Welcome to my blog!

UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

So whaddya think?

So far there have been almost 500 downloads of the material I have made available, but only 4 comments.

Of these 4 comments, only one comment actually related to the material I have made available.

Fortunately this comment, on my Phonograph post, indicates that I have turned at least one person onto one of these bands. So in terms of the modest metric indicated in my blog header (If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!), I have been successful!

However, I'd like to hear what other people think of the material I have made available. Do I have a leg to stand on, or am I a misguided fool? Does this blog fill a niche?

Second opinions may help people to take a chance and try out some of this stuff.

All comments, positive or negative, appreciated. I don't bite!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wilco - The Wilco book CD

The Wilco book is a scrapbook of photos, essays and musings describing the creative process of recording the A Ghost Is Born album. The book comes with a 12-track companion CD illustrating these processes, and contains both fully formed songs and experimental pieces. Among the fully formed songs are a few gems. Hummingbird is recorded in the style of Yankee Hotel Foxrot, and to these ears is much better than the A Ghost Is Born version. What Good Am I, The High Heat and the instrumental Diamond Claw are up there with Wilco's best work. The experimental pieces consist of sound collages, and songs diverging into musical territory resembling that of Wilco side project Loose Fur.

Wilco - 2004 - The Wilco book CD

1. Pure Bug Beauty
2. This is New
3. Diamond Claw
4. This is New (The Explanation)
5. What Good Am I
6. Here Comes Everybody
7. Hummingbird
8. The High Heat
9. Doubt
10. Barnyard Pimp
11. Rottnest
12. Hamami

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia Day

To celebrate Australia day (or I should say, Or-strail-ya day?), a quick post of the Go-Betweens 1984 Peel Session (recorded 21st October, broadcast 29th October), released in 1989. The first two tracks are included on the 2002 reissue of Spring Hill Fair, while the last two tracks are available only on this release.

The Go-Betweens - 1989 - The Peel Sessions

1. The Power that I now have
2. Secondhand Furniture
3. Five Words
4. Rare Breed


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Warrior Soul - Last Decade Dead Century

Warrior Soul were part of what I described in my Mary My Hope post as the new-wave of "intelligent" rock bands (Jane's Addiction, Mary My Hope, Soundgarden, etc.) that emerged between the hair-metal and grunge eras. They were led by the enigmatic vocalist Kory Clarke, whose diverse and colourful career is described in an excellent article from the New & Improved Live & Otherwise Blog. Before starting Warrior Soul, Clarke trained as a jazz fusion drummer, deejayed, played in art-punk outfits, and specialised in spoken word performance art.

Warrior Soul were a hard rock band with punk and psychedelic elements, described by Clarke as Acid Punk. As may be expected based on Clarke's background, Warrior Soul's debut album Last Decade Dead Century is an intelligent and diverse album. The album explores the political corruption and seedy underbelly of Western society of the early 90's, and is as relevant today as it was then.

Opener I see the ruins starts (and ends) with spoken word vocals over a stop-start beat and atmospheric guitar noise, before blossoming into a mid-tempo rocker with a triplet rhythm. We Cry Out is a poppy and joyous, with uplifting lyrics (a rarity for this album!).

The Losers is a standout, starting with subdued volume controlled guitar over a military beat in the verses, switching to loud driving guitars in the chorus, which contains the lyrical refrain "here's to the losers.....cos I think we're beautiful."  

Downtown is a driving rocker, while Tripping on Ecstacy has a spacy, psychedelic feel, that perfectly matches the lyrics.

Four more years is spoken word performance art over an atmospheric sound collage. Superpower dreamland and Charlie's out of prison are driving rockers in a similar vein to Downtown.

Blown away is the second standout, a heavier slower tempo track built around a colossal riff, providing Clarke with the opportunity to rage against the American way. Lullaby is a sudued atmospheric track (dare I use the word ballad?), while closer In conclusion is a mid-tempo melodic rocker.

