Title:Total 13
Band:Backyard Babies (Sweden)
Label:Scooch Pooch Records
Highlights:Made Me Madman
Look At You
Subculture Hero
Robber Of Life

The history of the Backyard Babies is a confusing one. Whilst many people will have heard of the band through lead guitarist Dregen's previous band, The Hellacopters, it turns out that he formed the Backyard Babies prior to playing in The Hellacopters, during which time they released their disappointing debut album. Some 5 years later, Dregen and lead singer Nicke Borg have reformed the Backyard Babies and released their second album, Total 13, one of the years best hard rock records that more than makes up for their embarrassing debut.

Compared to The Hellacopters, The Backyard Babies have a heavier, more glam rock sound, which has lead to some people comparing them with bands like Hanoi Rocks, Guns & Roses and Motley Crue. While the band probably won't dispute such statements (indeed lead singer Nicke Borg cites Hanoi Rocks as a major influence) they are definitely not a bunch of cock rock posers. To my ears, they have taken the anthem like qualities of The Clash and mixed it with the glam rock sleaze of The New York Dolls as well the full on rock sounds of bands like Iggy & The Stooges and Bored! Total 13 is filled with uncompromising, compelling and memorable songs and undoubtably puts the Backyard Babies up there with Gluecifer as one of the best hard rock band in the world at the moment.

Title:Seattle - New York - Los Angeles
Band:Jim Basnight & The Moberlys (USA)
Label:Pop The Balloon Records
Highlights:Rest Up
Lose Me
What I Wouldn't Do

Jim Basnight And The Moberlys were a Seattle based power pop band who lasted from the late 70's till the late 80's releasing two albums. Their story is one of your classic bad timing/wrong place scenarios. Unlike contemporary artists like Tommy Keene or The Plimsouls, The Moberlys haven't been awarded the same critical evaluation although in retrospect their back catalogue is of a similar standard.

The majority of the songs found on this CD compilation were recorded for the band's second album in 1983 while the remaining tracks are taken from a variety of sessions in LA between 1985 - 1989, including several produced by REM's Peter Buck and many are previously unreleased. The songs are uniformly strong, which makes it hard to pick any standouts put I can?t go past the rollicking Tonight (classic title and all!), the more pure pop strains of Lose Me, or the classic riff of What I Wouldn?t Do. Anybody who likes 80's power pop should track down this CD.

Title:No Hit Wonders
Band:Beathoven / The Innocents
Label:Zip Records
Highlights:Shy Girl
If You Should Go Away
I Don't Want Your Love
Sooner Or Later
The B-Side

I won't retell the whole Beathoven/Innocent's story here but it is one worth telling based on the music contained on these two cds. Disc 1 is devoted to Beathoven, a Tasmanian band who were perhaps Australia's equivalent to The Raspberries or Rubinoos. This is an essential CD for anyone who loves 70's power pop. The songs are uniformly strong, especially the forgotten classics Sad Girl and Sooner Or Later, which caught the eye of none other than Kim Fowley while he was in Australia "in search of the next Beatles or Abba".

By the turn of the 80's, the band had changed their name to The Innocents and relocated to Sydney where they re-recorded Sooner Or Later, which despite reaching the Top 10 never went on to become the huge hit it deserved to be. Sadly the band broke up shortly thereafter although they did reform several times it must be said to increasingly worse results. As a result Disc 2, which features The Innocents, is the weaker of the two as it charts the demise of the band from great power pop to lame radio friendly pop. Still it must be stressed that this compilation is essential for power pop fans. Not only is the majority of the music great but both cds also contain video clips, photos, articles and reviews making this compilation the complete package.

Title:Grand Fury
Band:The Bellrays (USA)
Label:Vital Gesture Records
Highlights:Fire On The Moon
Zero PM
Have A Little Faith In Me

Money back to anyone who doesn't agree that is the most exciting rock and roll release of 2000. Grand Fury is the second album from Los Angeles band, The Bellrays, who are lead by the incredible vocals of Lisa Kekaula (for those who haven?t heard the hype, she does bare a strong resemblance to a young Tina Turner) Put a singer like this in front of any dynamic rock band worth its salt and the results are going to be dynamite and The Bellrays don?t disappoint. Despite being recorded live on four-track, Grand Fury is a blast from start to finish and the basic recording actually helps create a manic live-wire mood (not that The Bellrays would give a fuck what anyone thinks judging by the front cover). The Bellrays' conviction and passion is something to be cherished in these days where most bands seem to have the look down but lack the requisite soul.

Title:Celebrate The Cliche
Band:Ben's Diapers (Finland)
Label:Popatak Records
Highlights:The Gift
The Loved And The Lost

Celebrate The Cliche (great title!) is the debut album for Finish power pop band, Ben's Diapers. Expertly produced and mixed by Michael Carpenter, the sound throughout Celebrate The Cliche is strong, dynamic and sharp. In other words, ideal for power pop. The songs themselves are uniformly strong and range from the Byrdsian jangle of Gift to the Jayhawkish Reality Check to the crunching power chords of Pooch. Whilst Ben's Diapers are a talented band, the majority of the songs on Celebrate The Cliche fail to hit the mark. The main reason for this I feel is the leaden and unconvincing vocal style of lead singer Jaako Soderdtrom, who doesn't give the songs the emotional impact they deserve. Subsequently, there is little to recommend Ben's Diapers over the many other power pop bands from around the world. Nevertheless, if Ben's Diapers continue to improve, I'm sure they'll be a band to watch in the future.

Title:Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday
Artist:Bernie Hayes
Label:Half A Cow Records
Highlights:Falling Over Backwards
Matchbox, Cars and Marbles
You Made Me Hard
Your Boyfriend?s Back In Town
Casting Couch

Rating: 8.5/10

They don't make albums like this anymore. Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday is the debut album from Sydney singer-songwriter Bernie Hayes, whose music recalls such artists as Van Morrison, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, Love and at even at times the perfect pop of The Plunderers and Someloves. The songs cover a wide range of emotions, ranging from happy and upbeat to sad and haunting. The quality is strong throughout with most of the songs fleshed out by trumpets, strings and xylophones. However, sometimes it's just Bernie Hayes alone with his guitar that has the most impact, as heard in You Made Me Hard and South Perth. Other strong songs include the singles Casting Couch and Your Boyfriend's Back In Town. However, I could have done without Tim Freedman's overdramatic piano playing on Mission In Life, which ruins the song. Nevertheless, Every Tuesday, Sometimes Sunday is a very impressive album that should appeal to anyone interested in hearing good music. Bernie Hayes has that special quality that makes him one of Australia's best kept musical treasures.

Title:A Portable Altamont
Band:Brother Brick
Label:Hellfire Club Records
Highlights:The Same
Chokito Bar
No Turning Back
Rock n Roll Marie
Feel Strung Out

Brother Brick have been "Bricking Out The Jams" of Sydney's music scene since the early nineties. Their debut album, A Portable Altamont, represents a series of recordings from between 1995 and 1997 that were originally released as a series of 7 inches, with all of the songs making their first appearance on CD. The fact that this album took so long to get released is hard to fathom because it is full of great, passionate Australian rock and roll. There is no doubt that Stewert 'Leadfinger' Cunningham is one great guitarist and songwriter and his band members are no slouches either. The best track is undoubtedly No Turning Back, with it's impassioned vocals and sting lead guitar. Other tracks like Feel String Out, The Same and the raucous Rock N Roll Marie aren't far behind. While there are a few songs that aren't quite up to scratch, I rather listen to a band that manages to hit the peaks instead of wallowing in mediocrity.