Posts Tagged ‘Billy Thorpe’

Fans of genuine Aussie rock (Angels, Tatts, AC/DC)  take note. BITZER are for you. Forget about Airbourne for one second and the carbon copied style of oz rock they play. They are good at what they do, they nod approvingly to the past, but they lack the legitimacy, the authenticity, that a band like BITZER have to offer. This is Oz rock the way it should be played. It’s fun, it’s loud, proud, and kicks ass.  Bitzer is a new group featuring many familiar faces.  Experienced troupers from the halcyon days of OZ rock, we should be thankful that they are still treading the boards in 2013. Their collective experience includes stints in  Rose Tattoo, Dragon, Ted Mulry Gang, Kevin Borich, Billy Thorpe, The Pete Wells Band, Black Label and the Damn Fine Band to name a few. Bitzer are Steve Edmonds, Lucy Desoto, Steve Mulry, Steve King, Mick O’Shea and Mick Arnold – and they have just released their debut, self titled six track EP that pays tribute to some of this country’s finest hard rock bands and the glory days of Oz pub rock.  The EP opens with a supremely bitchin’, full tilt cover of AC/DC’s classic ‘Riff Raff’, with Steve Edmonds not only shredding on guitar, but belting out a vocal that would bring a smile to Bon’s face.  Edmonds is a great player, and deserves greater recognition. Go check out the Steve Edmonds Band if you get a chance. Next up, Lucy De Soto gives ‘Bad Boy For Love’ the sultry, low down jazz treatment.  I’ve seen Lucy enough times over the years to know that as a jazz/blues singer, she can compete with the best of ‘em, and on ‘Bad Boy’ her vocal is lush and deeply rich, highlighting the stripped back arrangement that gives a fresh, diverse appeal to Ian Rilen’s classic. Speaking of Rilen, Lucy again takes lead vocal on a menacing cover of his tune, ‘401’, originally from the Hell To Pay album ‘Steal It’. I like this a lot.  I also like Black Label a lot – with Steve Mulry out front. Black Label are the best band in Australia – fact (search through this blog for reviews of their recent albums) and in Mulry, they have a front man with a distinctive, strong and appealing voice that reeks of authenticity. Mulry tackles a cover of the Angels ‘Marseilles’ that is as every bit as raw and rockin’ as the original. If you want evidence of his vocal versatility and ability, listen to his super strong delivery on ‘No Times For Games’. The Midnight Oil classic never sounded this good! Listening to this killer tune reminds me that Pete should return to rock ‘n’ roll. MP stands for microphone please! Steve Edmonds again takes lead vocal on a tasty cover of Kevin Borich’s ‘Gonna See My Baby Tonight’ that is catchy with a capital C.  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. At only 9 bucks, you have no excuse for not buying a copy of Oz Rock Six Pack. Buy it here.

Here are a couple of items from the last Billy Thorpe gig I attended. Friday 24 August, 2001 was the date, the venue was the Yallah Woolshed, in Yallah (not far from Albion Park) in the Illawarra. I have a few memories  of the night, though not as many as I can recall. If I had of known it would be the last time I saw Thorpie, I would have savoured every moment. Alas, hindsight again. I do recall that Screaming Jets bass player Paul Woseen was in his band, as was Pig Morgan on keyboards. Thorpie was blazing away, as you’d expect, on lead guitar. At the end of the gig, I managed to have a quick word to Thorpie, who also signed a CD for me (see photo). Unfortunately I accidentally smudged the signature by shoving it into my jacket pocket before it has dried, but it says, “To Col, Keep Rockin’, Billy Thorpe”. Pretty cool sentiment from the great man. I still think so. I gave him a CD copy of the first volume of ‘Rock n Roll War’ released on my old label Vicious Kitten Records, and spoke briefly about Pete Wells, who was on the album. Great night, great memories, now over ten years ago. Keep Rockin Thorpie…..

"To Col, Keep Rockin, Billy Thorpe"

Greg Clarke, the former tour manager for Billy Thorpe and current tour manager for Rose Tattoo has died in Sydney from a suspected heart attack. He had only just turned 50 in April.  Greg worked with Billy Thorpe from 1995 to 2007 and has been tour manager and Front of House Engineer for Rose Tattoo since January 2006. He also worked with Chugg Entertainment as the company IT manager, tour manager and, as he called it, “computer geek and email fixer-upperer”. Greg also once worked for The Angels and on the Long Way To The Top tour. Rest in peace.

