LIGHTS, GUITARS, ACTION! - The Early Hours (Off the Hip)
Another in the seemingly limitless conveyor line of '60s-influenced Perth pop-garage rock bands, The Early Hours were unknown in their hometown when they started attracting significant interest in Europe. In fact, when their their first album "10 Top Hits" landed in the racks in 1995, they'd never played live, apart from at parties.

Before you start pointing the finger and muttering about unpaid dues, consider that Perth in the mid-'90s wasn't the same happening musical place as a decade earlier. The Stems, The Neptunes, the Kryptonics and the Marigolds were all long gone. DM3 was around, but averse to playing Australia outside their home state. Word of mouth fueled The Early Hours' self-financed debut record - and it sold out in a matter of months. You can hear why.

Fact is, whatever dues hadn't been paid, the early stuff The Early Hours wrote and recorded was very good without breaking any new ground. The band took more of a a pop direction on the subsequent "Evolution" record, but the "10 Top Hits" material is firmly parked in the garage. Singer-rhythm guitarist Kirk Pohl has a terrific voice and the band's heavily Stems-influenced tunes had a dynamic strength that seemed to go M.I.A. when grunge landed, and quadrupled K-Mart's sales of flannel shirts.

Being a Big Deal in France, Germany or Spain while being unable to be arrested in the streets of your own home town became something of an art form for Australian garage and powerpop bands in the '90s (ask the Pyramidiacs or the Chevelles), and The Early Hours spent more time overseas than they did on the Aussie East Coast.

Off the Hip has done garage rock a service by compiling both albums, plus a couple of bonus cuts missing from the debut's local release and a trio of tracks from a German single. As alluded, the best stuff ("Dialled Off Her Mind", "She's a Gogo", "Big Star" and the so-Stemsy "Get What I Want") is from the first half of this 27-track disc (being from the first album) and it tails off towards the end, but your results may vary if you're more of a fan of the lighter stuff.

All up, not a life changer but much to recommend and a definite keeper. – The Barman