Share SOUTHSIDE WORLDWIDE - JJ Speedball (Wetcherrytalent)
Who said it was uncool to sing about your backyard? JJ Speedball does so incessantly and without apology with more mentions of his south Brisbane stamping grounds in 36 minutes than the Qantas choir namechecks the nation in 20 years of the shlock "I Still Call Australia Home" ad campaign. The important difference here is that that those callow, orchestrated school-kids band their pony-tailed, eunuch ad agency handlers probably couldn't rock to save their sisters' lives.
Make no mistake. JJ Speedball (the band and the man) is still all about having a good time. It's a simple formula (riffs + speed + harmonies = punk rock) and its message is that if it's not rockin', don't bother knockin'. That comment lends itself to a pun involving panel vans and suburban roots but even I'm not stooping that low.
Songs range from the melodic or Ramonesy pop numbers ("Very Cherry Street", "C'mon C'mon") to the brash, don't-fuck-with-me rants ("Riff Rock Rage", "Terminal", "Bastards") which recall Manitoba's Wild Kingdom. The sweetish rocker "Over And Over" merits radio airplay on the strength of its opening "You're a fuckhead" which could be a tribute to almost any mainstream programmer.
JJ Speedball is still a case of the pop yin wrestling the punk yang. There's no ballads and nothing resembling a torch song (Nick Cave pinched 'em all), but you have to ask if that's going to bother any of their fans? Guess not.
The broad pop streak running down the back of "Southside Worldwide" still recalls the Hard-Ons at their best. This time, however, there's a greater sense of space in both songs and production. Co-producer Jeff Lovejoy's done his usual killer job behind the desk.
Let's tip the baseball cap in the direction of this edition of the Speedball band: Bassist Tony Geissler plays fluid, rock solid rock stuff. There's a current and an ex-Rumour in the ranks in Ash Geary on guitar and Adam Cole on drums respectively who both played in latter-day line-ups of the Screaming Tribesmen. This crew adeptly carries these songs, and Geary even gets to indulge his metal self with a white hot shredding lead break on "Falling Down".
Lyrically-speaking, Mensa material it ain't, but what's the point of rocking out if you're so geeky your idea of fun is completing your quantum physics assignment while playing 16 simultaneous games of championship chess over the Net? If the nostalgic, smart-dumb nature of many of the lyrics don't hook you you can insert your own suburb's name in the appropriate place.
With guest appearances by a real FM radio DJ (Rod "Mr T" Tilley), funk filth master Blowfly and Adolph Hitler (rumour has it that he was once a Queensland Premier) this is an album with character. It won't be for everyone but fuck 'em (again) if they can't take a joke. Grab a copy here. - The Barman
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BEHIND ENEMY LINES - JJ Speedball (Wetcherrytalent)
So I'm a sucker for the witty, Dictators strain of trash culture. Bring on that bravado rock. Closer to home, the melodic punk energy of the Hard-Ons hits a homerun more often than not. Brisbane veterans JJ Speedball channel both so I was happier than Dean Martin in a distillery when this 26-track compilation came my way.
I'm no expert about the JJ Speedball history but I know enough to state they were kicking around in the mid-90s; I vaguely recall us crossing paths in a shitty live venue sometime in Sydney early in the following decade. Where they've been or what they've done since didn't figure on my radar so "Behind Enemy Lines" was a timely update.
JJ Speedball (the man) sings and plays guitar, surrounding himself with like-minded line-ups. In this instance they're bass player Luke Peters, guitarist Ash Geary and drumemr Adam Cole (both also of Mick Medew & The Rumours.) "Behind Enemy Lines" covers active service in the Aussie underground trenches from 2003-08 and shows the man and the band to be nothing if not prolific.
These are songs about rock and rolling and excessive consumption of other fun stuff. There's a bit of flag-waving for coming from Brisbane's southside too. At times JJ sounds like Dee Dee in his solo days, with Keish from the Hard-Ons thrown in.
There's nothing new in the furrow they're ploughing but JJ Speedball and band ride the punk-pop tractor more convincingly than 90 percent of their competition. Most bands claiming punk pedigree don't realise that 'good songs' will beat 'no songs' every time. JJ has written a shitload of goodies.
The hook in "Titty Top Ten" might be as obvious as a good set of 36-D's but it's a corker. "I Just Wanna Rock And Roll" is a great way to spend two minutes - and one in the eye for yuppies. Dig the Ross the Boss moments in "Raise The Dead" or the "oooo-ooo-ooohs in the glam-punkish "Nobody Loves Rock and Roll" which recalls cult item Kevin K. "Homerun" is the brashest of brash cock rockers that merits two takes.
"If The World Stops Now" should have been on the Hard-Ons' "Yummy".
If the going gets too thrashy there's an oasis of acoustic songs ("Girlband", "Stimulant" and "State Of The Obvious") in the middle whose attack is restrained but sentiments are less so. There's a brace of rave-up re-mixes at the end that don't work for me but your results may vary.
Mucho recommended, amigos. Grab a copy here. - The Barman
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