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ROCK MUSIC REVIEWS – NEW, CLASSICS, RE-ISSUES & MORE

CD REVIEWS 1997-1999 – AUSTRALIAN ARTISTS

COLD CHISEL / THE LAST WAVE OF SUMMER
MUSHROOM AUSTRALIA MUSH33165.3

OVERALL: 80%

Mr Crown Prosecutor
The Things I Love In You
Baby’s On Fire
Way Down
Bal-A-Versailles
Yakuza Girls
He Can’t Believe It’s Over With You
Angel In My Room
Never Stop Loving You
Red Sand
Pretty Little Thing
So Hard
Water Into Wine
The Last Wave Of Summer

Cold Chisel are the quintessential Australian Pub rock band. They have sold over 3 million copies of their albums, one third of this coming after their demise in 1983.
Their history is checkered and the tension within the band both adding to their musical intensity and to their demise.

For those not fully familiar – Chisel comprises Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Steven Prestwich, Don Walker and I will never ever forget their final live performance at the 1983 Countdown Music Awards. Forced to lip sync the track, towards the end, a very drunk Cold Chisel began to smash all their instruments and mike stands, forcing the organizers to drop the curtain, only to see the band smash through that! Quite a scene.
So several years of rumors and half attempts to reform have final produced a record and a tour starting next month.
And the band that has since produced 5 successful solo careers, are creatively mixing for the first time in 15 years.
And the bottom line is that this Cold Chisel has lost nothing. This album could have been recorded in 1980 or 2010. The feel is familiar, the talent unquestioned and the sound undoubtedly Chisel. This album overall is a lot mellower than I expected, but the quality of the pop rock songs here is superb.

The guys only rock out on a few occasions, but I guess everyone here has aged somewhat. After all it has been 15 years between records. But if you don’t mind that and are just looking for some quality bluesy pop rock tunes, Cold Chisel have lost nothing there.
Mr. Crown Prosecutor opens the album with a bluesy swagger that is more laid back than your average album opener. Barnes’ familiar rasp and the satirical lyrics rule the track.
The Things I Love In You is the first single and possibly the most obvious. It is an uptempo pop rocker that will be heard on radio for months to come.
Baby’s On Fire is a Chisel style hard rocker with Barnes in full scream.
Way Down is the first ballad of the album and sees Ian Moss at the mike. A really good blues ballad. Good to hear Ian Moss again.
Bal-A-Versailles is a laid back blues pop track with Barnes singing again. Not bad.

Yakuza Girls sees the band in full rocking swing again. This was released online and to radio as a teaser a month or so back. Good rocker. Moss joins in during the chorus.
He Can’t Believe It’s Over With You is a great Barnes sung ballad that could have come from his Working Class man album.
Angel In My Room is another slow ballad that sees Barnes singing with a lot of restraint. Hardly any screaming!
Never Stop Loving you starts slow again but builds to a more rock n roll chorus and finish.
Red Sand is Ian Moss’ baby and is a typical Moss pop rocker. Another good solid track.
Pretty Little Thing is a full on 12 bar blues rocker.
So Hard is a power ballad with plenty of guitar and Barnes again in good voice.
Water Into Wine is an acoustic ballad while the last track is a slow starter but builds into a rocking finish.

Great tunes and great sound. Overseas fans of Barnes and Moss and Chisel in general should love this. Just be warned that they have mellowed somewhat.


MEN AT WORK / BRAZIL
SONY LEGACY CK 65732

OVERALL: 85%

Batucada (Intro)
Overkill
Touching The Untouchables
Catch A Star
Into My Life
No Sign Of Yesterday
Down Under
Underground
Helpless Automation
Who Can It Be Now?
No Restrictions
Everything I Need
Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive
Down By The Sea
It’s A Mistake
Be Good Johnny
The Longest Night (Studio)

I just love this band to death. It is also nice to be able to review more than one Australian release at a time for the first time in a while.
Men At Work are now just original members Colin Hay and Greg Ham, joined by an entourage of former Australian Crawl drummer John Watson and session guys Simon Hosford and Stephen Hadley.
This disc is the first ever live Men At Work disc and was recorded on their 1996 Brazil concert re-union tour. From what I have heard the re-union will now continue.