Warrior Soul - 1990 - Last Decade Dead Century

1. I see the ruins
2. We Cry Out
3. The Losers
4. Downtown
5. Tripping on Ecstacy
6. Four more years
7. Superpower dreamland
8. Charlie's out of prison
9. Blown away
10. Lullaby
11. In conclusion

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rock Music! Death! Crazy People! Love!

So sayeth the sticker on my copy of Things The Grandchildren Should Know, the tragicomic biography of Mark Oliver Everett, aka E from Eels. In addition to being a fantastic and cautionary tale of life in the music industry (right up there with Bad Vibes by Luke Haines - as referenced my Auteurs post), this book is essential for anyone interested in the psychology of an artist.

The book comes with a CD containing two versions of the song Things The Grandchildren Should Know - the demo version, and the version from the immense double CD Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Below is one of my favourite anecdotes from the book that references this song, as well as the links to the demo version of the song.


I'm sitting in a posh hotel in Paris. Mick Jagger is having tea in the lobby. I'm stuck in the draughty conference room doing a TV interview. The French TV journalist is asking me about the song Things The Grandchildren Should Know, that's about to come out on the Blinking Lights and Other Revelations double album, which is finally being released, a year after I finished it.

'Do you have children?' the TV journalist asks in her heavily accented English.

I sit back in the wooden chair they've offered me. 'Not yet. I'm gonna go straight to grandchildren,' I say.

She blinks and stares blankly back at me, squinting and squeezing her eyebrows down. 'But ... how is it possible?'

'Uh, well ... think about it; it's a much better deal,' I say, shifting in my chair. 'With grandchildren, you just see them on the weekend. Then you get the rest of the week to yourself."

'But how is it possible?'

'I don't know. I'll figure it out.'

'But ... it is not possible ... '

Eels - 2008 - Things The Grandchildren Should Know (demo)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Patch - Oleander Land/Hotstuff for Psycho

Everyone has a long lost favourite local band that shoulda been huge. Happy Patch are my long lost favourite from my hometown of Adelaide, Australia.

Happy Patch were originally known as Wintermind, and played progressive-alternative in the early 1990's: imagine The Smiths and REM combined with Television and early (first album) Verve - albeit before Verve. They were reinvented as Happy Patch, complete with new songs and a heavier sound, after another (inferior) local band The Mandelbrot Set signed to leading Australian independent label RooArt. Happy Patch recorded two songs for a compilation of local Adelaide bands, The Sound Barrier, before releasing two EPs (featured below) and the album Here Comes Oblivion, before again reinventing themselves as the country-tinged Tuscadero.

Happy Patch were built around a solid rhythm section which provided the dual guitarists with a canvas for understated guitar artistry. The guitars often played interweaving lines and counter melodies to each other (and sometimes the vocals), and also provided the musical dynamics, rising and subsiding, alternating between clean and distorted as appropriate. The vocals had a distinct but non-overt Michael Stipe influence, and the lyrics frequently focused on the innocence of youth. The songs were well crafted and avoided standard structures.

The Oleander Land EP features the mid-tempo title track, describing growing up in the Western suburbs of Adelaide. Believe is a joyous track with strong dynamics, whose lyrics "sleepy town where no-one really cares" again surely refer to Adelaide?! Hound is a great song, written from the perspective of a dog, capturing the child-like enthusiasm of man's best friend and describing all the great things about having a dog! A very promising debut, unfortunately suffering from a mediocre production which stifles the song dynamics a little.

The Hotstuff for psycho EP is a step forward on several fronts. It has a much better production allowing the song dynamics to shine through, and the band use dynamics without necessarily invoking the turbo chargers on each song. The inclusion of acoustic guitar also adds further diversity to the sound. Nancy, about US ice skater Nancy Kerrigan ("she's gracious and her thoughts are clean"), is poppy, with tasteful melodic lead guitar and great dynamics. Skywards is a slower tempo song based around acoustic guitar. Bedroom Nation features more great dynamics, and is noticeable for being in 5/4 time without sounding forced. Formaldehyde has a relaxed feel, built around lolloping bass, clean guitar, and melodic lead guitar.

