Some records should not be taken lightly. This one is the real deal, an unexpected gift from the gods. This is a brand new Beasts Of Bourbon album, recorded and mixed in three days in the Melbourne winter of 2006. It’s their first album of new songs in nine years. And it will kick your arse.
LITTLE ANIMALS arrives against considerable odds. Last time Tex Perkins, Spencer Jones, Charlie Owen, Brian Hooper and Tony Pola made a record, its title turned out to be succinctly prophetic. At the end of ’97, GONE saw them off on the longest hiatus of the Beasts’ 23-year tenure, for reasons best unasked or forgotten.
“There was a while when it was best not to see each other,”says Tex. “The last time we saw each other people got hurt. There were injuries. I think we were all happy to go our separate ways. But wounds heal. And you forget.”
History doesn’t. Over six albums of excoriating, low life rock’n’roll, the Beast of Bourbon had carved their name large and indelibly in Australian rock lore. In (evil) spirit they’re kin to AC/DC, the Stones and the Birthday Party; in real life their lineage encompasses the Johnnys, the Surrealists, the Cruel Sea, the New Christs, Louis Tillet, Paul Kelly, Roland Howard, Andre Williams, Tex, Don and Charlie and too many crash-and-burn blues/punk rock outfits that fell foul of the old death or glory equation some time over the last quarter-century.
Just over three years ago, someone had the temerity to offer them a gig. After six years away, Sydney’s Homebake Festival of December 2003 witnessed a band, somewhat miraculously, at the peak of its powers. The rehearsals weren’t bad either: Two gigs at the Tote Hotel in Collingwood in August ’03 were recorded, and then released as LOW LIFE in late 2005.
By that time, the Beasts had forged a workable truce, perpetrated several knuckle-grazing tours of Australia and Europe, and secured an invitation to their fourth Big Day Out in January 2006 (their first was that time they wiped the floor of the Hordern Pavilion with a hot pop act called Nirvana in ’92).
It was on yet another tour of Europe in May ’06 that Spencer offered “Thanks”, the song that would became the impetus for a seventh Beasts of Bourbon album. He’d first played it at a benefit gig for Brian at the Greyhound Hotel two years earlier (Brian had broken his back in a fall. He played his own benefit gig regardless, propped between two bouncers. But that’s another story). In a hotel room in Wuppertal, Spencer played it again for Tex and Charlie.
“That song started the ball rolling,”Tex says. “For a while we were happy to exist on back catalogue stuff, enjoy that, get on top of it, play what we really liked and what people wanted to hear. After two years of that we’d started looking around at each other and saying, ‘Is this getting a bit stale?'”
So this is what happens. Jonesy says, “Come on, we got some T-shirt money, I got plenty of songs. There’s always another Beasts of Bourbon album that’s better than the last one. Let’s get three days in a studio somewhere and give it a shot.”
Tex doesn’t care either way. He reckons it’s make or break time. “OK. We’ll give it a shot,”he says. “If it’s crap, the Beasts of Bourbon can f— off. I’ll push it aside: ‘We saw it through. There’s nothing there’.
“But then it turns out the f—n’ record’s good!”he shouts. “Damn! This bitch of a thing thinks it deserves the gift of life!”
The labour pains are short and sharp: a day and a half of ragged rehearsals on a wet winter’s weekend, then three days at Newmarket Studios in North Melbourne, with the band’s live mixer, Skritch, in the producer’s seat. The place has the right vibe, Spencer says. That’s crucial, and hard to find. The band sets up drums and amps to record live.
Tex is feeling ruthless. He wants to work on ten songs, max. He doesn’t want to muck around with 15 or 16 and let most of them go to the dogs. He’s thinking of classic, hard rock albums of the ’70s: condensed, high impact. Short intro, first verse, chorus, solo. Bang-bang-bang. Keep it all happening. No fat, no filler and then, “oh shit, it’s over.”
He has an S&M grinder called “Master and Slave”to illustrate his point. Spencer responds with “Little Animals”, “New Day Of The Dead”and “The Beast I Came To Be”. Brian think he’s being left in the dust, so he jams up “I Don’t Care About Nothing Anymore”with Tony, a song so black and vicious it turns into one of the greatest opening tracks on any album, ever.
Other stuff happens. “I’m Gone”is a Tex riff that Charlie makes better and Spencer rescues with a new beat that opens it up, gives it some funk and swing. Tony has to be forced to play “The Beast I Came To Be”. He hates every song they record. After three days he decides it’s actually pretty good.
First among those destined to agree are the folks at Albert’s in Sydney, the label that introduced the Easybeats, AC/DC and Rose Tattoo to the world, and whose commitment to the base metal currency of no-frills Australian rock is reaffirmed by Dallas Crane. It’s the perfect home for the Beasts’ new century renaissance.
The record is mixed, says Charlie, “with two faders: Guitar solo? Turn up the guitar. Pull it down, push the vocal back up. All done.”
“We’ve always referenced the classics,”says Tex. “AC/DC, Rolling Stones… but I think this record, how it’s arranged and mixed, really has that ’70s classic rock approach to it. Everything’s up there. The solos are up. The arrangements are bang-bang-bang. It’s our ’70s radio album.”
For over 25 years, Beccy Cole has been delighting Australian music fans with her unique brand of true entertainment. The South Australian star’s glowing warmth, husky tones, bawdy sense of humour and hundred-watt smile have helped make Beccy one of the nation’s best-loved and most celebrated artists.
With ten Golden Guitars (Country Music Awards of Australia) to her name (including four for Female Artist of the Year), as well as multiple ARIA Top 10 Country and Top 40 Mainstream albums, a Top 10 DVD, three gold-certified releases, and more than a dozen No.1 Australian country singles, Beccy Cole is one of Australia’s most successful singer-songwriters. She is also a most sought after live performer, having a reputation for bringing an audience to fever pitch and quite often, stomach clutching laughter!
