For those who rocked we salute you!

For those who rocked we salute you!Before we plug-in and start to play in 2018, let’s tilt the hat and acknowledge some of the great artist’s who left us during the year.

Malcolm Young; (Aged 64) The co-founder, mastermind and rhythm guitar great behind the AC/DC story sadly left us during the year, after succumbing to a diagnosis of dementia and it’s effect. Malcolm’s legacy will long be remembered and live on through the generations of budding guitarists emulating his riffs as a right of passage when learning the guitar.

Tom Petty; (Aged 66) Sometimes the universe throws up a strange hand, it just didn’t seem like Tom’s time alas all we can do is remember the man’s greatness and the legacy he left.

A true american story-teller (greatest hits) Petty spoke to the everyman, whether it be via a four on the floor rocker or a melancholy lament, you belong among the wild flowers Tom, go easy.

Grant Hart;(Aged 56)  Grant Hart will be remembered by many (including the author) as leaving an indelible impression on the teenage psyche thanks to Husker Du , the band he formed in Minnesota in 1979 with Bob Mould and Greg Norton. Hart was a formidable drummer who would pound the kit with in an inch of its life whilst being able to simultaneously delivery beautiful and intense vocals. Whilst Mould wrote the majority of the band’s material Hart’s songwriting efforts were formidable from the early spine chilling “Dianne” to “Sorry Somehow” and “Don’t want to know if you are lonely” from 1986 major label offering ‘Candy Apple Grey” LP. After Husker Du Grant switched to guitar and vocals and toured extensively playing a mix of his solo and Husker Du catalogue, you left this world a better place Grant.

Simon Holmes; (Aged 54) Any Aussie indie music fan who recalls the days of sticky carpets, the lack of craft beer and cigarette smoke indoors will no doubt remember the greatness of Simon Holmes and his band the Hummingbirds. The band’s 1984 debut single “Alimony” penned by Holmes, remains an Aussie indie classic, a beautiful swirling pop gem lamenting the break up of a relationship complete with flanger pedal up high in the mix and harmony vocals courtesy of band mate Alannah Russack, the original recording holds up as a snapshot of a fondly remembered time in the oz music scene. Holmes and band mates manged to take the Hummingbird’s to a greater audience with a major label (ok mini-major) deal to launch their debut album “Love Buzz” which spawned a top 20 hit with the single “Blush” the album reached a respectable position of 31 on the ARIA album charts. The Humminbirds called in a day in 1993. Holmes remained in the music industry both as a producer (Custard, Things of Stone & Wood) and as a performer with his band ” Her Name in Lights.” Thank you Simon.

Chris Cornell; (Aged 52) A big voice and a heart to match. Rccketing to fame with Soungarden one of the key band’s that spearheaded the 1990’s rock movement Cornell went onto continued success with AudioSlave and later as a solo artist. A sad loss for Rock n Roll, long may you outshine Chris Cornell.

Pat DiNizio; (Aged 62) Founding member of New – Jersey based rock band the Smithereens, who were known to play tough whilst having an ear for pop sensitivity they wore their hearts on the sleeves with a good dose of the Birds, The Beatles and Cheap Trick all contributing to their signature sound. Formed in 1980 the band found commercial success with the albums Especially For You and Green Thoughts. The hit singels “Blood & Roses”& “Behind the Wall of Sleep” have ecame rock radio mainstays.  Whilst large-scale commercial success would not follow them later in the career, these guys did it for the love of the music and their loyal fan base. Di Nizio is remembered fondly by band mates, fans and all that came across his path. Find Peace behind the wall of sleep Pat.

Tommy Keene; (Aged 59) Often mentioned under the reference of power pop heavyweight. Tommy Keene was an accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist he grew up in the state of Maryland and attended the same high school as Nils Lofgren (Keene played drums in one of Lofgren’s early bands). He came to attention of music fans with his 1984 EP ‘Places that are Gone” which received high rotation on college radio and became a hit with critics, being awarded a four start review with Rolling Stone at the time. He continued to record and tour working with the likes of Paul Westerberg, Don Dixon and the Goo Goo Dolls. He leaves behind an impressive body of work that is well worth researching if you haven’t already.

