Showing posts with label Aussie 80s. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aussie 80s. Show all posts

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Church Heyday Tour











These pictures were taken in the US on 25/4/86 at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. I love the 2 I've blown up extra large and this last one.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Heyday - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part V


The Church - Heyday (1985)
Quite the befitting title right here. Cherished among fans of The Church, Heyday's full of great tunes like Already Yesterday, Myrrh, Tristesse, Columbus and the blistering live favourite Tantalized. On Night Of Light and Youth Worshipper they reach Forever Changes levels of sophistication with fabulous horn and string arrangements. The Church made the 80s version of the 60s awesome, hang on that's not really fair is it? Although this is probably their most 60s inspired set, it's those shirts that make you jump the gun to such stupid conclusions. There was a lot of 70s, 80s and future Church idiosyncrasies at play here too......... It was most definitely 80s music though, you know like The Smiths were an 80s band. They may have had influences from other eras but just because it didn't sound like Nik Kershaw doesn't mean it wasn't quintessential 80s music!..... er.....that goes for both bands. Still you can get out your pointy shoes and paisley shirts and relive this classic LP. Funnily enough I had a paisley shirt on today, and straight black jeans but unfortunately I don't own a pair of pointy shoes any longer, I had to just go with me brown suede boots. I'm sure Marty Willson Piper would have been proud of my outfit though as would Steve Kilbey, I reckon.






They were the coolest. No doubt. This makes you wanna roll a joint and enjoy your life.


In the classic tradition of AC/DC, playing on the back of a truck for your film clip. Priceless!


This video is sound and vision perfection, doncha reckon?

*A fucking phenomenal live version of Tantalized here. Talk about kickin out the jams, wow!
**I've written about Heyday before here.
***Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock series is taken from the HIGH CULTure website.

Seance - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part IV


Séance from 1983 is the third Church album and, like their two previous LPs, it's a classic. This time they get Nick Launay to produce. This is a strange combination to be sure and some fans were shocked by the studio affects, particularly the drum sounds, on this recording.  About half of the record is studio trickery, strings and keyboards added to their usual dual guitar interplay. The other half is fairly true to their trippy jangling live sound. Séance is a moody and atmospheric affair. Steve Kilbey travels darker terrain than usual, which is fine because there isn't a bad tune to be found here at all.






*Track 5 Travel By Thought here.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Blurred Crusade - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part III


The second Church album is where they really hit their stride. Steve Kilbey (singer, songwriter, bass player & slide guitarist) even describes it as ‘an unimaginable leap forward.’ The LP title says it all. It’s a Blurred Crusade. The production here is warm and puts The Church into a lush soft focus. What’s striking listening back to it today is how much keyboard action there is, pianos, harpsichord, hammond and even a Celeste, all played by Kilbey. Nick Ward was replaced by the phenomenal Richard Ploog on drums. Ploog freed up the band to be more spacious and fluid. So began the classic line-up of The Church which continued for the next 8 years. This LP hit the top 10 in 1982 and went double gold in Australia. It opened with the definitive Church song Almost With You, a top forty hit which had a fabulous spanish guitar lead break by Peter Koppes (lead guitar, backing vocals, tubular bells & percussion) very 1982. When You Were Mine was next and what a rocking epic it was. Marty Willson-Piper (electric, acoustic & 12 string guitars) describes it as ‘a snarling beast.’ The guitars here are metallic and driving while the keyboards are eerie and cold. Willson-Piper sings lead vocals on Field Of Mars despite the lyrics being written by Kilbey. This is a wicked haunted trip, complete with the usual jangle, bent lead breaks, otherworldly keyboards and even some bells to top it off. Apparently it’s about a graveyard where a deceased friend of Kilbey’s resides. God that’s just the first three tunes. We’ve got rockin toe tappers (A Fire Burns), almost cosmic country sweetness (Don’t Look Back), sumptuous romantic janglers (To Be In Your Eyes), Hallucinogenic psych outs (An Interlude), mysterious lullabies (Secret Corners) and 12 string workouts (Just For You). Then there’s the all time classic 8 minute epic You Took which contains the lyric that would become the album title and the best way to describe this song. You Took is a band at the peak of their powers resulting in an astonishing display of rock dynamics. While The Church had a few things in common with LA’s Paisley Underground like a love for psychedelia, The Byrds, The Velvets, 12 string guitars etc. they were much more than that. The Church also loved the pop end of prog, recent British music of the time like John Foxx (solo & with Ultravox), Be Bop Deluxe (?), Gary Numan, quite possibly the entire history rock and god knows what else. Most of all The Church were an incredibly distinct unit whose intangible chemistry could never be replicated so their music was always original, never mere pastiche. Glorious.    



