One Reporter's Opinion

Proud sponsor of The Partnership for an Idiot-Free America. Andy's random observations -- a potluck of politics, a mix of music musings, and whatever else transcends the transom. (Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are copyright of this blogger. Some rights reserved, subject to the terms and conditions specified under the Creative Commons license.)

Monday, March 14, 2005

What's the Opposite of Damning with Faint Praise?

There are a few bands that I keep coming back to, year after year, to find solace, inspiration, or a good soundtrack for a long lonely drive.

No surprises among a number in this bunch... The Beatles are perennial favorites. I return to the Descendents every few years for a good high-tempo shakeup. Elvis Costello & The Attractions are popping up higher and higher in my playlist as time goes by. And XTC, what can I say? If there's nothing else to listen to, a good time can be had from anything from Black Sea to Drums and Wires to Wasp Star.

Then there's this little Aussie combo who call themselves Hoodoo Gurus.

I was fortunate enough to catch one of their shows stateside circa 1988. This was after a friend from the dorm flipped me a dubbed copy of Mars Needs Guitars! b/w Stoneage Romeos. Straightforward as it gets -- 3-chords, 2 guitars, no waiting. The songs are mostly intelligent pop songs about girls and good times, minus twee pretensions or skull-thumping rock-star 'tude. Dave Faulkner and Brad Shepherd are the formidable front of this quartet, having put forth about 10 studio albums and a scattering of live recordings, EPs, and impeccable singles.

I lost track of them somewhere around the release of Kinky, but like I said, I keep coming back to them time and again over the years. Unfortunately, they haven't done much touring stateside since being dropped from US distribution.

I caught up again in 2003 when I went to Sydney and talked shop with the bloke behind the counter at Red Eye Records off King Street. He (whoever he was) tipped me off to the newly reformed incarnation of the Hoodoos, called The Persian Rugs. They were credited with one EP and one full length CD, which I happily snapped up and wore thin over the next month. News had it, also, that they were reforming the band to do the 2004 Big Day Out tour in support of the forthcoming Mach Schau. As timing would have it, I missed that. But I did catch up with Mach Schau, which is as fine a record as anything they've ever done. Import only, alas. Doesn't seem like the US market caught up to them along with me.

And here in '05, there's more new Gurus goodness to be had -- the DVD retrospective, Tunnel Vision. Region 0 PAL encoded, so it'll play OK in many computers, but not so much in every TV configuration (unless you have multiscan). If you're not a Gurus fan, I don't know if this will win you over to them, but if you are, this is a "gotta getcha one." Even with the tanking dollar, there's still a favorable exchange rate with Australia, so find a copy if you're so inclined.

The set includes vids from their entire career, some live footage, and even a bonus documentary.

Get while the gettin's good, as this may be the last new output from the Gurus for some time. The rumors indicate that the Gurus are on semi-permanent hiatus.

Then I guess I'll have to discover what I can out of Paul Kelly's back catalogue -- another Aussie fave around the house here.


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