard rock, and reading off a blue print that had been copied dozens of time before hand. Sorry dudes.

I read somewhere that the album stiffed (ahem) due to zero promotion, and “had the label actually invested time and energy into this band they would have been as big as Slaughter or Fire House.” The big ones! I think Bullet Boys also had a song called ‘Hard As A Rock’ which was better, marginally.

 

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.

 

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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R-559528-1291139237When it comes to listening to music, we live in an age where people have shorter spans of attention, and music is something that you download and digest quickly. Its brightly coloured, sweet, and of no intrinsic value. Yes – I could also be talking about fast food, the analogy is the same. If you are a younger person reading this, go buy this Leon Russell album and turn the damn phone off, sit down (be still), and listen to the album in its entirety. It’s music that has been crafted, created and endures, 45 odd years after its release. I doubt you will be able to say the same about the Taylor Swift’s and Katy Perry’s that are so wantonly consumed by today’s youth without much thought about what they consume musically (disparaging old man – ED).

Leon Russell passed away in November 2016 aged 74. The man left behind a stack of enduring music across a wide range of genres- from country, pop, rock, gospel, surf, folk and blues and all points in between. You could dive right into any of his albums and pull up gold, yet if you have never heard the man, let’s go with a classic, 1971’s, Leon Russell and the Shelter People. Many astute rock fans associate Russell with Joe Cocker, as Russell orchestrated and performed with Cocker as part of the mega “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour in 1970. ‘The Shelter People’ is his second LP, following on from his equally classic debut LP from 1970, an album which included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and George Harrison and spawned the monster hit, “A Song for You”, a tune that has been recorded by over 200 artists. Yet I digress.

I’m a big fan of Claudia Lennear (a smoking hot singer who was the inspiration for both the Stones’ ‘Brown Sugar’ and Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’. Lennear was back up singer for both Leon Russell and also on Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ tour and live album. She also sung at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 along with Harrison, Dylan and Eric Clapton – as did Leon Russell. A lot of linking going on here – but her back-up vocals on Leon’s second album really add to the distinctive quality of the tunes. 1970-1973 she had it all going on (including the release of her one and only solo album, “Phew”, only to ditch the music biz altogether to become a high school teacher of French and Spanish! Not many school teachers could claim to have songs written about them, by the Stones and Bowie no less. Having to stay back after school with the teacher must have taken on a whole new meaning. Further deviation sorry – back to the album.

Top to bottom, ‘Shelter People’ is a classic. Part of the record was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with Russell handling all the production. The album climbed to number 17 on the Billboard charts, which says more about the calibre of albums being released at that time than anything else.

“Stranger in a Strange Land”, “Crystal Closet Queen” , the lyrically evocative The Ballad of Mad Dogs and Englishmen” and “Home Sweet Oklahoma” all fit well together. Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” is a pure blues indulgence (yet not overblown) highlighted by sax and Lennear’s back-up vocals. The great Jesse Ed Davis on guitar too. I must admit that I thought ‘Alcatraz’ from Nazareth’s ‘Razamanaz’ LP, was a Nazareth tune. Nope. It’s a Russell tune and appears on this LP, great rock song highlighted by Leon’s vocal and some catchy lead guitar. Russell’s take of George Harrison’s ‘Beware of Darkness’ is done with a lot of conviction, feverish piano, and pretty true to the original. Top to bottom – this is a great album worthy of your attention. Alternatively, pick up his debut as a starting point. In an age where the younger people tell me that Ed Sheeran is a once in a generation songwriter, you could do a hell of a lot worse.

right-back-where-i-started-cd-frontIn an age when rock ‘n’ roll ain’t at the top of the heap no more – its only right and just that you get down on your knees and give thanks that artists of the calibre of Warner E. Hodges are still out their making bona fide rock ‘n’ roll – and truly great, original rock ‘n’ roll at that.

You can also forget the mandatory descriptors that readers look for in a review that help determine whether they purchase or not – all you need to know is that this is one MONSTER of a rock album – and one of THE releases of 2017 – or any damn year in fact.

