Our In A Pub Near Year 40 Years Ago series – looking at the late ‘70s Aussie pub rock scene – has been so popular we’ve decided to shift our gaze to spotlight the period of 30 years ago when the ‘80s became the ‘90s. In part one we look at Angry Anderson, The Angels, The Screaming Jets, The Screaming Tribesmen, The Beasts Of Bourbon, The Celibate Rifles, and a band called Bored!, who came out of Geelong and had a considerable influence on popular bands to come out of Melbourne in subsequent years.
ANGRY ANDERSON | “Bound For Glory”
By the end of the ‘80s, a man synonymous with ‘70s Aussie rock, thanks his to work with Rose Tattoo, and before that, Melbourne’s Buster Brown, Angry Anderson was without a band and trying to go it alone. A recent cover of the Tatts’ “Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock’n’Roll” by Guns N’ Roses had pushed attention Angry’s way, and he spent some of 1989 in LA. His hard rock credentials were perhaps tainted somewhat at the time though by the unfortunate solo ballad “Suddenly”, which was famously included in Neighbours a couple of years after release, prompting it to become a huge hit here and in the UK.
The death of drummer Digger Royall in ’89 scampered the Tatts’ reunion plans; Angry ended up recording the solo album Blood From Stone, which produced the anthemic 1990 hit “Bound For Glory”. By 1992, Rose Tattoo had reformed with a new drummer, and in 1993, they opened for the Gunners on the Australian leg of their Use Your Illusion Tour.
THE ANGELS | “Dogs Are Talking”
The end of the ‘80s found The Angels in the unusual position of having their new album out in the US but still pending at home. Released overseas under the awkward band name of The Angels From Angel City, Beyond Salvation would be another smash for the band who were still riding high on the back of their eighth studio album Howling – featuring their biggest hit single “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” – and their live album Live Line, which included the hit single live version of “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”. Beyond Salvation was the second Angels studio album to feature former Finch and Skyhooks guitarist Bob Spencer, who had replaced founder and bandleader John Brewster in 1986. It found the band at the centre of renewed international interest thanks to the patronage of Guns N’ Roses, and it was recorded in Memphis with long-time ZZ Top producer Terry Manning co-producing. It would become the band’s only #1 album; the band’s position both at home and in the States was confirmed when Cheap Trick were announced as the support for the Beyond Salvation tour.
In some ways, Beyond Salvation could be seen as two albums, as the international and domestic versions were vastly different. Internationally, it featured only four new songs, together with re-recordings of five Angels classics, including “I Ain’t The One” and (yet again) “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”. In Australia and New Zealand, where of course it was released under the band’s proper name, The Angels, the album featured all new originals, including the hit single, “Dogs Are Talking”.
THE SCREAMING JETS | “C’mon”
As the Angels were reaching new heights, a future Angels frontman was starting to make waves. Dave Gleeson was the founder and singer for The Screaming Jets, who had played their first show in March 1989 under the name The Love Bomb, and who had won the inaugural Triple J’s National Band Competition in November.
Hailing from pub rock hub Newcastle – home of the infamous Star Hotel – the band moved to Sydney at the start of 1990, headed off on a national tour with The Angels, and signed a record deal in May. Their debut EP, The Scorching Adventures of the Screaming Jets, featuring the single “C’mon”, would follow. We’ll pick up the Jets’ progress sometime later on.
THE SCREAMING TRIBESMEN | “Stay With Me”
As one group of screaming young men was on the rise, another was winding down. The Screaming Tribesmen had come out of Brisbane in 1983 to become a hugely popular live act and one of the biggest independent bands of the era. Bolstered by the addition of former Radio Birdman, Hitmen and New Christs guitarist, Chris Masuak in 1984, the band’s ascent continued until the release of their debut Bones & Flowers in 1987 and subsequent US tour.