Mick Cocks in 1988

For a long time there, particularly during the late 80s and early 90’s, Michael Thomas Cocks looked ageless, like he’d been drinking heartily from the fountain of youth. Yet he we are, the 22nd of December, 2010 and Cocksy has been gone for a year already. Sure there was benefit concert for him in July, 2009 at the Enmore whilst he was still alive, but one year after his death, with no sign of any tribute gig  – spare a thought for Mick, one of rock’s finest. Since his death, Murray Engleheart’s excellent book  ‘Blood Sweat & Beers’ has been released, and that book certainly pays tribute to the man and his music – and it will hopefully serve as a long standing reference for kids to go read and discover the guy who really wrote the blue print for Guns ‘n’ Roses and all those other wannabes. Cocks was the real deal – fact.  His ‘stutter gun’ method of right hand playing gave him an original sound and style that heavily influenced bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, who despite all their bravado, never even came close (although apparently they did ask Cocks to replace Izzy Stradlin). If you wanna hear what I’m talking about with the term ‘stutter gun’, go listen to the riffing in ‘Nice Boys’ or ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw’ or better yet, ‘Manzil Madness’. I never saw him with Heaven, although I do have a couple of bootlegs from shows in LA they did in 84 when they were based there. As a rock disciple and a student of rock history, I knew how significant a band the Tatts were, so when I saw a lot of Cocksy playing around the traps in Sydney in the late 80’s I lapped it all up. To see Cocksy and Wellsy playing together in Heart Attack was indeed something special.  Many venues, many dates – most of which escape me. He was great with the Headhunters, he was great with the Wild Colonial Boys (click here to read a review of the Wild Colonial Boys and hear a Mick Cocks guitar solo from 1988). In 93 I saw a bunch of the reformed Tatts shows and Mick was great, as you’d expect.  I even saw him in 1992 in Canberra playing rhythm guitar with TMG and a few Tatts shows in 98.  I never saw him in Doomfoxx but I have their album and its killer. Even after seeing him live all those times I never once bothered to get a photo with him, or to get him to sign something, cos I thought that these guys would last forever and would always be around. I do remember chatting to him at the Gladesville Hotel in 1990 though where I saw him lead a version of Heart Attack minus Pete Wells. (I think I have that show on cassette somewhere). Mick was only 54 when he died. Far too young, and like many others, I will always remember him fondly.

Heart Attack 1990 (Mick Strutt, Pete Wells, Lucy De Soto, Paul Demarco, Mick Cocks)

And you know something? If you look skyward and you hear a thunderous sound emanating from the heavens, fear not. It’s just the house band – Digger Royal on drums, Ian Rilen on bass, Wellsy and Cocksy on guitars, and Thorpie out front – playing loud, very very loud. If you listen real close, you can still hear that ‘stutter gun’ blazing away. RIP Mick Cocks. Never forgotten.

Check out a Mick Cocks interview from 1988 that talks about the Wild Colonial Boys project here.

