Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Who’s Who And Who’s New In The Hoodoo Gurus


To use the title of one of their numerous garage rock gems, May 23rd will be “Bittersweet” for the Hoodoo Gurus. That’s when the long-time Australian band will reprise the Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution reunion concert they pulled off in their homeland last November. This time out, it will be part of Sydney’s annual Vivid Festival, within an alternative universe of psychedelic swirling lights and projected images. According to the Vivid website “Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution will finally climax with all of the band’s current and past members on stage together, performing a mammoth tribal version of the band’s first single, ‘Leilani.’” But it will be the final show for drummer Mark Kingsmill, who has been onboard for 30 years. According to a post on the Hoodoo Gurus Facebook page, Kingsmill has been such an integral part of their sound, they considered breaking up. Eventually, they did find a replacement; naming Nik Rieth, formerly with The Celibate Rifles, as their new drummer.

Since a trip to Sydney is not currently feasible for me, and The Hoodoo Gurus haven’t visited the States for some time now, I’ll just have to cherish my memories of seeing their dynamic live shows at Metro and The Abbey Pub in Chicago. To help celebrate the Hoodoo Gurus’ heritage, here’s a review I did of their Purity Of Essence CD for the Illinois Entertainer back in 2010.

Back in the 1980’s, the imaginative garage rock of Australia’s Hoodoo Gurus evoked images of wild frat parties, but the recently released Purity Of Essence feels more like hanging out at the corner bar with an highly opinionated drunk. Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Dave Faulkner has been coming across as bitter and frustrated for some time now, as if the entire world has it in for him. Somehow, this results in a lot of fun on Purity Of Essence, which like its eight predecessors, is packed with irresistible melodies and rampaging guitars.

“Somebody Take Me Home,” a southern flavored rock song, finds Faulkner seeking salvation at his favorite watering hole, and on “Let Me In,” the pick-up lines turn progressively ugly as he notes, “If you’re looking for perfection, I aint the one.” “What’s In It For Me?” is a rollicking slam at panhandlers that evokes The Rolling Stones, while the first single, “Crackin’ Up” sets a defiant attitude to a supercharged arrangement. Faulkner’s best satire come on “I Hope You’re Happy,” a faux gospel number that skewers plastic surgery and trendy spirituality, and the funky “Only In America,” which takes another swipe at organized religion, as well as the treatment of migrant workers. There are a few misfires on this 16-song set, but for the most part, Purity Of Essence is a pure joy. 

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