Saturday, 1 August 2015

Antipodean Space Debris II


I thought we'd have a little Church trip with some of their most epic tunes through the ages. This is from the first record Of Skins & Heart (1981). I suppose then this is their first epic. I still love a very lot (sic).



I've never seen this video in my life. Anyway this is the biggest epic on their epic laden 2nd LP The Blurred Crusade (1982). Still a live killer to this day.



This is from the 3rd LP Seance (1983) and would be their most experimental tune up to that point in time. Still very fucking cool



Trance Ending was actually a b-side to Columbus a single off Heyday (1985). Great middle eastern trip out. Nice.


One of the great things about The Church was their album opening tracks and this is one of their greatest. You have to keep in mind these guys were on major labels throughout the 80s and they really didn't give a fuck about trends. They had top 40 singles in Australia and America so that was a problem for Indie people but The Church were also doing their own thing alienating them most of the time from the mainstream. They really didn't fit anywhere making them true cult outsiders. They also inspired a legion of groups who were obviously enamoured by their talent and artistic vision not to mention their fashion sense. You could never recreate that unique synergy though and those acolytes must have soon realised being as effortlessly cool as The Church wasn't quite as easy as they made it look. Starfish (1988) was their 5th classic in a row and their most popular and successful LP of their career. It even went gold in the US.


Let's forget about album number 6 shall we, Seve Kilbey's been trying to ever since 1990. Here's another great opening tune this time to their 7th album Priest=Aura from 1992. Kilbey claims this LP to be the true follow up to Starfish. If it had been perhaps they would have been as big as their contemporary The Cure, in The USA at least. America is still their bread and butter though as well as Australia. Having said that they were quite a cult band throughout pockets of Europe during the 80s and remain so to this day. Funnily enough I think after Johnny Marr and Stephen Patrick Morrissey had a meeting and decided to form The Smiths they went out that night to a Church concert. I reckon you can tell Marr must have loved their guitars and was influenced by them. Priest=Aura was probably their last consistently excellent LP until 98's Hologram Of Baal and their recent classic Untitled #23 (2009).


With this opening 1994's Sometime, Anywhere I thought we were in for an absolute killer album. The LP was ok but contained a couple of naff tunes and was perhaps a little long. It did have many other excellent songs though but this is the most memorable one for me. 


Another choice LP opener this time for their 9th album Magician Among The Spirits from 1996. Jesus I've forgotten how good this is, must dig out the cd. Surely this is the only place to you'll hear Jeff Kennett, Ida Lupino and Milli Vanilli mentioned in the same song. I always thought Kilbey said Alan Moulder (the legendary engineer/producer of JAMC, MBV, The Boo Radleys etc.) at the end of this tune but disappointingly the youtube uploader reckons it's Alan Muller* whoever he is? This is a phenomenal trippy spaced out improv (shhh!) psych jam. Steve's answer to Madonna's Vogue, doncha reckon?


*Uh huh, Alan Muller painted this! Great painting of SK. He must have painted the cover for SK's 4th solo LP Remindlessness (1990) as well. Actually looking at them together now it's the same picture just zoomed in, I think, maybe....

More on this classic double LP in a future blog post.

Antipodean Space Debris - A CardrossManiac2 Tangent



Hardly Baked has a few clips here of The Church & The Go-Betweens. Steve Kilbey is not only a brilliant songwriter/musician but he's a massive music fan. He loved The Go-Betweens so much he coerced Grant McLennan into collaborating with him on the Jack Frost project. This was recorded, after The Go-Betweens had broken up, in 89 or 90. Number 11 is the tune that stuck with me most from their debut LP. Anyway see below to see how much of a fanboy SK was and still is of Australian rock.