Between the two of them, Colin Hay and Greg Ham have written some simply brilliant pop songs and if one scratches the surface a little on any Men At Work or Colin Hay solo record, you will find some of the most intelligent pop songs ever.

Brazil the record sees most of these tunes included being pumped even higher by the fanatically enthusiastic Brazilian crowd of 10,000.
Chart hits like Overkill, It’s A Mistake, Down Under, Be Good Johnny, Everything I Need (awesome) and Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive are mixed with the lesser known but equally catchy album tracks like No Sign Of Yesterday, Underground, Catch A Star and Touching The Untouchables.
The Colin Hay solo track Into My Life is also included and sounds just magic with the full band behind him.
Being live, the band get to expand on the studio versions of many of the songs. Just checkout the 7 minute plus Down Under with drum solo and the sing along on Be Good Johnny is cool.

If you have nerve really given Men At Work a chance besides the obvious couple of major singles, or If you like catchy cleaver pop songs with more hooks than a fishing tackle box, you should find any record to listen to.
If you already own one, this one is an essential addition.


MARIE WILSON / REAL LIFE
EAST WEST AUSTRALIA 398425071-2

OVERALL: 81%

Won’t Keep A Good Girl Down
Next Time
Real Life
Making It Up As I Go Along
On My Own
Rescure Me
Without My Lover
Ordinary Girl
Take Me As I Am
Impossible
Runaway

Marie Wilson is Australia’s latest contribution to the female obsessed commercial pop world. But like other Aussie sensation Natalie Imbruglia, Marie could offer quite a bit to the average pop rock fan. She is a singer/songwriter/guitarist and draws comparisons to Melissa Ethridge, both in style, manner and looks, but plays a harder edge to both her and Imbruglia.
Another strong comparison can be made to one of her namesakes, Ann Wilson of Heart.
This is her debut album and one can safely say this is only the beginning. US audiences will be seeing increasing amounts of her shortly, when her album is released there by Atlantic Records, who recently signed her to a multi album deal.

There has been a lot of effort put into this album. A few of the songs were written when Wilson was invited to the famous French Castle writing sessions that Jack Blades involves himself in, run by manager guru Miles Copeland.
Two of those tracks were written with song writing legends Jim Vallance and Mark Holden and open the album.
Another writing highlight is the track Making It Up As I Go Along written in LA with the Go Go’s Jane Wiedlin.
On top of that the whole album is produced by one of my favorites, Joe Hardy (Tom Cochrane, Nick Barker, Hooters) Won’t Keep A Good Girl Down is real good fun rocker and is one of the heavier Aussie female tracks I have heard.

Next Time is another strong pub rock guitar driven song with some really good vocals.
Real Life starts as an acoustic track and swaps to a mid paced rocker in the chorus. A big Heart sound.
Making It Up As I Go Along is a mid paced pop rocker. Pleasant track that is likely to find it self on radio.
On My Own is a more straight ahead acoustic rock track. Rescue Me is a laid back acoustic ballad that again has strong Heart overtones. A really nice chorus with great backing vocals.
Without My Lover and Ordinary Girl are modern midpaced pop rockers.
Take Me As I Am is once again a nicely stripped back acoustic tune.
Impossible is a very Shaw/Blades style pop rocker. Great chorus. Runaway ends the album with an acoustic ballad, once again with a little Heart.
I strongly recommend that if you like female rockers and like Ann Wilson and Melissa Ethridge, give this Aussie girl ago. You will be hearing plenty more in the months ahead.


