Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s there was a series of compilation albums called Pebbles. Inspired by the earlier (and also great) Nuggets series which concentrated on garage bands that did have hits (Count Five, Standells, The Seeds, etc.), Pebbles unearthed bands nobody had heard of. Psych rock singles from regional teenage combos, weird high octane screaming vocals and fuzz tone guitars. They collected up little heard garage and psychedelic rock songs from the mid-1960’s and launched them at an unsuspecting public. They were hugely influential releases inspiring the paisley clad, underground sounds from new combos all over the world. Would we have had The Fleshtones, Lime Spiders, Hoodoo Gurus, The Stems, Gun Club, etc. -basically anybody that sounded like The Cramps, without them? It is doubtful. It was music that was raw, untethered and dangerous. It’s dirty rock’n’roll. It’s not something you hear on the radio, especially not these days. It’s not for everybody, but for people who it is for, it doesn’t so much speak as howl to their deepest soul.
‘Well thanks for the history lesson ‘Pops’ I hear you say, but what has that got to do with anything?’ Saturday night’s Born Out Of Time mini-festival at the Grace Emily Hotel was exactly like being in the middle of a Pebbles compilation. It was noisy, a bit psychedelic, pretty garage, it was energetic, sweaty, exciting, raw and pretty fucking fantastic all round.
The excellent Sunday Reeds kicked off proceedings. I’m just getting to know these guys but they are impressive. Great songs, great singer (Ramona Ashton), awesome guitar player (Drew Jones) and recent addition Shakey McGhee on drums drives and thumps along through their set. Mostly originals gems like Blue Stockings, Drop Dead Cool and new song Rosaleen. They even make G G Allin’s Don’t Talk To Me into a tuneful garage diamond.
WILD Rocket, are an all female, all rockin’,sixties stompin’ garage band. There’s shimmery go-go boots groovy skirts, there is a lot of attitude, and a lot of fucking ace tunes. Tonight they are sticking to the punchier garage songs so they wee leaving out the psych jams out due to time constraints. Edgy harmonies, catchy tunes, heaps of energy and the impression they could replace The Carrie Nations in Beyond The Valley of the Dolls. Stand out songs Loose Cannon, Brand Power and ripper version of He’s Not Far by 80’s all female garage rockers The Pandoras (from LA).
Green Circles, they tell us, have play The Grace sixty something times. They have been gigging for sliding into twenty years and you can tell right from the start. They play a tight as a ducks butt brand of Maximum R’n’B, sixties Who-esque rock and roll. Set opener I Can’t See The Day, Midnight to Six, Move On Down The Line and Semaphore Girl all have people movin’ and groovin’.
Tonight is also the launch for The Dunes self titled album (through Off The Hip Records in Australia and Oak Island Record in Europe). They are playing that album right through tonight complete with a break between sides (yep it’s on vinyl too). The Dunes play fuzzy Psychedelic rock, extended and repetitive sounds that form and wrap around themselves into hypnotic jams. They have freaky images projected over them. There is incense. There are five people on stage, but they all have a lot of gear it’s a tight squeeze on the tiny Grace stage. Seriously guitarist Matt Reiner has more pedals than a bicycle shop. Jess Honeychurch ads delicious keyboard sounds throughout and vocalist Stacie Reeves is singing up a storm, throwing shapes, which in turn throw silhouetted versions on the screens behind them. Often the songs are quite long, but long in the remit that psychedelic music often need time to build, find it’s groove and kick in with all the explosions and fireworks you might find on good acid. Making Friends With Codeine and Paranoid are highlights and the epic knockout of spacey keys and jagged guitar of Pariah is an remarkable. They are nearly out of the vinyl, so act quickly if that’s your bag.
I have been waiting a whole year to see Melbourne’s The Beat Taboo. When they were last in Adelaide I found myself in the UK at the exact same time. And while they hail from Melbourne, lead singer Pange De Bauche is former veteran of a bunch of Adelaide bands like King Daddy (with Kitty from Wild Rocket as it happens) albeit he was behind a drum kit at the time. Now Pange is out front howling like a motherfucker. They have been described as ‘Tom Waits fronting The Cramps’ and y’know what? I’ll pay that. His raw ‘gargles with razorblades’ voice oscillates between Elvis in Hell, the blood curdling scream of a night creature.
Can a take a moment to say how much I loved the Cramps. What a perfect band. Tight as a drum, swampy, sexy, rocking, sweaty, wearing crazy shit. Fantastic songs. Driven by the imposingly tall Lux Interior on vocals, the guitar vixen Poison Ivy, they were sexier, swampier, more wailin’, more howlin’ than anybody else of the planet. Lux passed away nine years ago. I miss them so much it hurts.
It could well be that The Beat Taboo are the swamp rock bandage I have needed on that gaping wound for so long. Pange has some of the physicality of Lux, he is tall and imposing but also has a bit of the Tex Perkins about him. Underground good looks, salt and pepper sideburns and that howl. Damn! The band is electrifying too. Two female guitar players Yolanda DeRose and Shannon Driscoll just killing it on every song. Buzz-saw solos and brittle pulsing chords. The rhythm section Mick Baty (drums) and Chris Benette (bass) are rock solid, but like the Cramps before them it’s a beat that has a swagger, it’s tight and loose at the same time. It’s not full of fat and twiddly bits, it’s a beat like a Halloween skeleton, the slightly scary thing everything else hangs off and clings to. Sticking mostly to songs from their debut Dirty Stash release they open with South of The Border and head down to surf in the toxic waves with Ride The Wave. Voodoo Beat is a swamp rock anthem, driving, thumping beat. The song titles themselves are evocative Bone Tequila, Dirty Wine and Cat Lady Man. The foreboding riffage of Splinter Beach certainly recalls Lux & Co’s Human Fly, but y’know they ain’t using it at the present and it is in good hands. They finish up with I Need You More and the frantic Lick My Wail.
The Beat Taboo were everything I was hoping they could and more. Primal, dirty, swampy, rock’n’fucking’roll baby!
Born Out Of Time was a full house and a belter of a gig. Five great bands (seven if you were there for the all ages gig on in the afternoon, Fifteen bucks entry with a free CD of bands on the bill, good crowd, friendly folk. I hope they do it again. It’s the only time this sinner will want to be Born again.
Live Review by Ian Bell