Posts Tagged ‘Ian Rilen’

rilen.jpgDamn this is good….real good. If this isn’t the best Australian release of the year then I’d like to know what is.
Is it necessary to introduce the man ? OK, for the benefit of the few who weren’t listening the first time around. Rilen formed the seminal Australian rock ‘n’ roll beast that be Rose Tattoo, created new visions in boogie punk with X, and has since been with Sardine V, the truly wonderful Hell To Pay and over recent years has carved out a niche for himself with his own outfit, Skindiver. Like his tattooed brother-in-arms Pete Wells, Rilen is the real deal. He creates real rock ‘n’ roll, soaked in beer, sweat, and a lifetime of rock ‘n’ roll memories that a thousand pretentious Axl Rose wannabe’s could only dream of. Don’t expect the blistering heavy boogie of the Tatts though. Uh uh. Take it down a few notches and feel the low-down cool of a man who has lived the life, and has the scars to prove it. New versions of ‘401’ and ‘Booze To Blame’ swagger along with intent, guided by Rilen’s liquor scarred throaty vocal delivery. ‘Letter’ a simple, low-down guitar ditty is hard to beat, as is the authentic delivery of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Man’, self-expression if ever there was. ‘It’s OK’ with it’s simple three chord shuffle and likeable low-down melody comes close to being the album’s personal pick, yet that plaudit goes to ‘Deep Sea Floor’, a stark and emotive plea, stripped back, with Rilen’s deep voice shining through on a song thats brilliance relies entirely on it’s uncomplicated charm and easy drifting melody. Songs of love, broken hearts, booze and rock ‘n’ roll, Rilen has come up trumps. My god was, is and always shall be Johnny Thunders, a guy whose authenticity, originality, and sincerity put him in a class that few come close to. Those three same qualities you will find in Ian Rilen. In my humble opinion, Love is Murder is the Australian album of the year. Buy some bona fide rock ‘n’ roll spirit today, an enriching listening experience.

(Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 6: Jan 2001)


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.

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 & Beers : Oz Rock From The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo by Murray Engleheart

It is an honor to be the first person on the internet to review this book – the latest penned by the highly acclaimed Australian music writer Murray Engleheart. ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers : Oz Rock From The Aztecs to Rose Tattoo’ is just that and so much more – and it’s been in the works since the late 80’s. Engleheart mentions in the book, that since that time – Peter Wells, Mick Cocks and Ian Rilen – all key subject figures – have sadly passed away, giving the ending of the works a somewhat ‘memorial’ feel. Wells, Cocks and Rilen were the genuine article – the real rock n roll deal my friends. If you don’t know who they are, then for goddsake purchase this book and learn. The tales from Billy Thorpe (also sadly gone) are told straight to the author as is – and are truly fascinating. So too the Rose Tattoo and Angels stories – like Pete’s final gig at Narara – where the Tatts walked on at 12.30am after Cold Chisel’s marathon set and went about blowing the roof off. This book covers much territory and contains some truly rare and remarkable photographs. There is a great live shot of Duff McKagen on a Melbourne stage with the Tatts from early 1993. When you mention ‘Australia’ and ‘rock n roll’ to someone they most likely think of AC/DC – and rightly so. But they are only just scratching the surface – on an amazing era in the history of Oz Rock. When I  saw this on the book shelf sitting next to Vince Neil’s ‘Tattoos & Tequila’ I nearly laughed aloud. It’s like parking an E49 V8 Charger next to a Commodore – I mean – gimme a break ! Guys like Ian Rilen, Micks Cocks, Peter Wells and Lobby Lloyde were more rock n roll than Neil will ever be – and they left the world largely unknown – an injustice.  Their amazing lives and rock n roll tales are contained in these pages and this book goes a long way to righting that wrong. ‘Blood, Sweat and Beers’ is informative and well researched and is without a doubt one of the most important titles  ever written on Australian rock n roll.

Recently dusted off for your listening pleasure, here is a 10 minute interview with Ian Rilen and Steve Lucas on Double J at the time of the release of X’s glorious ‘Aspirations’ LP. We’ve cleaned up the sound a little bit for you, enjoy my friends. Dedicated to the memory of the one and only, Ian Rilen. Listen here

Hell To Pay were a Melbourne band who existed from around 1991 to 1993. They were, to coin an often over used phrase, ‘the real deal’. Any band that included both Ian Rilen and Spencer Jones in their ranks was always gonna be top shelf, and so they were. If you wanna talk inner city supergroup, then look no further than this lot. Rilen was on guitar and vocals. Spencer Jones was on lead guitar and vocals. Jon Schofield (ex Grooveyard, Paul Kelly) was on bass, and former JJJ DJ Tony Biggs was on drums. Cathy Green of X also played bass on the album. The band were signed to Red Eye Records in Sydney and released a CD single called ‘Saints & King’ in 1991, and an album, ‘Steal It’ in 1992. Both are long out of print, but are essential if you are fan of either Jones or Rilen. All the tunes are gritty and real and highlight Rilen’s talent as a writer. Lobby Loyde told me once “Ian Rilen is a true genius’, and these tracks reflect that. No one ever came close to Rilen for sheer authenticity and street level realism. I was fortunate to see the band on three occasions, twice at Max’s, Petersham, and once, on a Tuesday night, at the Crows Nest Hotel. The Rockbrat also managed to get my copy of ‘Steal It’ signed by the band.