The good folks at Mayfair Grand Music (MGM) forwarded this new Warner E. Hodges album to me a couple months back.  I’ve had a whole lot of life stuff get in the way – resulting in a way overdue review.  Yet unlike other albums, which I may have reviewed after only a couple of spins – ‘Right Back Where I Started’ has been on unending rotation with me these past few weeks – I know these ten tunes backwards – so without any further hindrance – let me say right off the bat that this is pretty much THE consummate rock/guitar album – and without a doubt the most rock solid, indeed accomplished solo album Hodges has released.

As early as April, I shrewdly selected Dan Baird & Homemade Sin’s ‘Rollercoaster’ and Baird’s solo album ‘So-Lo’ as the albums of the year. A big call with only a quarter of the year done, but I was proven right.  ‘Right Back Where I Started’ sits comfortably alongside those couple and easily makes my top 5 for 2017.

There are ten tunes on ‘Right Back Where I Started’ and no sign of filler. Top to bottom – this is one solid outing. Thematically – the title tune sees Hodges looking back at his life in rock ‘n’ roll – and how he’s come full circle. It’s a foot to the floor, raucous rocker that swaggers and rocks a plenty. Rippin’ solo too. ‘Where Did You Go’ follows a similar theme – with Hodges asking where did rock rock ‘n’ roll go ? Purists like us also ask the same question – yet with cats like Hodges, Joe Blanton and Dan Baird around – I’m here to tell you that there’s life in the old girl yet.

With its sing-along chorus, ‘Ghost On The Road’ grooves along nicely. This is a great song highlighted by some distinctive drum fills, likeable solos, layered vocals and even some subtle organ. If you turned on the radio you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Skynyrd. Top shelf.

The blue denim shuffle of ‘Waiting On Me’ rocks and rollicks – highlighted by a searing Hodges solo and a vocal that sees Hodges pushing himself and singing his heart out.

The hard rockin’ ‘Sick Of Myself’ hits you in the gut like a great rock song should. Bitchin, dog eared tune that reminds me a lot of Mick Taylor era Stones and, if I’m pressed, my personal fave off the album.

There’s a multiplicity to the songs on this album that reflect the sheer quality of song writing on display. ‘I’m Never Alone’ is a great example of this – and a great example to all of what a melodic pop song should be. Mid-tempo highlighted by a memorable and unique riff, plaintive and strong vocal delivery on the verses and then into a super catchy chorus, a lot of instrumentation and layered with harmony vocals. Super production too. Man, this has ‘hit’ written all over it. Radio programmers are you listening?

Talking of hits, check out Hodge’s country duet with Elizabeth Cook on ‘Worst Time For Love’. You may know her from her tune of a few years back, ‘El Camino’. Again, super strong chorus with Cook’s vocal contrasting neatly with Hodges, and further evidence of rich song writing diversity.

The album closes with the Faces/Stones/Quo groove of ‘Dirt’, another winner. Penned by Otis Gibbs (who also has a great podcast by the way) this rocker (complete with rock n roll piano) is a great album closer – and rounds out proceedings nicely. Last orders please!

Although this is a Hodges solo album – the other two main songwriters/contributors to the project are Dan Baird and Joe Blanton. All three bring different parts to the table – yet all contribute songs, their talent as musicians, producers and in Blanton’s case – engineering skills. (How is that solo album progressing Joe?) All three are rock n roll with a capital R and with ‘Right Back Where I Started’ have created a ‘classic’ rock record that will sound great in 5, 10, 50 years.

Cheap Trick’s Tom Peterson adds his individual bass sound to the album with Brad Pemberton (Steve Earle’s band) hitting hard on the drums. Great drummer (as anyone who as seen him perform live will attest).

I must also make mention of the amazing cover art, an outstanding photo (by Trudi Knight) which captures Hodges at one with his Les Paul. Great moment captured on film and as an album cover, it makes a defining statement.

If you want to hip a musically unsophisticated younger person to what real rock n roll is – or you are an older rock fan that needs a rock n roll rejuvenation – give ‘em the gift of Warner E. Hodges rock n roll. Ten out of ten.

