It’s an all-Australian week in new music as entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out new albums from Melbourne folk-rockers Chris Cavill & The Prospectors, Sydney rapper Kerser, a brand new 36 year old live album from the legendary Cold Chisel and a DVD that will take you back to the fashion-challenged 1980s!
New Music from a New Artist
Kerser — Tradition
Born and raised in Campbelltown, Sydney, Kerser is something of a conundrum. Fiercely proud of his roots, he moved out of his home suburb back in 2014 after fans and haters dropped by day and night, and now lives somewhere on the coast in a hidden location. As a rapper, he has a smooth flow and an ear for a good hook, but frequently falls back on tired genre clichés of sexism and homophobia.
Although he has only been making music for a few years, Kerser has been incredibly prolific, releasing half a dozen albums since his debut in 2011. It’s worth nothing that all of these albums sold well without the assistance of commercial radio airplay, although Kerser’s frequently made claim that all his albums have gone to number one seems to be a little on the optimistic side. By the same token, the boast has always been a key component of rap and Kerser certainly isn’t lacking in self-confidence.
With a distinctly Aussie tone and lyrics that range from partying to fighting drug addiction, Tradition is unlike most Rap albums that you’ll hear. And this is rap rather than hip hop — a distinction that seems fuzzy to me, but must be important to Kerser, because he mentions is a number of times across the album.
If your experience of Aussie Rap is limited to The Hilltop Hoods and that one song by 360 that you quite liked, check out Tradition — you might be surprised at what you find.
Standout tracks: Waitin’ For This, We the Bad Guys, Bad Habits
Sample Lyric: ‘Back to square one, nah man, you can’t quit.’ (Bad Habits)
Verdict: 7/10 — worth a listen for those open to something different.
New Album from an Old Artist
Cold Chisel — The Live Tapes Volume 3: Manly Vale Hotel
Recorded the same week that seminal album East was released, The Live Tapes Volume 3 captures a band at their peak. The rhythm section of Don Walker, Steve Prestwich and Phil Small play as a single unit after five years of heavy touring, Jimmy Barnes stalks the stage as if challenging the audience to a fight, while Ian Moss keeps everything together and provides the riffs that accompanied the downing of countless schooners of VB.
Kicking off with a blistering rendition of Standing on the Outside and including hits like Star Hotel, Cheap Wine and Khe Sahn, the album also includes a couple of cover versions. The first is a raucous version of '60s hit, Shakin’ All Over, while the second is a cover of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door that puts the better known Guns ‘n Roses version to shame.
Considering the vintage of the recording, the sound quality on this CD is amazing, due in part to the band’s decision to bring along a 16-track tape to the cramped Manly Vale Hotel. Rather than the muddy bootleg sound that accompanies many live recordings from this era, the transfer is crystal clear, allowing the beauty of a song like Choirgirl to shine through despite the decidedly non-beautiful surroundings.
While years of infighting, reunions, farewell tours and breakfast show appearances may have dulled their legacy, this album shows why Cold Chisel are considered one of the best Australian rock bands of all time.
Standout tracks: Standing on the Outside, Choirgirl, Shipping Steel, Khe Sahn, Star Hotel
Sample Lyric: ‘Here’s a song about a place in Newcastle. A place for people without any work. A place for people without any money…’ (Star Hotel)
Verdict: 9/10 — a sweaty slice of Aussie rock history.
Music on DVD
Australian Made — 30th Anniversary Edition
If you grew up in Australia in the 1980s, there is a good chance that you will remember Australian Made, the series of 6 concerts that brought together the best Oz Rock had to offer. Kicking off in Hobart and hitting all the capital cities (and Campbelltown), the concerts featured artists from INXS and Jimmy Barnes to Divinyls and The Saints. If you were a big deal in Australian music in 1986, there is a good chance that you’re somewhere on this DVD.
Thirty years after the fact, some performers stand head and shoulders above the rest. INXS are young, addled and beautiful, wearing matching all-white outfits that must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Jimmy Barnes has come a long way in the six years since the Chisel gig at the Manly Vale hotel, travelling with his wife and growing brood as he begins to spread his solo wings. A young Kate Ceberano fronts the upbeat I’m Talking, while Chris Bailey from The Saints wanders around looking eerily like John Paul Young.
Aside from the music (some of which is awesome, some not so much), much entertainment can be had from the extended sequences between songs, where festivalgoers showcase the hottest in bogan fashion and performers complain about being filmed. The intros to some of the songs are also amusing, particularly when the lead singer of The Triffids mumbles something about having so many hits to choose from, then proceeds to play a song that hasn’t been heard since.
In the event that you attended one of the Australian Made concerts, this DVD is a must-buy, if only to laugh at the fashions and see if you can spot yourself. For everyone else this is an interesting slice of nostalgia, concluding with one of the finest rock songs of the 80’s — INXS and Jimmy Barnes singing Good Times.
Standout tracks: Good Times, The Loved One, Lead The Way
Verdict: 7/10 — take a trip back to a simpler time…
Ch-check it out…
Chris Cavill & The Prospectors — All That You Got
Back in July 2015, I reviewed Chris Cavill and the Prospectors last album Know Your Destiny, giving the album 8/10. Since then, the band have been working hard touring and writing new songs, the result of which is EP All That You Got. While Know Your Destiny fused rock and folk in an aesthetically pleasing combination, All That You Got turns up the amps and rocks the hell out.
Opening with the hard-driving Something from Nothing, the EP doesn’t wear out its welcome, blasting out five tracks and then getting the hell out of town. Title track All That You Got highlights Cavill’s knack for writing catchy guitar hooks, while the bands cover of Ben Harper track, The Woman in You provides a brief respite from the rocking.
Standout tracks: All That You Got, Something From Nothing
Sample Lyric: ‘No time to talk when I’m on the chase.’ (All That You Got)
Verdict: 7/10 — another step on the road to the top.
Enjoy what you've just read? John Turnbull's books are now available on Amazon and Kindle. For about the price of a cup of coffee you can take a journey deep into the disturbed psyche behind columns including Screen Themes, Think For Yourself, New Music Through Old Ears and JT on NXT. There’s supernatural thriller, Damnation’s Flame; action/romance, Reaper; black comedy, City Boy; and travel guidebook, Bar Trek: Europe. Check 'em out!
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