18 February 2009

Aussie Garage Part 1

Although there are rock groups that I love (like Weezer and Foo Fighters), I´m generally more a fan of the groove than the riff. But a huge exception is garage rock, that primordial, monstrous and primitive guitar sound steeped in ´60s-era studio effects.
When punk´s first wave was exploding across the globe in 1977, the Lucky Country would not prove immune. But the tyranny of distance would work in Australia´s favor in this case, as their particular strain of punk rock was more immersed in the garage rock scene of the preceding decade than the rest of the world. So many classics came out in such a short time, it was like the burning of a comet... short, fast, and intense, and doomed to burn out quickly. Part 1 is composed of the giants of the scene, led by the greatest of all bands of the era (and one of the greatest bands of all time), Brisbane´s the Saints. It was almost impossible to pick a song off their first album, as all are great, from the title track that started it all, to "Story of Love", an amazing Stones-y tune, to the cover "Kissin´Cousins", which the Saints make all their own. I can´t recommend these guys enough. Demolition Girl by the Saints, from (I´m) Stranded (Captain Oi!, 1977) When I finally got to see the Saints live (Melbourne Uni, 1988), they were a band in name only. Lead singer Chris Bailey had gotten fat and abusive, hurling epithets at the audience at every opportunity. Perhaps that kind of behavior explains why Ed Kuepper, ex-Saints guitarist and co-song writer, decided to strike out on his own. He set out to "take back" many of the Saints songs he´d written, and thus called his group the Aints. Their finest moment came on S.L.S.Q., perhaps the best live album ever, but those songs are too long for posting here (for example, an almost 11 minute version of "The Wanderer" and a 7+ minute version of Ike Turner´s "River Deep Mountain High"). Ed´s gone on to make many more records, but none with the snarl of his early work. Like an Oil Spill by the Aints, from Ascension (Hot, 2003) And then there´s Birdman, fronted by American Deniz Tek. An inspiration to countless bands, they rose from the sludge of the MC5 and vintage Stooges to bridge the gap to the punk era. Under the Ashes collects it all, from groove-y workouts like "Man with Golden Helmet", to the surf-punk of "Aloha Steve & Dano". This one made a fine manifesto for the emerging de-generation... New Race by Radio Birdman, from Under the Ashes (WEA, 1988)

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