Posts Tagged ‘Asteroid B-612’

ARS79

It is forty years since super ghoul Alice Cooper first toured Australia and he is back downunder – doing a run of dates with Ace Frehley as support act. On episode 79 of The Australian Rock Show, we celebrate the tour by cranking some covers, performed by local artists. We rock, we rant, we recall past rock n roll memories. The guillotine is on board the space ship so let the countdown begin ! Check out this episode !

Music by: Asteroid B-612, Radio Birdman, Alice Cooper, Tex Perkins, Ace Frehley, Smelly Tongues, Girl Monstar

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photo: C.Gray

1) Stew, what’s been happening with the Brother Brick of late ?  We’ve been touring to Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and a lot of other places, played about 20 plus shows in the last 4 months so that’s taken up a lot of time. Been trying to finish up the writing of an EP now and also get the profile of the band a bit bigger in home town Sydney. There is a new 7″ pressed and on the way from Spain too (Bang! Records) called ‘See You Tonight’ – it’s a killer as well but yeah we are mainly trying to get this new recording together. 2) And the plans for 2000 for the Yes Men.  A Euro tour ? That would be great and it may happen in August cos I heard that White Jazz is gonna release the album (called “Prosody”) over there in July, it has already been released here on CD and vinyl on Stolen Records just this month. If the Yes Men can get over there I am hoping to also do a Brick tour on the back end and kill two birds with the one guitar! 3) What have you been listening to of late ? The Byrds (especially Untitled / Sweetheart of the Rodeo), Turbo Negro, The posthumously just released Freeloaders album –”Through the Sound Barrier”, Challenger 7- “Payola”, Son Volt -“Wide Swing Tremolo”, Nikki Sudden – “Red Brocade”, Ian Underwood’s (Challenger 7-Kryptonic’s) nightmare touring stories, Rugby League, Cricket, Watts album and the Yes Men – “Prosody” 4) The Move or classic Quo ? Not too familiar with The Move so I’ll have to go with Quo, although I much prefer the Pretty Things and the Who. 5) Brother Brick have just done a bunch of shows in Melbourne and Adelaide. Did you get a chance to see Repo, whom I rate as one of Oz’s best) ?  Yes I did – they were loud and proud and it was a good night, they have a great drummer – Jay Young who also used to play in the Bloodsucking Freaks and currently plays in another great band in Adelaide called Z-28. 6) Holden, Ford or Chrysler ?  If you have ever seen my Epiphone Wiltshire guitar then you will know that the answer to that is Chrysler. I used to have a Ford Falcon XW or XY that I really dug too. 7) Do you have a favourite axe of choice ?  Yes – I like tomahawks but a good heavy meat axe is also handy to have around the house whenever you need to execute errant housemates or guests 8) A message for all the Cat Scratch Fever readers out there ?  Ummmm…rock ‘n’ roll is punk and punk is rock ‘n’ roll…Triple J Sucks!!!!!….smash the system!!!! …oh yeah – Cat Scratch Fever people I love you guys – you are the true rock ‘n’ roll people…am I raving on or what???? (I just got out of a van after driving 11 hours on a hangover and no sleep, last night we got totally stinking and nearly pissed on some music industry wanker for fun, in fact I am still a bit smelly so I had better go take my medication and have a bath… good night all.

(Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 4: April/May 2000)

ab512ASTEROID B-612
Readin’ Between The Lines
(Full Toss)

