Let's face it, most folks have either already left on vacation, or have mentally "checked out" so its the perfect time for this writer to be all kinds of self-indulgent and share my ten favorite bands with those of you still paying attention. On Monday, the three bands I covered comprised the "L.A. Edition" of my list. Today, we'll focus on the Australia portion.
Angel City (a.k.a. The Angels)
I can forgive quite a bit, but the fact that the rest of the world beyond Australia turned a deaf ear to the greatness of front man Doc Neeson and his cagey band of misfits is something I still have quite a hard time reconciling, especially in light of Neeson's passing last year. While there is no bringing him back, it is never too late to discover the proto-punk greatness of the Angels in their early '80s prime. Like all great bands, their trifecta of absolutely essential albums - Face To Face, Dark Room, Night Attack - marries punk intensity to Neeson's colorful cast of characters. Imagine, if you will, if Ray Davies had fronted AC/DC and you get a rough idea of what this band was all about.
While they amassed 15 Top 40 singles and 12 Top 20 albums in Australia, the closest they came to Stateside success was when "No Secrets" (from 1980's Dark Room) enjoyed brief AOR radio airplay and the band appeared on ABC's Solid Gold to perform the song. A series of labels and name-changes (including the ill-advised The Angels From Angel City on 1985's Beyond Salvation) further confused the U.S. market, as did their failure to reach these shores again once the likes of Axl Rose, Nirvana and Pearl Jam began singing the band's praises in the early '90s,
Despite being Australian, the first thing that attracted me to the Gurus was their love of the same kitschy American pop culture that influenced then-labelmates Redd Kross. Like the McDonald brothers in Redd Kross, Dave Faulkner's knack for deceptively insightful and humorous lyrics to equally catchy hooks and delivering them with an urgent, yet wonderfully accessible vocal style led the Gurus to become ne of Australia's most popular rock bands. In fact, their debut album Stoneage Romeos was in the top 30 of the 100 Best Australian Albums.
Mars Needs Guitars and Blow Your Cool followed in 1985 and 1987, respectively, each upping the ante on the band's flair for radio-ready rockers that culminated in the band's sole U.S. hit "What's My Scene", which featured backing vocals by members of the Bangles.
I had the good fortune of interviewing Dave Falkner in a glass box mobile recording studio being driven around the streets of Austin during SXSW 2010. If that sounds completely ridiculous, it was, but Falkner and the band were determined to promote their latest studio offering Purity Of Essence.