Right Back Where I Started is out now. For more information go to Warnerhodges.com or Jcplmusic.com

 

 

 

Tuxpi photo editor: https://www.tuxpi.comOn behalf of Mr. Rockbrat, I would like to wish all Rockbrat Readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018! Happy Holidays to all our readers in North America. Statistics indicate that there are still thousands of people out there who enjoy reading the plethora of articles, opinion and blogs on the Rockbrat site –  with new readers continuing to discover (and re-discover) many of the old articles. A well written word does not date – and still has relevance to certain people as time ticks by. We received a lot of positive feedback for Dan Baird album reviews and live reviews we penned in March/April this year – and writing liner notes for the CD reissue of Ted Mulry Gang’s “Live” album was also another personal highlight. Astute readers would have noticed that as well as penning a bunch of articles/ reviews etc this year – much of our time and energy has been devoted to the Australian Rock Show podcast, which, come next month – will be 3 years old.

Like many of the other musical projects The Gray Brothers have been involved in, the Australian Rock Show is a labour of love. We are not journalists – we are rock fans, like you, who are devoted to pushing and preserving Oz rock – the best rock n roll in the world. Personally, I would like to extend a big thanks to my brother Denis (Mr Rockbrat) who has, by and large, carried the show on his shoulders this year. I have not had as much time to dedicate to the show as I intended, but I have some good interviews planned for next year, so stay tuned. The calibre of the interviews Denis has conducted this year (not to mention the professional production) have greatly increased the profile of The Australian Rock Show – with new followers discovering the show every day. You can help us out by promoting the show – continuing to get the word out – like us on Facebook if you haven’t already, tell your friends about it, sharing it on Facebook, leave us a review on Itunes. Pick up a limited edition Australian Rock Show T Shirt – every little bit helps us out.

Some of the interviews on the Australian Rock Show this year have included Mick Blood (The Lime Spiders), AC/DC book authors Jesse Fink and Jeff Apter, Johnny Kannis of the Hitmen, Rick Brewster of The Angels, Dave Tice (Buffalo), Juliette Valduriez, Larry Attard (Snake/ Acca Dacca), Bruce Kulick (KISS), Dan Baird, Clifford Hoad (Kings Of the Sun) plus tribute shows to the great Malcolm and George Young. The impact that they made to Australian rock n roll and Australia’s cultural identity cannot be understated. Again, all episodes of the show are available for FREE download or streaming via ITunes, Sticher and Tunein Radio. If you haven’t checked out the archives – feel free to delve into the back catalogue and listen to Interviews with Chris Bonacci (Girlschool), John Brewster (The Angels) Dave Evans (AC/DC / Rabbit), Craig Csongrady (Boss/BB Steal), TASTE (both Ken Murdoch and Michael Tortoni), Andy Cichon (Judge Mercy/Billy Joel/Shania Twain), Paul Woseen (Screaming Jets),  Boris Sujdovic (The Scientists/Beasts of Bourbon/Dubrovniks), Todd Hunter (Dragon), Jeff Hoad (Kings Of The Sun), Phil Foxman (Supernaut), Mitch Grainger, TMG Roadie Ronald Clayton, Lime Spiders, Tough Luxury, Legs Electric, Australian rock journalists Stuart Coupe (author of Gudinski) Murray Englehardt (author of AC/DC Maximum Rock n Roll),Melbourne all girl rockers She-Wolf, Ray Arnott, Sherry Rich, Anne McCue, The Shivers, Brian Giffin (author of Australian Heavy Metal encyclopedia), Christina Crofts, Steve Mulry of Black Label, Tyrone Coates (The Bombers), Sandi Novak (Rum Babas), Rose Carleo and Leeno Dee (Candy Harlots / Melody Black) to name but a few. If you are yet to check out the Australian Rock Show – head over there now at http://www.australianrockshow.com Please email us and say hello, (as we love your feedback on either the Australian Rock Show or Rockbrat blog.

In spite of all the doom and gloom that exists in the world, (anything from cowardly Islamic terrorists to global warming and climate change), always remember that listening to a great rock song is often the tonic you need – and rock n roll has the power to unite. A rockin’ Christmas to all from The Gray Brothers. Over to you Malcom…….Godspeed.