Eight years after their inception, Asteroid B-612 have delivered the album that sees their potential finally realised. Asteroid B-612 are Australia’s premier rock ‘n’ roll band. (Fact) They have consistently delivered full flavoured motor-city rock action that the majority assume was pipelined from Detroit to Stockholm.(Fiction). With ‘Readin’ Between The Lines’, the songs are not only stronger, but there’s an underlying groove and an even greater emphasis been placed on melody, making this album something special. There’s plenty of Detroit-isms to satisfy the purists who dug the bands previous work, but there’s a couple of key ingredients here this time which sweeten the pot. The first is the singing of Grahame Spittles. Charismatic cool, whose vocals really give the songs an edge, and he has a great range to boot. (check out ‘Let It Slide’). The real clincher though is the sheer quality of the material. John Spittles has really ripened as a song writer, with an abundance of rich melody, groove and a whole of soul eminating from each tune. Before he was writing good songs, now he’s writing great songs. The album opens with a take of the ‘On Your Way On Down’, which creeps and meanders before finally hitting top gear. ‘September Crush’ is flat to the boards guitar action ala the Cowgirls/Humpers school, awash with Chuck Berry cool. ‘Still Waiting’, with it’s weeping guitars riding a simple melody, roll effortlessly into a stark and resonant chorus. This is indeed a treat and my favourite song on the album. Here is a band who can not only rock harder than their  contemporaries, but they got style and charm ,as well as fire and gasoline. The album closes with the good-time ‘So Long Goodbye’ with it’s mesh of Faces/Groovies-isms, is the perfect way to go out. I could rave about every number on this album, it’s just that good. One of the Australian albums of the year which should rightfully put this band into the upper bracket. Ten out of ten. (Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 6: Dec 2000)

leadfingerfhncon-011lpouterhrDespite what the naysayers may have you believe, there are still bands out there making truly great, original rock ‘n’ roll. Leadfinger is one of those bands, and with Friday Night Heroes, they have released an album of timeless, durable rock ‘n’ roll that’s a much needed tonic for a current day rock ‘n’ roll landscape that is bloated with revivalism, copyists, tributes and is largely devoid of anything new and interesting.  Friday Night Heroes would have sounded great 30 years ago, and will sound great in another 30 years. Yet it’s 2016, and with the aforementioned shortage of first rate rock ‘n’ roll bands – Leadfinger stand out like a beacon in the night, and if this album is anything to go by, they are not only Friday Night Heroes, but the best rock n roll band in Australia.

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The twin guitars of Leadfinger & Michael Doyle. The Phoenix, Canberra 20/8/16. photo (c) Cowboy Col

 

I genuinely hope that Friday Night Heroes falls upon the ears of the masses, for an album this good deserves to be heard.  From top to bottom, every tune on Friday Night Heroes is top shelf. Yet before I put the magnifying glass over the album, let me set the scene a little. Stewart ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham , is a guy who I have seen in various bands since the early 90s. Bands that were revered overseas. He is without a doubt one of the unsung campaigners of Australian rock ‘n’ roll and has, for over 25 years now, created some of the most exciting, original,  fire and brimstone rock ‘n’ roll to ever come out of this country. (I will leave it to you to go  study up on his musical history). The irony that Sweden’s Hellacopters had an album entitled ‘Payin’ The Dues’ is not lost on me, for Cunningham has more than paid his dues, and when I say he was in a band who in 1995 (Asteroid B-612) who could have been world beaters, and would have smoked the Hellacopters, (and anyone else for that matter), it’s not a statement I make lightly. Rock action, Detroit, Chuck Taylor Hi Tops –desperate blues drenched rock that should have been huge. In Issue 4 of Vicious Kitten Fanzine (published 8/96), I boldly stated that the song ‘Edge A Bit Closer’ (written by Cunningham) was the best rock song to come out of Australia in ten years. Make that 20 years.  As history has shown, the Hellacopters took the ball and ran with it a couple of years later – yet I digress.

 

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Stewart ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham – The Phoenix, Canberra 20/8/16 – photo (c) Cowboy Col

