• First review of the album for James Williamson & The Pink Hearts

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

Convolutions of The Brain - Donovan’s Brain (Career Records)

ConvolutionsOne definition of a convolution is “a twist”, and there are more of those in the history of Donovan’s Brain than Donald Trump’s Twitter stream.

Starting as a garage band in 1986 - playing Thunders and Stooges covers - the Brain has evolved into a shape-shifting, back woods psychedelic musical collective, with nine albums and 26 past or present members. “Convolutions” covers 1991-2017 and generously spans three discs. That’s 49 songs and a touch under four hours of music.

The only constant in the Donovan’s Brain story is Ron Sanchez, a musician, radio host, restauranteur and producer who relocated many years ago from the US West Coast to the bucolic and relatively remote location of Bozeman, Montana.

Stars line-up to play with PP Arnold on her encore Oz tour

pparnold tvSixties soul and Swinging London icon PP Arnold returns to Australia in November and December for more shows with her all star band.

In case you haven't heard, that band would be Tim Rogers, Andy Kent and Russell Hopkinson of You Am I, Talei & Eliza Wolfgramm and James Black, and she'll also play select shows with the Rockwiz Orchestra.

Her recent run through Australia elicitted rave reviews - including this one.

PP Arnold‘s CV includes Ike & Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and Andrew Loog Oldham, The Small Faces, The Nice, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Barry Gibb, Eric Clapton, Nick Drake, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Roger Waters, The KLF, Ocean Colour Scene, Primal Scream, Oasis and Paul Weller.

She was the Los Angeles teenager who became London’s First Lady of Soul after hitting town in 1966 with Ike & Tina Turner and coming to the attention of Mick Jagger.

Wreckless Eric bringing his Whole Wide World to Australasia

Wreckless Eric joe mabelWreckless Eric. Joe Mabel photo. 

Talk about Wreckless Eric and what immediately comes to mind is his enduring hit "Whole Wide World" – covered in stadiums and sheds from Aberdeen to Alabama – but there’s a whole lot more to the story than just that.

With more than 40 years of recording and touring behind him he shuns the dictates of nostalgia and doesn’t do comebacks for the simple reason that he never went away. Except maybe where the Antipodes are concerned and where he'll be touring for the first time in 28 years in November.

Pretty much on top of their game

dick taylor ADLVic Conrad's band The First Third has a drummer who plays hard and owns the kit, a guitarist who knows how to dance in and out of a tune, a bass player who, like Vic, runs a record shop.

Vic himself sings, plays guitar and two keys. They're really damn good. Sixties structures sieved through to now. Apparently they'll have a new CD out soon.

But I'm here to see the Pretty Things.

As I left, the two original members and one of the more recent recruits were answering questions and signing merch, while the bassist and drummer were chatting at the exit with assorted fans. This is a band who are comfortable with their crowd. Because, to them, they're not that far removed.

Let's get rid of the "original members" thing. Like a lot of bands who came up through the R & B scene in the 1960s in England, not only was their lineup not always been stable, some of the band were linked to the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd and god knows who else.

Phil May, the vocalist (looks a bit like a movie star) and one of the band's songwriters, is one of the two members who've stayed the distance. The other is the incomparable guitarist Dick Taylor, picured right.

Roadies. The Secret History of Australian Rock ’n’ Roll by Stuart Coupe (Hachette Australia)

roadies bookThe “Secret History” part could have been easily replaced by “Sex, Drugs, Rock ’n’ Roll and Driving…Lots Of Driving”. There are more miles in Stuart Coupe’s book than a shipping container load of Gregory’s street directories, but it’s much more fun to read. 

The concept is simple: Speak to Australian road crew about their experiences and shape a chapter around each conversation. Do it chronologically. Change very few names to protect the infamous. You can guess a few of them anyway. This boat doesn’t need a lot of rowing. In most cases, the stories tell themselves. 

If you’ve ever worked with, alongside, as a payer of or have been reliant on a roadie because you were performing, you’ll know that the good ones are (a.) usually full of war stories and (b.) indispensable. They are, quite simply, the people who make rock and roll shows happen. They see the good, bad and the ugly parts. They know where the bodies (and the drugs) are buried. 

Get some Cosmic Love with Malcolm Hill

Signed-up member of the Melbourne Music Mafia, Malcolm Hill, is premiering a new single with his band Malcolm Hill and Live Flesh.

"Cosmic Love", and its companion song "Anybody Seen My Girl", are a digital precursors to a full album later this star from Geelong-born Hill, a writer and staple of the 1980s Melbourne underground music scene with Buick KBT and Head Undone. Hill has guested with the likes of Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes, Nick Cave and The Dirty Three so he's well-credentialled to say the least.

Grab a download of his new songs here.

On Top - Straight Arrows (Rice Is Nice)

on top straight arrowsThey’re not its most prolific band but they’re one of Sydney’s best. The Straight Arrows seem like kids but have been around for nearly a decade and this is only their third long player. It’s doubtful they care about keeping score and neither should you.

What you need to know is that “On Top” is uncomplicated, nicely raw and melodic. Two guitars, bass and drums and well-crafted, economical songs. Tight but loose. Cleaner-sounding on this record than before but still rough enough around the edges. 

Owen Penglis writes good songs, alright. Cock an ear to the grinding yet light fuzzfest of “The One” or the buzzsaw burst of album opener “Nothing To Me”. They’re instantly catchy - like early Ratcat to cite a band that was around before these guys were born. Penglis and Al Grigg weave curtains of fuzz with their guitars and the energy level never sags. 

There’s No Bones in ice Cream. Sylvain Sylvain’s Story of the New York Dolls by Sylvain Sylvain (Omnibus Press)

sylvain bookThere are two undeniable take-outs from "There's No Bones In Ice Cream." One is Sylvain Sylvain's deep and abiding love of the New York Dolls and pride in their legacy. The other is a feeling that things could have turned out much differently had they been given five minutes during their time on the roller coaster to catch their breath.

If you're reading this review at the I-94 Bar you don't need to be told who the New York Dolls were or how important they are. Glam rock probably still would have happened without them, but punk's birth would have been very different.

The Dolls are influential because they proved that you didn't have to be good to be great. Their lack of virtuosity was as influential as their style.

Mainstream America didn't want to know about the Dolls. The image was just too fag-ishly confrontational. Their first lifespan was only two albums. Others who trod the same path - who moderated the look and sound and stuck at it like Alice Cooper and KISS - cashed in, big-time.

Tamam Shud returns with short run of summer shows

tamam shud 2018 gigsWhere were you, and what were you doing when Australian surf and psychedlelic legends Tamam Shud last played some of their tripped-out live shows on the University Scene during the acid movement of the '70’s?

Most people probably wouldn’t remember and those who do probably weren’t there.

However, everyone recalls Tamam Shud for their input and timeless tracks contributed to Australian surf film classics, “Hot Generation, Evolution and the seminal Morning of the Earth”.

It wasn’t long ago Tamam Shud were onboard for the sold-out national tour for "A Long Way to the Top" arena spectaculars and "Delightful Rain: A celebration of Australian Surf Music" shows.

More recently the band has undertaken a brief East Coast tour in 2017 with Andrew Kidman & The Windy Hills, played a double-header with Buffalo Revisited and did sporadic shows on Sydney's northern beaches and in its inner-west.

The Shud has just wrapped up recording a new LP and with this release, an opportunity to celebrate their latest recording.

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