Beccy Cole’s latest album, ‘Lioness’ is nothing short of stunning. A collection of self-penned, personal and poignant songs perfectly displaying Beccy’s strength of character, huge heart and razor sharp wit. In an Australian first, Beccy procured the talents of some of Australia’s finest female musicians to make the only ever 100% female produced album. Produced by Julz Parker, known best for her amazing guitar work in Australian award winning band, Hussy Hicks, this is a Beccy Cole album with a new sound, a new band and a new outlook on life beyond forty.
The title track, ‘Lioness’, allows a glimpse into Beccy’s personal life as she explores a world beyond falling in love (Beccy married successful cabaret and jazz performer, Libby O’Donovan earlier in 2018).
In a series of short stories, Beccy takes the listener on a journey of mishap (her wit shining through), returning to a chorus declaring life better with her partner – “I’m a scaredy-cat sometimes but I’m a lioness with you.” With a driving kick drum and a powerful electric guitar, this is one made for number ten on the volume knob.
In a change of pace, Beccy journeys back to childhood with the bluegrass-esque track, ‘Coromandel Valley.’ The harmonies from Libby O’Donovan, Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker absolutely make this song and will indeed transport you to the Adelaide Hills where a young Beccy Cole began life. Fans who love Beccy for her wild side will not be disappointed with track 3, a ballsy drinking song called ‘Wine Time.’ A ‘Little Feet’ style groove is set by drummer, Ali Foster and again, the harmonies and Beccy’s humour shines through.
In another first for Beccy Cole, she plays guitar for the first time on one of her studio records. Her picking is extraordinary on ‘Are You Coming Over’ as is her song writing. Clare O’Meara features on fiddle in this toe-tapping drinking song about er…getting drunk!
Track 5 is a good old cheating song, what’s a country record without one? Showing off her bluesy vocal tones, Beccy does not disappoint with this ballad about blurring the lines of right and wrong. ‘They Won’t Call It Cheating’ could be placed back in the 60s and sound perfectly at home on a Patsy Cline record.
Dedicated to her new spouse, ‘My Wife’s Got Balls’ has to be heard to be believed! With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Beccy pays tribute to her extreme ‘justice-freak’ wife, this one is sure to bring some laughs at live shows.
Beccy has become a strong role model for the LGBTI community, especially in rural Australia. ‘My God’ is an emotional look at the recent struggles she and many others had during the marriage equality debate. In beautifully worded poignancy, this song certainly gets you thinking.
By popular demand, Beccy included her tribute to the Country Music Channel, ‘Look Ma, I’m on CMC’ on the album. After having written the song for a performance on the CMC awards 2 years ago (where Beccy played all instruments in the band), Beccy received an overwhelming amount of requests from fans to include the song on her next album. There’s no doubt it’s a fun track and the bass work of Shireen Khemlani is very clever.
The only song on the album not written by Beccy is ‘I’m So Excited.’ Banjo girl, Taylor Pfeiffer sets the pace in this very laid back version of the well-known Pointer Sisters hit. Beccy was asked to sing this song at both Mardi Gras and a Commonwealth Games LGBT event; “It’s always fun so why not throw it on the album too!” says Beccy.
Anyone following Beccy closely will know that she has an extremely close relationship with her Grandmother, Gloria. Almost 99, Gloria remains Beccy’s hero and the subject of many of her songs (‘Gloria’s Roses,’ ‘Tea For Three’). The Milliner gives us an insight into Gloria’s early life, having been born in 1919 and beginning full time work as a teenager. The song is simply breathtaking and the harmonies bring a tear, as do the incredible lyrics and melody, written together with Libby O’Donovan.
Beccy Cole’s wit strikes again with ‘Our Souls.’ If you listen and think it might be a jab at real people, you’re 100% right! Tight-lipped about the details, Beccy claims only that the song is true and the people involved no longer work for her, nor will they ever!
The album finishes with just Beccy on guitar singing a song sure to tug at the heart-strings of mothers everywhere. ‘I Believe In You’ is a mother coming to terms with her son becoming a man. There are moments where you can hear the vulnerability in Beccy’s voice, a close tear perhaps. It’s very special indeed.
Following the successful 2017 release ‘The Great Country Songbook Volume 2,’ with good mate, Adam Harvey, ‘Lioness’ is Beccy’s 12th album release and a good indication that Beccy Cole is still in for the long haul. A self-confessed ‘gig pig,’ Beccy Cole is at her happiest on the road and entertaining Australian audiences. Whether singing in front of (but not for) the American President, entertaining Australian troops in the Middle East or at the RSL of a small rural town, Beccy has always given her all and we imagine, always will!
Beccy Cole is the real deal, a working mother, a comedienne, an author, a passionate supporter of Aussie Rules Football and as honest, funny and genuine in real life as she comes across on stage. Her ability to laugh at herself and write her songs and tell her stories with such brazen truth is refreshing and most of all, entertaining.
Beccy Cole leaves an indelible impression.
Jaime’s approach to music making is always changing. More of an ideas man than a musician he tends to create an overall concept for a project then work on it like a puzzle.
He has over 15 years of experience in music production and has graduated from Southern Cross University with a B.A in Contemporary Music.
He won the Australian Roland Groovemaster Competition and took out best other instrumentalist (saxophone) at the Queensland Festival of Music.
His music has been licensed to numerous TV shows including Home & Away, Neighbours, City Homicide, Packed to the Rafters, Blue Water High & Australian Idol.
Jaime has composed music for SBS sport including themes for the French Open,
The World Game, World Cycling Championships, Cycling Central, German Cities Doco, Rise of the Roos Doco and the soundtrack to the 2006 World Cup.
TVC’s include clients such as Lexus and DHL.
As a remixer Jaime has worked on projects for Chris Lilley (Summer Heights High/ Angry Boys), Rae & Christian featuring Mark Foster (Foster the People), ABC Classics as well as releasing his own double remix album called Swaps.
Under his Rephrase alias he has produced three studio albums. Two remix albums as well as several vinyl releases featuring artists such as James Morrison, Mitchell Anderson & Merenia Gilles.
Once again, not content with doing the same thing Jaime’s new project called Beds has a distinct hip hop feel. Collaborating with vocalists RuCL & Voli K, The Action Figures 6 track EP has just been released.
Not one to rest, Jaime is back in the studio working on the next installment.