I have yet to hear the Here Comes Oblivion LP - getting my hands on that is one of my major objectives! This may help compensate for the devastating loss of my TDK AD90 cassette containing their fantastic 5MMM session!!

Happy Patch - 1994 - Oleander Land

1. Another
2. Oleander Land
3. Believe
4. Hound
5. Rust yard


Happy Patch - 1996 - Hotstuff for Psycho

1. Vanilla Girl
2. Nancy
3. Skywards
4. Bedroom Nation
5. Formaldehyde


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Arbouretum - Rites of Uncovering

I started this blog with the idea of introducing some of my favourite bands to people that may not have heard them. I also hoped my enthusiasm for these bands may lead people to download the albums and consequently get turned on to them. However, I'm starting to feel like an obituary writer! These are bands that used to exist. That shoulda been huge.

This post is a little different, as Arbouretum are still alive and kicking - they are about to release their fourth album The Gathering. So it's up to you, kids, to put them in their rightful place and make them huge. Let's start the make Arbouretum huge movement right here and now!

Arbouretum was formed by vocalist/guitarist Dave Heumann, best known for his collaborations with Bonnie Prince Billy. Between their first (Long Live the Well-Doer) and third (Song of the Pearl) albums, Arbouretum evolved from a solo project showcasing Heumann's guitar heroics to a band showcasing the skills of all four members. Rites of Uncovering, the bands second album, captures the mid-point of this evolution.

Although Arbouretum have no obvious musical forefathers, their potent mix of elemental blues, folk, gospel and psychedelia sounds distinctive yet familiar. They remind me of early Nick Cave and the bad seeds, particularly the period from From Her to Eternity, to Kicking against the Pricks, where they were exploring roots music. They also remind me of Neil Young (and Crazy Horse), in that their songs exhibit the sparseness of Cortez the Killer and Danger Bird from Zuma, while the guitar work, particularly the long and mesmerising guitar solos, are reminiscent of those from Everyone knows this is nowhere. Arbouretum could perhaps (lazily) be described as a (much) more musical adventurous Bonnie Prince Billy. But these descriptions are a disservice - Arboretum are their own entity. They defy conventional song structures, and let the songs evolve organically. They strip away all unnecessary instrumentation - less is definitely more in this case.

The album features three epic songs. Pale Rider blues is elemental blues. It starts subdued and atmospheric, at funeral pace, and builds slowly over eight minutes, featuring a great guitar solo that takes you on a journey. Sleep of Shiloath follows a similar path. During the guitar solo, the drums and bass begin a meandering journey, with the bass occasionally following the guitar solo. This is the sort of musical telepathy most bands can only dream of, and produces a pleasantly disconcerting effect for the listener, akin to floating in space! The Rise features two verses. The first verse features vocals and mid-tempo drums, with a great groove and a kick like a mule, followed by a lengthy instrumental passage, with another great guitar solo. The second verse features only vocals and a muted electric guitar played through a weatherbeaten and crackling amplifier, followed by an atmospheric sonic collage of guitar soloing, feedback, and random drum parts. Over ten minutes of genius!

The remaining tracks are shorter but no less effective. Signposts and instruments is a dark and ominous opener, sparse, funeral paced, and with sinister vocals and a great guitar tone. Tonights a jewel features folky arpeggiated guitar picking. Mohammed's hex and bounty steps up the pace (a little), with the higher pitched vocals giving the song a joyous gospel feel. Two Moons has a similar feel, featuring only percussion and vocals.

An exceptional album - in my opinion, nothing less than the best album released in the last five years!!

Arbouretum - 2007 - Rites of uncovering

1. Signposts and instruments
2. Tonights a jewel
3. Pale Rider Blues
4. Ghosts of here and there
5. Sleep of Shiloath
6. Mohammed's hex and bounty
7. The Rise
8. Two moons

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins - 1992

I first heard the Smashing Pumpkins around the time of their debut album, Gish. While that album was derivative, lacking in variation (apart from the gorgeous Rhinoceros), and inferior to the releases from the trailblazers of the alternative rock universe (Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, Faith No More, etc.), there was a nagging voice in the back of my head that said watch this space.