Of course as pointed out in this speech by a heckling ex manager Kilbey wasn't always a card. He was quite renowned for being a sullen bastard in the 80s. So much so that after Kilbey did a poetry reading in Melbourne one night I refused to get my book of his poetry signed in case he was not particularly nice. I think his drug change up from pot & heroin to uppers has made his true personality come to the fore. He's become an all round entertainer. This is a guy who wouldn't appear on Australia's most popular 80s variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday. Now I reckon he'd love to be part of that show's dodgy repartee. As Julia Zemiro points out, at the end of this crazy off the cuff speech, he really could host his own show. This is the best speech I've ever heard without a doubt and I fucking hate awards shows and speeches in general. It's true gold like many Church albums. He's a national treasure and we are blessed by his continuing fabulousness.



I mean here's some evidence right here. The Church released one of their best songs ever Space Saviour in 2009 like 30 after they started.



Kilbey loved The Triffids too. I once saw The Triffids 5 or 6 years back in Melbourne obviously sans one Dave McComb but they had a bunch of guests taking over vocal duties. The highlight of the show was when Steve Kilbey came out with no guitar, just a mike, in a sleeveless truckers shirt and made four Triffids classics his own. By that I mean 10 times better than the originals. The peak was when he did an incredibly intense version of Field Of Glass, one of the most memorable live rock moments in my life. So incredible this was that my wife wife can't listen to The Triffids anymore because Steve changed those songs forever. Of course he's the coolest guy on the planet so that's totally understandable.


This is the original which was recorded at the BBC in November 84 for a Peel Session.... I think. Overwrought to the max. Weirdly this could almost be a Bad Seeds tune from 1994. The late Dave McComb was a Nick Cave fan and at the same time Mick Harvey was a Triffids fan. Then of course in the 90s The Bad Seeds gained ex-Triffids bass player Martyn P Casey who remains an integral part of that band to this day.


To complete the circle here we've got the late Grant McLennan introducing The Triffids Raining Pleasure on Rage circa 1999. Which was kinda weird as we were led to believe that The Triffids and The Go-Betweens were arch enemies in the 80s. That was probably a media beat up but a good story none the less Now this tune is evocative of Antipodean space.


So many classic Forster lines in this one - " it's not my cup of thrills"

Spring Hill Fair is definitely The Go-Betweens LP I've played the most and is my favourite, I don't get why it isn't everybody else's. I mean the first four Go-Betweens LPs (Send Me A Lullaby, Before Hollywood, Spring Hill Fair and Liberty Belle And The Black diamond Express) are pure fucking gold aren't they? While the last 2 (in their original 80s stint) Tallulah & 16 Lover Lane are quite patchy and in 16 Lovers Lane's case way overrated. I mean it got it's own episode on *Australian Classic Albums??
*Perhaps more on that absurd and problematic show another time.


I remember hearing an interview with drummer Lindy Morrison who was Robert Forster's romantic partner up to this point in time. Anyway when she first heard this tune she knew it was his way of saying goodbye to their relationship. Only Forster could be hilarious, scathing and so fucking poignant at the same time. What a bittersweet song if there ever was one. 

All of this is reminiscent of my brother and I sitting around listening this record and the joy it brought us. Of course Forster was a funny bastard with great comic delivery. He was just as funny when he was serious as well. Forster was also a sterling songwriter. Then there was Grant who we thought was funny too but for different reasons. He seemed a little too earnest, over confident, serious and very uncool. There was no denying Grant's gift for songwriting though. The juxtaposition between these two personalities was strange and sort of comic as well. I guess they complimented each other though. Later on in my life I met them both and they were absolute gentlemen as you would imagine.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Individuals - Sunnyboys

The original 1982 cover. Hilarious.
After last year's reissue of The Sunnyboys debut self-titled LP which was expanded with an entire disc of demos comes their 1982 follow up Individuals. This is not a reissue of the record that Mushroom released in 1982 though. These are actually the original mixes from NZ that the band were very happy with and thought, with a bit of slight adjustment, would be issued as their second LP. That didn't happen. Like the first record this was produced by Australian rock legend Lobby Loyde of Purple Hearts Coloured Balls fame and strangely recorded in New Zealand, then mixed in LA? So my understanding is that these versions, presented here for the first time, are pre Lobby running off to LA with the tapes, probably at the request of Mushroom head honcho Michael Gudinski. I guess that reasoning would have been to keep the band far from the product Mushroom were trying to mould to make the most money for Mushroom ie. not respecting the artists one iota. When I saw the 2013 documentary The Sunny Boy on Jeremy Oxley's life he kept saying his music was taken away from him. I assumed he was talking about the 3rd rather shite (unlistenable as I recall) Sunnyboys LP Get Some Fun but no this 'LA debacle' must have been what he was talking about.

