IT'S A SHIT BUSINESS - The Money (Wild Eagle Records)
The recent passing of Joh Bjelke-Peterson, self-styled hillbilly dictator, friend of vested interests and undeniable Queensland icon, caused me to ponder again Joh's rarely acknowledged role in fostering some of the best garage and punk rock this country has produced. When I say his role, obviously Joh wasn't out there thrashing out Thunders-strength riffs and gyrating wildly across crappy inner-city stages; but his crude attempts at creating a homogenous community ruled by brown bag donations and sub-PG rated entertainment did provoke an artist backlash that found its voice in plundering riffs, inebriated growls and belting drums of The Saints, The Fun Things and the 31st – not to mention the more subtle, arty punk stuff represented by The Go Betweens.
Joh may have been gone from office for almost 20 years, and his political legacy largely confined to the treatises of political historians, but his garage punk legacy lives on.
The Money are another in a more than impressive list of hard rockin' bands that have come barrelling out of Brisbane with their guitars blazing like six shooters in an alcohol soaked saloon bar.
The accompanying PR material informs us that The Money formed in 1998, released a 7", disappeared from view and re-emerged in 2003 with a new drummer and guitarist. The Money celebrate their return to the fold with a debut album recorded live at The Melbourne Hotel in south Brisbane during Easter 2004.
"Blackhearted Beast" begins proceedings at a ferocious pace, guitars pummelling with attitude in the best Radio Birdman tradition. My favourite track was "Homeostasis", though I'm still not sure exactly what element of the song distinguished it from the other noise-soaked tunes.
The other song titles illustrate a simply symbolism about the issues dear to the band – "Cigarettes", "Running Wild", "Wild Machine"; this is a collective that eschews ponderous contemplation of emotional confusion in favour of sweat, beer and rock'n'roll.
The album includes two covers, The Dead Boys' "What Love Is" and Teengenerate's "Gonna Feel Right", both performed with a vigour that demonstrates an empathy with the inner-city punk angst that the original artists held close to their hearts.
Production on live albums can often be of variable quality, from the ridiculously overdubbed (ranging from Kiss's Alive albums, to New Race's "First and the Last", with its studio-sanctioned vocal augmentation) to downright primitive bootleg recordings. But this album seems to capture the band's live sound appropriately; it's loud, it's rough and, importantly, it still includes mid-set commentary from the band about sound and equipment (that's generally airbrushed out of live recordings).
The Money are playing music they like, as fast as they want, as tough as they want. And you have to admire that. In a music world that's dominated by image conscious metrosexuals and airbrushed rock'n'roll dolls, The Money are doing it for the music, man. Maybe that's why they call it a shit business. - Patrick Emery
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