Monday, March 28, 2005

Hunters And Collectors

Hunters And Collectors had a sound that was gritty, rocky, and uniquely Australian. The collective began life in 1978 as a bit of a drunken lark for a group of Melbourne University students. Initially named the Schnortts, and renamed in 1979 to The Jetsonnes, who released a track called "News-paper" which was a gig giveaway 7" single, both of these bands consisted of what was to become the core of Hunters and Collectors.

Hunters and Collectors made their live debut on the 15th of May 1981 at the Seaview Ballroom in Melbourne, having expanded into an eleven man ensemble with a massive horn section, named the “Horns Of Contempt”, itself comprising of six members. At this stage the band were urban-tribal-industrial white punks on funk and were renowned for their chaotic, intense live performances, often inviting audience members on stage and providing them with percussive instruments to add to the mayhem and cacophony. Hunters and Collectors quickly gained a reputation as the band to see and were signed up by Mushroom Records White label, which they remained with for their entire existence.

Their first release in 1981, the "World Of Stone" E.P. gave H&C an early taste of success, spending eight weeks in the Australian top 100, peaking at number 50. This release was soon followed up by their debut, self titled album (Hunters & Collectors - 1982) which reached #14 in the Australian album charts and contained two classic tracks – “Talking To A Stranger” and “Run, Run, Run”. The video clip for "Talking To A Stranger" is also regarded as a classic and was directed by Richard Lowenstein.

The band traveled to the UK and Europe and like many other Australian bands making the same move at that time they were received poorly and were considered out of place, both musically and for their (lack of) “fashion-sense”. Whilst there they recorded their second album “The Firemen’s Curse” which, though poorly received, is musically the link between the funk jams of their early career and their heavily rhythmic middle period.

After returning to Australia, and now consisting of 8 members, Hunters and Collectors recorded their archetypical “Jaws Of Life” (1984) album. The bass and drums started taking prominence and vocalist Mark Seymour’s lyrics had begun leaning towards a decidedly Australian flavor. For my money these early Hunters and Collectors gigs (before their move into commercial radio friendly guitar/pop territory) were among the best and most consistently entertaining live gigs by any Australian band and H&C regularly traveled the entire country with a hectic touring schedule. The best snapshot of this seminal band at the creative peak of their extraordinary career can be seen and heard on their live album/concert film release “The Way To Go Out”, which was also directed by Richard Lowenstein.

But chart success still eluded them, even following the release of their signature anthem “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, which only reached #48 in the charts. With their next studio album “Human Frailty” (1986) the band started the progression towards an ever more commercial-friendly sound and for me this was the beginning of the end, although the album does contain the classic live track “Say Goodbye”. Imagine, if you will, a pub full of drunken Australian blokes passionately screaming/singing “you don’t make me feel like I'm a woman anymore” – a wonderful, perverse moment.

H&C toured the USA and continued their constant “grind and travel” across Australia. They went on to experience reasonable chart success and were named Australian Band of the Year in Rolling Stone in 1990. But after 20 years, 10+ studio album releases, numerous E.P.’s and singles and a multitude of live and collected albums, the band finally called it a day in March, 1998.

Mark Seymour has since forged a solo career for himself, releasing 4 albums and continuing to tour.

Hunters And Collectors - Talking To A Stranger

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Doves began their life as Sub Sub, evolving from the Haçienda-inspired Manchester clubland explosion of the late eighties so well portrayed, if slightly parodied, in the movie “24 Hour Party People”. Sub Sub scored an English number three single in 1993 with “Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)” released on Rob’s Records, the record label created by Rob Gretton who was a partner in Factory, the manager of Joy Division and also the manager of New Order, as well as being a co-founder of the Haçienda.

“Oh Manchester, so much to answer for” – so sang Morrissey on The Smith’s “Suffer Little Children” – and this sentiment can certainly have different meanings. Manchester was apparently an uninspiring, impoverished industrial city when the Sex Pistols played at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in the summer of 1976. Many of the youth of the city were inspired to take hold of punk music and made it their own. Manchester has since given birth to some of the most unique, interesting and exciting english bands of the last 30 years - The Buzzcocks, Magazine, Joy Division, The Fall, New Order, The Smiths, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Chemical Brothers, Oasis ... and so many more bands.

Doves, like their Manchester contemporaries Elbow, are yet another wonderful band from that city which took punk and post-punk influences and created something unique. Doves play a lavish blend of moody, ambient guitar-based music with touches of dreampop and indie dance as well as the occasional mini-epic over their previous two albums. Their debut “Lost Souls” in 2000 and the more adventurous “The Last Broadcast” in 2002, which topped the English album charts, both contained successful singles such as "Catch the Sun" and "There Goes the Fear". Their reputation has also grown due to the quality of their live shows.

