When cult New York band Endless Boogie visited Australia earlier this year, the band had only one major Australian tourist destination in mind: the regional Victorian town of Sunbury, host to Australia’s most famous rock’n’roll festival in the ’70s. Led by iconic Australian rock’n’roll figures such as Lobby Loyde and Billy Thorpe, Sunbury brought together a crowd of sweaty suburban pub dwellers and the occasional agitated Sharpie to celebrate the denim, beer and power chords of the nascent Australian blues rock scene.
It’s that historical sub cultural setting that’s captured on the double CD Boogie! Australian Blues, R&B And Heavy Rock From The ’70s. A roll-call of the best and toughest Australian boogie and blues artists from the era, Boogie! is a timely reminder that Australian rock’n’roll was punching above its weight long before the international charts took notice.
Chain’s Black And Blue still packs the moonshine-strength punch it did 40 years ago; Billy Thorpe And The Aztec’s CC Rider is all shrieks, blues and iconoclastic sonic imagery. Bands such as the prog-folk styled Spectrum (I’ll Be Gone), the bubble-prog Madder Lake (12 lb Toothbrush, Booze Blues) and the proto-stoner Buffalo (Sunrise (Come My Way)) are both of their time, and transcend time; and while Renee Geyer (Dust My Blues) plays on, there will never be a female rock performer quite like Wendy Saddington (Backlash Blues).
While the Australian boogie bands stayed true to the genre’s American blues origins, there’s a particular Australian cultural sensibility that comes through in tracks like Skyhooks’ Saturday Night, Ted Mulry Gang (Darktown Strutters Ball), Daddy Cool (Daddy Rocks Off), Ferret’s Janie May, Chain’s Gertrude Street Blues and even the whimsical Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band (Your Feet’s Too Big). And it’s pleasing to see pub rock icons such as Cold Chisel (Goodbye (Astrid Goodbye), Home And Brokenhearted), The Angels (Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again) and Rose Tattoo (Bad Boy For Love) located within a broader musico-cultural tradition (the latter is also indirectly represented via Band of Light’s The Destiny Song (featuring a young Ian Rilen) and Buster Brown’s Something To Say (fronted by Gary ‘Angry’ Anderson). That tradition that may have faded like a pair well of worn denim jeans, but it hasn’t lost its appeal.
BY PATRICK EMERY
Best Track: Lobby Loyde And The Coloured Balls GOD
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: ENDLESS BOOGIE, THE STEINS, MATT SONIC, SHERIFF
In A Word: Boogie