Broader Than Broadway, the new mini album by Australia’s Belles Will Ring, is in the nicest of ways the end result of a series of “happy accidents”.
From the band’s Macgyver-like experiments during the recording process right down to the title (pulled from the lyrics of a Barrington Levy song as a joke that ended up sticking), Belles Will Ring adeptly harness their creative energy and the subsequent mishaps to shape a cohesive new record. This is not to say the band’s entire creative process is uncalculated and chaotic. A sophomore release is very delicate territory for a band whose debut record, Mood Patterns (2007), garnered much praise and international attention.
Self-produced over a sixth month period, once again at Three Shades Green (aka. Liam Judson’s parents lounge room), Broader Than Broadway contains all of the sprawling soundscapes of Mood Patterns, yet has been pared down to its necessary elements. The introduction to Aidan Roberts (lead guitarist) sharing songwriting credits has consolidated the chemistry of Belles Will Ring, creating a diverse, refined and unified direction now as a 4 piece – originally a 6 piece on the bands conception.
“Priest Coats”, the first single, and “Songs of the Avenue” are rife with complex harmonies and accurately illustrate the breadth and depth of what Belles Will Ring is capable of: lush, multi-faceted ballads and straightforward rock songs. And while the tempo and instrumentation from song to song is sonically diverse, like the transition from Wintertime and A Thousand Odes to You, there is still a semblance of calculation. Renegades is a strangely upbeat pop song that sounds like nothing else on the record and yet feels familiar and welcome given the album’s trajectory. The finale, titled Silver Eyes is a beautiful ballad that is signature to the bands balance of harmonies and clever instrumentation.
2008 has seen the band expand its songwriting and production capacity in and away from Belles Will Ring. Drummer, Ivan Lisyak sharing the same duties for The Paper Scissors. Liam Judson fine-tuning his producing skills on the new Lovetones LP, whilst joining guitar duties & co-writing for Sister Jane and The Late Night Sound. While Aidan Roberts has delivered an acclaimed debut LP under his Maple Trail moniker. The productive existence of individual members has marked progress and maturity for Belles Will Ring on this release and many more to follow.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the Australian music scene over the past decade should be aware of the work of Brisbane musician Ben Salter, although which of his diverse array of musical projects they will have encountered is another matter entirely.
After a nerdy adolescence spent in the dusty garrison city of Townsville, North Queensland, Salter’s ambitions drew him south to the Brisbane, where after a few false starts he formed self proclaimed ‘intelligent hard rock’ outfit Giants Of Science in the late nineties. Still a going concern, the Giants have thus far released two critically acclaimed albums and a pair of EPs, as well as performing with the likes of The MC5, Swervedriver, McLusky, JSBX and Radio Birdman.
In 2004, after five years of intensive touring with Giants, Salter began performing with a disparate group of like-minded musicians he’d met at a weekly open mic night he hosted. A few hastily arranged recording sessions later, The Gin Club was born. With their unique amalgam of folk, rock, country, soul and pop, this free-wheeling collective – featuring no less than seven singer/songwriters – have released four acclaimed albums and played nearly every festival on the Australian circuit, as well as taking their music as far afield as the United States and Canada.
Never one to knowingly sit still, Salter also found time to write and record two albums with another collective of sorts, The Wilson Pickers, whose strong songwriting and captivating live shows quickly earned them a swag of fans around the country, as well as an ARIA nomination for their debut album Land Of the Powerful Owl.
Then there are the six albums recorded with garage skuzz merchants The Young Liberals, and numerous other collaborations and short-lived outfits such as The Hi Waves, Fatal 4, and Megafauna.
Yet all the while, in parallel to all these other projects, Salter continued to write, record and perform his solo material, songs that either would not work in any other format or he was reluctant to part with. And now, after a decade of empty threats, he is finally releasing his debut album under his own name, The Cat.
Recorded and produced with Gareth Liddiard and Robert F. Cranny at Liddiard’s rural studio in Havilah, Victoria, The Cat is easily the most assured work of Salter’s career. Whilst occasionally (and understandably) reminiscent of his other incarnations, The Cat is its own beast entirely, an intoxicating blend of avant-garde pop, rock and folk that is at once conventional and defiantly odd.
“Gareth gets bored pretty easily, as do I…”, says Salter. “So we just wanted to approach these songs, some of which are over ten years old, in an unconventional manner. Thus, no hi-hats. Hurdy Gurdy, saxophone.. Swedish bagpipes! The songs themselves aren’t terribly radical, to be honest, but the treatment is pretty strange in parts. It’s not black metal, but it’s not Wet Wet Wet either.”
Salter had no shortage of friends to call on for help when it finally came time to put The Cat together. Gin Club alumni Gus Agars and Ola Karlsson played drums and bass respectively, while the quest for weirdness led to him employing legendary Melbourne jazz saxophonist Julien Wilson, multi-instrumentalist Peter Novotnik, and Australian rock’n’roll luminaries Joel Silbersher, Tom Lyncolgn and Steve Hesketh.
“Tom and Joel, not to mention Gareth, are absolute legends, people that I really admire and look up to both as musicians and as people. So I was thrilled when they agreed to be a part of the project”, Salter says. “Most of the songs were kind of in place as far as arrangements and lyrics and stuff, but my work with The Young Liberals in particular has made me realize the importance of organized chaos, for want of a better expression; something random. So we set aside a day to get (Tom & Joel) up to Havilah to do some overdubs on some of the songs. I’d become somewhat taken with Scott Walker through the documentary, 30th Century Man, and particularly with the revelation that Walker would often not let his musicians hear much (or all) of the tracks they were working on before recording their parts. So I endeavoured to do the same with Joel and Tom. There were no guidelines, no playbacks before their takes and a maximum of three passes at each song. I wrote out the chords for them so they weren’t completely in the dark, but that was it. I didn’t answer any of their questions regarding whether they were doing the right thing or not. And the results were stunning – Joel’s Korg flourishes on West End Girls or the duelling guitar parts on The Cat… you just could not plan that stuff, it was exactly what I was after. I was in heaven.”