MARC HUNTER TRIBUTE
ROADSHOW MUSIC AUSTRALIA

OVERALL: 40%

Artists Featured:
Ross Wilson
Jack Jones
Midnight Oil
Colin Hay
Jenny Morris
James Reyne
Sharon O’Neil
Glenn Shorrock
Richard Clapton
Dragon
Mental As Anything

Marc Hunter was the lead singer of Australian pub rock legends Dragon and died earlier this year of throat cancer.
Dragon were a once a lifetime band that had a couple of waves of success through their 20 year career.
They also wrote some of the most classic Aussie AOR and rock tunes that ever were.
So to raise money for Marc and his family, Australian musicians banded together for this tribute night of classic Dragon songs and a few odds and ends thrown in for good measure.
This CD represents the who’s who of melodic rock in Australia and features a welcome cast of worshiped artists like Ross Wilson of Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool, James Reyne (new album soon), Sharon O’Neil, Tommy Emmanuel, Jack Jones of are they aren’t they Southern Sons, Colin Hay of Men At Work and Glenn Shorrock of Little River Band.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the artists concerned that this night was for Marc and not a way to kick start their mostly stalled career’s with a number of cameo appearances.}
In listening to these renditions of Dragon songs, it seems it has been a long time since any one of them actually played back the original.
Bloody woeful would describe some of the cover’s and God only knows what the hell Jack Jones of Southern Sons was intaking before his performance.

His version of Are You Old Enough must be drug induced, is woefully boring and is unrecognizable to the original.
Basically for the most part the voices matched to the songs were totally unsuitable and blasphemous and have almost totally ruined my enjoyment of this tribute album.
The worst offenders are Jack Jones on THAT track and Nothing To Loose with Tommy Emmanuel and also doing a psycho version of Voodoo Chile (When did Dragon do that?!); old fart Richard Clapton destroying Body & The Beat; the irrelevant Margaret Ulich on Blue Blue and Young Years; equally horrible Wendy Matthews on Here I Am and a couple of interesting but basically OK performances by Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett on Dreams Of Ordinary Men and Speak No Evil.

Best performance awards go to Ross Wilson who ripped through the classic rocker Wilderworld and his own Aussie classic Cool World and Jimmy Barnes who also ripped through the biggest Dragon hit rain.
Also good were James Reyne, Glenn Shorrock and Tommy Emmanuel on guitar.
Unless you are curious or want the individual performances of heroes Jimmy Barnes, James Reyne and Ross Wilson – stick to the original and best versions on any or all of the Dragon records. They are awesome.


THE ANGELS / SKIN & BONE
SHOCK AUSTRALIA 0025

OVERALL: 75%

Northwest Highway
Skin & Bone
Caught In The Night
With Or Without You
Invisible Man
Wasteland
What The Hell
World Stops Turning
My Light Will Shine
Soul Surgeon
Call That Living
Movin’ On

The Angels have been going at the Australian pub rock circuit for years than I have been alive. Over recent years they reverted to their killer original line up that was disrupted when after the big push into the US failed in the early 1990’s.
Why this band have never broken in the States is beyond me, especially with bands like Guns N Roses and Great White praising them, and covering their tunes.
From the first crunching guitar riff and the pounding of the rhythm section on the opening track Northwest Highway, it is clear that the boys are back in business!

While it is unlikely that the band will ever capture the raw energy of their most famous and best album Howling, Skin And Bone sees the band at their most inspired since that record. The hard rock of Northwest Highway, the blues/sleeze rock of Skin And Bone and the first single, the mid paced anthem Caught In The Night and then the hard rocker With Or Without You get the album off to a flyer.
The Angels have their own very distinctive brand of rock, which should be checked out if have never heard them before.

Vocalist Doc Neeson is one of the most menacing singers on stage on this planet! Not a guy to be argued with. Guitarist Rick Brewster is famous for playing entire concerts while not moving anything other than his fingers. He has gone entire tours like that!
Other highlights from Skin And Bone include the acoustic ballad My Light Will Shine and the first three tracks and the last couple.
While the band have probably seen better days, they surely have made a record that shows the old dog ain’t dead yet!


