Friday, May 21, 2010

Funky Friday - Big Down Under

Amongst Australia's collection of evolutionary curiosities - black swans, the Duck-billed Platypus those extravagantly toxic spiders and snakes - came and went, within a single decade, another unique breed. Sharpies.

An Aussie-only sub-cult of the seventies, Sharpies were platform boot-boys mixing and matching mod, glam and skinhead styles creating a look that's a distant cousin to London's Jesse Hector. The movement first reared its feather cropped head in Melbourne, with new groups of Sharpie dressed men appearing in Perth and Sydney shortly after.

Lobby Loyde & The Coloured Balls became the mascot band of the Sharpie scene. Hammering out rough 'n' ready rockers built around stripped down riffing and bovver boy beats (not unlike Dr Feelgood's industrial rhythm and blues). The band's signature sound: close mic'd, hand-sanded attack is a template still replicated by ongoing generations of Australian and New Zealand guitar bands: Radio Birdman, Jet, The Datsuns, The D4 and The Powder Monkeys. Although for today's post I'm picking one of Lobby's poppier tunes from the album *gulps* 'Ball Power' .

The Sharpie sound is the thread connecting The Easybeats R 'n' B buzz and AC/DC's earliest stompers.

Lobby Loyde and the Coloured Balls - Love Me Girl

The Easybeats - Sorry

And while we're upside down how about some Kiwi pysch-pop

Human Instinct - Rich Man

The soundtrack to this clip is more typical of Lobby's mulleted mod-rock.

For more Sharpie history click on the pic ..

For a When Sharpie's Attack mix click here


Cocktails said...

I'd forgotten all about the existence of Sharpies (before my time obviously, but a known and much-romanticised subculture). Funnily enough I was thinking about this stuff when watching the Dr Feelgood doco on BBC4 recently. I've never really understood Dr Feelgood (and still don't!) as this kind of pubrock is tiresomely ubiquitous in Australia and precisely the reason I threw myself into the world of fey indie in the first place!

And, I'll have you know, it's white swans that are the evolutionary curiosity!! Black swans - pah!

Mondo said...

I never got Dr Feelgood either until seeing Oil City (what a film), and then it all made sense - those industrial pounding sounds informing the music's rhythm and clang. Which, in a way is the same with Detroit and The Stooges. I don't mind the sharpie scene sounds - it’s that Jimmy Barnes style chest-beating and a'yelling I can't stand.

I forget to mention this post was inspired by finishing Bill Bryson's Down Under last week - have you read it, I be interested to see your take on his take of Australia

Ps Did I ever tell you I saw Johnny Diesel at The Marquee years ago.

Five-Centres said...

Needless to say I find the whole concept utterly fascinating. YOu really must get your hands on the Ozrock doc Long Way To The Top. Everything's in there.

I don't mind Jimmy Barnes, but he's a kind of poor man's Bon Jovi.

Mick said...

Never heard of Sharpies before. What a dreadful look. That 'Love Me Girl' song reminds me a Cream's poppier moments.

Mondo said...

I've got mixed feelings on the look Mick - the cardies, crops and platforms - yes. The mini-mullet - no. PS storming JBH track popped up on random play this week. Taking Some Time On, it's the only one I've got though.

That's him FC like Brian Blessed meets Bon Jovi - it was Barnes soul album that put me off. I'll check out Long Way - this looks a similar winner, with some great photography.

Cocktails said...

Ole Jimmy Barnes did record some good stuff once upon a time with Cold Chisel. Mind you, it's taken me around 20 years to be able to actually say that such is the shocking legacy of his solo career.

I've never actually read Down Under. There is something a bit irksome about Bill Bryson and that combined with my over-sensitivity about cork hat stereotypes, has put me off reading it.

And Johnny Diesel eh? Good grief is all I can say.

Mondo said...

Get yourself round to Camomile Library and grab a copy - it's a cliché-buster, free of any g'day and barbie nonsense. I found my copy for £1 while we were in Stow - it's given me a fuller perspective on the history, geology and scale of Australia. You really should give it a go..

Piley said...

The Feelgoods is a weird one... Despite them being one of my first ever proper gigs (about 1981/2), i never really got it. I liked 'Milk and Alcohol', which kinda got lumped in with punk at the time, but it didn't represent the majority of their work.

But as the years have gone by I've 'got' them more and more... I see their influence more, and looking at footage and photos of them from the day, they seem to look cooler and cooler as the years go by!

Not heard any of these bits, Sharpies not a bad punt!


Mondo said...

I'm exactly the same P - always felt they were playing catch up to punk, but now realise they were coming round for a second lap. Have you seen the live album - few tracks recorded at Crocs on it.

Dirk said...

What's the name of the song on the clip?

Mondo said...

It's G.O.D (short for Guitar Overdose) - a 16 minute knockabout rocker. You'll find it on the Ball Power album reissue Dirk

wilthomer said...

Well done!!! Sharpie sounds abound!