The first vindication of this feeling was the Peel Sessions EP. Girl Named Sandoz and Smiley both have a relaxed playfulness and confidence absent from Gish, and represent a large step forward, both vocally and musically. Girl Named Sandoz, a mid-paced rocker with a subtle groove, is a cover of an obscure The Animals B-side, and the band deserve kudos for selecting it and making it their own. Smiley is a pleasant slow tempo acoustic guitar based song.

The follow-up single I am One ups the ante. Plume has a slow groove, with a fantastic sludge guitar sound. Starla is a mellow mid-paced song, with excellent dynamics and long rambling instrumental sessions. Both songs have a psychedelic feel without the need for instrumentation other bands use to try and sound psychedelic.

The final vindication was Drown, from the Singles soundtrack. This song is in a similar vein to Starla, with a subdued start, slow build, and some tasteful harmony guitars, before dropping back down at the half way point, with some atmospheric guitar solos and feedback drenched in reverb.

These songs led to huge expectations for the next album. However, Siamese Dream was a let down. It had it's moments (Cherub Rock, Disarm), but as a cohesive whole it didn't work. The follow-up, the sprawling double CD Mellon Collie and the infinite sadness, was an improvement, as the songs were more concise and direct. The next album, Adore, was so abhorrent I have avoided any further material like the plague!!

In my opinion, the Pumpkins peaked in 1992, your honour, and here is the evidence.....

Smashing Pumpkins - 1992 - Peel Sessions


Smashing Pumpkins - 1992 - I am One (CDS)


Smashing Pumpkins - 1992 - Drown (Singles OST)


Monday, January 10, 2011

Phonograph - Self titled

I get a little annoyed when people say there is no good music around these days. This invariably leads to a conversation along the following lines:

Me: "There's plenty of good music around, you just have to know where to find it, and/or be prepared to put the effort in."

Them: "But I can't be bothered doing that", or "but I don't have the time".

Me: "Then music obviously isn't that important to you then, so why are you complaining!"

I'm often reminded of the famous aphorism attributed to golfer Jerry Barber: "The harder you practice the luckier you get", and my reapplication to the search for great music: "the harder you search the luckier you get." A good example of this was my chance location of a review of the self titled album by Phonograph. This was miraculous given the difficulty in getting info on this band on the interweb  (give it a try and see what I mean - there's more links to stores selling the album than links discussing the band or the album!). I managed to find a copy of the album on the legendary OINK (RIP), and it's been on my ipod ever since.

Phonograph can probably best be described as country-rock. An obvious touchstone is the mighty Wilco. In addition to the similar genre, Phonograph's songs use similar atmospheric sound collages similar to those on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And although vocalist Matthew Welch has a country drawl, at times sounding like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Lou Reed, his phrasing is sometimes similar to Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, and it's easy to imagine Tweedy singing some of these songs.

The Wilco comparisons are at their strongest on the first three tracks. Proem is an atmospheric piece with a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot vibe. In Your Mind is a mid-tempo song based around acoustic guitar, parping organ, and synthesised effects. Watch and Ward is reminiscent of Wilco's I'm the man that loves you, and contains chiming guitar melodies.

Radio Waves is one of the standout tracks, based around a shuffle drum-beat, with subdued reverb drenched guitar effect and Lou Reed like vocals. Parsons White has a driving beat and agile bass guitar, with reverb drenched guitar giving an atmospheric feel. Have I told you has a strong country feel.

Next follows a trilogy of standout songs. Thinking of you is led by piano and bass, with a driving snare beat, and an interesting tremolo guitar effect in the chorus. TV Screens is the album's high point, a slow-paced atmospheric track built around a synthesised drone, with world weary vocals and a distorted organ sound.  Nu  Americana is a mid-tempo rocker with a nice groove and more Lou Reed like vocals.

