Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Australia Rocks!

By Mike Kimmel

City of Angels or Angel City? Angel City or City of Angels? I'm so confused!

Or not.

Oz? The Land Down Under?

Men At Work?

Diesel Injectors?

What I'm doing here is a quick little ditty about some of my favorite bands from Australia. They come up with some good musicians. In this piece, I'm only talking about the bands I think there's a high likelihood you've never heard of. So I ain't a-gonna talk about Angus Young and AC/DC.


One of the bands I AM going to talk about is Angel City or The Angels. Nope, no AC/DC in this article. Though in Angel City's (arguably) biggest hit, "Marseilles", you might just recognize a refrain or two from an AC/DC tune. That song is the reason I got highly addicted to the band.

Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to see the band at a fairly large nightclub in the Chicago area (I can't recall the name, but I also saw Montrose, Black Cat, Savoy Brown, Steve Marriott, and Humble Pie at the same club).

Brothers Rick and John Brewster on guitars. John stood off on the left side of the stage and didn't move from that spot while handling the lead guitar duties. I found out later that the reason he stayed stationary during shows was because "Beethoven convinced me not to move".


John, on the other hand, was constantly waltzing (Matilda – see what I did there?) across the stage from side to side.

Lead singer Doc Neeson somehow came up with a white sheet that he draped over himself. With the bright light located low near the back of the stage, he really looked kinda eerie. Then, instead of running around the stage, he jumped off of the stage and onto a table near the front of the stage. From there he proceeded to jump from table to table, still singing and still covered with the sheet.

 I remember two thoughts prevalent in my mind:

#1 – I hope he doesn't fall 'cause he'll get killed, and

#2 – I hope WHEN he falls, he doesn't fall at MY table because I'LL get killed!

He never fell, though, occasionally doing an amazing job of maintaining his balance as the tables rocked a bit when he landed on it. Here, he's helping a female fan up onto the stage with the band after his table dancing expedition.


Here's "Take A Long Line" from a 1978 performance – probably my favorite Angel City tune:



Their biggest US hit, "Marseilles":



Angel City's release Face To Face is listed at #64 on The Top 100 Australian Albums – a book by Toby Creswell, John O'Donnell, and Craig Matheison.

I'm not going to talk about Men At Work, even though it points out the occasional poor judgment exhibited by big business as the band's label (Columbia Records) rejected their release Business As Usual twice before finally releasing it. That album was kind of a big deal for the band, going platinum x3 in Australia, platinum x4 in Canada, platinum in the UK, and platinum x6 in the US. Platinum status is given to releases that sell a million copies.

The album also attained #1 status on the Billboard album chart as well as the track "Down Under" from that album reaching number one on the singles chart simultaneously. The album was in the top 100 for 15 weeks in 1983 and won a Grammy that same year.


I'm going to talk about Rose Tattoo. As with The Bus Boys, you may not have heard of Rose Tattoo, but if you saw the Mad Max film with Tina Turner, you've seen the lead singer of Rose Tattoo, Angry Anderson. He was the shorter, bald guy running around Turner in the dome-like cage in the desert.

Here's a clip of Rose Tattoo performing what is still my favorite Tattoo-tune, "Nice Boys (Don't Play Rock & Roll)".



A little AC/DC note here as well as with Angel City: Harry Vanda and George Young produced the first four Rose Tattoo releases. If you're as much of a music geek as I am, you'll recognize that Vanda & Young also produced many of AC/DC's releases.

I got Rose Tattoo's first album when I still bought music based on several factors, one of which was what the cover art looked like. I did that for Uriah Heep – Demons and Wizards and wound up being a Heephead deluxe.

Rose Tattoo's debut album is listed at #92 on The Top 100 Australian Albums. Sony Music released a 5-CD compilation in support of the book.

Tattoo has toured often since its inception in the late '70s. The band has supported such acts as Motorhead and Guns & Roses through its history. The band has worked through the usual share of comings and goings of members throughout the years and had plans for a new album and a new tour in 2006. That was canceled when original guitarist Peter Wells died of prostate cancer.

The original Tattoo bassist – Ian Rilen – died of bladder cancer later in that same year.

Lobby Loyde – bassist who took Rilen's place – died of lung cancer the next year.

Original guitarist Mick Cocks died of liver cancer in 2009.

Including drummer Dallas Royall losing a battle with cancer in 1991, that makes five former Tatts who have died of some form of cancer. Strange that in an interview I saw with Angry Anderson years ago, the interviewer asked him if he was ever nervous before going on stage. Anderson replied "Nervous? I'm scared shitless! You never know how it's gonna go or even if this show is gonna be your last."


The last Aussie band I'd like to mention here is Johnny Diesel and the Injectors. Mark Denis Lizotte – a.k.a. Johnny Diesel – was actually born in Massachusetts, but his family moved to Australia in the early '70s.

Another example of "It's a small world, ain't it?" shows up here as Johnny Diesel & the Injectors were managed early in their career by Angel City's drummer Brent Eccles. Here's a clip of the band doing my pick of one of the three or four favorites they do – "Don't Need Love".



And another of the band doing "Parisienne Hotel". Gotta love a song with lyrics like: "Parisienne Hotel. There's a hole in the wall from a shotgun shell. You're either buying or you sell at the Parisienne Hotel."



Between 1989 and 2011, Diesel has released 15 albums, three DVDs, received the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Award for Best Male Artist in 1992, 1993, and 1995, and also the ARIA Award for Best Album with his second studio release from 1992 – Hepfidelity. The album hit #1 on the Australian charts.

In fact, of the 15 releases from Diesel, 12 have charted in Australia in the Top 100, and eight of those have been in the Top 20!

Finally, when Dweezil Zappa embarked on his Zappa Plays Zappa tour, guitarist Ray White started with the tour in 2007. He had played with Dweezil's father, the late Frank Zappa. White left the tour in 2009 – reportedly resigning via email – and Johnny Diesel/Mark Lizotte filled in on the Australian leg of the tour on guitar and vocals.

That's it for the tour of some of the best Australian bands you're not listening to. Trust me – you're doing yourself a great disservice if you're not listening!

Interestingly, I've heard of the vast majority of the bands and releases listed in The Top 100 Australian Albums. But even more interestingly – surprisingly, even – I own 20 of those listed. They are:

AC/DC - Back in Black
Easybeats - The Best Of
Skyhooks - Living in the 70's
INXS – Kick
Radio Birdman - Radio Appears
Bee Gees - Best of
The Saints - I'm Stranded
Split Enz – True Colours
Nick Cave Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call
Savage Garden – Savage Garden
Mental as Anything – Cats & Dogs
Models – Pleasure of Your Company
AC/DC – Highway to Hell
The Angels – Face to Face
Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs – Live at Sunbury
The Vines – Highly Evolved
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
Jet – Get Born
Rose Tattoo – Rose Tattoo
Men at Work – Business As Usual

-Mike Kimmel

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