While many rate their first album as their best, I think Individuals is my favorite. I spent a lot of time in the early to mid to late 80s with this record. This LP is perhaps a bit darker than the first but it has always stuck with me. Throughout the 90s I had one side of a C-90 with Individuals on it which was taped on my dad's 80s Marantz Hi-Fi from the original vinyl. My older brother Patrick brought this classic into my life. As I've mentioned before on this blog Sydney was the place to be for rock in the mid/late 70s through the entire 80s pretty much. Music was everywhere and there were legions of great bands giving it their best shot. If you didn't like a band it didn't matter there was another one playing in the pub on the next corner that you'd probably like. Feel Presents Pty Ltd have changed the original Mushroom Records track listing slightly, probably to reflect the original vision of what Individuals should have been. This Is Real has been moved from the opening track to the last which makes perfect sense. Pain originally the b-side to the This Is Real 7" has been added as the second last track. a new cover has been created too, which I guess is fair enough as this is kind of a new product. I'd say Peter Oxley designed it. He used to do all their ace posters and stuff. I'm really quite fond of it, surprisingly, as I usually hate it when they change covers, see reissues by the The Go-Betweens and Dave Graney's Coral Snakes. That 1982 Individuals record cover was an iconic gatefold affair which was integral, I thought though, to the entire package. This gatefold captivated me like no other during my adolescence.

It was funny, amazing, bizarre and perhaps a little cheesy. An iconic album cover all the same.
Then there were the tunes in a post-punk power-pop vein but they were much more than that label could ever do them justice. Man what tunes they were. One wonders whether The Sunnyboys music could have ever translated outside of Australia, it should have as it was a great lively breath of fresh air and paradoxically timeless and of its time. The Sunnyboys were blessed with incredible pop smarts that were performed by one hell of an exciting unit. There was something quintessentially Australian about this band though. This music could only have come out of Sydney. If music as specific as Dunedin's (NZ) 80s guitar pop can be so revered worldwide, I can't see why this can't. I guess it was kind of mod pop into psych informed by the likes of 70s Aussie legends like Radio Birdman. As previously noted, elsewhere, singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Oxley despite being quite sporty and even a champion surfer as a teen was quite a troubled guy. He was only 19, I think, when Individuals was recorded. His lyrics were mature way beyond his years and delved into his confused world. Like Ian Curtis, Jeremy Oxley placed serious lyrical content amongst exhilarating songs creating a weird but defiant juxtaposition. Like on I'm Not Satisfied, one of the most boisterous and upbeat songs here, the lyrics are about self hate and frustration but you want to sing that tune with joyous abandon. That's the Sunnyboys spirit and the secret to their magic. They're never sooky, I wouldn't be writing about them if they were.


On re-listening to Individuals (well sort of) it's a lot more subdued and experimental, compared to the 1981 debut, than I remember but its still full of rockin youthful exuberance. What is striking though is the spectacular tunefulness and idiosyncratic lyric delivery...er.... that's singing from Jeremy. Jeremy is so charismatic its breathtaking. Sometimes I just can't believe the inventive melodies he came up with. Then we've got the backing vocals which are fucking great and crucial to this LP's classic status, they're beautifully arranged. The superlative guitar playing was the best thing to come out of Australia since Deniz Tek and, funnily enough their producer, Lobby Loyde (who obviously had a great ear for these things and must have seen Jeremy Oxley as some kind of successor).