Dork alert - it's Short Stack

Last Sunday evening I found myself channel surfing, and with no rugby league, baseball or decent historical documentary to watch – I landed on the industry backslapping night of nights known as the ARIA (or Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards. Powderfinger were on, and the kids were lapping it up. Powderfinger are a great example of musical mediocrity being thrust to the top of the Oz industry when there’s really little else by way of competition. Did you read the ARIA hype about Powderfinger ? “In a fitting finale to their phenomenal music career,” and “One of the most beloved bands in Australian history”. Who wrote this tripe ? Phenomenal ? Please, spare me.  If you hang around for 15 or so years, people start to heap the ‘legendary’ or ‘phenomenal’  tag on you that was once only reserved for such acts as Chisel, Easybeats, Skyhooks,  Divinyls, Angels and the like. I saw Powderfinger very early on in their career in 1995 at the Manly Vale Hotel. They were OK. Middle of the road, certainly not deserved of all this lavish praise that’s bestowed upon them. How much overseas success did they have by the way ? Yup, there you go. They were named after a Neil Young tune, so points for that. As the night wore on, I found myself squirming as each act was announced, each more and more derivative. As far as I’m concerned, the best days of Australian rock ‘n’ roll are gone. The music lives on – but with no Billy Thorpe, Peter Wells, Ian Rilen, Lobby Loyde and the like, it’s pretty much over.  I saw all those guys, so why would I get excited over a band like Temper Trap ? Shortstack ? Sure, I know, they ain’t pitching at my demographic, but with the funny haircuts and the lightweight guitar pop sounds derivative of everything that came before them, I’m sorry kids, but these dudes ain’t the saviours of rock n roll.  Whilst I’m at it – bands like For Our Hero (any name will do nowadays for a band) and Shortstack have the cute factor that may appeal to the 14 year old girls (and maybe some confused boys too, as the image they portray looks pretty bloody feminine to me), but no musical integrity at all. Are these kids the future of rock n roll ? If so, count me out. Yet back to the ARIAs, still they came. Washington, The Temper Trap, Operator Please, Birds Of Tokyo – still I could see no Aussie rock torch bearers amongst this lot. The night wore on with ‘MOST POPULAR INTERNATIONAL ARTIST’ going to London quartet MUMFORD AND SONS. Of these banjo playing geeks, Aria write “With a gutsy, old-time sound that marries the magic of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with the might of Kings of Leon, their incredible energy has drawn Australian music fans in to their circle of songs, to the warmth of their stories, and to their magical community of misty-eyed men.” Who wrote this crap? Why is the Australian recording industry acknowledging a NON AUSTRALIAN band, particularly a bunch of limeys? Do you think in the UK they have a category for ‘best Australian Band’? I think not.  The night was hosted by eternal hipster but still irrelevant DYLAN LEWIS. Predictably, every Mum’s favourite GUY SEBASTIAN performed live, as did the tie died friends of Bob Brown JOHN BUTLER TRIO. Who else made an appearance? Yep, the same old faces were trotted out – Timmy Rogers, the ever so funny ‘Chaser Boys’, Kasey Chambers and the absolutely awful Jessica Mauboy. The only highlight of the night was the appearance of the always smoking hot Carmen Elektra (whoops, Electra).  The amazingly talented stalwart James Morrison (who as a musician was head and shoulders above all others there) won the award for best Jazz album but where was he ? Why didn’t he perform ? He has a funny haircut too. AUTHENTIC bands like Black Label have been around for a long long time and are completely ignored by ARIA – so it shows you just relevant the association is. Who will save Australian rock n roll ? After watching this garbage, I’m buggered if I know. You tell me  – then we’ll both know.

Blood, Sweat and Beers: Oz Rock from the Aztecs to Rose Tattoo’ looks like one hellava great book ! Leading Australian rock journalist Murray Engleheart has been working on this title for some time and it will hit the shelves of Australian stores soon – (1st November is the release date). I personally cannot wait to read this one. If you are a fan of Thorpie, the Rosie Tatts, Angels – or Australian Rock in general – this book is one you must add to your collection. Will add an updated post with a book review soon !

Further info here

This is a re-published interview/article we conducted with the much-missed Lobby Loyde in 1998