COLIN HAY / TRANSCEDENTAL HIGHWAY
LAZY EYE RECORDS D31831

OVERALL: 73%

Transcendental Highway
Don’t Believe You Anymore
My Brilliant Feat
Goodbye My Red Rose
If I Go
I’m Doing Fine
Wash It All Away
Cactus
Death Row Conversation
I’ll Leave The Light On
Freedom Calling
I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You

Colin is one of Australia’s premiere song writers, and is better known for his role as front man of Aussie legends Men At Work. This is despite the fact he has now recorded more solo albums than Men At Work recorded.
I think Colin’s best solo album was his debut ‘Looking For Jack’. That album sounds as fantastic today as the day I bought it, and is as close to Australian AOR perfection as you will find.
In fact if anyone knows where I can get a CD copy, mail me NOW!
Looking For Jack was Colin’s big attempt at a US hit, and the album was definitely geared towards that market. It also filled his contract with Sony.
Following that album Colin has preferred to stick to the acoustic driven pop sound, with influences of his Scottish background often in play. Now a resident of Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles, Transcendental Highway sees Colin Hay continuing his love of acoustic pop, but this time with more accompaniment, and possibly the best collection of songs since Looking For Jack.

While still favouring the mellow soft acoustic touch, the songs are a little more upbeat and full of fine vocals. The production is also a little fuller.
Particular highlights include If I Go, Don’t Believe You Anymore, and the title track.
But I still long for the full band treatment on a few of the songs and wish Men At Work could produce just one more record.
Great for something soft, and a brilliant example of Colin’s talent’s, but will not appeal to those who like it loud.


SCREAMING JETS / WORLD GONE CRAZY
BMG AUSTRALIA 74321510002

Elvis (I Remember) 2. When I Go 3. Strength 4. Jurisdiction 5. Eve Of Destruction 6. Drowning 7. Dying To See You 8. Holding On 9. Stay Awhile 10. October Grey 11. Black And White 12. In And Out 13. Silence Lost 14. World Gone Crazy

Total Score 77% Production 80% Songs 73% Vibe 75% Attitude 75%

The Jets are back for their forth album, overcoming rumours that they may call it a day. Over the past few years they have become favourites of the local pub scene, and have had their share of hit singles.
The last album took a turn into the 90’s with a tougher, less melodic approach. Here they return to producer Steve James, responsible for their first two and best albums.
The sound has also reverted to a more melodic, and acoustic driven rock, with softer choruses, slower songs and more mature production. But not all the life has been sucked out of the boys! There is still enough rocking here to satisfy old fans.

Lead track and first single ‘Elvis….I Remember’ is typical of the classic Jets of old, so is ‘Stay Awhile’ and ‘In And Out’. But inbetween those tracks, the Jets have clearly matured, and produce some of the smoothest, finest acoustic driven melodic pub rock an Aussie act has ever recorded.
If you know their previous material, than strip it back, add the acoustic guitars, and you have the new sound. Vocalist Dave Gleeson is singing like he never has before, going more for control and melody, rather than the flat out lung tearing style of the earlier albums. He has got a great voice!
If you have never heard of the Screaming Jets, there style is a little hard to describe. They are distinctively Australian, with that legendary pub rock sound, but original also.

Maybe if you mixed the rockiest part of the Rolling Stones with something like the attitude of Guns N Roses (of old).
Either way they are worth checking out, and this album will only increase that need to.


JON STEVENS/CIRCLE
SONY MUSIC AUSTRALIA

1.Proud Man 2. When? 3. Mess I’m In 4.Joy 5.Carry The Flame 6.Revolution
7.Circle 8.One On One 9.Candles 10.One More Time

Total Score 40% Production 65% Songs 30% Vibe 40% Attitude 10%

On the surface, everything about this album looked the goods. Firstly we have the talent of Australia’s finest vocalist in ex-Noiseworks frontman Jon Stevens. Then we have Southern Sons drummer Virgil Donati, one time Journey and session bass player Randy Jackson (who co-produces), guitars by fellow Noiseworker Stuart Fraser, and cameo’s by Michael Thompson……..