The album ends with Isobel, a slowly building studio construct built around an eerie drone and slowed down synthesiser effects, with disembodied spoken word vocals and random drum parts. 

A good album from a band I hope to hear more of - although given their publicity track record this may be wishful thinking!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Auteurs - After Murder Park

I tend to remember particular points in my life by my thoughts on who ruled the rock/pop roost at that time. Right now it's the Drive-By Truckers: two classic albums in one year.

1996 was a life changing year for me, and the soundtrack was provided by The Auteurs. In that year they released the After Murder Park album and three 4-track EPs, and wiped the floor with the competition. This era is well documented in the excellent autobiography Bad Vibes: Britpop and my part in it's downfall, by The Auteurs' charismatic vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Luke Haines. Haines provides an entertaining description of the recording of the album with legendary producer Steve Albini, and a song by song discussion of the album that is far more entertaining than what I have managed. I know Haines would react disparagingly to my review, which is fine my me......I welcome being mocked by his genius!

The background to the After Murder Park album is worth describing. While on tour supporting the Now I'm a Cowboy album, Haines was suffering from acute stress and wanted to end the tour. While drunk in San Sebastain, he decided to let destiny dictate whether the tour would continue or not by jumping from a 15 foot wall onto a surface he could not determine. The surface turned out to be concrete, and Haines broke both his ankles upon landing. After five weeks in hospital, where he was told he may never walk again, he was confined to a wheelchair in his basement apartment. He tentatively started writing songs, and the new songs were "ugly and brutal." One of these songs, Unsolved Child Murder, seemed to arrive out of nowhere, and Haines later realised the story was based on a forgotten memory from his childhood where a neighbourhood kid disappeared. This song started a process of "channeling the nightmare bogeymen of 1970's newsreel infamy," producing a batch of songs differing greatly from previous Auteurs material. There was much less emphasis on writing classic pop songs, and typical song structures were conspicuous by their absence.

Haines was quoted around this time as saying Nirvana were the only band he respected. The choice of Albini as producer may well have been due to his work on Nirvana's In Utero, and turned out to be a masterstroke. The sound dynamics and instrumental clarity is amazing. The drums are punchy, and the distorted guitar sound is savage enough to take your head off your shoulders! And the interesting use of (Hammond?) organ, an instrument not typically associated with Albini, adds an important ingredient to the instrumental mix.

The album starts of with Light Aircraft on Fire. Like the rest of the album, there is no excess baggage - 2 minutes 15 seconds and it's all over. And it rocks like a bastard. Child Brides is sparse and subdued, based around strummed guitar, cello and tympani, with the unsettling lyrics providing a fascinating counterpoint.

New brat in town is the first of five great song on the album. It starts with clean guitar and a When the levee breaks type swagger drumbeat, both in style and sound. The instrumentation changes in each verse, and the choruses (if you can call them that) feature a unique distorted organ sound. The lyrics are presumably aimed at the latest Britpop sensation. Unsolved child murder is another sparse and subdued number, based around acoustic guitar and cello.

The next three songs are possibly the best three song combo of the any album from the 1990s. The drum swagger returns for Married to a lazy lover, a tale of domestic violence. The dynamics are amazing, with the instrumentation again changing in each verse. The distorted guitar sound in the second verse and apocalyptic guitar solo have to be heard to be believed - distorted to the point of feedback. Buddha is atmospheric and sinister, moving at funeral pace, with more fantastic dynamics. It starts with organ and vocals, before the drum swagger returns, accompanied by cello and guitar harmonics. Tombstone is another stab at the Britpop brigade, featuring fantastic lyrics: "taking out the garbage at the Columbia hotel", "take the fucking building out, Baader Menihof style",  "like to thank my mother for inventing rock n roll". More great organ sounds in the chorus, and another great guitar solo.

