The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews -

When Sharpies Ruled: A Vi­cious Se­lec­tion Var­i­ous artists Fes­ti­val/Warner

If you are de­crepit enough to re­mem­ber the 1960s and 70s you will re­mem­ber that fleet­ing mo­ment when Aus­tralian mu­sic cul­ture spawned its only unique move­ment. Pre­dom­i­nantly from Mel­bourne’s sub­urbs, sharpies were a colo­nial off­shoot of skin­heads, a pre-empt­ing of punk — a work­ing-class re­bel­lion that an­nounced it­self with shaven fringes, mul­let tails, chisel-toe plat­form shoes, cardi­gans, long­neck beers, tat­toos and a most un­gainly way of danc­ing. They emerged as real Aussie rock was hard-mus­cled 12-bar boo­gie by the Coloured Balls, Chain, (New Zealand’s) La De Das and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs be­fore mor­ph­ing into the more glam-rock in­flu­enced Hush, Sky­hooks and Su­per­naut. Of late there has been a re-emer­gence of in­ter­est in the sharpies, with tele­vi­sion sto­ries and a few choice clips emerg­ing on the in­ter­net, in­clud­ing a short doco shot by Sky­hook’s Greg Ma­cainsh in the early 70s. When Sharpies Ruled is a nos­tal­gic col­lec­tion of Aus­tralian rock from the era. Lobby Loyde’s in­flu­ence is heard in his band the Coloured Balls and the live record­ing of the Aztecs at Sunbury. Loyde was also in Rose Tat­too and they are fea­tured, along with a track from An­gry An­der­son’s ear­lier band Buster Brown. Finch, La Femme, Rab­bit, Ted Mulry Gang and Hush are among other acts on the 23track disc. Most of the mu­sic is hon­est, straigh­ta­head rock ‘n’ roll, but one track stands out and that’s Sky­hooks’ Hor­ror Movie. In the liner notes Ma­cainsh talks about the band’s anx­i­ety play­ing for sharpie crowds and re­lief when they were ac­cepted. Those were the days — thank god they are gone.

Peter Lalor

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