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Is this the best Rock 45 of all time ?

The debut single ‘My Pal” by Melbourne youngsters GOD was released in 1987 on the Au-Go-Go label out of Melbourne.Written by the band’s vocalist Joel Silbersher when he was just 15 years old, it has since gained the reputation of a punk rock classic, and often referenced as a defining track in Australian underground music by critics and artists alike. Dinosaur Jr, on the final show of their recent Australian 2017 tour invited Joel Silbersher on stage to do a face melting rendition of the song.

The interesting thing about this track is that it predated what would later be refered to as Grunge. These young tear aways were the real deal which is what gives ‘My Pal’ it’s sense of authenticity. Critics love to lament over great teenage anthems but this is no Undertones or Buzzcocks tribute, it stands alone as a rollicking statement of isolation and angst, the kind of gem that only comes a long once in a while, luckily captured to wax to enjoy for prosperity.

The song revolves around a descending guitar riff, that stamps itself on your brain. The song lyrics whilst simple and minimal ‘you’re my only friend and you don’t even like me’ are confronting and relatable at the same time’ letting the listener have a peak into the dark side of the teenage psyche.

Legend has it the original single was financed by Joel’s parents, in fact copies of the original press run of 500 have his parents residential address on the back cover, something they were none to pleased about,hence the label staff used a marker to black out the house number (I’m lucky enough to have this release and can confirm it is in fact the case).

The single was both a blessing and curse for the band, whist they produced a follow-up LP, they never really repeated the success and acclaim of their debut release. Band members went onto to well-regarded projects including ‘Hoss’ and the ‘Powder Monkeys’. ‘My Pal’ remains as one of the greatest rock songs ever written, who would have though these ankle bitters from Melbourne would have been responsible.

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The Dr’s Top 5 from the vault

Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight – Released in 1978 the difficult third album curse thank fully avoided Robin Zander and his merry men. This album introduced “Surrender” which quickly established itself as the band’s signature tune. The title track and ‘High Roller’remain personal favourites for the Dr. Everything came together on this gem, that still sounds as fresh and vibrant today as it did in 78.

The Plimsouls – Everywhere at Once – Their second LP this time on a major label, released in 1983 on Geffen Records. Stand out tracks include ‘Oldest story in the World’ and ‘ A million miles away’ (a minor hit after appearing in the movie Valley Girl). Lead singer Peter Case proved he can produce more hooks than a fishing tackle box with this outstanding effort.

20/20 – Self Titled – A finer slab of Power Pop you will struggle to find. Steve Allen (Guitar, vocals) and Ron Flynt (Bass, vocals) originally played together in Tulsa before chasing the sun and fun to California. Their debut album was released in 1979 on Portrait Records it flirted with commercial success, briefly reaching number 138 on the Billboard charts.Tight playing, power chords and great hooks make this release a worthy contender in the power pop hall of fame. Check out “Cherie” and “Yellow Pills” if you want a taste test.

The Stems – Love Will Grow EP – Hailing from Perth Western Australia and led by Dom Mariani, this killer release was issued in 1986 on Sydney label Citadel Records (label mates included the likes of Died Pretty and the Lime Spiders). After a couple of well received earlier singles the Stems established a reputation for a tough melodic sixties inspired sound that established their credentials with Aussie punters. The production of this four track release was in safe hands with Rob Younger (Radio Birdman vocalist) and Alan Thorne (Screaming Tribesmen, Paul Kelly). ‘Love Will Grow’ and ‘ Under your Mushroom’ are the standout tracks for the Dr..