Over the past few years, Leadfinger (the band) have released a bunch of great records, including The Floating Life, Rich Kids, and No Room At The Inn. All terrific records  worthy of your attention, yet Friday Night Heroes, for mine, is by far the most complete, consummate album so far. What makes Friday Night Heroes  so good is the rich diversity of the songs. Rock action is in Cunningham’s DNA, it’s in his blood, and aptly, the album opens in a big way with the rock swagger of  ‘Champagne And Diamonds’. Oodles of melody, killer guitar, catchy chorus, and resplendent female vocal harmonies . This is how Jagger and Ritchards used to write ‘em. The punchy ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ is another highlight,  pop sensibilities galore, forthright vocal, tasty sax and piano to boot. ‘Mean Streak’ is sheer guitar pop joy. Cross Westerberg, Ryan Adams and The Jayhawks and you are half the way there.  Nifty guitar riff and again, melody galore. This is a superb pop song. The melancholic ‘Bite My Tongue’ is further evidence of Cunningham’s quality song writing. As a lyricist – he draws upon insight, observation, personal experience and reflection to help paint a picture in the listener’s head. Paul Kelly is the obvious example of a songwriter who uses these traits. Cunningham has that capacity too – in spades. ‘Appreciate’ in fact, is a very Paul Kelly-esque tune. A sentimental yet positive ode reminding us to be thankful for every day we have. Stripped back, acoustic, mandolin infused. Ronnie Lane approved. ‘Raining In The Dark’ reminds me a lot of the Jacobites at their peak, with a sparse, jangly, 12 string guitar and repeating, lamenting vocal at the core of the song. Superb. ‘Older and Wiser’ is the albums plumb for mine. What a song. It opens with a nod to ‘Sweet Jane’ and musically walks a line that is very much classic Ian Hunter. Always scores maximum points with me. Short, sharp, melodic and sing-along chorus. What more do you need?  The guitar interplay between Michael Boyle and Leadfinger on this, and in fact every tune is tight and effective.

Friday Night Heroes is the must have album of 2016. If you only buy one album this year – make it this one. 10 out of 10. Friday Night Heroes is out now on Brisbane label Conquest Of Noise Records, or through Leadfinger.com.au

Rock n Roll War promo poster, Volume 1 and Volume 2

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone since the release of the Rock n Roll War compilation CD’s. Prior to Rockbrat, back then, Cowboy Col was operating Vicious Kitten Records, an independent record label whose mission was to fight the war against the jive. I had the idea of releasing a compilation album and did a short list of bands I wanted and things just took off from there. Vicious Kitten Records, and the Vicious Kitten Zine before that, developed a good reputation, and most bands were happy to be involved. The idea was to make it a solid balls-to-the-wall comp, and it achieved that. I wanted to show case some of the best Australian bands to an international market – and similarly get some of those international bands some exposure in Australia.   The first volume of ‘Rock n Roll War’ had such quality bands on it as the Dictators, Sylvain Sylvain from the New York  Dolls, the Hitmen DTK,  Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak of Radio Birdman, Jeff Dahl, Pete Wells of Rose Tattoo, Nikki Sudden, The Trash Brats, Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick etc.  This first volume of Rock n Roll War sold well, and following its success I decided to branch out into the USA and try and develop greater inroads there. Vicious Kitten USA was born and was co ordinated by Rick Blaze out of Boston. The second volume of Rock ‘n’ Roll War was the only release on Vicious Kitten USA and it came out in October, 2001. A CD release party was held for this album in Boston, and artists who appeared included Mike Thimren (who used to play with Johnny Thunders for five years, on and off, between 83-88) the Ballbusters and Kevin K.  Rock n roll War volume 2 was dedicated to Johnny Heff of The Bullys, a New York City firefighter who lost his life on September 11. There is a great Bully’s track on the comp called ‘New York City Man’. Johnny Thunders and the Ballbusters also do a live version of ‘In Cold Blood’. There are songs by Nikki Sudden, Dave Kusworth from the Jacobites, Walter Lure, the Streetwalkin Cheetahs, Kevin K, Freddy Lynxx, The Golden Arms, Dave Cuneo and Jeff Crane from the Ballbusters, Mike Thimren, the Detox Darlings. Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys was gracious enough to provide a tune called ‘The Morning’s Gonna Come, which he recorded specifically for Rock n Roll War 2. Other artists on this 2nd volume included the Cartridge Family from NYC who featured Donna from the Cycle Sluts From Hell, two Italian bands, one called The Valentines and the other called Loose. It was a very strong and impressive line up. The intent was to do release a third compilation CD, but the funds were not there.  These were a lot of work to put together, but looking back, some killer bands were released on these two comps.  These compilations occasionally turn up on eBay. Go discover.

