Posts Tagged ‘AC/DC’

Y’know five years back we reviewed the EP by Bitzer titled Oz Rock Six pack…you can hunt down that review on our blog – but I do wish to highlight a comment which my brother ended that review with – which stated ‘If you wanna taste of the glory days of Oz rock in 2013 – Bitzer deliver the goods in no uncertain terms. 10 out of 10′. Top marks there from my brother and high praise indeed – and if you one of those who purchased that EP, I’m sure you’ll be in agreeance that it was very well deserved. The good news is folks that in mid-2018 we have brand new material from Bitzer out and about and I gotta tell ya – this bunch of seasoned musicians have absolutely nailed it again. ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is the name of the new album, a 10 song collection of some of the coolest and most iconic rock n roll tunage to ever come out of Australia.

Before we move on – I must highlight the fact that the players involved in this project are all top shelf, have a wealth of experience and boy does it show. Steve Mulry, Mick Arnold, Lucy De Soto, Steve King, Mick Adkins, Skenie, Mick O’Shea, Steve Edmonds…..

The names that are listed on their individual rock n roll resumes detailing their past outfits or bands they’ve played, recorded or been involved with – read like a chapter ripped straight from the Who’s Who of Australian Rock publication: Rose Tattoo, The Rogue Sharks, Billy Thorpe, Rose Carleo Band, The Poor, Black Label, Judge Mercy, Dragon, Choirboys, Judge Mercy, Kevin Borich, Swanee, TMG, The Pete Wells Band….I could go on but there’s no need as I’m sure you’ll agree – there’s some real heavyweights of Australian music namechecked amongst that gathering.

Countrymen, friends, lend me your ears because the song St Louis – which happens to be one of my all time favourite Easybeats tunes – kicks off ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ with great force and I cannot think of a better way to open the album. For me – it’s also a wonderful way to honour the great George Young who passed away in October of last year.  

Bitzer tackle ‘Down Payment Blues’ next with some raw, and inspired vocals by Skenie. It’s that very same sound – from that throat – which hooked me back in the very early 90’s when I first heard him and The Poor Boys on ‘What I’d Do (To get A Piece Of You)’. Love it. As a few of you out there might know drummer Mick O’Shea was apparently short-listed to replace Phil Rudd on the drum stool for AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust tour. The boys obviously went for the tried and tested and well credentialed Chris Slade – no complaints there. And no point in looking at what could’ve been but just let me state that if you listen to O’Shea’s thumping autodrive on ‘Down Payment Blues’ – he is on the beat and in the pocket. It’s there. 

Superman – an ace, lifted from the Vanda and Young deck was made famous by Alison McCallum back in 1972. It’s not an easy tune to tackle – yet on this version by Bitzer – Lucy De Soto’s vocals are spot on. Lucy’s got a strong voice – my brother at one point in time owned her two mid-80’s releases – it’s great stuff and she really makes this amped up version of ‘Superman’ her own. It’s Time – more people out there were aware of her.

Paul Hewson wrote or co-wrote some of Dragon’s best material – with many music fans considering Sunshine his finest moment. For me, this interpretation was the real surprise of the album – Mulry’s vocals, Steve Edmond’s lead guitar – I found the whole track downright mesmerising. Spend a quiet moment alone with this one via decent headphones and you’ll hopefully get what I mean. I just love this.

A faithful and tough-as-steel rendition of AC/DC’s ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ is up next and it cooks. Skenie again gives his all on this track and it’s great. So great that I’m calling this one of the most faithful takes of this song that you’re gonna hear. It’s pretty darn authentic yet it doesn’t in anyway ape the original found on Let there be Rock. Much of that authenticity is in part due to the well-oiled rhythm unit of King and O’Shea – a pair who know eachother’s playing inside out and it shows.

If you’ve always wondered what a heavied up version of Australian Crawl might sound like – then listen up. Bitzer once again hit the volume on Aussie Crawl’s ‘Things Don’t Seem’ – taken from their 1981 album Sirocco and crank the absolute hell of it. And that’s also what I love about an album like this – it makes you hear songs which you thought you knew so well – from a completely different angle – love it. Who knows, maybe Bitzer will take a stab at James Reyne’s Fall Of Rome in the future ?

Another of the highlights on ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is a wonderful rendition of Spectrum’s I’ll Be Gone. Lucy De Soto’s vocals – combined with Mick Adkins stinging guitar give this a thumping country rock flavour and the results are what I’d call – catchy as all hell.

And this is just what I was just alluding to when looking over the Australian Crawl song…. you think you are familiar with a song like ‘I’ll be Gone’ and let’s face it, it gets played a helluva lot on the Golden Oldie stations here – but think again. Because the players in the Bitzer outfit will make you sit up and take notice of a song we all know so well. And in my book – that’s a pretty cool thing and I sure hope Mike Rudd gets to hear this version.

The tune – ‘I Remember When I Was Young’ written of course by Matt Taylor – is a track that suits Steve Mulry’s vocals so well – and it’s as if Taylor penned it with him in mind. John Farnham may’ve highlighted the tune on his 2005 songbook album, yet he didn’t do it justice like Bitzer do here and it gets the green light from me.