The Huxton Creepers – 12 Days to Paris – Melbourne school friends formed this outfit in 1984. Vocalist Rob Craw and his mates had a single and a couple of tracks on various compilations under their belts before they released their debut long player. Considering the relative inexperience of the band, ’12 Days’ was a remarkably well crafted and produced album. Like the Stems, the boys made no secret of their like for sixties inspired pop, with a healthy dose of Flamin’ Groovies and Plimsouls inspired sound thrown in for good measure. Well crafted songs, great arrangements, and the guitars turned up loud in the mix saw this release receive both commercial and indie acclaim. The single ‘My Cherie Amour’ enjoyed respectable FM radio success whilst ‘ I will persuade you ‘ and ‘ Autumn Leaves’ quickly established themselves as live favorites.

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The Love Affair With Vinyl Continues…

I’m guessing a large portion of Dr Fuzz devotee’s have a long love affair with the wax format, let’s look beyond the hype and look at the trend to see if how the numbers stack up. This article was compiled by Mark Hogan from Pitchfork.

https://pitchfork.com/features/article/is-vinyls-comeback-here-to-stay/

 

 

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Vale Malcolm Young 1953 – 2017

It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of AC/DC founding member and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young.

Malcolm the no-nonsense rhythm guitarist co-founded AC/DC in 1973 with his brother Angus. Although born in Scotland the Young’s called Australia home from a young age, AC/DC went onto to be one of the most celebrated and acclaimed hard rock bands of all time.

Mostly content to let his brother Angus take the limelight on stage, Malcolm was no back seat driver he was the driving force responsible for a large degree of the band’s success, cowritting all of the bands major hits and underpinning the AC/DC signature sound by laying down tight bold granite like sheets of rhythm guitar. Whilst his physical presence at a height of 1.6 m, may not have been intimidating, make no mistake about Malcolm’s role in the band’s success.

Rest easy old son, Ride On………

 

 

 

From The Vault – “The Zeros”- Don’t push me around LP

The_Zeros_-_DonΒ΄t_Push_Me_Around_-_Front-1024x1024Despite being released for some time, this LP only came across my line of vision recently and boy I’m so glad it did.

For those that don’t know the story of the Zeros, it goes a little like this.  Formed in Southern California in 1976, the band were part of the first wave of West Coast punk.

1977 saw the band play their first official gig at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, on the same bill were the Germs and the Weirdos. The gig was promoted by none of than Peter Case who went to onto legendary acclaim with the Nerves and the Plimsouls.

The Zeros first single ‘Wimp / “Don’t push me around” was released in 1977 on Bomp ! Records, (“Wimp” would go on to be covered by the Likes of The Hoodoo Gurus and the Nomads).

The original line up included Javier Escovedo on guitar and lead vocals, Robert Lopez second guitar & vocals, Hector Penalosa on bass and Baba Chenelle on drums.

The band recorded a couple more killer singles 1978 – “Beat Your Heart Out”/ “Wild Weekend” on Bomp! and in 1980 -“They Say That (everything’s alright)” / “Getting Nowhere Fast” on Test Tube Records.

The band at the time never recorded the debut album that no doubt was bubbling away in side them, one can only guess it could have been up there with any of the great classic punk debut efforts, however we will never know.

The band effectively ran out of gas after the release of their third single. They reformed on and off and have recorded more material, over the years. The LP “Don’t Push Me Around” captures all the energy and excitement of their first incarnation, some have refered to the Zeroes as the Mexican Ramones, this is really just a lazy tag line. Their song’s like the Ramones are short sharp and fill of hooks, however for mine they have more in common with the Nerves and the Lurkers than the East Coast Brothers. You however should make up your own mind and add this essential disc to your collection, the Zeros are Hero’s in the Doctor’s eyes.

LP Track list – Don’t Push Me Around, Wimp, Main Street Brat, Hand-grenade Heart, Beat Your Heart Out, Wild Weekend, Cosmetic Couple, Rico Amour, Beat Your Heart Out, Getting Nowhere Fast, She’s just a Girl on the Block, They Say That (Everything’s Alright).

Gig Review – Ups & Downs, Mick Medew & the Mesmerisers

(Gig Review New Globe Theatre, Fortitude Valley Sat 1 Apil 2017)

The April fools were thin on the ground yesterday as Brisbane was the place where rock n roll dreams came true, playing not only host to the “Rock n Roll Writer’s Festival” but the keenly anticipated reunion of one of the city’s finest outfits “Ups and Downs”.

