Share TALES FROM THE WASTED YEARS - Deadwood 76 (Stanley Records)
Where do you place a country-rock album of covers of damaged songs about junkie cowboys, cocaine and booze from a bunch of Sydney hoons with more time on their hands than good intentions? At the top of the pile, of course.

Deadwood76 do the country-punk thang as well as some and better than most on this collection of unreleased material from 2001-08. There's a lot of this sort of music going around of course, but these guys do (did) it justice. The members have all gone onto other things, mostly in the Sydney alt.country underground.

Thematically, opener "Daddy's Farm" places Deadwood76 somewhere between Kingaroy and the Kings Cross safe injecting room with its story of going home to the country to shake off a habit. Lyrics about "too many holes in my arm" are conveyed with no little amount of tongue in cheek and bear out the theory that it's usually only funny when it's happening to the other guy. Given the subject matter, the Stones' Gram-inspired "Dead Flowers" was a moral to be given the Deadwood treatment and it sounds mighty fine.

I can't pretend to be on more than nodding terms at best with a few of the other songs but Leon Payne-penned "Psycho" is an obvious exception to that rule. While it might have been taken around the block more times than Cousin Shaun's re-bored XP Falcon, there ain't nuthin' wrong with Deadwood76's broodingly genteel interpretation. While "Queen Of The Road" might not get same sex marriage up on the national political agenda, it will bring a grin to most folks' dials by mentioning the Village People and Monic Lewinsky in adjoining couplets.

You'd be perceptive if you deduced that "Are You Drinking With Me Jesus?" and "Non-Addictive Marijuana" celebrate vices that many a punter in a packed Sydney pub could have related to when the band was a going concern. In view of that, it's appropriate that Deadwood76 don't play "straight" C & W. In fact, there's a goodly amount of rock in these saddlebags and that'll probably suit I-94 Bar patrons fine. The version of The Adverts' "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" exposes some punkier roots.

If push came to shove I'd put the details on the birth certificate as Deadwood76 being distant cousins of Texas-via-L.A. exponent T. Tex Edwards, whose own bands were putting out albums like this a decade before.

Word is Deadwood76 will re-activate and leave the bar of the Botany View in Newtown in 2011 long enough to play some shows, there or further afield. Worse things could happen. Wrap an ear around this album and you too could be in the front row, singing along. - The Barman

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