• A conversation with First Lady of Soul, PP Arnold

  • Birth of the Celibate Rifles

  • Why The Fleshtones still drink for free

Love Hypnotic - The Jim Mitchells (Off The Hip)

love hypnoticDon’t judge a book by the cover, they said. They were right. The contents of ”Love Hypnotic” leave its quirky artwork for dead.

Descriptor? Somebody said “acid washed garage goodness” and that’ll do. Respect. That one can’t be topped. There’s an almost effortless drift to this Sydney band’s sound that makes it click. Wafting melodies and dreamy vocals jostle with rustic guitars to create an alluring soundscape. 

I know. You’re dying to know if there is an actual Jim Mitchell and the answer’s Yes. There’s the man - on vocals and guitar - who's evidently the creative multi-instrumentalist, and his band. And they are a band. They even play live and tour - a lot by contemporary standards. 

Forty years after the not so great "Lethal Weapons" rock and roll swindle

lethal weapons frontCorporate con or well-meaning act of benevolence? History tends to deliver a verdict of the former. for "Lethal Weapons", the 1978 compilaiton album of Australian "punk". 

"Lethal Weapons" was a product on an offshoot of major Australian label Mushroom (the same people who brought you Chain, Skyhooks and the Sunnyboys) and it was clearly a cynical attempt to commercialise underground music scenes then burgeoning in Melbourne and Sydney, especially.

Compiled by would-be A & R man Barry Earl, the album was notable for its eclectic cast which included The Boys Next Door (soon to become The Birthday Party), JAB, The Survivors,  whose members would go onto Sacred Cowboys, The Moodists, Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and the Bad Seeds. 

Trevor Block went in search of many of the original protagonists in bands that signed to Suicide. We're reprising his article to mark 40 years of "Lethal Weapons", and the decade since its CD re-issue. 



Doll Dreams and Heartbreak: Jerry Nolan biographer Curt Weiss and that wild ride

Jerry Nolan

Telling the tempestuous and tragically short life story of ex-New York Dolls and Heartbreakers drummer Jerry Nolan was always going to be a formidable challenge. American author Curt Weiss has succeeded with "Stranded in The Jungle. Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride", the unvarnished biography of one of New York rock and roll's most mercurial figures. 

It's an account of a man whose flaws were seemingly as large as his talents. Nolan was the pre-eminent rock and roll drummer of his era but his life was scarred by drug addiction. His death at 45 - almost certainly AIDS-related, according to "Stranded In The Jungle" - came hard on the heels of that of his bandmate Johnny Thunders, and closed a time in NYC that we won't see again. The book's theme is that Nolan's playing skills and style were admirable; his addiciton and treatment of others much less so.  

Weiss' book takes us  through the underbelly of rock and roll on a trail littered by used syringes, stymied ambition and squandered opportunities. Importantly though, "Stranded in The Jungle" makes the place of the Dolls in punk rock's continuum crystal clear. And is impossible to put down.

Curt Weiss consented to talk about his book from his Seattle home. Here's the lowdown.  

Cookie Trail - The Country Dark (Humu Records)

cookie trailHoly North Pole! These Finns know sure how to host a hoedown. It must be all that midnight sun.

The fourth album by The Country Dark is like a downhill luge ride on amphetamines with a bellyful of rye whisky. Previous exposure to 2016’s “Hypnic Jerk” serves as a great primer but “Cookie Trail” kicks the weirdness up by a considerable notch. This is where the early Beasts of Bourbon butt heads with Jeffrey Lee Pierce.

"Cookie Trail" is Americana with a severe genetic flaw. The perpetrator is toothless, last seen hanging around a murder scene and left driving a stolen muscle car. The Country Dark wear hob-nailed cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat. The hills they occupy do have eyes. The Country Dark carry an axe and they aren't afraid to use it on all nine of these tunes.

Subway Zydeco - Broadway Lafayette (Hound Gawd Records)

broadway layfayetteDetroit boy and founder of The Gories, Mick Collins, always did love to fuck with expectations in The Dirtbombs. Now, he's doing it again with some new playmates in Heavy Trash's Matt Verta-Ray, Matt's wife Rocio, and members of Swiss creole kings Mama Rosin.