Doves have recently released their third album “Some Cities” which dances along a similar musical path to that which they have been traversing for the last 5 years. While “Some Cities” is not as strong as their previous albums, it does continue the band's run of consistently pleasing albums, confirming their status as one of the most reliable rock bands in England today.

Doves - Black And White Town

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Gun Club

The Gun Club blasted out of L.A. in 1980, playing punk infused blues before bands such as The White Stripes and The Black Keys had stopped wearing diapers.

In the late 1970's, after he had spent some time travelling to New York, Miami, New Orleans and Jamaica, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid Congo Powers formed Creeping Ritual. They changed their name to The Gun Club around 1980 and started delving further into one- and two- chord drone blues. Kid Congo Powers was offered a job by The Cramps and left before the band made their first recordings, although he would return on several occasions during the life of the band and would also go on to play with Nick Cave.

The Gun Club solidified around Ward Dotson, Rob Ritter, Terry Graham and Jeffrey Lee Pierce, took Delta blues & country and mixed it with equal parts punk, voodoo, slide guitar and total mayhem and recorded their two classic albums - Fire Of Love in 1981, in my opinion one of the great albums of the 1980's, and Miami in 1982.

JLP was becoming a difficult person to work with, as was evident in the constant changes in the band's line-ups and although both albums had received critical acclaim, the band were basically ignored at home and decided to pursue their music overseas. Patricia Morrison, who would go on to play in bands such as The Damned and The Sisters Of Mercy started playing bass guitar.

They toured Australia, where the call went out to Kid Congo Powers to rejoin the band, and Europe where their popularity grew and in 1984 released The Las Vegas Story - probably the bands last great album. As the touring continued, JLP was becoming more difficult to work with, constantly drunk and with a growing habit and with yet more line-up changes continued to record, including the well received Mother Juno in 1987, but the growing self destuctive habits of Pierce affected his health. JLP remained in London until he was deported in 1995 for brandishing a samurai sword in a Kensington pub.

In 1996 Jeffrey Lee Pierce was writing at his father's house in Utah when he collapsed into a coma due to a blood clot to the brain. He never recovered.

If you are interested in a more detailed history of this very influential and important band, check out Stevo Olende's excellent article "Preachin' The Blues".

The Gun Club - Sex Beat

Sunday, March 13, 2005


M/A/R/R/S' only release "Pump Up The Volume" remains a watershed in the history of modern music and sampling. It was originally mailed in an anonymous white label to a group of 500 influential DJs, before being released commercially in 1987 and becoming the first US and UK top 10 hit to be composed entirely of samples.

M/A/R/R/S, the brainchild of 4AD chief Ivo Watts-Russell, was a one-off collaboration between members of two UK experimental bands - A.R. Kane and Colourbox.

Neither Colourbox nor A.R. Kane ever quite found the same level of chart success as M/A/R/R/S, although both groups were held in high regard by those who dug deeper than the charts for their dancing and listening pleasure.

MARRS - Pump Up The Volume.mp3

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Volcanics

The Volcanics play kick ass Detroit (via Radio Birdman) influenced guitar rock 'n' roll - MC5 styled riffs and Iggy vocalisations with a nod to The Hellacopters - but they have their own style and soulful sound. If you like your music loud and angry and your guitars big and chunky you'll love these guys.

Along with local contemporaries the M-16s, The Volcanics have been setting fire to the Perth music scene for a few years and have finally released their debut 5 track E.P. "Nothin' For You" on Out Of the Loop Records.

With their classic line up of guitar/drums/bass/vocals, The Volcanics will get your head banging and your feet moving. They even do a great cover of "Light the Fuse" a track by long lost Perth punk/rock band The Rockets. Do yourself a favour!

The Volcanics - Nothin For You

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Au Pairs

The Au Pairs formed in Birmingham, England in 1979 and were part of the original post-punk scene. Like many bands of the time, lyrically they attacked the conservative political climate sweeping “Thatcherite” England, but with a line up of consisting of two women (lead by lesbian feminist Lesley Woods) and two men they also celebrated female sexuality and sang of the power struggles between the sexes.

Musically, the Au Pairs took on such diverse influences as reggae, ska, blue-beat and garage guitar thrash to create raw and dissonant yet catchy and extremely danceable songs, sharing political and musical kinship with bands such as Gang of Four and The Mekons.