The Cat covers an extraordinary amount of musical terrain over the course of its ten songs, the layers of sounds and textures giving the songs a depth that far transcends the already considerable beauty of the compositions themselves. The title track is a case in point, a stunning composition with some of the most powerful lyrics Salter has ever put to paper. “’The Cat’ features some of my own favourite lyrics. It started out as a poem that came to me very quickly after I spied one of the neighbourhood cats being tormented by a gang of crows or magpies. I could see the cat plotting dreadful revenge and it was kind of tragic. The music took ages and ages though, trying to get some chords and a melody that would suit the song. But the addition of Julien’s sax solo really took the song into outer space.”
With this album, Salter begins an exciting new chapter in what is already an illustrious and highly decorated career.
Bertie Page Clinic is spangles and glam, punk and transvestite, stiletto heels sharp as scalpels, station wagons, lyricism, grand eloquence and infernal vocal exercises, a hot, guttural sound which could burn a hole in your crotch!” Headsucker, Rennes, France 2010
Bertie Page Clinic is the perverted child of burlesque and classic rock, led in a flurry of fur, feathers and fornication by Australian cabaret star Bertie Page. Their witty works combine the best elements of yacht rock, punk rock and poodle rock, pulled off with a Jim Steinman flair. Since 2009 the Clinic has been playing venues and festivals all over Australia and the world, from London to Berlin, Amsterdam to Paris. In 2011 they were kicked out of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for being too loud and too naked, and with that a new album was born.
Released through French underground rock label Beast Records, the band’s second long player “Too Loud Too Naked” features ten tracks that weave a path from exotic strip clubs, to blue-collar worksites. On this tortuous journey we meet a burlesque bitch, a sultry stripper, a hungry kitty, and even 1950s leading man Robert Mitchum.
Bertie Page Clinic have just returned from a three week tour of Europe where they launched their new album. The album won’t hit Australian shores until late 2013 but in the meantime the band are hitting the road in August to release their new single “One Swan Pond”. It’s a biting, spitting little minx of a tune aimed squarely at those swimming in the shallow end of the arts pool.
Who is Betty Who? You won’t be asking for long. The 22 year-old singer born Jess Newham is making waves with her debut EP, “The Movement” and its unstoppable single “Somebody Loves You.” Betty’s success is her ability to bridge past and future music trends, mixing classic synthpop production with her uniquely modern singing and songwriting voice.
Betty split her childhood between Sydney and her mother’s hometown in Northern California. Long-trained as a classical musician, she was accepted to her first summer cello program at the prestigious Interlochen music academy in Michigan at age 15. She applied full-time at her mother’s encouragement and was accepted soon after, uprooting to America just weeks before her 16th birthday. Three years at Berklee College of Music came after.
Betty writes all her song lyrics solo. The beats so far have been crafted in collaboration with producer Peter Thomas, who has previously worked with Victoria Justice and Selena Gomez. Platonic soulmates since age 18, the pair operate under the motto that “making something good is easy, the challenge is making it right.”
They hit the mainstream this September when “Somebody Loves You” soundtracked the viral YouTube hit “Spencer’s Home Depot Marriage Proposal.” The choreographed flash mob dancing to Betty’s beats already has over 10 million views. The dancing is great and the couple is adorable, but it’s “Somebody’s” infectious joy that really gets you. The track debuted at number 4 on Spotify’s most viral list.
Mixing earworm melodies with arena-sized production, The Movement (which has wracked up over 750,000 total streams) distills the best and most refreshing of today’s pop scene — lush synthesizers and sticky hooks, effortless atmosphere and open-hearted lyrics —through the spunk and boldness of Madonna’s early years.
“Somebody Loves You” opens The Movement with a canonic jolt of snappy synths and boisterous verses, making way for a massive chorus. “You’re in Love” adds a touch of shimmering house to Betty’s catalogue while “Right Here” chills the BPM and scorches the heart. “High Society” ends The Movement on a note of pure joy and subtle girl-power as Betty Who unmoors the material trappings of happiness from their misogynistic hip-hop roots.
“There’s nothing individual about recreating the sound of a past generation,” says Betty. “When I create something I want to make sure it has a lot of substance, a lot of emotional depth that reflects my life and experiences. A huge part of what I do is taking influences from [past] music and mixing it in with the emotions I’m actually living through. We’re all secretly wrecks and we’re all in love and all being heartbroken. Combining those things for me has been a huge tool to get the sound I want.
Billboard calls her EP “Deliciously fun” and Idolator has dubbed Betty “the next great pop star.” She gives the audience everything she has both on record and onstage, and they have paid her back with devotion. As she prepares for great things, Betty’s biggest concern is not chart placement or promotional sponsorships; her main priority is staying true to the people that got her this far.
“If I could define my artistry by anything, it would be the immediate personal connections I make with my audience. So much of my music is a plea to love me for who I am, because that’s all I have. I still want to play Madison Square Garden, but I get overwhelmed thinking about it —there are so many people that feel connected to you and I want to give something back to all of them.”
Betty is hard at work on her debut album, scheduled for release in 2014. She has been testing a new song, “Heartbreak Dream”, at her live shows to a more-than-enthusiastic reception.
The early video leaks of this song, combined with the promise that in-progress track “Alone Again” sounds like “Prince and ABBA had a baby,” keep the odds high that Betty Who is just getting started.
Since the release of her first single Drive in 1996 – a top ten hit when she was just 20 – Bic has been awarded almost every musical honour in New Zealand, including the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Songwriting Award and The Legacy Award for her 20 years in music.
In 2016 she was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Bic has won the most Tuis (New Zealand Music Awards) of any individual, ever (20). She has
won Best Female Vocalist 4 times and Best Producer 3 times. Bic’s debut album Drive was certified 7 X Platinum and featured the enormous hits Sway and Suddenly Strange. The follow up in ‘Beautiful Collision’ in 2002 was certified an incredible 11X Platinum and featured the hits Get Some Sleep, Something Good and Listening For The
Beautiful Collision was followed by an album recorded live with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. This album included beautiful orchestral versions of all her hits and a recording of the
classic Jacque Brel song Ne Me Quitte Pas, which was an early indicator of Bic’s next move to relocate to Paris.
