Hoodoo Gurus : Gold Watch: 20 Golden Greats
It doesn’t take a compilation to confirm the merit of the Hoodoo Gurus’ contribution to the contemporary Australian rock’n’roll canon. Having started out as Le Hoodoo Gurus in 1981 (the ‘30th anniversary’ tag associated with both the Dig It Up! tour, and this compilation is somewhat misleading) as a three-guitar, bass-less purveyor of bubblegum pop infused ‘60s garage, Hoodoo Gurus have evolved into one of Australia’s most consistent and resilient pop-rock bands.
Gold Watch: 20 Golden Greats is an adequate, if largely unsurprising compilation of Hoodoo Guru tracks. Grumpy old fart nostalgia favours the Stoneage Romeos material, including the original single version of Leilani (the sole track to feature the songwriting contributions of original guitarists Kimble Rendall and the enigmatic Roddy Radalj), Tojo, My Girl and I Want You Back; Bittersweet, Death-Defying and the perennial party favourite Like, Wow – Wipeout capture the Gurus’ break-through mid-‘80s period.
By the time of Miss Freelove ‘69 and What’s My Scene the Gurus are a staple of Australian commercial radio, and the lucrative American college radio scene. The band’s early 21st century hiatus inadvertently sustained the Gurus’ career, culminating in 2010’s Purity of Essence, and the wry social commentary of I Hope You’re Happy.
Despite the depth of material on Gold Watch, it’s easy to identify the unfortunate omissions: Let’s Turn On is arguably the definitive ‘early’ Gurus track, while Echo Chamber would have neatly captured the iconoclastic edge of the first period Gurus (not to mention more evidence of the troglodyte drumming brilliance of James Baker). Of the late ‘80s catalogue, Brainscan (featuring Rob Younger) would have illustrated the link macho-garage Australian Birdman scene and the Gurus’ radio-acceptable pop-rock fringe. And surely there would have been some archival live material lying around – maybe a cover of the Masters’ Apprentices Elevator Driver from the band’s live gig at the Tote in early 1983, or even a few songs from a set at the Trade Union Club in 1981?
Such pedantic observations aside, Gold Watch confirms – again – why we continue to love the Hoodoo Gurus. Here’s hoping this particular gold watch isn’t a prelude to retirement.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Key Track: Leilani
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