There have been a lot of names on my wishlist for this feature, but standing near the top has been Mikey Young. If you’re unfamiliar, then you clearly reside outside of Australia, and have little to no interest in what’s currently pouring out of nation’s coffers lately. Young is a driving force of two of the best bands of the past decade, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control. Add to that a hand behind the boards on pretty much every other indie release that hits the shelves and it solidifies the fact that the man is beyond integral to the new wave of Australian indie. As with all entries to Hidden Gems, this feature seeks to find an album that’s been overlooked by the majority and shine a little light on it. Below Young tells how the proto-punk debut from Third World War came into his life and the impact its had on his own works.
“Well, I don’t know how hidden it is to the rest of the world,” Young confides, “but I do know it was hidden from me 35 or so years too long and no one I speak to down in my country seem to know or care about it.. yet everyone I play it to is bowled over. I don’t get it; of all the half-arsed reissues kicking about and all the ‘5 greatest/wildest/heaviest etc. bands you never heard but need to hear right now’ type headlines out there – I don’t understand why this record and band is written about so little. I like to think I’m a pretty mild guy. I live down the coast, wear house pants all day, nap in the afternoon sun. I find less and less motivation to interrupt my chain of Vangelis records with angry punk rockers these days, so it seems out of place with how I’m feeling. But every time I put this record on and it gets to the first chorus of “Ascension Day” I wanna kick down my sliding door, throw things off the balcony and argue with the magpies.”
“”MI5’s Alive” is the greatest 8-odd minutes of heavy chooglin’,” Young expounds, “the bass is mixed high and glorious, the guitar is absolutely slashing. “Stardom rd pt.1” is tender and heartfelt, complete with a stunning string arrangement, and the hold back and pay off into the opening riff of “pt.2” is so damn satisfying and tough. Jesus, these dudes had day jobs, the singer was a lorry driver. They sound genuinely fed up with life, law, the monarchy, the system, they look cool as hell, and the bass player was in Thunderclap Newman (whose only album is also worth crapping on about it). Bobby Keys even drops in for a sax wail or two.
“It’s everything I could want in a rock n’ roll record,” says Young, “The 2nd album is also worth grabbing, it’s a little less visceral in the production but the songs and playing are just as strong. It’s worth selling all your other records and just making do with the 2nd half of “Yobo” for the rest of your life anyhow.” The record, he says came into his life “the modern way, Discogs/forum/YouTube jumping” to find something new. As for how it’s impacted his own recording, “I always want to try to make songs as great as the ones I love and no doubt fail trying and I’m sure there’s a riff in my head somewhere that was inspired by these jams,” he admits.
Young makes a good point, if there exists a new reissue of The Eagles’ Greatest Hits out there knocking around, what bastard in his right mind hasn’t put this back in press? The debut has often nabbed the contentious title of “England’s first punk record” due to its no-bullshit production, working class ethos and inflammatory lyrics. The band were legendary live and, as mentioned, the record has touring members of The Stones laying down Horn parts (Jim Price also contributed trumpet) for crissakes. It’s a heavy classic that should appeal to fans of Groundhogs, Terry Reid, Coloured Balls and any of the connective tissue between hard rock and the burgeoning strip down to punk’s core. Well worth checking out, even if it isn’t on native LP. As for Mikey himself, he’s just unleashed an album of solo synth on Moniker records, in addition to curating the incredible Follow The Sun compilation on Anthology records. That is, when he’s not behind the desk mixing, mastering or recording your next favorite record.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.