Paris life resulted in the more cinematic Birds album in 2005 which also won ‘Album Of The Year’ featured the hit ‘Winning Arrow’ and was certified 3X Platinum.
In 2011 Bic released the critically acclaimed album ‘Belle’ which was certified Gold. Her songs have featured in hit film soundtracks (American Pie), her records have been released
around the world, and she has won followings in Europe, Asia and North America. In January 2006, The Queen made Runga a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the
New Zealand Honours List.
In April 2018 Billy Miller won (with co-writer Paul Kelly) the coveted APRA (music industry) Song of the Year Award for the song “Firewood and Candles”. The song is one of four Kelly/Miller collaborations on Kelly’s recent album “Life is Fine”. Since 2011 they have forged a songwriting union with around a dozen tunes so far. “Don’t Let a Good Thing Go” (Paul Kelly Merri Soul Sessions, sung by Dan Sultan) was their first composition.
Billy is best known as the singer of The Ferrets (“Don’t Fall In Love”; “Dreams of A Love”LP – 1977). He has been performing, composing and producing for 50 years, starting with acoustic spots at ‘The Green Man’ and ‘Geoff Brooke’s Steak Cave’ in 1969, then 3 years in the cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (1972-75), where he met bass player Ken Firth (who was in the orchestra), and soon after they formed The Ferrets (1976-1979).
“I Want To Live In A House” featured in the film “Starstruck” and other credits include the Countdown theme (1980-2 version), and in 1994 performer/co-producer (with Andrew Duffield) of the soundtrack to the ABC’s hit show Round The Twist (series 2). The Great Blokes” – 1979-83 (‘Perpetual Motion’), “The Spaniards” – 1983-6(‘God Is A Shield’) and “The Gypsies” – 1987 (‘Women In The Kitchen’) followed The Ferrets.
From 1989-2004 Billy was heavily involved in the production (composing, editing, performing) of many well known TV and radio commercials (e.g. “Where Else But Queensland?”, “MacTime” McDonalds commercials).
Other long collaborations include guitarist/record production in The Dave Graney Show (1997-2005), and Stephen Cummings (2006 – ?). In 2008 Billy and Stephen composed most of the score for the film “Not Quite Hollywood.”
Post 2000 has seen the emergence of Billy’s latest line up “The Love Brothers” (Billy, son Eddie, bassist Bill McDonald and drummer John Annas), including a 12 year residency at The George Public Bar in St.Kilda, plus thousands of other pub gigs and functions.
Since 2011 Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller have sold out their singalong/choir performances (first Wednesday of every month) at Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, culminating each year in the annual Sacred Heart Foundation benefit concert at The Palais Theatre.
“I wake and sleep in its rhythm and cadence.
It consumes me and simply demands to be brought to life.
And that’s Tangier.”
Here it is. Finally. Billy Thorpe’s musical opus, TANGIER.
A decade in the making, TANGIER is a work of breathtaking scope. It is the final defining statement in the extraordinary music career of the late, great Billy Thorpe. TANGIER is a hypnotic, beautiful, bewildering musical trip. Prepare to be swept away on an aural journey like no other, bringing together dozens of musicians from different cultures, orchestras, choirs, epic symphonic pieces from another time and place, other worldly sounds and rhythms, rock jams, funk outs, unforgettable ballads. Centre stage in this musical maelstrom is the unmistakable voice and spirit of the irrepressible and visionary Billy Thorpe.
Has there ever been a bigger name in Australian popular music than Thorpie? Billy was a true idol to several generations of Aussie music lovers. Sadly, of course, the irrevocable heartbreaking fact at the core of the story behind TANGIER, the unavoidable void, is that the great Billy Thorpe himself cannot be here with us to bask in the fruition of his expansive labour. However, in TANGIER, Billy Thorpe has left us a truly extraordinary work. It is the pinnacle of an unparalleled career spanning five decades – from a child star in Brisbane in the 1950s, Australia’s biggest pop star in the ’60s, our biggest rock star in the early ’70s, a new wave rocker in America in the ’80s, a best-selling author back in Australia in ’90s, star and producer of the Long Way To The Top tour in the ’00s.
For all that music and history and experience, Billy knew TANGIER would define his legacy. He had road-tested several of the songs during live shows and the immediate reaction from his audiences was incomparable to anything he’d ever experienced. Billy spent his final years obsessed with TANGIER. In early 2007, he was all set to finish it. After seven years of tireless work and refinement, after literally thousands of hours of writing and demoing and recording the many multilayered elements that go to the breadth of TANGIER, he was very nearly there.
But then…the unfathomable. In the early hours of 28 February 2007, the world lost Billy Thorpe. And time stood still.
In the wake of the national and international mourning that followed, once the shell-shock started to subside, some of Billy’s closest friends and music associates began discussions with his family about the idea of completing TANGIER on Billy’s behalf. Everyone who knew Billy knew that TANGIER meant the world to him. To leave it incomplete, to not deliver TANGIER to Billy’s lifelong fans and the music world at large would be a travesty, a legacy left unfulfilled. With this resolve, a conglomerate of family, friends, musicians, music industry heavyweights and a couple of superstars set about piecing together and putting the finishing touches to Billy Thorpe’s almost finished masterpiece. And now, finally, here it is. Billy Thorpe’s TANGIER.
How it got here, the story behind the making of TANGIER, is almost as epic as the work itself. “BILLY WAS INSPIRED in Tangier,” says the singer’s old mate and legendary Australian actor, Jack Thompson. “Billy really discovered something musically in Morocco, but it was more than that. It was a whole opening up of Billy in a way, beyond his trajectory as a rock and roller, from very early in his life, into something that incorporates rock into an orchestral form.”