The title tune which now opens the record remains a classic universal tale of urban alienation of not fitting in where you're not from and other lonely individuals who might be the same. It's also a sledge against those so eager to fit in. Sunny Day is so good, so Sydney, such cool backing vocals, one of the best tunes on the record and should have been a number 1 smash! Interestingly I've heard the band refer to this as a hippie song but I'm pretty sure its about drinking and violence amongst other things. Leaf On a Tree is an anomaly in the band's oeuvre. I guess it always reminded me of a Ringo Starr tune from say the White Album. This is the only explicit reference to an influence that I can ever recall on any Sunnyboys tune. Back then bands weren't so reverential or record collection rock. Groups had the capacity to come up with their own sound and it was inherent that things got pushed forward. You Need A friend is a garage-psych-pop number about not being able to conform thus making it hard to make friends. Jeremy Oxley was many years later diagnosed with schizophrenia so this confused, frustrating tale is palpable. I have a minor quibble here, one of my favorite musical passages of the Mushroom version of this song was the spooky fade back in where Jeremy sounds like an alien who needs a friend but doesn't have the capability to get one, this sadly is not part of the version included here. That used to scare the shit out of me as a child. I think I was 11 when I first heard this LP. No Love Around is so melodic and rockin, I'm left mesmerised and dazzled! Oh yeah they had excellent explosive guitar bits that were awesome. I never knew who was playing which part, whether it was Peter Burgman or Jeremy Oxley doing the cool sections, but who cares? In Colour of Love there's another amazingly unhinged guitar break that just pops outside of your speakers (way, way fucking better than the Mushroom version). This is one of their coolest songs that's got kind of a funky bass (Jeremy's older bro Peter Oxley on bass), with this weird reverbed guitar twang that's tantalisingly serpentine plus really delightful cavernous tom tom fills and then Jeremy Oxley inundates you with his glorious melodies that go unexpected places.

It's easy to read into Oxley's lyrics in hindsight and they feel way more heartbreaking now because he didn't know what the fuck was going on. Back then though you just thought of it as melancholy universal trials of youth that we all had to undergo before we found our place in the world. As youths we didn't realise some of us would never get to that place where we were led to believe we would one day belong. Time honoured themes of being lost, problems communicating, not having friends, lost love, social ineptitude and loneliness now take on extra poignancy here. Despite not knowing he was schizophrenic in 1982 he articulated his frustration, confusion and mental anguish unbelievably well. Let's face it, a songwriter extraordinaire he is, and his candid vulnerability makes him just that little bit more endearing.

Other noticeable differences from this alternative version include more prominent 12 string guitars, a warmer sound generally (not as thin), some weird percussive moments and rougher/better vocals from Jeremy. Individuals peaked at 23 on the national chart. The first single taken from the album You Need A Friend just scrapped into the top 40 reaching 38. This Is Real the following 7" remains a classic live Sunnyboys tune and here by the sounds it remains in its original Mushroom form (can't read the liner notes though to see if that's mentioned or not because the print is ridiculously miniature and my spex were eaten by a certain dog I own). I don't even think This Is Real made the national chart at all, that's fucking absurd! It should be an Australian anthem on a par with Cold Chisel's Khe Sahn.

The Sunnyboys Individuals: Once a near classic, now absolute classic. Totally recommended.

Loving the new album sleeve for the 2015 reissue.

Volatile - Lime Spiders



My current theme tune. The lyrics here perfectly encapsulate my current mental state particularly after a migraine that's lasted over 24 hours. This is the 3rd in the series of Space Debris Theme Tunes. Here's the first and the other one.

*Quick note on Lime Spiders: They were a classic 80s garage band but by this point in 88 their attraction to metal with perhaps an eye to commercial crossover started to seep through. Cool bands started to admit their love for the great AC/DC. Great tune.

 

As is this. I guess this is their most famous tune which was a massive underground hit and it's a bewdy. This is a version from 1984 but I'm sure there was a demo of this kicking around a lot earlier and played on the likes of 3RRR in Melbourne. Correct me if I'm wrong. They had other great tunes too.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Pseudo Echo

Pseudo Echo have joined in the retromania and have a new album out. Will I listen to it? Probably not. I only ever had that first LP Autumnal Park taped off someone. There weren't that many memorable tracks really. I wonder if it's a return to their more electronic/new romantic days or their later more rockified funk sound that gave them their transglobal hit, their cover version of, Funky Town?


I always liked this tune Don't Go from 1985. Had the 7" I do believe. Still sounds alright I reckon. They were a bit more talented and original than say I dunno Geisha. I remember seeing one them at Melbourne's Queen Vic Market in like 86 and thinking that was something but also thinking he's just a guy in the street like the rest of us.


Liked the goth/post punk type guitar in this one from 84 and those keyboards ofcourse. Funny 80s videos eh?