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KEAYS TO THE KINGDOM
When Jim Keays hit the stage with Davey Lane at a "Rock
of Ages" show, you could almost see the light bulb switch
on above Ted Lethborg's head. How 'bout making an album,
the Aztec Music executive thought, the type of record that
made Jim unique, vital and popular in the first place? When
Ted pitched the idea, he gave Jim a disc containing about
25 "no-hit wonders". Initially, Jim was not sure, telling
Ted, "I don't do garage punk any more." He was also worried.
"There was one thing I knew I didn't want - I didn't want
to sound like a 65-year-old doing garage punk, making a
fool of myself, becoming a laughingstock."
Ted suggested a trial run in the studio, enlisting Davey
(who Jim dug straight away, exclaiming, "He looks like one
of the Masters Apprentices from 1968!"), and Davey's old
Pictures buddy Brett Wolfenden on drums. Ted took on the
bass playing duties himself, explaining, "I wasn't going
to be missing out on all the fun." One of the first tracks
tackled was the Flamin' Groovies' Whiskey Woman, which ended
up becoming the album's first single.
Garage punk, freakbeat ("At the time, we just called it
rock 'n' roll, sometimes R&B," Jim smiles) … whatever you
want to call it, Dirty, Dirty (out Friday on Shock Records)
is an exhilarating excursion. Ted, as producer, has managed
to capture the sound of both a fan and a music master. Indeed,
Jim was both in the '60s, which is the source of most of
this material. He still remembers John waving at him when
he saw The Beatles in Adelaide in 1964. By the end of the
decade, Jim was one of our biggest rock stars, fronting
The Masters Apprentices, a band that sits comfortably alongside
The Easybeats as our finest band from that era. As legendary
DJ Stan Rofe said, "The Masters are to Australia what the
Rolling Stones are to England, and The Doors are to America."
Not that Jim is stuck in the past. He remains a music fan,
citing The Black Keys' Lonely Boy and The Jim Jones Revue's
High Horse as two current faves.
Dirty, Dirty is a masterful musical education, with Keays
cutting songs from Canadian band The Haunted (125), the
wonderfully named Wimple Winch (Save My Soul), Crazy Horse
without Neil (Dirty, Dirty), The Move (Do Ya; "We used to
do a few Move songs in the Masters, we loved 'em"), The
Chambers Brothers (Time Has Come Today, a song Jim recalls
hearing on the boat taking the Masters to the UK in 1970),
and Van Morrison's Them (Mystic Eyes). There's even a track
from '60s-influenced '80s band The Dream Syndicate (Tell
Me When It's Over), plus Jim's take on Midnight Bus, a song
he heard in Adelaide in 1961 when it was a hit for Melbourne's
Betty McQuade, who sadly died on Boxing Day. "The Bus is
the black sheep on the album," Jim notes. "I wasn't sure
it fitted, but everyone else was like, 'We love the Bus!'"
Never has a record screamed "I'm still alive!" as emphatically
as Dirty, Dirty.
Jim was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer,
when his kidneys failed in 2007. His medication includes
doses of thalidomide. Though he does about 100 gigs a year
with Cotton Keays & Morris, he's no longer capable of fronting
a full-on rock band, though he hopes to do a couple of album
launch gigs. "My medication can really knock me around,
though most of the time I'm okay. I can handle shows with
Darryl and Russell because I only have to do a third of
the work, but I can't really do my own gigs."
Dirty, Dirty has already earned comparisons to the revered
Nuggets compilations, which is appropriate because the Masters
were featured on Nuggets II. Making a covers album is the
easiest thing in the music business. Making a great covers
album is one of the hardest. Ted jokes that he's "worked
with a lot of old farts" as co-ordinator of Aztec Music's
re-releases, "but you couldn't do this record with just
anyone." Very true. Dirty, Dirty works because it's authentic.
It's 2012's first great rock record.
MAN, IT'S GOOD
A friend recently got in touch after seeing the name I,
a Man. "Add this to your list of shit band names," she said.
Fortunately, they're good. Their new single, You're Boring
Us All, is just as striking as their debut, Sometimes, reminding
Howzat! of early Fauves, particularly The Doctor's melancholic
output. Intelligent pop.
Four Aussie hits in the Top 10.
Into The Flame EP MATT CORBY (number three)
Boys Like You 360 & GOSSLING (four)
I Love It HILLTOP HOODS & SIA (six)
Set It Off TIMOMATIC (seven)
Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE (13)
Don't Worry Be Happy GUY SEBASTIAN (16)
Good Night REECE MASTIN (29)
Awkward SAN CISCO (32, debut)
Three Aussie albums in the Top 10.
Falling & Flying 360 (number four)
Moonfire BOY & BEAR (five)
Making Mirrors GOTYE (seven)
Vows KIMBRA (12)
The Big Red JOHN WILLIAMSON (15, debut)
Reece Mastin REECE MASTIN (21)
All For You COLD CHISEL (30)
Time Has Come Today JIM KEAYS
You're Boring Us All I, A MAN
Song For Grace ANIMAUX
No Pets EMMA RUSSACK
Endless Summer THE JEZABELS
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