Certainly, TANGIER started out as much more than just a music project for Billy. It began as a family affair. In the year 2000, on the insistence of a close friend, Billy decided to take Lynn, his wife and life partner of over three decades, to Morocco with a group of their closest friends to celebrate her 50th birthday. Billy himself would describe the experience as the “most amazing time I’ve had in all of my life.” “The whole Moroccan thing was very much an experience for Bill, Lynn and his family together,” says Jack Thompson, who voices the role of the narrator on the TANGIER tracks “A River Knows” and “In A New World”. “And it’s an expression of that, of his life opening up in particular way. ” Billy planned an extravagant surprise birthday party for Lynn, trekking across the desert on camels on their way to Rabat, flying in the couple’s daughters from New York and Sydney, and staging the whole event in a palace overflowing with local musicians. “It was f**king unbelievable,” remembers Michael Chugg, Billy’s one-time manager and long-time confidante. “He met Morocco’s Consul-General in Sydney who arranged with a good Moroccan friend in Rabat to stage Lynn’s surprise 50th birthday in his palatial home. He organised some incredible local musicians and dancers. So here’s Billy jamming with the locals at his wife’s surprise 50th birthday. And out of that came Tangier. “The first night we were there, I was up in the bedroom and I heard this riff. Billy’s sitting downstairs and he’s got the riff of the song ‘Tangier’ within an hour of being in the country. I went down and he said, ‘What do you think of this?’ Over the two weeks, we’d be walking through the souks and down into the bazaars and he’d see a Moroccan band playing in the corner and he’d go over and start rapping to them. “The second or third night we were there, we had a big dinner at a broken down palace. The Moroccan band he’d befriended in the souks were actually playing there, so he ended up playing with them for about two hours. “That’s where it started. When he got back to Australia, Billy was determined to do this concept – TANGIER. He came back with three or four ideas and he started work on it.” Billy was so determined that he abandoned a whole other album that he’d built up with his touring band. Instead, he locked himself away in his private studio in Sydney, along with his sound engineer Greg Clarke, and dedicated himself to developing, writing and recording the TANGIER project.
The one big interruption to work on TANGIER came when Billy devised, co-produced and starred in the mammoth national concert tour, Long Way To The Top, which played to over 250,000 music fans in 2002 and early 2003. That tour saw Billy perform with both the 1960s and 1970s incarnations of his legendary outfit, the Aztecs. Two of Billy’s co-producers from the tour, Michael Chugg and Amanda Pelman, would soon also become central players in TANGIER. Back in the studio, one of Billy’s earliest collaborators on the TANGIER project was the celebrated Hungarian-born, Sydney-based musician, Jackie Orszaczky. Along with providing his brilliant bass playing to the early recordings, Jackie also wrote complex orchestral arrangements for several pieces [including the remarkable instrumental “Gypsy”]. Sadly, Jackie Orszaczky would also not survive to see TANGIER completed.
In the years that followed, Billy would pull all kinds of players into the studio, including trips back to Morocco to record local musicians. Ever so gently, Billy’s wider vision for TANGIER, was now starting to take shape. It wouldn’t be just an album – it would be an event. Along with Amanda Pelman, the pair devised a stage spectacular, a world music event that could be performed anywhere, with or without Billy’s direct involvement. Amanda says that, in Billy’s mind’s eye, TANGIER would do for Moroccan music what Michael Flatley’s Riverdance did for the Irish. “It was to be a live presentation on the scale of a Michael Jackson concert,” adds Jack Thompson. “Dancers and orchestras and big screens, individual soloists… you see Billy never thought small! And he talked about and had arranged to record with the Moroccan orchestra.”
To complete the recording, Billy had always wanted to record TANGIER’s complex orchestral elements live with the Symphone du Maroc – the Royal Moroccan Symphony Orchestra – inside one of Morocco’s ornate ancient palaces. And it was all set to happen. Through friends of friends and various international diplomatic maneuvering, TANGIER was given the blessing of all concerned. The orchestra was booked, the recording set to take place inside the beautiful ancient palace in the Taourirt Kasbah in Ouarzazate. “It’s a very exciting time for me,” Billy said on the eve of the final recording. “It’s wonderful to watch things come together. Sometimes there’s a synchronicity to stuff that’s out there in the ether. There was a question there: Will I try to see this thing through? Because I realised what was involved. “We’re coming down to the wire on it now. The synchronicity of how this has fallen into place over the past two or three months is nothing short of magical. There are times for things to happen and this is the time for Tangier.” Billy was also set to sign a deal with Sony Music Australia for TANGIER’s imminent release.
Then came 28 February 2007. FOLLOWING BILLY’S DEATH, it was Amanda Pelman who began the drive to get TANGIER completed. “When Billy shuffled off his mortal coil, we never questioned completing TANGIER as a duty of care to our friend,” says Amanda. “I said to Chuggi the only way to do this is to forensically go through everything that’s in the studio.” With Chuggi’s financial backing, the exhaustive and emotional process was undertaken to trawl through all of Billy’s studio hard-drives to see exactly what had been captured. There were literally hundreds of takes, arrangements, different vocals – seven years worth of recording which took nine months to analyse. ARIA Award-winning producer Daniel Denholm was brought in to pull all the pieces together. Daniel, a celebrated composer and arranger in his own right, set about reconstructing Billy’s vision. More extraordinary multinational players from around Australia and the world were brought into the mix. Among them, the great Mick Fleetwood, Billy Thorpe’s former band mate in the early- ’90s LA rock outfit, The Zoo. “I played on about three or four songs on TANGIER,” says Mick. “It was very haunting and meaningful for me, sitting alone in the studio with Bill coming through the speakers. I spent three or four days over-dubbing, just me and Bill. That was a trip. “Billy had told me about his connection in Morocco, how he’d been working on ideas for long time. I felt so much a part of what he was doing and I understood it and it was an honour for me to do that.” Other guest performers on TANGIER include Egypt’s Tawadros brothers, Venezuelan-born flautist Pedro Eustache, Sydney violinist Richard Tognetti, as well as Australian singers Vanessa Amorosi, Brian Cadd, Connie Mitchell, Ian Moss and Melinda Schneider. “I’m sure Billy would be proud of what we’ve done and that it’s finally coming out,” says Daniel Denholm. “For anyone to express themselves in the way he has done is no small feat. And thank God there was such great support from Billy’s family and [executive producers] Michael Chugg and Amanda Pelman, to give me the opportunity to pull it off. It was a very special time and it was an honour to be given that responsibility to finish Billy’s work.” TANGIER has now come full circle, set to be released through Sony Music Australia.
