SOMETHING TO SAY - Buster Brown (Aztec Music)
On paper, Buster Brown reads like an Oz Rawk fan's wet dream. With future Rose Tattoo members Angry Anderson (vocals) and Geordie Leach (bass) in tow, as well as one-day AC/DC powerhouse Phil Rudd manning the traps, they shared stages with Skyhooks, The , Madder Lake and the Aztecs. to name a few. Retrospectively speaking, Buster Brown are, however, a footnote rather than a landmark.
This should be the part where I lament Buster Brown's lack of overground success and lambast the record companies/critics/fans for not knowing what they had before they lost it. Not this time. On the strength of their recorded output, Buster Brown were a good idea that never gelled.
On their own admission, their infuences were as diverse as any band on any mid-'70s Australian stage (which after all was a confused and confusing time). One part of the band wanted to be Deep Purple, another wanted to be the Faces. Let's be grateful that they never recorded their version of Sir Elton's "Saturday Night's Alright". Undoubtedly a popular live drawcard - especially for sharpies, the Down Under version of skinheads - and with a showcase appearance at Sunbury 74 to their credit, when it came to the studio they were sold short.
There's some good playing on "Something to Say" but ultimately the album lacks power. Lobby Loyde was their label Mushroom's producer of choice, but he and the band was given just 12 hours to lay down a debut album. The bottom end sounds flat and dry, the guitars only occasionally break out and burn, and Angry's vocal is disembodied.
The single, "Rock and Roll Lady" is included in its (tougher) seven-inch version and is a fair slice of pumping, Faces-style boogie rock. "Young Spunk" (an album track) is worth a chuckle for its naive lyrics (hard to believe they'd tell a groupie to "slow down" instead of "get it off" but maybe she was one of their sisters) and shows off some stylish guitar from John Moon and/or Paul Grant.
"Something to Say" sank like a stone when it came out (1974) and the label wiped Buster Brown like a baby's arse. The core of the band hung in for more than a year, but with Rudd legging it to join the emerging Accadacca and Mushroom pouring its money into dross like Skyhooks, the portents were not good. Buster Brown shed members like a slightly younger Angry had lost hair, and he was the only original when the firm shut down for good in November '75. It wasn't long before founding Tatts Peter Wells and Ian Rilen found him, and the rest is pre-Guns & Roses history, as they say.
"Something to Say" is not a complete disaster but the band's legacy is historical rather than essential. Tatts fans will want to hear Angry's first band note. It's obvious that Buster Brown were coming from a place - the streets - that Rose Tattoo would eventually own.
In typical Aztec Music style there's bonus live and single cuts, including the impossibly rare Rose Tattoo single "Realize Legalize". Being a synth-crossed, syncopated anthem it doesn't raise the roof quite like the rest of their formidable catalogue, but is a worthwhile curio that ultimately did nothing to make grass legal. Bong on, Aussie, bong on.
– The Barman
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