Posts Tagged ‘Divinyls’

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.   


The 4th (and best) single off the 1991 album

The fourth single released off their big selling self-titled album from 1991. It is also one of the stand-out tracks on the record, and – oddly enough – not written by either Amphlett or McEntee. This ballad just gets better with age, and it is timeless. It is Christina Amphlett’s vocal delivery on the tune which makes is memorable – be in do doubt about that. The break-through album, which came after 10 years of hard work on the tough Australian live circuit, is one of my favorite Divinyls records. If you have dismissed this platter, then give it another whirl – ‘Lay Your Body Down’, the stunning ‘If Love Was a Gun’, ‘Bless My Soul (It’s Rock-n-Roll)” – yes folks, this was indeed the Divinyls time and their success was well deserved. From memory me and The Cowboy took in a few more live gigs during this period – one show was a freebie on a Sunday afternoon at Sydney’s Kings Cross – and another was at the Queanbeyan Leagues Club on Boxing Day of 1991 – in a year which turned out to be one of the best – for one of the most impressive acts Australia has produced.

Divinyls take Tiffany’s – 1988 – photo: Anthony Leary

This image is one of my blog co-hort’s personal faves. What’s ironic – is – that although I saw and photographed the Divinyls a lot during the Temperamental tour, I am fairly certain I did not take this image ! The ol’ brain has forgotten much since 1988, but I think this was taken by an old rock n roll comrade named Anthony Leary, and the venue in question was Tiffany’s at Blacktown, in Sydney’s west. The image itself has a lot of magic. McEntee – locked in that familiar pose of his – whilst his long time rock n roll partner Christina, arms folded, is caught in moment of stage solitude. Truly great – well done Mr Leary….

What: Promo Poster for Divinyls ‘Desperate’ album
Winning Bid: $71 US
Starting Bids: $9.95 US
Sale Dates: 13 August 2012

Can you believe this debut from our very own Divinyls is three decades old ? Not just one of the best-ever debut records to come outta Australia – but one of the best slabs of loud and proud, hook-laden guitar-fuelled rock n roll that you will ever hear. Enough of the cliche’s though, if you are a clueless teenager reading this, I encourage you to find out what we downunder have known for a long time (at least in the Rockbrat world) – that this act were the real deal and would still blow most other band away. This amazing looking promo poster just got upped on eBay and got a good price too. Photographer Gary Heery did the iconic album sleeve and it is a treat to see an outtake from that session.

Chrissie Amphlett appeared on Australian TV this year talking about her crippling battle with MS, looking frail and aged. After being inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2006, and a brief reformation, she and Mark McEntee finally laid the Divinyls to rest in 2009. I have many great memories of seeing Divinyls with Mr. Rockbrat. I am fortunate to have seen so many of Australia’s best bands from the 80s in their prime. Here is the band in front of over 100 000 people at the US Festival in 83. The time will come when all of Australia’s best bands from those halcyon days will be all gone. Arguably, the best frontwoman from any band. Divinyls should have been a worldwide phenomena.

Back in 1988, this casette tape got serious rotation in the Rockbratmobile. The Divinyls were world class – a band who wrote and recorded some amazing rock n roll songs. They  remain one of my favorite ever live acts and it is an unjustice that they never tasted greater success. Sure they had a worldwide hit in 1991, but after ten years of hard slog, no one could deny them – and they were deserving of it. Bizarrely I can recall hearing that blasting from some limey’s car stereo whilst living in sowwf London at the time. I wonder just how many people bothered to discover thee band’s back catalogue after hearing I Touch Myself for the first time, or whether many just assumed they were a one hit wonder ?
Personally it is a tune I have trouble listening to. Some folks labelled it a ‘novelty’ type song – (something this hard edged Australian act definitly were not) which could be the reason it makes me wince. The very limited Riot Grrrl clone Pink I think covered this, and my spies tell me Nashville songstress Annie McCue has recently tackled the the band’s mid-80’s hit ‘Pleasure and Pain’. (McQ herself got a close look at the Divinyls’ live power when her former band Girl Monstar shared stages with them in the late 80’s – but I digress…)
Me and the Cowboy saw the band many times in 1988 on the road in support of this album. Blacktown in Sydney’s west, Dee Why, the St James Tavern – even a show at Manly beach (was it North Curl Curl ? I was never a wax head – up the Fibro’s) and even one gig whilst on a State of Origin jaunt in May of that year at Alexandria Headlands on the Sunshine Coast ! (footy = rock don’t forget). A loud, riotous, sweaty Christmas Eve gig at the Ermington Hotel that year will stay with me forever as well. When they were on form and in a hungry mood, no one and I mean no one could match Amphlett, McEntee and Co in the live environment.
Temperamental is probably my favorite Divinyls album. I also love the criminally ignored Underworld record, but if I had to choose just one, this might be it. (1982’s ‘Desperate’ will be looked at later – what a killer debut that was).  I purchased a red vinyl copy of Temperamental back in the day and also souvenired a promo sticker from the record store wall. Amphlett was often compared in the local Sydney press to Angus. School uniforms aside, it was the axiumum energy levels of both which I assume they were alluding to. Mr Rockbrat often wonders what woulda happened if this band had’ve got on board the Alberts roster back in the early – mid 80’s ?! Something to ponder another time I guess……. This album has so many great songs on it. Did this record break into the fickle top ten in Australia up on released ? I cannot recall, but I do remember the ‘Back To The Wall’ track getting a large dose of radio airplay – and rightly so. It is a tune which is as close to guitar-pop perfection which you’ll find, and has that McEntee signature riff in the chorus. ‘Better Days’ is another album stand-out. The gritty ‘Dirty Love’ is probably my favorite track on Temperamental – killer opening riff and crunching break with a 1-2-3-4 holler from Amphlett. Brings back fond memories of seeing them churn this out live back at the time. The seldom written-about Chrissie falsetto at songs end is a highlight too !  Punxsie is another amazing song which is easily on par with anything they’d ecorded previously – a high bench mark indeed. Their cover of Hey Little Boy was cleverly done and the catchy tune Fighting rounds this platter off nicely.  Folks, there are no duds on this album. I Ioved it then and I love it just as much now – maybe more so. If you thought this high calibre rock band from Sydney were a one-trick pony courtesy of their 1991 radio hit,  you need to re-think your opinion. Temperamental is a great place to start.

I cannot think of a better album to crank at the start of a (ahem) working week, than this gem. I love the Divinyls big time. They were the real deal my friends and when they were blasting it out live in a shitty, sweaty pub in the Australian suburbs at maximum volume, you can bet Mr Rockbrat was lapping it up. Temperamental is close to my heart as I followed the tour back in 1988 quite a bit – before they went off the road and headed to the States to record the album that would give them a worldwide hit. But man, this record (I got a red vinyl copy kids) contains some of the classiest, rock guitar tunes ever crafted. Back To the Wall. Does it get any better ? Why I why aint modern radio playing this today. It blows most of the current crapola away. What about the title track…or the great McEntee riff to start Fightin ? Got nothing new to listen to kids ? Go discover.