But right from the first track, with that annoying R&B drum sound underlying every track, it is evident that this is not going to be the hard edged guitar album fans of Noiseworks would like to hear.
The tracks on this album are distinctively soul and R&B, including a cover of the Hall And Oates classic One On One, with little hint of where Jon has come from. It is unfortunately, I think, more of where he is probably going. I can’t see his older fans getting into this album, it is more an adult contemporary release, in search of a new audience.
All that said and done, it is a finely produced and sounding album, with a really smooth sound and great playing, but you are going to have to buy this for the beauty of Jon’s voice, not the AOR or hard rock anthems Noiseworks became legendary for.


SOUTHERN SONS/ZONE
BMG RECORDS AUSTRALIA

Total Score 55% Production 70% Songs 50% Vibe 40% Attitude 40%

With absolutely no public appearances, or promotion involved with this album, there is little wonder, it has dissapeared without doing rather well at all. The band is effectively caput. However, we do have this album, and I can only hope that a review I did for this album earlier, hasn’t seen the light of day anywhere. Reason being, that after repeated listens, this cd has failed to grow on me at all. Infact, despite a select few awesome tracks, which you would expect from such a high class outfit, the remaining songs fail to inspire at all. It is far to laid back and MOR, rather than the rock that the band pull off live. Stand out tracks are the huge ballad, Fare The Well, and the awesomely catchy duet with Men At Work’s Colin Hay, Don’t Tell Me What’s Right. Otherwise it is a very patchy light weight AOR/MOR release. Pick out of those import bargain bins.


CYCLONE TRACY/ONE EYED
THRU SHOCK RECORDS AUSTRALIA

Jeckyle And Hyde 2. Save Me 3. Can You Here The Rain 4. Take Another Pill 5. Broken Bones 6. Old Man 7. Life Or Death 8. Candy Man 9. War And Peace 10. Anaesthesia 11. That’s Life

Total Score 85% Production 85% Songs 85% Vibe 90% Attitude 100%

This is a heavy mutha of a record! Total attitude from Australia’s hardest working metal act. Cyclone Tracy have been around the block over the last few years, and have gained themselves a dedicated live following, most recently being awarded the opening act for Steve Vai. And believe me Steve would have to work hard to top these guys live. Their energy is unparalled. Fortunately, on this their debut album, the guys have captured the raw energy of their stage appearances, and unleashed them in the studio.

That said, this album is not one for the faint hearted! Instead it should be for those who appreciate a band that can hold their melodies and craft a great song, while competing with bands like Judas Priest, Metallica and the heavier end of Skid Row.

The production is as sharp as any international release, and the musicianship is as tight as it gets. Highlights are the opening face smasher Jeckyle And Hyde, the Neil Young cover Old Man, Broken Bones, Life Or Death….ah there isn’t a dud track on the album!

So if you like them heavy, or like even a few to round out your collection, you couldn’t find a finer release out there! Proof that Australia has a true metal band that can compete with the best of them.


BRILL/BRILL
BB RECORDS

Lovers Quarrel 2. Liberty Pde 3. Two Seeds 4. Jean 5. Lemonade Joe 6. My Home 7. Here I Go 8. Do Not Worry 9. Nine Out of Ten 10. Somedays Pedigree

Brian Canham – Pseudo Echo
Darren Danielson – Chocolate Starfish

Total Score 63% Production 75% Songs 70% Vibe 60% Attitude 65%

I am also finding it hard to compare this to anything! Although their pedigree is very sound, this is a little different. Brill features Brian Canham, lead singer for 80’s popsters turned AOR rockers Pseudo Echo, and Darren Danielson of Aussie rock outfit Chocolate Starfish, who Canham has produced on both occasions.

Again it is in the acoustic pop rock vein, with naturally enough, influences from both the guys previous experiences. But there is also a lot of originality here, with some harder driving numbers with good choruses, too softer acoustic numbers. Again there is some that will really like this, but I can’t see it being a mass seller. More a good personal record. It grows on you after each listen, but I would have a listen to it before buying it on their past resume’s.
Once again however, if you like it stripped back a la Rembrants when they are electric, then this will be worth checking out. I will include a tune on the Soundbytes page.