OUTTA CONTROL ROCK 'N' ROLL - The Powder Monkeys (Dropkick)
"Outta Control Rock 'n' Roll" the final and long anticipated release from Melbourne's premier punk rock-n-roll powerhouse of the '90s has finally
arrived - and not before time when one considers the state of music.
"Outta Control Rock-n-Roll" highlights live recordings of the last three new original songs the band had been performing live from 2000, following both the release of the under-appreciated "Lost City Blues" CDLP and the departure of original drummer Timmy Jack Ray (ex Surfin Poobars) for the addition of drummer Todd McNear (ex Seminal Rats, Slush Puppies, Cantankerous). It traces the end of the band in 2003; which sadly came following the passing of the bands bassist and vocalist (the late great) Tim Hemensley (RIP).
To open "Outta Control Rock-n-Roll" is the first of three final original songs "Looking through the eyes in the Back of my Head" recorded live at a wake held in February 2001 at the Tote Hotel in Melbourne for former GOD band mate of Tim Hemensley, the late Sean Greenway (RIP). Tim seems at his most personal and emotional, as he sheds the harshest light on those of whom have been the cause of the kind of grief where he has become somewhat of a caged animal, whose life is somewhat characterised by having to have not only look over his shoulder but do the impossible and look through those metaphorical eyes in the back of his head.
It's followed by "Back-stabbing Time" which seems to find Tim was at his most animated and aggressive. He seems ready to take back what's his from those who have probably had their fun at his expense. This finds the band at their primal, punishing, high energy best - which to this narrow-minded reviewer makes the likes of recent French visitors Holy Curse seem like Parisian pansies.
To close the trio of the last three new original songs is "Mitchell St, Scene and Herd" where Tim puts forward his case for why he has to take back as much as he can of what's been lost to him, a situation that's cut so hard to the bone that he's ready for immediate retribution (probably of the harshest, meanest and toughest kind).
Also featured on "Outta Control Rock-n-Roll" are studio recordings of the band including one of the last songs ever recorded by the band with drummer Todd McNear in November 2002, a cover of long lost Detroit band The Dogs' "Black Tea" (which when recorded was to be included for a compilation tentatively entitled "Tribute to the Dogs"), and three other killer covers of Little Richard's "Lucille", The Stooge's "Cock in my Pocket" (both fixtures in the live set for several years and recorded around the period of The Powder Monkeys' one and only European Tour in the late '90s). There's also a cover of "I Like Pills" by The Sick Things (a band whom Tim had been apart of as drummer in the '80s and in the memory of whose vocalist Dugald McKenzie "Outta Control Rock-n-Roll" is dedicated to). The latter were recorded with original drummer Timmy Jack Ray in 1995 at Melbourne's ABC Studios, where the band's scorching second LP "Time Wounds all Heels" was also put to tape.
The Powder Monkeys "Outta Control Rock-n-Roll" may well be the last, but it should never be thought of as least, from the band, whom your reviewer
considers as Melbourne's premier punk rock-n-roll powerhouse, if not the best Australian rock-n-roll band since the '90s. - Simon Li
BLOOD, SWEAT AND BEERS Powder Monkeys (Butchers Hook)
LIVE LIVE LIVE Powder Monkeys (self released)
The recent-ish re-availability of "Blood, Sweat and Beers", the Powder Monkeys live opus, on an English label would have been as good an excuse as any to run a review on this site. That guitarist John Nolan is unlocking his personal vaults and putting forth a series of limited editions of live shows (in remembrance of departed bassist-vocalist Tim Hemesley) is an even better reason.
John Nolan reckons "Blood, Sweat and Beers" is his favourite Powder Monkeys disc and theres a lot to be said for this 1998 nine-song snapshot of the band - arguably at the peak of their powers. It certainly doesnt suffer from the production shortcomings of "Time Wounds All Heels" and "Smashed on a Knee". Having had a tape of the original 3PBS-FM live-to-air from which this springs for more than a little while, it was high time to procure a "real copy" anyway.
Unlike some who grew up with them in Melbourne, I (and most of Sydney) caught the Powder Monkeys too few times, but theres no doubting these guys were unique and world class. The band managed to fill a room, even if Sydney crowds they drew in the latter days didnt. Theres still no fathoming where that massive Hemesley voice (and presence) came from. The signature Nolan fretwork holds its own with anyones. When Timmy Jack Rays drums lock in with the bass, the intensity levels become scary. But if youre a fan, you knew all that.
"Blood, Sweat and Beers" burns with a flame that only honest and impassioned rock and roll can produce. No "I Stand Bare" but "House Rules", "Beast With Two Backs" and "Turns to Hate" are killers. Covers of the Velvets "Guess Im Falling Love" and the Stooges "Cock in My Pocket" are choice.
The packaging is no frills (CD-R with label in a slimline case) but the contents of "Live Live Live" are stunning A dozen songs over an hour, the last three from the Melbourne 1995 Big Day Out and the balance from a 94 Prince of Wales gig. Nolans crazed fretwork is heard to best effect on the BDO cuts, which sound a little cleaner, with "Straight Until Morning" and a full-tilt "Persecution Blues" the hit picks.
There might be a few editions of these discs coming down the pipeline but theyre limited to 300 copies a pop, so be warned. A handful will make it into shops like Missing Link in Melbourne, but you can cut out the middleman and buy John Nolan a holiday home in Bermuda by going direct to the source. What price greatness? Just 12 Aussie bucks is an un-missable deal! The Barman
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