Billy’s wife Lynn has no doubt her husband would have loved this final version of TANGIER. “This is a magnificent work reflecting Billy’s deep thinking about the wonders of the world and love and life and death,” says Lynn. “He was an enthusiastic musical traveller, always pushing things to the limit. “TANGIER consumed most of his working days in his studio in Sydney. He wanted the world to see that he was still a vital musical force and not the ‘heritage’ act that a lot of people perceived him as. He burned with an intense flame. TANGIER is the legacy that Billy left to his family and the world.” Yes, it’s a tragedy that Billy Thorpe isn’t here to enjoy this, his great musical vision finally fulfilled. But even before he left us, Billy already had a sense that TANGIER might outlive us all. “It’s a substantial thing,” Billy said shortly before his death. “It’s something I’m already proud of, and something I think will stand up for quite some time.”
“Morocco, its King Mohamed VI and its people had a profound effect on me, and like many before, I left with an unbridled passion to tell the world about it. With every passing day, mankind sadly becomes more and more fragmented by political, cultural, ethnic and religious differences. Morocco, however, although sadly caught up with the rest of the world in the mania that engulfed the planet since 9/11, is still one of the few places in the world where, thanks to its King and his people, everyone still comes together in peace and harmony through song, dance and mutual respect to share in a magical celebration of life, regardless of cultural and religious differences.”
– BILLY THORPE, 2005
Birds of Tokyo and their insistent, bittersweet, rock sounds have resonated deeply with Australian critics and fans. Following two acclaimed albums, the indie band’s self-titled third studio release spent over eight months in the Australian Top 20 and was certified double platinum. It also picked up an ARIA Award for ‘Best Rock Album’ in 2010.
Early in 2011 the band’s anthemic breakthrough hit ‘Plans’ ranked #4 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 while the follow up single, ‘Wild At Heart’, reached #1 on the country’s National Airplay Chart and won the band an APRA Award. Birds Of Tokyo also received the publicly voted Rolling Stone ‘Readers Choice’ Award and ARIA Award for ‘Most Popular Australian Artist’.
In March 2012, Birds of Tokyo partnered with Los Angeles’ based producer, Dave Cooley (Silversun Pickups, Darker My Love) to work on a highly anticipated follow-up to their breakthrough release. After a month’s pre-production in Sydney they took up residence at Oceanway Studios in Los Angeles to begin recording in a room that turned out to be right next door to where The Beach Boys were crafting their comeback release with Brian Wilson. To the amazement of the band the Californian legends happily spent time hanging out and giving them some advice.
It was just one of many remarkable moments which have shaped the band’s new music. Creating the new album, ‘March Fires’ was a journey of exploration and reinvention for Birds of Tokyo. It’s a story of burning down the old and coming together to build something new. Spearheaded by the album’s first two singles ‘This Fire’ and ‘Lanterns’, the band’s fourth studio album ‘March Fires’ debuted #1 on the National ARIA Album Chart – the band’s first ever #1 record. At the time of release, it also became the highest selling first week sales of any album of 2013. The album was certified gold within four weeks of release, with ‘Lanterns’ reaching #2 on the National Australian Airplay Chart and certified triple platinum.
“We really made a conscious choice to just put a match to everything we’d done before so that we could create something that felt fresh and exciting for us. Hopefully people who like the band will feel the same way when they hear it”, explains Adam Spark.
Over the course of their first two studio albums (2007′s “Day One” and 2008′s “Universes”) Birds Of Tokyo carved out a niche for guitar driven anthems. Lots of touring around Australia gradually turned them into Triple J favourites and indie chart toppers. With their eponymous third release in 2010 things shifted up another gear. They won the ARIA Award for “Best Rock Album” and the APRA Award for “Best Rock Song”. They enjoyed genuine hit singles with “Plans” and “Wild At Heart” and earned multiplatinum certifications. They stole the show at major festivals including Big Day Out and Groovin’ The Moo and they capped it all off by winning the publicly voted gong as “Most Popular Australian Artist” at the 2011 ARIA Awards.
Not surprisingly their heads were swimming. But rather than milk a formula they decided to throw themselves into new ways of being a band. Burnt it down. Started again.
Their broadening musical palate is particularly apparent on the pulsing title track “This Fire” and on the aching meditation, “Boy”, which also features on the EP. This time around the hard edged guitars give way to a more textured approach in counterpoint with hazier keyboard atmospherics. It’s an incendiary brew that grows more intoxicating with each listen.
In addition to sounding fresh the “This Fire” EP sees the band attacking different lyrical themes. While not overtly political or preachy there’s a recurring motif of people coming together which reflects the increasingly interconnected world in which this music was created. In fact the title track is nothing less than a clarion call for togetherness.
“At some level those lyrics probably reflect the way the band itself was coming together”, reflects Ian Kenny. “We collaborated a lot more on this music for a lot longer than we’ve ever spent before. We consciously set out to stretch ourselves in every possible direction and hopefully that shows.”
The EP provides an early taste of the new Birds Of Tokyo album which is currently nearing completion. The as yet untitled set is scheduled for release in March 2013. In addition to the tracks on “This Fire EP” other songs from the hugely anticipated album are likely to be showcased when the band lights up for a handful of shows in late 2012 including Rockit (with the Black Keys) and Homebake.
Melbourne band Black Cab is Andrew Coates, James Lee and Steve Law. Formed in 2004, Black Cab’s sound has ranged from psychedelic kraut rock to Germanic electronic, often drawing inspiration from Europe and America in the 1960′s and ’70′s.
Black Cab’s debut album, Altamont Diary was released in Australia in late 2004, in the UK in Sept. 2005 and across Europe via Stickman Records in March 2006. Produced by Woody Annison, Altamont Diary received rave reviews around the world for it’s weird take on the fateful free concert at Altamont Speedway in late 1969. Black Cab’s second album, Jesus East, was produced by Brisbane based producer Magoo and was released in Australia in September 2006. The band toured Germany, Austria, Holland and Belgium in May 2007 to support the European release of Jesus East through Stickman Records, including a European tour EP of remixes and live material (Surrender EP).
