UP NORTH/DOWNUNDER Vol 1 - Various Artists (Bootleg Booze)
Just when you thought it wasn't safe to go back into the compilation record water because it's been polluted by so many lame and ill-focussed efforts, this first-class collection of Real Rock Action comes sweeping out of the frozen north of Sweden.
The concept - lining-up a bunch of Scandinavia's best against a corresponding crew from Australia and setting them loose in a no-holds cage match - works like a charm, as both ends of the earth share a heritage of hard-edged raw and roll. You won't find any duds on this and each track is exclusive to the release, which is vinyl only. Liners by No-Mango label (home of the Radio Birdman "Flattery" tributes) co-honcho and expat Canuck, Dave Champion, and yours truly are the cream on the cake.
The late Specimens from Melbourne set the tone with "Good Times Gone", a chugging chunka mid-tempo punk that reminds you of their greatness.
Leadfinger show off leader Stew Cunningham's back-story with a cover of a Yes-Men track ("Swept Back") that's spiced by some rippling lead-work from new-ish guitarist Michael Boyle.
It seems melody's the current by-word in Swedish rock. Exibit One is Tramp, the latest band for Midlife Crisis/ex-Hellacopters drummer Robert Ericksson and their "No Light" is hooky but titanium hard with lots of room in the song. No need to tell you the Sewergrooves' "Easy To Pretend" is big on the M word, and in "Get Me By" the Deadbeats marry a groove to a hook big enough to land a deep sea marlin.
The DevilRock Four's Johnny Driver gets two bites with his "other band" The Lighting Strikes and DR4 scoring places. "Leave Here Alone" comes from the former and is a sassy strut with catchy chorus. "My Favourite Enemy" is more in the vein of what you'd expect from DR4 (which is to say it's a little harder but a keeper.)
Uber producer Chips Kiesbye is behind Sator, an institution in Sweden, and their Weirdoes cover ("Plastic Man") is harder than Chinese arithmetic. Similar kudos to Demons and their "The Leeches".
Rio Grande and their Shy Imposters-like "Eye for Eye" provide one of two female-fronted groups in this bunch and the infectious pop-rock on their track makes me want to hear much more. The other is Sure-Fire Midnights from Perth whose "Over The Edge" is an oncompromising slice of tough guitar rock. That's one killer voice Clair Serjeant has.
The odd men out are Melbourne-via-Perth pop-punkers Screwtop Detonators who sound more Rancid than Clash on "Stand Up". That would normally irk me but I've recently found Rancid's first album listenable nearly two decades after the event.
Cop a copy from the source and set the stereo volume for 11. - The Barman
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