Mick Medew and his Mesmerisers shared the bill whipping up the punters into a power pop inspired frenzy with a mix of mesmerisers originals, a smattering of Screaming Tribesmen numbers and some killer covers, including a most excellent version of the Undertones “Teenage Kicks”. No matter how many times you hear the opening bars to “Igloo” (A crowd favourite and unofficial Screaming Tribesmen signature track co-written by Medew and Ron Peno) it has the ability to pull you in evoking a feeling of isolation in an eerie polar zone, complete with a red telephone, and a wandering shoe shine boy. Mick Medew wears his heart on his sleeve whether playing to a festival crowd or an intimate acoustic set he gives it his all, for mine this guy stands alongside the likes of Cyril Jordan, Peter Case, as one of the great song writers and front men of the power pop genre. The Mesmerisers closed the set with a rollicking road tested cover of 20th Century Boy, they came they plugged in and rocked, job well done!

Screenshot_2017-04-02-10-47-59-56 (1)
The Mighty Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers

Ups and Downs came out of the blocks swinging with two tracks from their new album “The Sky’s in Love with you” (safe to say pun definitely intended). “Awesome” and “Disco in my Head” sounded both fresh and contemporary reminding the punters that these guys are not content hiding behind the safety of their paisley shirts.

“Lit By The Fuse” saw the band shift into top gear, front man Greg Atkinson in fine form joined by his brother Darren on drums and harmony vocals, saw them deliver a note perfect rendition with a sense of urgency that made it sound every bit the pristine pop gem first released in 1988.

“Where is the Sun” from the 1986 Sleepless EP was a definite highlight and a welcome trip down memory lane. As expected their cover of ” Solitary Man” stood the test of time leaving a smile on the dial of even the most cynical punter. By the time Peter Shaw hit the opening chords to the infectious guitar driven anthem the “Living Kind” they had the crowd in their hip pocket, and what’s not to love, sublime vocal harmonies courtesy of the brothers Atkinson, the soaring guitars of John Flade and Peter Shaw and the punching, cure like bass lines (Greg Atkinson swapping bass duties throughout the set with new member Alex Ronayne).

Bringing the festivities to a close with the boys went back to the archives to pull out their second single “perfect crime” and closed with another gem from the Sleepless EP “Travelling” .

There was without a doubt more ups than downs on this fine evening. Welcome back Ups and Downs.

What Makes A Great Record Store?

Most of who have been buying circle shaped pieces of wax long enough have run the full gauntlet of record store clerks, the good the bad and the plain fucking weirdos and everything in between.

However my experience is that these days most store owner’s are pretty astute operators in terms of knowing their customers and catering to their needs accordingly. In fact I only have admiration for the humble record store owner. I’m sure they are doing it more for love than commerce as there would have to be an easier way to make a quid.

What’s the secret sauce ? We’ve come up with our top 5 ingredients that separate the Backyard boys from the Diamond geezers. How does you favourite store wash up in the mix?