Dead sea navigators is the final great (and probably best) song on the album. It uses the same chords as The Go-betweens The Clarke sisters (deliberate homage?). If the song wasn't so good this similarity may grate, but this is great assimilation, similar to how Oasis used the riff from T. Rex's Get it on in Cigarettes and Alcohol - genius assimilates, mediocrity steal!  Dead sea navigators starts atmospheric and sinister with clean guitar and cello, with organ and drums emerging for the chorus. It again features more great lyrics: "boys with more brain than brawn, this one's for you!" After Murder park is short (1 min 57 sec) and sweet - musically at least. Lyrically it reminds me of The Smiths Suffer Little Children. A song with "album closer" written all over it.

If the After Murder park album wasn't enough, there were also three singles/EPs released either side of the album, featuring six non-album tracks. The Back with the killer EP features the title track, another great rock song, featuring interesting use of theremin. The Light Aircraft on Fire single includes X-Boogie Man, which features only vocals and reverberated low piano keys used as a percussive/rythmic device. This may be the missing link between The Auteurs and Haines' side project Baader Meinhof. The Kids Issue EP was recorded as a Peel session. The title track is yet another great (and sinister) rock song with fantastic dynamics, wound as tight as a spring - apparently written ten minutes before the session. It is also interesting to hear Buddha and After Murder Park in an essentially live format.

After recording the best music of 1996, Haines, ever perverse, split the band! The Auteurs reunited in 1999 for How I Learned to Love the Bootboys, an excellent album lyrically based around rock/pop sub-cultures. Haines also recorded four albums with Black Box Recorder, and five solo albums, including Das Capital, which included orchestrated re-recordings of classic Auteurs songs (including Unsolved Child Murder), along with some new tracks, including instant classics Satan Wants Me and Bugger Bognor. While these albums have maintained Haines' lofty standards, he has yet to eclipse the After Murder Park era.

Let's hope, to (miss)quote Future Generations (from How I Learned to Love the Bootboys and Das Capital) that the next generation gets it from the start!!

The Auteurs - 1996 - After Murder Park

1. Light Aircraft on Fire
2. Child Brides
3. Land Lovers
4. New Brat in Town
5. Everything You Say Will Destroy You
6. Unsolved Child Murder
7. Married to a Lazy Lover
8. Buddha
9. Tombstone
10. Fear of Flying
11. Dead Sea Navigators
12. After Murder Park

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3

The Auteurs - 1996 - Back with the Killer (EP)

1. Unsolved Child Murder
2. Back with the Killer
3. Former Fan
4. Kenneth Anger's Bad Dream


The Auteurs - 1996 - Light Aircraft on Fire (CDS)

1. Light Aircraft on Fire
2. Buddha (4-track demo)
3. Car Crash
4. X-Boogie Man


The Auteurs - 1996 - Kids Issue (EP)

1. Kids Issue
2. Buddha
3. A new Life a new Family
4. After Murder Park


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

G. W. McLennan/The Go-Betweens

I used to think there were no great Australian bands, and I had some weird-assed theories why this may be the case. Some of the more rationale theories were that the sunshine disintegrated peoples brains, or that life was too comfortable here to produce the pain, suffering and mental anguish needed to produce great art! Sure, there were some good bands from time to time, such as Split Enz (Kiwis actually - but we'll claim good ones as our own) and The Hoodoo Gurus, but no great bands.

My thoughts started to change once youth radio station JJJ started transmitting into Adelaide in the early 1990s. In the space of a week I heard The Go-Betweens Cattle and Cane and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Witness Song on JJJ. This led me to delve into both bands back catalogues, and I slowly came to the realisation that there were actually two great Australian bands! And then I dug further into Nick Cave's past and found The Birthday Party! Three great Australian bands!

By this time the Go-Betweens had split, and Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, or G. W. McLennan as he became known (apparently it made him sound like an author!), were making their first foray into solo-dom. I was lucky enough to see G. W. McLennan at the Adelaide Tivoli in Adelaide in 1991, at an acoustic show accompanied by Phil Kakulas on double bass. He performed songs from his soon to be released debut album Watershed, his Go-Betweens songs, and a memorable version of Clouds, written by his former Go-Betweens bandmate Robert Forster.