If ever a book is written on Lobby Loyde it will sure as hell make for interesting reading. Loyde is an Australian rock n roll icon, who has been treading the boards since 1963. His cutting edge guitar playing has influenced a generation, unquestionably bestowing upon him the tag of Australia’s first real guitar hero. In a 35 year career he has pushed the boundaries of rock n roll, searching for new limits in sound whilst destroying others. From raw R&B, to thunderous boogie and then into the psychedelic unknown, he remains an innovative, captivating musician, whose rock n roll remains essential listening. Born in 1946 in Longreach, Queensland, Loyde studied classical music at an early age before taking up the electric guitar as a teen. The early 60’s saw him playing in Brisbane instrumental outfit The Stilettos, before he joined R&B outfit The Impacts as lead guitarist. The Impacts became The Purple Hearts, an Australian equivalent of The Pretty Things. Their brash, almost destructive, approach to R&B coupled with the group’s unkempt appearance, ensured their reputation as Brisbane’s finest. The Purple Hearts made some uncompromising R&B singles, moved to Melbourne, and Lobby became the name on everybody’s lips. When he was not blowing out amps on stage and punishing the crowd with excessive volume, he was electrifying all around with his original and punchy guitar work. In 1967, The Purple Hearts folded with Loyde looking for new progressive experimentation as opposed to the limited trappings of straight RnB. He set about leading The Wild Cherries from free jazz/blues experimentalists into anarchistic psychedelia. Well ahead of their time, the local industry was nowhere near ready for the Cherries, and after four singles they folded (although Loyde revived the band again in 71). Rock historian Glenn A Baker says, “They are equivalent to Detroit’s Stooges or MC5. They were what rock dreams are made of !” In 1969, Billy Thorpe was living in Melbourne, re-inventing the Aztecs, both in image and sound. The man teaching Thorpie his new heavy rock guitar sound was Lobby Loyde. Loyde spent three years with the Aztecs and was no doubt responsible for the Aztecs status as undisputed heavy weight blues-rock kings of the early 70’s. Yet as has been repeated in his career, Loyde again opted for change, and split from the Aztecs. He released his rock solid debut LP ‘Lobby Loyde Plays George Guitar’ in 1971, and performed with Gerry Humphries (of The Loved Ones fame) as part of the Gerry & the Joy Band ensemble. Lobby Loyde then set out to shake the Oz music industry to its foundations with The Coloured Balls. The Coloured Balls arguably represent Loyde’s finest work. To this day I can still listen to The Coloured Balls and the music remains raw, uncompromising and captivating, combining heavy rock power with purpose. Fantastic straight ahead heavy rock with a boogie flavour, and an obvious influence on Rose Tattoo and Angry Anderson in particular. By 1973, Coloured Balls were the biggest crowd puller in Melbourne. They appeared at Sunbury in that year, and released the brutal ‘Ball Power’ LP (thankfully now available on CD). An image of skinhead rock n roll outlaws did not endear them to an industry caught up with the sluggish and pompous sounds of others around at the time, and greater success eluded them. Again, Loyde was ahead of his time. In 1974, they farewelled with the ‘Heavy Metal Kid’ LP and folded, leaving Loyde somewhat bitter from his experiences. He cut a second solo LP called ‘Obsecration’ and by the mid-70’s had split to England, fed up with the Australian industry. He embraced the punk revolution in England, perhaps only then understanding just how close to the punk pulse the Balls really were, both in attitude and sound. At that time he began to fulfil a desire to produce bands, and sat in on recording sessions with Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Police and Roxy Music. He returned to Australia in 79 where the punk/new wave movement had moved the cobwebs from the industry. He played bass with Rose Tattoo and formed the Southern Electric/Sudden Electric aka Empty Halls Band (which featured Angry Anderson on vocals). This outfit released the ‘Live With Dubs’ LP and is well worth picking up. Lobby did appear on some recordings with Rose Tattoo but they remain in the vault. However, it was as a producer which Loyde began a second career. Since producing X’s seminal classic from 1980 ‘Aspirations’, he has gone on to produce artists of such calibre as Kevin Borich, the Machinations, Flaming Hands, Sunnyboys and Painters & Dockers to name but a few. He remained behind the scene for much of the 80’s before returning to Melbourne’s stages with supergroup Dirt, an outfit he still performed with in the early 90’s. He currently performs with Melbourne based outfit Fish Tree Mother, who play ‘music for the mind & body’ and by all reports are a killer live unit. Vicious Kitten caught up with Lobby recently and found him living happily in the Dandenong Ranges with his family, content to make and record music in his sandstone garage. I asked Lobby to describe Fish Tree Mother. “Hard to say, the sound is hard but experimental. It’s a pleasure band, the audience seems to like it but the industry would hate it”. I asked him about his current projects, whether he had been recording or gigging of late. “We play the odd gig, the Espy and what not, but Fish Tree Mother is a fun band, we jam, we enjoy it. We are knocking up a CD which may see release before the end of the year, but who knows, the songs may be available on the Internet.” I asked Lobby about any future releases, like maybe a double CD collection of his entire works ? “A collection of my works ? It’s hard to get the rights to your own stuff. Back then we signed contracts not knowing too much about it cos’ we were just in it for the music, I don’t know. Sooner or later something will come out.” I asked Lobby about the possibility of a book being written about his career. “Not really, most people are only interested in the Coloured Balls stuff, but I guess if the right person came along it would be fine”. I also asked if he was content at this stage in his life ? “Yeah, I am. I’d like to keep playing. For me, the pleasure I get out of the music is the most important thing nowadays, and I consider myself to be very lucky to have gone from good band to good band. The most frustrating thing about the industry is the teen oriented scene; there is nowhere where we can play. The industry is very big on trends and clones and re-birth. Life shouldn’t be a parody from your past.” Which leads to further discussion about the current Rose Tattoo reformation tour. “Rilen and Cocksy have put the oomph back into it. Wellsy and Angry are legends anyway, but Rilen is one of the geniuses of the rock scene. I love Sardine, and X. Rilen is one of the great visionaries, the music industry never understood him. He’s a pretty intense guy, there aren’t too many like him.” So there you have it, a one-page introduction to Lobby Loyde. If you want the whole story, you will just have to hope that a book does indeed see the light of day ! (note: some source and inspiration taken from Vol. 1 No. 2 of From The Vault magazine)