Posts Tagged ‘Lobby Loyde’

143814-L-LO.jpgFestival Records thankfully continue to reissue/repackage and reinvigorate great Australian rock ‘n’ roll that would otherwise be lost to time. ‘When Sharpies Ruled’ is a 23 track compilation CD with exhaustive liners notes, a superb photo book and a wealth of first hand insight – not just into the music – but the whole Sharpie sub-culture as well. Vicious Sloth Collectables from Melbourne ably assisted in this compilation – with head Sloth Glen Terry providing insightful liner notes. Sharpies, or Sharps, were members of suburban youth gangs in Australia, most significantly from the 1960s and 1970s who were particularly prominent in Melbourne, but were also found in Sydney and Perth to lesser extents. The name comes from their focus on looking and dressing “sharp”. Sharpies would often congregate in large numbers, regularly attending live bands at town hall and high school dances and early discos. They were identified by their distinctive close cropped haircuts and attire of Lee or Levi jeans, cardigans, jumpers, and T-shirts.

The most well-known of all ‘Sharp’ bands— were the Coloured Balls, and they are well represented here with three songs, ‘Time Shapes,’ ‘Flash’ and ‘Love You Babe’.  The Coloured Balls had the ‘sharp’ look, right down to the haircuts, and were the most identifiable of all sharp bands – and arguably the sub-cultures musical embodiment. Their hard rocking boogie sound was due to the distinctive guitar of Lobby Loyde, a player who still hasn’t got his dues for pioneering influence on Oz guitar rock.  From the Brisbane days of Purple Hearts right though to Rose Tattoo and even latter day material he recorded with Fish Tree Mother – his impact cannot be overstated. And let’s not forget the hand he played as a producer on many of Australia’s punk and post punk bands including X and the Sunnyboys.  Dig deep into his musical history – the Coloured Balls is a good place to start, and on this comp you get 3 top notch Balls tunes. Dig the solo on ‘Time Shapes’ and you will get a glimpse of why he is revered by so many – but not enough in my books.

Thorpie is also included here with ‘Let’s Have A Party’, a deep live cut from Sunbury ’74, as are Buster Brown with ‘Roll Over Beethoven. If you have never heard Angry pre-Rose Tattoo, this is a good starting point. As is well known, Buster Brown included future members of AC/DC and Tattoo in their ranks. The inclusion of Skyhooks, another of Melbourne’s early 70’s cutting edge outfits is noteworthy, as Greg Macainsh, as an art student, had put together a film on the Sharps called ‘Sharpies’ in 1974. Macainsh’s liner notes and photo stills from his film add greater authenticity to the CD as a whole. One of, if not the, song writer of his generation.

Finch are remembered most for having hot shot young guitar player Bob Spencer in their ranks, yet one listen to ‘Out Of Control’ or the glam punk hit ‘Hey Spunky’ reminds the listener that charismatic front man Owen Orford had a great set of pipes and were a great band who wrote great hard rock hits with melody aplenty. Yet its Orford’s stout vocal delivery that lifted the Finch material. I still think that ‘Hey Spunky’ sounds like ‘Bad Boy For Love’, at least on the verses. Hey Spunky sounds great given the digital treatment.  Finch were killer, as were there reincarnation, Contraband.

Rose Tattoo’s blistering ‘Remedy’ fits with the album’s theme, and sounds superb. The song belongs to Mick Cocks, the man with the fastest right hand. The precision, the guitar tone – it never sounded better than on ‘Remedy’. A song that almost 40 odd years later would still blow most others away for sheer power and intensity.

Timeline is important. Whilst sharps weren’t purely a Melbourne based sub-culture, this is where they were most prominent.  In today’s homogenised society, people forget that their once existed a Sydney Melbourne rivalry. The whole Speedwell Malvern Star thing. Melbourne had trams, they played VFL, Sydney was a rugby league town where Tooths or Reschs were the brewers of choice.  You remember the scene in ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ where the Sydney cab driver tells Graham Kennedy to get back to Melbourne? Lines were drawn –and this also extended, to a lesser extent, to rock n roll. Whilst bands like Hush, TMG and Newcastle’s Rabbit never sported any crew cuts, musically, they had broad appeal that attracted the sharp crowd – in the same way that a band like Slade did, with their infectious glam boogie stomp. The great blues player Kevin Borich also gets a couple of tunes on the CD, one with the La De Das and also with the KB Express. ‘I’m Goin’ Somewhere’ in particular is a lesser known Oz hard rock/blues classic and reason enough for you to buy this CD. Great tune.

Other prominent Melbourne bands to get a guernsey on the CD are Taste with ‘Tickle Your Fancy’, the title track from their debut album – and also La Femme, with the ’79 punk classic ‘Chelsea Kids’. La Femme may have sounded like they came out of Bromley, but they in fact had Sharp bloodlines, and included ex Sharpie gang members in their ranks. ‘Chelsea Kids’ is a classic. Fact. If you thought the Sharpie influence on music/fashion/culture had died out by the late 70s, you were mistaken. Some may recall Tracy Mann’s character ‘Samantha’ in the 1980 movie ‘Hard Knocks’. I digress.

As a fan of Oz rock, what makes this an essential purchase is the inclusion of three songs by Fat Daddy, Bullet and Fatty Lumpkin. The singles by these three bands are near impossible to find, yet have been dusted off, digitalised and made available to all – and this is where Festival Records excel. No other Australian label has the dedication, devotion nor commitment to long lost Oz rock quite like the good folk at Festival – and they do it very well.

Fat Daddy released a great slice of boogie back in ’76 with their single, ‘Roll Daddy Roll’ on Brian Cadd’s Bootleg label. Its inclusion here is important as Fat Daddy were popular with the sharps. On a side note, Fat Daddy morphed into another great Melbourne hard rock band called Texas. (I interviewed Ken Murdoch of Taste/Texas a couple of years back and we talked about these bands and this time period in Melbourne rock. Listen to that interview free here). Perth’s Fatty Lumpkin released four singles in their four year existence yet never an album. ‘Movin’ from 1976  is great, original hard rock with John Meyer’s distinctive fret work prominent. Meyer later turned up in Perth HM band Saracen and then Rose Tattoo. The inclusion of ‘Movin’ on this CD is gold – a nugget that deserves to be heard.

The inclusion of the glam-edged ‘Rock My Lady’ from long forgotten mid 70’s Sydney hard rockers Bullet is further reason to pick up the album. Bullet only released one single on the Atlantics label, Chicago Records. Man this rocker has groove with a capital G and sounds revitalized given the digital treatment. Festival could also have gone with ‘Mover’ the equally rockin B side, and lost no slack. 23 tracks in total – and no filler in sight. I must also mention the artwork and packaging that accompanies this CD. Festival have really gone to town with this one. Nice slip case and two booklets laden with information, reminiscences, facts, musings and a stack more. One booklet is 28 pages, the other a whopping 60 page photo book stacked with original images provided by sharpies from the period. All in all – a no risk ten out of ten from Cowboy Col. Available where all good CD’s are sold, including here. Thoroughly recommended.  

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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.

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

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)