McLennans debut single Easy come easy go came out a few weeks later. This contained two non-album cuts, The man who died in rapture and She's So Strange, which I felt surpassed most of the songs on the Watershed album. Both songs are sparse, acoustic guitar numbers, the latter drenched in reverb, with accompanying double bass and violin, and clocking in at just over two minutes - leaving you wanting (much) more. Possibly McLennans finest moment? The CD single also came with a bonus 5-track cassette Live Last Monday recorded at The Club, Melbourne, Australia, May 27th 1991. This features the aforementioned Clouds and She's So Strange, plus Haven't I Been A Fool and Just Get That Straight from Watershed, and Providence from the Jack Frost album, McLennan's collaboration with Steve Kilbey of The Church.

The Go Betweens eventually reformed in 2000. A highlight of their reunion was their show at the Barbican in London, June 27th 2004, where they performed an eccentric collection of rarely played songs, including early songs such as Karen, the legendary B-side from their debut single. A subset of this performance was released as a bonus CD with the Oceans apart album. The whole performance was available on a double CD Live in London, sold at shows on the Oceans apart tour.

McLennan passed away from a heart attack at his home in Brisbane on 6 May 2006, aged 48. Some of the material he had written for the next Go-Betweens album was used by Robert Forster on his 2008 solo album The Evangelist, including Demon Days, which Forster felt was one of the best songs McLennan ever wrote.

G. W. McLennan - 1991 - Easy Come Easy Go (CDS)


G. W. McLennan - 1991 - Live Last Monday

1. Clouds
2. She's So Strange
3. Providence
4. Haven't I Been A Fool
5. Just Get That Straight


The Go-Betweens - 2004 - Live in London

CD 1

01. The Sound of Rain
02. It Could be Anyone
03. Your Turn, My Turn
04. Hammer the Hammer
05. People Say
06. This Girl, Black Girl
07. Make Her Day
08. Karen
09. Magic in Here
10. Poison in the Walls
11. Surfing Magazines
12. Baby Stones
13. Cattle and Cane
14. The Clock

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4

CD 2

01. Too Much of one Thing
02. He Lives My Life
03. The Wrong Road
04. Right Here
05. Spring Rain
06. Here Comes a City
07. Love Goes On!
08. The House That Jack Kerouac Built
09. Spirit
10. German Farmhouse
11. Bye Bye Pride
12. When People Are Dead
13. Streets of Your Town
14. In The core of the Flame

FLAC Pt1, Pt2, Pt3, Pt4, Pt5

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mary My Hope - Museum/Monster is Bigger Than The Man

Like Sea Hags, Mary My Hope were a band you've probably only heard about if you had your ears to the ground at the right time. They emerged in the brief interlude between the hair metal and grunge eras. They were part of what I (pretensiously?) thought of as a new-wave of "intelligent" rock bands, including Jane's Addiction, The Big F, The Buck Pets, Green River and Soundgarden. I felt Jane's Addiction and Mary My Hope led this pack, and was convinced they both had enough talent to be successful without necessarily becoming mainstream. I was wrong on both counts!! While Jane's Addiction were spectacularly successful, Mary My Hope produced two masterpieces,  Museum and the Monster is Bigger Than The Man EP, before disappearing in a puff of smoke and apathy.

Despite their talent, Mary My Hope had some things going against them. They were not easily categorisable, and had no obvious ancestors. They were a post-punk rock band with a psychedelic streak, and sometimes referred to as gothic – a cringeworthy kiss-of-death if ever there was one. And vocalist James Hall’s reputed moody and sullen behaviour did not endear him to the music industry movers and shakers. Some years later Hall admitted that being a teenager at the time, he was too young to appreciate what he had. 

James Hall has a versatile classic rock voice, handling anything from a whisper to a scream with panache. It's hard to pin his vocals down, though there is a definite Jim Morrison influence. Guitarist Clinton Steele, bassist Sven Pipien and drummer Steve Lindenbaum had a knack of understanding what the songs needed, and understood the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics later used so effectively by Nirvana. Mary My Hope were more a chord based band than a big riff band. They were more about feel than flash, but were capable of producing a dense and claustrophobic wall of sound. They were more a “listening in a dark room with headphones” type of band than a “driving on a sunny day with the wind in your hair”.