"Subway Zydeco" sounds like it was cooked up in the kitchen of a cajun restaurant in the East Village, with a liberal sprinkling of blues. You can bet a New York minute against a free ride in a checker cab that this was exactly the intention. It's an LP of obscure 45s taken off a Louisiana jukebox and transplanted to a New York City dive bar.

If you came expecting a Blues Explosion - Jon Spencer co-founded Heavy Trash with Matt Verta-Ray - you're in the wrong place. "Subway Zydeco" is more folky than swampy, its pumping rhythms tied to accordion for most of the way.

Vale Brian Henry Hooper. His ship has sailed.

brian says byeBrian Hooper at last week's Melbourne gig. Carbie Warbie photo.

Much-loved Beasts of Bourbon bassist Brian Henry Hooper has passed away peachefully in a Melbourne hospital.

Brian’s wife Ninevah Hooper made an announcement on his Facebook page earlier today:

Brian’s ship peacefully sailed this morning. I was with him during that departure. It’s the hardest thing a partner could ever do but to say good bye.

I told my three year old twins that mummy and doctors could no longer bring daddy home. Daddy was flying away like s free bird in the blue sky.

Ava, Charlize, Matthew, Nina and Lana are all grieving the loss of their beautiful father. The Haddad and Hooper family are also experiencing their pain.

Cinzia Cozzolino and Michelle Rowe also cherish their memories of Brian.

Thank you for the support.

Hooper had been fighting lung cancer. Just a week ago, he appeared at his own benefit concert in Melbourne, playing with a reformed Beasts of Bourbon. Brian was accompanied by a team of nurses and breathing through an oxygen mask.

13th Floor Renegades - Last Great Dreamers (Ray Records)

13th Floor RenegadesNo matter that this band of Englishmen have had more band names than Spinal Tap. "13th Floor Renegades" is arresting glam-pop rock and hookier than a cashed-up weekend angler's tackle box.

Do you like Cheap Trick? Never really got 'em myself but "13th Floor Renegades" is what they'd sound like if "Dream Police" hadn't been an overdone, ear-wig of a hit in Australia while I had my head in the local variant of Detroit rock and punk.

Originally called Silver Hearts, then Last Great Dreamers, Jet and then Jet City, before breaking up and reforming (twice) as Last Great Dreamers, the band sprang from the '90s Soho metal scene. These days, they're firmly built on the songwriting axis of Marc Valentine (vocals and guitar) and guitarist Slyder.

First Lady of Soul, PP Arnold, looks forward to renewing our acquaintance

pp arnold live

“It’s been a long journey,” laughs PP Arnold down the line from her home in Madrid, as she apologises for a long answer. It's taken us through her days singing in England in the early 1970s, through to a brief reunion with her friend and collaborator Barry Gibb in the United States in the late 1970s and onto  to her present-day career, with her continuing to sing professionally, both solo and as a backing singer.

“It’s pretty hard condensing 50 years of your life into a few minutes!”

Patricia Cole - the name PP Arnold was bestowed by photographer Gered Mankowitz in London in 1966 - was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts and was an unlikely pop star. Married and with two young children by the age of 17, Cole’s career trajectory commenced when a couple of friends suggested she audition for a vacant spot in the Ike and Tina Review, as one of Ike and Tina’s backing band Ikettes.

Brian James – Brian James (Easy Action)

brian james LPBrian James recorded this in 1990. That’s post-The Lords of the New Church, when his co-founding of The Damned was a shrinking image in his own career rear vision mirror. It was his debut solo album when it came out on French label New Rose, yet it barely rates a mention in summaries of his back catalogue.

Cue: UK label Easy Action to right that wrong and drop a big, fat vinyl re-issue.

If Brian James had only played on all (and written most) of “Damned Damned Damned” and then pulled a Jim Morrison by growing a beard and a beer gut and bunking off to live in obscurity in Africa, he’d still be remembered as one of British punk’s great progenitors. The guy was equally integral to The Damned's second album, “Music for Pleasure”, too but the band disowns that one for its lame production.

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