Black Cab’s third album, Call Signs was released in Australia in July 2009 through Sydney label Laughing Outlaw. Call Signs featured a return to keyboards and found sounds loosely inspired by 1970′s East Germany and the notorious Stasi state security organisation. The album was produced by Woody Annison (Children Collide, ‘Altamont Diary’) and features a guest lead vocal from Died Pretty‘s legendary frontman Ron S. Peno. The first double track single ‘Rescue‘/’Black Angel‘ was released in June ’09. ‘Black Angel’ is a tribute to the tragic genius ’70′s singer songwriter Judee Sill. In February 2010 Call Signs was shortlisted for the 2009 Australian Music Prize.
Since Call Signs, Black Cab released a single and remix EP, Sexy Polizei, in June 2010. Their latest single, Combat Boots was released in June 2011.
The band are currently working on their fourth album.
From an early stage in their career, Bliss N Eso primarily built their fan base from their compelling and energetic live performances. An exhilarating blend of fluid rhymes and banging beats teamed with beat boxing, impromptu freestyling and seamless turntablism make their live shows a brand in their own right, and has seen the group hailed as one of the best live acts in the country. After four years of touring with consistently powerful performances, Bliss N Eso settled down in 2004 to record their first full length album, Flowers In The Pavement. A virtual brainstorm on record, the emerging artists compiled track after track of wild expression through vibrant lyrics and production. The debut album met an overwhelming response from audiences and critics Australia wide.
In late 2006, Bliss N Eso’s second album, Day of the Dog, was released and became the first Australian hip-hop release to debut in ARIA’s top 50. It also earned Bliss N Eso an ARIA nomination for Best Urban Release in 2006 with sales exceeding all benchmarks for a local hip-hop release. In 2007 Bliss N Eso travelled to North America, playing sold out shows in the North-West of the US and Canada including a stand out performance at the Whistler 2007 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival. Upon their return, the lads embarked on the unforgettable Make Poverty History Zero Seven road trip tour and ventured on an epic journey in June 2007 with MTV and the Oaktree Foundation to some of the poorest regions in South Africa to complete the track and shoot the video clip for their next album’s first single, Bullet and a Target. 2008 saw Bliss N Eso take things to a whole new level with the release of their third LP, Flying Colours.
The album, which received near perfect reviews in countless media, broke all kinds of records for an Australian hip-hop act thanks to five monster singles in the form of Bullet and a Target, Woodstock 2008,The Sea is Rising, Eye of the Storm and Field of Dreams. After a top 10 ARIA debut, the album became the highest selling local hip-hop album of the year and with their third nomination in as many years, Bliss N Eso took out the ARIA Award for 2008’s Best Urban Release. The official album tour sold out every one of its 24 legs including an unforgettable homecoming show at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre in front of 2,500 lucky ticket holders. The upcoming months saw the group rock some of the country’s most prestigious music events and they were now seen headlining festivals like the Quiksilver Pro and Come Together.
In March, in a fundraising effort for the Victorian bushfires, Melbourne hosted the biggest paid concert in Australian history in front of 92,000 punters at the MCG. Bliss N Eso were selected as the sole hip-hop act on a bill which included some of the biggest acts in Australian music history, and by all accounts, they held their own in “what many are stating was the performance of the day” (Beat Magazine).
In mid ‘09, the group released the Flying Colours Live deluxe edition (which featured a full-length DVD and brand new single, On Tour) and to celebrate, the group undertook one final national tour for the album which became the highest selling local hip-hop tour of all time. This included performing to over 10,000 punters in Melbourne during back-to-back sold-out shows at the city’s iconic Festival Hall, a feat only possible for a select few Australian acts.
In late ’09, amongst the insatiable public hype, the trio headed to an undisclosed location in the Victorian bush, to begin writing and recording their fourth studio album – Running on Air. They took a break from this process only to embark on a 20+ date sold-out American tour – another first for an Australian hip-hop act – and to headline Solar, MS Fest and Origin festivals. The highly anticipated first single from the album, Down by the River, was released in May 2010 and sparked pandemonium amongst the hordes of zealous Bliss N Eso fans. Their fourth studio album, Running on Air, was released on July 30th and debuted at #1 on the ARIA Album Chart, making them only the fourth Australian act to reach that position in 2010 and ending Eminem’s six week run in top spot. The album garnered near perfect reviews across the board, with some even stating that ‘it may be the genre’s finest release’ (Time Off). Shortly afterwards, Bliss N Eso embarked their sold-out Down by the River Australian tour, and before long the trio had their first platinum album in Running on Air. They joined up with the Kottonmouth Kings for another massive 25-date American tour before returning home for the Australian summer, where they scored a coveted main stage slot on the national Big Day Out tour and were amongst the headliners on festivals like Southbound, Fat as Butter, Groovin The Moo, Full Noise and Stonefest.
In March 2011 Bliss n Eso were invited to play the highly acclaimed SXSW music conference in Austin Texas. The band also went on to play headline shows in LA, Las Vegas and New York before heading back to Australia and embarking on what would be a record breaking Australian Tour.
The Running On Air tour comprised 14 sold out shows across Australia in front of 60,000 people and cemented itself as the highest selling local hip-hop tour of all time. The shows were filmed for a DVD which is set to be released on July 20 2012.
In March 2012 Bliss n Eso were once again invited to perform at the inaugural SXSW music conference in Austin. Directly after the music conference finished the band embarked on their first ever headline tour of the US and Canada. Playing 22 shows across the West Coast of both Countries in under a month the band has now cemented themselves a position in the international hip-hop scene.
In late 2012 Bliss n Eso ventured back into the studio to work on their 5th studio album – ‘Circus in the Sky’. Recorded across Australia and Los Angeles, the band has continued to push the envelope with the mission statement to create their most eclectic and progressive album to date. It features guest appearances and collaborations with some of the most celebrated names in hip-hop music, including the legendary Nas. In February 2013, the band released the first taste of their new album via a track called ‘House of Dreams’. The hugely anticipated new LP is scheduled for release in late May 2013. The wait is almost over.