BRUNETTES ON THE ROCKS - The Shimmys (Off the Hip)
Three great girls, three matching dresses and three great chords; it’s not as if a rock and roll album needs much more than that to succeed. No-one ever claimed you needed a degree in rocket science to play rock and roll. No-one except Frank Zappa and, let’s face it, his albums can bore a hole through the Earth’s crust faster than you can “hasn’t this guitar solo been going on for a very long time”.
I’m not claiming the Shimmys can play their instruments or write great songs. I’m not going to claim they can even sing. I won’t tell you that they have made any kind of lasting contribution to popular music. During live performances, if they forgot the words or the chords they would squeal excitedly into the microphone. There was much squealing during a Shimmy’s gig. When they broke a string they looked helplessly at their instruments not knowing how that could have possibly happened.
Okay, the Shimmys were a second rate garage band; a really second rate garage band. But they were a fucking great really second rate garage band. I love them. I just can’t help myself. I put on their album, I just smile. Once there was a golden age where any kid could form a band, learn three chords and be the hero of the neighbourhood. There was no such thing as a Bachelor of Arts in Rock and Roll. Rock and Roll meant you never had to get a Bachelor of Arts. The Shimmys remind me that rock and roll is supposed to be fun.
I could mislead you and tell you the Shimmys were sort of a cross between the 5678s and the Booby Traps. It’s a true statement and it isn’t. The Shimmys seemed to spring fully formed from their own private universe playing covers of Sonics’ songs and songs that could have been Sonics’ songs. They even had a few of their own that should have been Sonics’ songs.
The Shimmys released this album, played one gig in Melbourne to promote it and then quit. The breakup was announced as a bulletin on Myspace. It rated no press coverage. If it hadn’t been for a change in the band’s Myspace profile picture, I wouldn’t have even known this album had been released. This is the fate of too many bands these days.
My happiest rock and roll moment was singing “Money” with the Shimmys at the Lansdowne in Sydney. They were a fantastic band who somehow knew how to make the tiredest clichés into something charming and delightful. This, their final album, is their most polished and accomplished but that isn’t saying much. I will listen to it over and over and over again. When I’m in a shitty mood or I want some music to put on to get me jumping and in the mood to go out, I’ll pull this one out of the racks. Worthy albums will come and go but this one is a keeper. That’s the reason I gave it four bottles of Rolling Rock. - Bob Short
Scroll down to comment
DRIVE YOU WILD - The Shimmys (Off the Hip)
The EP showed promise but the album nails this girls-in-thee-garage thing to the wall like a pair of bloke's underpants the morning after a debauched hens' night. With the verve and energy that only a true love of rock and roll stripped down to its basics can imbue, Melbourne's The Shimmys take bits and pieces from all over the place, stomp all over them with their high heels and sew 'em together, to make an album that's a blast.
The fun begins with the Ian Wettenhall-penned scenesetter, "Shimmys Intro", and doesn't let up till the "Shimmys Outro" that bookends the album. Helpers like keyboardist Lord Evan Miller from the (late, great) Lords of Gravity, guitarist Ricky Shutdown (Shutdown 66) drop in to add some trimmings.
Speaking of getting by with some help from your friends, Wettenhall produced and had a hand in, or wrote, four of the dozen songs. Almost half are covers so they're not exactly prolific writers, but the thing that the core trio of Suzy Watsui (guitar and vocals), Kitty Deluxe (bass) and Babs Dior (drums) delivers is character. Alternately sassy, often in your face, not that subtle but always good-natured and never sacharine.
There's nothing finessed about Shimmyrock. The simple rhythms are delivered in primitive, heavy-handed style, but for all the pummelling metered out to a standard like "Nobody But Me", there's a constant strand of fun running through proceedings. Take pause to remember that this approach never hurt the Pandoras.
The gals sound like they're having a ball, go-go dancing all over the graves of the Shirelles and the Ronettes and thumbing their collective nose at any song written after 1965. The "Leader of the Pack" allusion at the top of "Get Off The Road" is entirely intentional.
More fun that a sackful of otters, this will get your clodhoppers moving and light up the slowest garage party. Get it into you. – The Barman
SHAKE! STOMP! SHIMMY! – The Shimmys (Off the Hip)
You expected Simon & Garfunkel? It’s a five-track EP from three ladies from a garage in Melbourne, not an exercise in middle-of-the-road blandness, and their knee-high boots are gonna walk right over you.
Not in any way subtle (and probably only a notch down from Thee Minks in the In-Your-Face Stakes), this is the raw and rockin’ stuff that infiltrated half of the Australian eastern seaboard in the ‘80s. Bands populating the genre have diminished in number without really going away and The Shimmys are fine exponents of the art of chucking ‘60s influences into a blender and mixing up a caustic cocktail.
The opening cover of “Money” is a case-in-point; It's an over-familiar tune and it's bludgeoned rather than caressed. It stomps around the room without managing to break anything but knocks over a few cocktails in the process. From go to whoa it’s a fun ride. Same goes for the rest of the record.
There are only two band-penned tunes, “Gotta Guy” and “Crazy Baby”, but EP the wins me over regardless. Guess we'll have to wait for the album to see if The Shimmys are prolific writers. Guitarist Suzy Watutsi is a more than adequate warbler who gives Nancy Sinatra a run for her money for sassiness, while bassist Kitty Deluxe (a girl who loved the label so much she married it) and drummer Babs Dior add the engine room grind and trashy girl group backing vox.
Special mention to their take on the relatively lesser-known Sonics gem, “Shot Down”. Like the EP, it doesn’t break out into new turf but it’s an irreverently fun listen.
For fans of The Muffs or Thee Minks, the feel is The Crystals in overalls, getting their hands dirty underneath the hood of a ’64 Chevy. It won't change your world but it might make it a little more rocking. – The Barman
HOW DID WE DO?
ADD YOUR OWN COMMENT OR RATE THIS MUSIC
TO THE REVIEWS PAGE
BACK TO THE BAR