In the States, they scored a Top 10 placing on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart and MTV play for “I’ve Got A Feeling”. Alas, the tour would crush the band – Masuak, together with bass player Bob Wackley and drummer Warwick Fraser (brother and fellow ex-Blackfeather/Feather member of Stuart Fraser) all departed, leaving main man Mick Medew to pick up the pieces. Medew formed a new line-up featuring recently departed Kings of the Sun guitarist Glenn Morris and released the fun Take Cover EP late in ’89. Perhaps aimed at consolidating their position with their old fans, the EP featured all covers; including a few that the band had been playing for years. Their cover of “Stay With Me”, by New York punk-era hard rockers The Dictators, was a ripper.
THE BEASTS OF BURBON | “The Hate Inside”
An alternative/garage rock supergroup, The Beasts of Bourbon came together for a few laughs and cases of beer in 1983. The group was fronted by a young Tex Perkins – who had until recently been known as Tex Deadly, singing Crampsy versions of Johnny Cash songs and the like – and featuring Spencer Jones from The Johnnys, Kim Salmon and Boris Sujdovic from The Scientists, and then-Hoodoo Gurus (and ex-Scientists) drummer James Baker. The Beasts reportedly cut their first album, The Axeman’s Jazz for $100 but soon disbanded as everyone got busy with other things.
In 1988, with The Johnnys and Scientists disbanded and Baker no longer a Guru, the band got back together and became something more serious, although a dark sense of humour was there in spades. The first album by the reformed Beasts was the gritty Sour Mash, which produced two alternative chart-toppers (the second one, “The Hate Inside” was released in August ’89) and had a noticeable influence on some up and coming American artists, like Mudhoney and Jon Spencer. Sour Mash would also set Tex Perkins on his own long and winding road to stardom; by the end of the decade, he was also guesting with a low key and laid back instrumental out named The Cruel Sea. That’s a story for next time...
THE CELIBATE RIFLES | “Johnny”
Another leading ‘80s alternative band, The Celibate Rifles, featuring the late and much-loved frontman Damien Lovelock, finished the decade on a new high, thanks to the release of their Blind Ear album earlier in the year. The pun-loving Rifles were a weird mob – irreverent, hard-rocking and influenced by punk-era bands like Radio Birdman, The Saints and The Ramones, the Rifles hardly seemed like a commercial proposition but were loved by surfers and rockers alike. They’d also had a significant impact on underground/alternative circles in the US and Europe as well.
Blind Ear was a big-budget release by Rifles standards thanks to the involvement of major label affiliate, True Tone, and its success crossed into the new decade on the back of three killer singles, “Johnny”, “O Salvation”” and “Wonderful Life” (the latter released as a double 7” release, featuring covers of The Easybeats’ “She’s So Fine” and John Paul Young’s “Where The Action Is”).
BORED! | “Little Suzie”
The Rifles were a big influence on a band in Victorian coastal town Geelong. An hour out of Melbourne and an industrial hub, Geelong would become Rock Central in the ‘90s, and it was all thanks to the influence of Bored! and the band’s main man Dave Thomas.
A phenomenal live act, Bored!, avoided national success thanks to Triple J’s indifference. Still, within months of the release of their first EP (featuring the RRR favoured “Little Suzie” and a cover of the Coloured Balls’ ”Human Being” ) in 1988, they were routinely scoring local supports for the likes of Iggy Pop and Sonic Youth. They would have a massive influence on subsequent Victorian bands like of Spiderbait and Magic Dirt (a fellow Geelong band that Thomas would subsequently join), as well as a thriving new generation underground high-energy rock’n’roll scene. Bored!’s first full-length album Negative Waves in 1989 (which included a raucous cover of each of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo) was followed by the mini-LP Take It Out On You. Following a European tour in 1990, a lead guitarist John Nolan and bass player Tim Hemensley (formerly of God, of “My Pal” fame) went off to form The Powder Monkeys, leaving Thomas and drummer Buzz Munday to pick up with new line-ups.
Next time we’ll hear from the likes Nick Barker & The Reptiles, Noiseworks, Boom Crash Opera, Ratcat, the Hard-ons, the Cruel Sea, the Beasts of Bourbon and the Cruel Sea, and more...
For more classic Aussie pub-rock anthems, listen to our The Glory Days Of Aussie Pub Rock playlist on Spotify: