Share PHYSICAL EDUCATION - Russian Roulettes (Off The Hip)
You see, the variety's the thing. "Physical Education" is a slight advance on "R&R", the first album for this trio of Melbourne garage notables. Where "R&R" sometimes sounded samey after a repeated plays, "Physical Education" bounces stylistically all over the place, from flat-chat barn burners to musclebound but soulful grooves.

Vocalist-guitarist Sam Agostino must be Melbourne's busiest player, leading the Russkis, being one half of Digger & The Pussycats (are they still going concern?) and recording as his own man as Brat Farrar. In the singing department, he nails straight-up rockers like "Never Had Nothing" and the sub-minute "FBI", the contemplative "Waiting For You" and the fuzzed-up-and-funkified title track with equal aplomb.

Just when you think you have "PE" nailed, stylistically speaking, Russian Roulettes break from formation and spiral off in another direction. "Wait And See" is a rumbling mid-tempo number with a spine of wailing psych guitar running through its middle. Instrumental "Coloured Vinyl" references Tom Verlaine's solo picking before the Roulettes crash into the vaguely glammish and insistent "It's Time To Rock And Roll." It just adds to an interesting ride.

There are no airs and graces with these Russians. "PE" was recorded in their rehearsal space so it feels live and uncluttered. They shipped it off to Masterdisc in NYC to have it spruced up and it fairly jumps out of the speakers.

Drummer Agostino Solodati (The Go Set) grabs the mic for his own "Baby, Please Quit Your Tryin'", a strained Stax soul cameo. It works and so does the closer, "Every Time That You Need Me", which is the sort of pop-rocker that enlightened radio (which Melbourne has) should play.

Mucho recomendo. - The Barman

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R&R - Russian Roulettes (Off The Hip)
This Melbourne trio's collective rock and roll sins precede them (Digger & The Pussycats, The Legends of Motor Sport, Kamikaze Trio, Go Set, The Specimens) and "R&R" delivers on that and more.

There's a massive streak of the better end of Aussie '70s pub rock excess running down the middle, crossed with hard-arsed punk jams, heavy funk and lashings of acid psych. It's all camping out in a placed called Lo-Fi Heaven.

If "R & R" was a breakfast cereal you'd know it for its high-fibre and absence of sweet little sugary crunchy things. If you're looking for me to get base I'll oblige and tell you that this is a sound guaranteed to bind the loosest of stools and leave a ring around the bowl. It's heavy duty goodness that'll flush out the system and leave you feeling a whole lot better.

The key is Tim Wold's dense bass rumble. It's right at the heart of the Russian Roulettes' sound, like a black, beating heart. Sam Agostino lays down a wailing, wah-wah saturated guitar, Agostini Soldati powers away on the tubs, but it's the pulsing bedrock that pulls these songs along.

It's Agostino's big fat searing guitar sound that burns through the mix and he flags the fact that there will be a lack of sensitive Tommy Emmanuel acoustic licks on this album in the opening "I've Been Drinking Far too Long". From there, the going remains heavy or builds thereupon. The glamm-ish "All The Things" is the exception.

Agostino gets his (and everybody else's) moment in the sun on the 11-minute-plus "Girl You Know How To Dance", a Buffalo-styled stomper that flings squalling balls of guitar like Godzilla going six rounds with Mothra in Tokyo Harbour. You may call it excessive wankerisim. You may also clean out baboon cages with your tongue at the zoo on weekends.

Records like this live or fail on the songs and the good news is that The Roulettes have plenty to offer. "Wrong Direction", the Bo Diddleyesque "Outta Control" and the explosive "Gonna Make It" all ring dem bells.

The Stones never did or will sound like the Roulettes' cover of "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" which sounds like Blue Cheer on an I.V. line of Turkish coffee, and loud enough to wake Willie Dixon. - The Barman


 

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