Critically acclaimed for their social insight and thoughtful, agit-prop music, they released two albums; “Playing With A Different Sex” which hit # 33 on the UK national chart in 1981 and “Sense And Sensuality” in 1982.

The band toured throughout England and Europe, but after Lesley Woods failed to appear for a concert in Belgium in 1983 the group disappeared. Woods later blamed the split on "lack of money, nervous breakdowns and drugs . . . the usual rock 'n' roll story".

Cherry Red Records released “Shocks To The System - The Very Best Of The Au Pairs” in 1999 and the band’s dance friendly musical influences can be seen in some of the current wave of post-punk/disco bands.

Au Pairs - It's Obvious.mp3

Saturday, March 05, 2005

LCD Soundsystem

Post-Punk/Disco has been slow in arriving, with brief but promising visits by bands such as The Rapture and !!!, but with LCD Soundsystem the genre has finally landed and is leading the way in teaching the indie kids to dance.

LCD Soundsystem is the latest production offering from James Murphy, co-founder of New York's DFA Records in collaboration with Mo Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy. Their remix of The Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" is well worth a listen.

But LCD Soundsystem is Murphy's vehicle. 3 years since releasing the first single “Losing My Edge”, Murphy has finally unleashed this unanimously well received self-titled album, which includes a second disc containing the A and B sides to each of LCD Soundsystem's four singles.

"Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" sounds like one hell of a party, and every kid's invited down to Murphy's basement for the freak out. Bring along your cow bells.

LCD Soundsystem - Daft Punk Is Playing At My House

Friday, March 04, 2005

Martin Denny (RIP)

It was sad to hear that Martin Denny, the man largely responsible for creating exotica music in the 1950s and who lived to see it enjoy renewed world-wide popularity as lounge music and tiki culture, died at his Hawaii-Kai residence, five weeks short of his 94th birthday.

Denny first performed in Waikiki as a solo pianist in 1954, but in 1955 formed a trio with John Kramer (bass) and Arthur Lyman (vibraphone). Percussionist Augie Colon became the fourth member of the group after they opened at the Shell Bar in 1956. It was there that the “exotica” sound was born. The bar had a very exotic setting: a little pool of water right outside the bandstand, rocks and palm trees growing around, very quiet and relaxed. As the group played one night, Denny became aware of bullfrogs croaking. The croaking blended with the music and when the band stopped, so did the frogs. Denny thought this to be a coincidence, but when he tried the tune again later, the same thing happened. This time, his bandmates began adding bird calls and jungle screeches. The band thought it quite amusing, but nothing more than a joke.

Denny got so many requests for “the song with the jungle noises” that he worked up more arrangements that included bird calls and other sounds, and then enhanced the fanciful tropical ambiance by using “exotic” percussion instruments. It wasn’t long before globe-trotting fans were bringing him souvenir drums, gongs and other items to experiment with.

Martin Denny’s first recording of Exotica was made for Liberty Records in 1956. He re-recorded it in 1958. When Liberty released Denny's version of Les Baxter's “Quiet Village” as a single in 1959 it reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and a new genre of music was launched.

Although Denny often used authentic musical instruments of indigenous people in his recordings, he was never too concerned about the authenticity of his material or interpretation. He told one interviewer, "My music has always been like fiction, no authenticity; I didn't want to make African music--I only wanted to suggest how African music might sound."

Martin Denny continued to perform for decades after the initial exotica fad passed, surviving to see a revival in the early 1990's. He continued to perform on occasion and was a tremendous supporter of the younger generation of musicians inspired by his music. He appeared at Arthur Lyman's memorial service and played at a fundraising event just a few weeks before his death.

Martin Denny - Quiet Village

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Beatles/Neil Hefti/The Surfaris/Interpol (Lenlow)

OK, I promise this will be the last Beatles mash-up.

In "To the Taxmobile!" Lenlow mixes Neil Hefti's "Batman Theme", The Beatles' "Taxman", The Surfari's "Wipeout", and Interpol's "PDA".

Lenlow - To The Taxmobile!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Beatles/Beck/The Jam (dj CCC)

In a similar vein, here's another Beatles mash-up. This time from dj CCC with his mash-up of The Beatles Revolver album.

Revolved mashes The Beatles with a huge array of artists and is worth checking out. Have a look here too for some more info.

This track mixes The Beatles' "Taxman", The Jam's "Start!", Beck's "New Pollution" and The Beatles' "A Day In The Life".

dj CCC - Tax Jam Pollution