There is one further ‘Young, Young and Scott’ tune to check out and it’s a rollicking take of Dog Eat Dog. No need to reach for a thesaurus – this take kicks arse plan and simple and I reckon this foursome of Adkins, Skenie, King and O’Shea as a live unit could blow the doors off any live venue they played.  

The album closes out with a blazing and heavy-as-lead take of The Angels – Run For The Shelter, lifted from their often ignored 1984 album Two Minute Warning. If ever a song highlighted the vocal strength of Steve Mulry it’s this one – note perfect and in fine form on this gem penned by Rick Brewster and Brent Eccles.

To summarise – Blitzer once again have delivered the goods, breathing new life into some wonderful and well-known songs with an energy and passion which more people need to hear.

There is so much music being released these days – and it’s often the case that red hot rock n roll releases like this – often get lost in the frenzied world of social media. Once you check this material out – I just know you’re gonna want to spread the word about this album, because it really is damn good – and is deserving of more attention. Excuse the pun but ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is ‘top dog’ amongst most other releases you’re gonna hear this year – highly recommended – and an album you need to ad to your rock n roll collection. 

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Dave Evans: the real rock n roll deal

There is a lot to like about Dave Evans’ brand of rock n roll. It’s loud, it’s fiery and it’s in-your-face. And when Evans is on form – like this evening, there’s no other place I’d rather be. As their original frontman, Dave Evans will forever be tied to AC/DC. Yet if it was nostalgia which you’d come for tonight, you were in the wrong venue. Because what is in fact dealt out, is a set list bursting with vital, tough sounding rock n roll – laced with energy and raw power.  

Tonight, Evans is backed by local Brisbane outfit Dirty Dice and they’re a great fit. This act are tight, polished and are a band you need to make a note of – it’s just the kinda stuff we dig. They hit the stage with a one-two punch of ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’, and then a raunchy ‘Rockin In the Parlour’. 1974 never sounded so damn good ! A re-worked ‘Sunset Strip’ – taken from last year’s ‘Wild’ EP cooks – and is followed by a kick arse take of ‘Rock n Roll Singer’. Yeah, you’ll find it on AC/DC’s ‘High Voltage’, however the tune dates back to the band’s earliest days with Dave out front. Tonight Evans indeed has the devil in his blood and sounds amazing. It’s an important point worth noting that after all this time, his powerhouse vocals are as strong as ever. He’s always had a strong vocal range and it can be felt tonight from only a few metres away. Amazing.

The ‘Sinner’ album is widely regarded as one his strongest releases and it’s a delight to hear some of that material cop an airing….’Rock n Roll Or Bust’, ‘Take Me Down Again’ and ‘Turn It Up’ sound loud and fresh but it’s ‘Sold My Soul To Rock n Roll’ which brings the house down. Could be my choice cut of the night. Evans is giving his all tonight and you’d better believe he means every lyric in that song. Guitarist Aaron has himself been playing for three decades and it shows, he has a great guitar tone and adds much muscle to the Evans catalogue. ‘Go Wild’, from the aforementioned 2017 EP ‘Wild’ is a great example of this. I had my fingers crossed for a take of ‘Revenge’ – the killer title track from an album Dave cut with John Nitzinger, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, Dave Evans and Dirty Dice close out a smoking set with a four-pronged AC/DC assault comprising TNT, Highway To Hell, a crunching Let There Be Rock and Whole Lotta Rosie.

The ringing ears will subside, as will the heat of this sweaty summer show. But tonight’s set is one which will live on in my rock n roll memory. I’ve long been of the belief that Dave Evans is the real rock n roll deal and it’s always satisfying to have that confirmed in the live environment. 10/10

Hear our 2015 i/v with Dave here

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Malcolm Young – a rock n roll hero to so many, passed away yesterday and his loss is immense. Yet his monster riffs – the core of AC/DC’s music can never be silenced. His Gretsch guitar and Marshall amp may be switched off, yet the loud rock n roll they helped to create will live forever. He inspired countless others to puck up a guitar and on episode 83 of The Australian Rock Show, we remember Mal by airing some of our most favourite songs. Play very loud. Listen here

ARS81Sydney author Jesse Fink has recently released one of the most important publications on AC/DC: the eagerly awaited ‘Bon: The Last Highway’. Fink has become something of an AC/DC detective and shines light on parts of the AC/DC story which have always been dimly lit. Music fans around the world have been waiting for this book – and it does not disappoint. On show number 81 of The Australian Rock Show we are joined by Jesse Fink to talk about the new book – a little about his background, and much much more. Essential listening ! Check out this episode !

Music by AC/DC, Spectrum, Trust

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George Young passed away recently, leaving behind a rich and wonderful musical legacy. As a musician, songwriter and producer, George was an innovator who shaped Australian music. His influence on Australian rock n roll is immense and on episode 80 of The Australian Rock Show, we pay tribute to George Young by airing some of our most favourite songs. Crank the volume and play loud. Check out this episode !

Music by Easybeats, AC/DC, Vanda and Young, Stevie Wright, Paintbox, Marcus Hook Roll Band, Cheetah, Alison McCallum

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.   

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