So onto the Museum album. Opener Wildman Childman is a workman-like driving rocker, competent but unremarkable, giving little indication of what is to follow until the outro, where the band start to flex their muscles. It's about time is more intriguing: two verses built around a subtle funky bassline, followed by two meandering instrumental breaks.

Suicide king is where things really take off. The song starts with subdued clean-guitar minor-chord strumming through the first verse and chorus, and then takes off in response to Hall’s rallying cry of “lift me up". This structure is repeated, leading into a heavy rock psychedelic freak out filled with oohs and aahs, demonic screaming and wailing and spooky minor chord piano. Fantastic stuff. Communion follows a similar template to Suicide King, before changing tempo midstream, and leading into an adventurous instrumental break with neat soloing.

I'm not singing and Heads and tails both have a subdued, bluesy feel, the
former with unsettling The Wall era Pink Floyd vocals, the former with a
Stones influence. These are followed by Grind, a crunchy mid-tempo rocker,
with some resemblance to Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell.

I'm not Alone is the second great song on the album, following the Suicide King quiet-loud-quiet template with another psychedelic freak out at the end. Death of me is subdued, with psychedelic effect laden vocals by guitarist Clinton Steele, and a haunting violin solo. A perfect song to end an album.

The Monster is Bigger Than The Man EP is a hodgepodge of material from different sources, including two songs from Museum, a Museum outtake, three new tracks and two live tracks. It starts with the title track, another quiet-loud-quiet epic along the lines of Suicide King, except with a longer, slower build. The song starts with psychedelic effects laden guitar and subdued vocals, before taking off at around the three minute mark with oohs and aahs, distorted vocals, and a guitar orchestra - more psychedelic guitars, guitar solos and feedback awash in reverberation – fantastic stuff. Brian Eno’s Needles in a camel's eye won't go down in the list of great rock covers but is interesting nonetheless, owing to the heavily chorused guitar effect.

Salvation Bus inverts the quiet-loud-quiet structure. It starts "loud" with a great opening riff and settles into a nice groove, before entering a "quiet" pre-chorus (almost the musical equivalent of the floor falling from under your feet!), and a "loud" chorus. This structure is repeated, followed by a mesmerizing chord sequence, a tasteful melodic solo, and then back to the pre-chorus/chorus and outro. A songwriting masterclass. Seven minutes in length, but not a second too long.

The live tracks I’m not alone and It’s about time don't reveal anything not apparent on the Museum versions, but clearly show the band could cut the mustard live.

I've also included the only unreleased Mary My Hope material I've ever located - from so many years go I've long forgotten where! It is an incomplete version of Monster is Bigger Than The Man from the LA Roxy in 1989. If anyone has the complete version, or any other unreleased Mary My Hope material they want to share, please (please!!) contact me ASAP.

James Hall later went on to a solo career with albums My love sex and spirit and Pleasure club, before forming the band Pleasure Club and releasing Here comes the trick and The Fugitive Kind. Clinton Steele later joined Swans, and Sven Pipien joined The Black Crowes – both quality bands, attesting to the musical talents of members of Mary My Hope.

Mary My Hope - 1989 - Museum

1. Wildman Childman
2. It's About Time
3. Suicide King
4. Untitled
5. Communion
6. Hourglass
7. I'm Not Singing
8. Heads and Tails
9. Grind
10. I'm Not Alone
11. Death Of Me

Mary My Hope - 1989 - The Roxy, LA

1. Monster is Bigger Than The Man

Mary My Hope - 1990 - Monster is Bigger Than The Man

1. Monster is Bigger Than The Man
2. She Will
3. Needles in a camel's eye
4. Salvation bus
5. Wildman Childman
6.  Hourglass
7. I'm Not Alone (live) 
8. It's About Time (live)