  • The Owner – This usually sets the agenda for the whole shooting match. If they are doing it for the right reasons it shows. Having a passion for music has to be a prerequisite you can’t phone it in. A good operator knows how to play the long game and will look after regulars, keeping an eye out for titles that they know you have on the grail list, recommending new releases and even throwing you a beer if your lucky (Thanks Woody).
  • Know thy Product – This is a tricky one from the punters perspective, sometimes it pays to have the inside knowledge of some obscure title that might have slipped through the watchful eye of the owner operator. Case in point a recent trip to Sydney yielded some remarkably mispriced, aus-indie gems, whilst anything slightly connected to the British Blues Invasion was priced as if it had come from John Mayall’s personal vault. Having a well-rounded ear is essential and thankfully most good stores have passionate staff, that know their Throbbing Gristle from their Thrashing Doves.
  • Inventory – Particularly for stores that specialise in pre-loved vinyl, this can be a challenge. I actually don’t know where they source this stuff? It must be a dark art. I’ve bought a couple of mini-bulk collections over the years, which thankfully yielded a couple of gems that made up for the dross. I’m sure most store owners would die happy if they never came across another copy of ‘silk degrees’ or  ‘ Frampton comes Alive’. However they keep the shelves refreshed with new and exciting titles remains a mystery but there is nothing better than hitting the racks only to find some lost loves and new adventures to experience.
  • The ability to suffer customers (without blowing a gasket) – Retail is brutal, having the temperament to tolerate fuckwits is a skill that not all can master easily or at all. Your’s truly fears if placed in the position would default to the self-righteous store clerk played so aptly by Jack Black in ‘High Fidelity’. Imagine the ‘ Johnny know it alls’ the ‘experts’ the ‘tight wads’, ‘time wasters’, and general nonsense that you would have to endure. “People still buy these”, ” second album is better, ” how come they cost so much?”,  ahhr yours !
  • People Skills – You don’t necessarily have to be an ‘A’ type personality (in fact probably better your not) however, it does pay to not scowl and be mildly friendly as the great unwashed flick through the racks and stink the joint up. Most of us have probably had the ‘Comic Book Guy’ from the Simpsons scenario or the ‘Too Cool for School’ clerk, who can either acknowledge an astute purchase with perhaps a quip such as “this is ok, but you should try their early stuff” (which consists of one seven-inch pressing of 300 copies on a long defunct little known, Scandinavian no- wave label). Many inexperienced punters may have been berated by the raise of the clerks eye brow or a suffered the indignity of the eye-roll or even more painful coped a ‘thanks buddy’ for their efforts. You were asking for it though, Nickelback is neither ironic or cool under any circumstances.

Anyway hats of to you all the Record Store Owners, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta…

Rockin in the free World ?

I’ve been thinking of ways of late to find some escapism or sanctuary from the white noise being spewed out from seemingly every form of media of late in relation to the change of guard in the good old US of A.

I’ll put it out there now, firstly I’m Australian so I neither identify with being a Democratic or Republican (fence sitter you may say ?) Perhaps but, I’ve always evaluated a leader on who would be judged the most responsible designated driver at the time to get the nation home safely.

One thing is certain, great music has often been created as a result of political and social tension. Most of us need to only to flick through our record collection for proof points the MC5, The Clash, Dylan, Neil Young, The Jam, Bad Brains and closer to home for me the likes of Midnight Oil, Spy v Spy to name a few (yes, I’ve left a lot of good stuff of the list but you get the point).

Here is a question of which I don’t know the answer. Can you call yourself a fan of a particular artist without, subscribing to their political views or sharing their passion for a partucular cause ? Yes I saw you enjoying a toasted ham and cheese sandwhich while listening to ‘Meat is Murder’ by the Smiths.

I give you a more realastic case in point, Bruce Springsteen has carved out a long successful career by lamenting and taking up the cause of small town America in his work. Whilst he has never hid the fact that Born in the USA is in fact a protest anthem directed at the red white and blue over its appalling treatment of Vietnam veterans. Despite it’s intended meaning the song is still associated as a rally cry in some quaters as a celebration for all things great about America.

I can’t help but think how much the Trump camp wished they had permission to use the song. Given Springsteen’s scathing view of Trump and all he stands for is most probably at odds with the presumably large demographic of Springsteen fans in the heartlands who bought into the Trump narrative about restoring industry and jobs for the blue collar workers.

Some time the shoe is on the other foot, even artists have to suck it up, in order to pay the bills. Take the case of  Johhny Ramone a staunch no nonsense Republican who plugged in and played on”Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” (My Brain is hanging up side down) a slap in the face diretced at Ronald Reagun for his lack of judgement and sensitivity for visiting Nazi war graves in Germany.

So are we phonnys if we rage against the machine from the comfort of the reclincer? I don’t know, but I’ll keep listening to Neil, Bruce, Strummer and Co and tell myself the revoultion is still alive and well from the recliner.

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