Share GOD - GOD (Afterburn Records)
If Melbourne band God had left "My Pal" as their only legacy, it would have been enough. That's annoying to old fans because the single's not entirely representative of the band's wider body-of-work, but it's also a side effect of the balance of God's recordings being out of print for so long. So this generous and long overdue re-issue of all their released recordings - plus their last live show - will be an ear-opener for most.

God were Tim Hemensley, Sean Greenway, Joel Silsbersher and Matthew Whittle. Tim and Joel shared most of the vocals but part of the ethos of God was swapping instruments, so these recordings find Matty and Tim alternating between drums and bass. God were around for just three years which equated to one album, a mini-album and the 7" in output. Not bad considering they were all school-age teenagers for most of that time.

Precocious to a fault, God's reputation as a hit-or-miss act live preceded them and if their recordings suffered for lack of production budget, that's relatively immaterial on two count

Firstly, members would go on to some of the greatest Australian bands of the '80s and '90s in Bored!, the Powdermonkeys, Hoss and the Yes Men. All those bands were (or in the case of Hoss, are) vastly underrated, with the Yes Men flying lowest under the radar. So if you think of God as a nursery, you'll understand their importance.

Secondly, for all their erratic live reputation God could actually play. The music drew as much on the usual Detroit/punk rock suspects as KISS and Black Sabbath - unwittingly presaging grunge by some years - but God's greatest attribute was their innate ability to walk that line between pisstake and powertrip.

There's plenty to like about the songs and without resorting to a track-by-track summary they run the gamut from powerful rockers with strong melodic undercurrents ("Heading' For the Id", "Snake Charmer", "Sook", the Heartbreakers-like "Rok Zombi") to the juvenile ("She's Hungry, "Tommy The Toilet") and the downright silly ("Chockablock Rock 'n' Roll".)

"My Pal" was and still is a thing of wonder. A singular tale of personal alienation with a nagging guitar figure and a wonderfully emotive vocal, it's been covered by enough bands down the years, and was the last song The Drones played at the death of legendary (and soon to be revived) Melbourne venue the Tote Hotel - with Joel Rock and Roll on guest vocals.

As to the second disc, there's no shortage of value with 15 live tracks preceded by some studio tributes ("Real Cool Time" and "Strutter") to the Stooges and KISS respectively. The band was "on" that night and so was Hemensley's acid tongue.

There's not much fans of the good stuff won't enjoy here. A re-issue that's worth the trouble.

You can read our interview with Matty Whittle here. - The Barman

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