photo: Garth Boyd

 The Manly Vale Hotel at 250 Condamine Street, Manly Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches was one of Sydney’s premier suburban rock venues in the 70’s, 80’s and continued to host live bands up until the pubs demise in the mid 90s. Back in the 1980’s, you didn’t need to travel to a big Entertainment Centre or the big Olympic stadiums to see a high profile band like you do nowadays. Back in those days, the rock n roll war was being fought in the Sydney suburbs, and these suburban beer drinking crowds were often the litmus test for any band. If you could make it playing to the often hostile but still rock savvy suburban crowds, you could make it anywhere – as evidenced by the success of bands like INXS, the Oils, radiators, Angels etc. Chisel’s Phil Small remembers “The Manly Vale Hotel, you’d maybe get 1500 people in there. Places like that would have the proper stage. I don’t remember but I think they had the in-house PA, even back then. They used to pack them out. We were pretty much peaking around ’80, ’81. Most of the time they’d pack them in like sardines. A lot of the time when I was on stage I’d see this sea of people and I’d think, how ? To me that’s not having a good time – standing there, squashed up, it’s smoky, you can’t get a drink. And some venues were quite stretched. At the Manly Vale, it was always plastic cups, never any glasses.”

The large band room held around 3000, and it often sold out. The pub was originally called Millers Manly Vale, then Bryant’s, but it was always known as simply the Manly Vale. Consider just some of the bands who played here. Deep Purple in the mid 70s, Simple Minds in 1982, UB40, Cold Chisel, Dead Kennedys in 1983 and many more profile international bands that escape me now. New Race also recorded part of their live album here.

The Manly Vale was one large hotel, a beer barn with many bars and rooms.  I have great memories of trudging up those steps to have an ice cold schooner, see a great band, put some cash through a cardie or have a punt, often stopping to talk rugby league with the bouncer, none other than former Manly Warringah Sea Eagles flyer Stuart ‘The Bug’ Davis. Great days my friends.

Around 1990 you could still see bands in the big room. I recall seeing the Dubrovniks there one night, with Chris Flynn belting out a killer version of ‘Fortunate Son’ and cans of Tooheys NEW at only 2 bucks each, well you didn’t really need much more than that. I also recall seeing TMG there in 1990 and chatting with the band backstage. The mid 90’s saw the Rockbrat living in Manly Vale, immediately behind the pub, which was by no means coincidence.

This was a strategic move so the Rockbrat could live close to the pub, although by now, it was called the Peninsular Hotel, and the big band room upstairs was closed, with only the Basement downstairs hosting bands, particularly local bands. The Rockbrat saw many gigs here too, including Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick, Panadolls, Nitocris, Toxic Blonde, Medusa, Mark Of Cain, Fur, Hanging Tree, Sugar Shack, Freeloaders, Powder Monkeys, Iron Sheiks, and Powderfinger. In fact the very last band I saw here (I think) in late 1996 was the then final gig by the Psychotic Turnbuckles. When I drove past in April, 1997, the pub was replaced by a block of units. Here is an article that appeared in The Manly Daily in 1996 at the time of the venue’s closure.

 

Make no mistake folks, the Rockbrat knows cool rock n roll when he sees it, and in the early 90’s there was no band in Australia – cranking out loud, melodious tunage like Sydney’s Asteroid B-612. According to the Rockbrat, the line-up consisting of Grant McGyver on vox and Stewie ‘Leadfinger’ Cunningham on guitar (along with John Spittles, Ben Fox and Scott Nash) was THE most potent line-up this band had. You could hear glimpses of the Stones, Cooper, Birdman and the MC-5 in their songs combined with a truly authentic sound that was all their own. Plugged in live, their powerhouse performances were electric. I often left a venue is awe; such was the magic they created. Stripped down rock n roll played loud – they were ignored by the mainstream music press for some time and it was only those who had their ear to the underground who picked up on them. Their first three efforts are essential for your collection: 1993’s self-titled album (released on Dave Thomas’ Destroyer label), 1994’s ‘ Forced Into a Corner’ and ‘Not Meant For This World which was released in 1996.  

Internal feuding, musical differences, bad timing – whatever the reason – Asteroid B-612 are one of the most potent rock n roll outfits to come out of Australia and when I listen to some of their early recordings, I am damn mystified as to why they were not successful. That being said, it is never too late to discover cool rock n roll and I urge you to research and purchase some of this band’s back catalogue)