Sunday 16 August 2015

Rowland S Howard Lane

It's real. Rowland S Howard got a Laneway in St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria named after him. I no longer reside in Melbourne so thanks to Darcy B for the picture.

I died first. Where my bloody laneway?!!!

Rowland was of course in a little band The Birthday Party with another bloke called Nick Cave. Now when's Tracey Pew getting his laneway, I wonder? Howard played guitar, occasionally sang and wrote some of the songs on the below classics.

The Birthday Party at their best. Here they were still a little bit arty and very funky. They were traversing the depths of depravity though. When I think of this album I think of Tracey Pew's bass, which is just plain filthy, pure sleaze. Then there are snippets of lyrics like 'Fats Domino on the radio.' Sung by a pained Nick Cave as is 'Ice cream and jelly and a punch in the belly.' Then we've got the clang of Rowland's mental guitar that is actually meant to sound like that. Prayers On Fire is an unholy racket and absurd fun for all the family.

This is The Birthday Party at their most raucous and psychotically over the top. Junkyard is ferociously chaotic from go to woe. The noise reaches fever pitch on tunes like Dead Joe, Blast Off and Big Jesus Trash Can. This cacophony is some of the most uncompromising rock ever produced. Sex and death roll around in this putrid blues. The Birthday Party may have inspired a legion of z grade imitators but no one could match their intense sonic assault.

*My mini reviews taken from here.
**More on Rowland here and here and here and The Birthday Party here.


  1. Tim, was lucky enough to see them twice live in the final years. They were magnificent. Ruined appreciation of other stuff for years, particularly live. Think Cave's reversal into literary songwriter mode helped cement this. Am only now going back to see what else I missed out on. Tracey Pew should have a cathedral of bass built in his memory.

  2. I was just way to young to have caught them live but I've seen many a fine Bad Seeds show. Bobby's you missed a lot. I really like those Grinderman albums. Then there's the great Bad Seeds LPs like Your Funeral, My Trial, Tender Prey, Henry's Dream, Let Love In and the most recent Push The Sky Away amongst others. As you may have noticed on me blog I rate Rowland S Howard's two solo outings and These Immortal Souls did Get Lost Don't Lie which was great. All the Crime & The City Solution LPs were good too.

    It's a whole different ball game to The Birthday Party of course. Cave's From Her To Eternity, the aforementioned Get Lost, Don't Lie and Crime's Just South Of Heaven are the closest in spirit, I suppose, to The Birthday Party. Some of the tunes on the Grinderman records reach a noisy intensity though.

    A Cathedral of bass, hey? I like it!

  3. The longest street sign in Melbourne apparently. Indeed, HH was quoted as saying the sign was "as long as Rowland's nose".