Considering the frequent excursions of genre with their Modern ARTillery, it’s almost a shock when The Living End return to the straight-ahead rockabilly-ish racer rock of their original MO. What’s On Your Radio, as such, is neither freshly “up yours” as their earlier stuff nor as intriguing (if not entirely successful) as their later work. However, as is generally the case with a TLE song, it’s always a joy to hear Chris Cheney rip into another filigree guitar solo, as he does here. It’s nice to know some things never change.
‘The Living End’ From Here On In The DVD 1997-2004 EMI
The Living End – From Here On In DVD is a must see for all Living End fans. Having spent my uni days listening to them on the radio and seeing them at the ANU Bar, this DVD reminded me why I like them so much.
Influenced by The Who, The Clash, The Sharps and The Beatles, along with a myriad of 50’s rockabilly music, The Living End have created the Punkabilly genre of which they are king.
Disc One gives all the favourite music videos including the two that started their rocket to fame, Prisoner Of Society and Second Solution. Festival clips from Summersonic, Splendour in the Grass and Big Day Out take up the 2nd half.
Disc Two features a two hour doco which gives some fascinating insight into the origins of this band, how they started and their musical influences. The brilliant innocence of their early days contributed greatly to their success and there are a few lessons for anyone wanting to be a rock star. Footage of their early gigs is hilarious for the fashions and the crowds and when they go off at Falls Festival in 1998 (I was there!) it makes you want to just go to summer festivals all year long.
The Living End / From Here On In – The Singles 1997-2004
Chris Cheney has to be one of the best guitarists, singers and songwriters in Australian music. His melodies are always supremely catchy, his riffs and solos superb blends of rockabilly, blues and rock and the pop song formula (verse, chorus, verse etc) never over or under-done. The biggest, and possibly only, flaw of The Living End is their absolutely appalling lyrics. The band’s love of acts such as The Clash, or perhaps their desire to become them, lead to extremely outdated and utterly bullshit ’77 London working class punk gibberish that has no relevance today. If it weren’t for the lyrics then every song of these 14 blisteringly catchy singles would be regarded as classics, rather than teen-demographic tunes of token ‘fuck society’ rebellion. In short, no one takes this band seriously on the issues they address, which is sad, because their heart is in the right place, but the difference between The Living End and, say, Midnight Oil is a matter of articulation. Chris Cheney’s voice is so crisp and clear that ignoring the lyrics is hardly easy, but as soon the band let their instruments take the driver’s seat it is dead easy to remember what is loveable about this band.
This singles collection is well worth owning, as there is not a bad song on it, just keep it out of reach of school kids or it might rev them up to dye their hair, rip their jeans or, heaven forbid, vandalise a phone box.
When one listens to a record from The Living End, to a certain extent one knows what to expect: brilliant musicianship and songs that make you want to get up and fight. ‘Modern Artillery’ provides this all, with breathtaking guitar solos and The Living End’s trademark early eighties rockabilly style, but ‘Modern Artillery’ is both impressively diverse and, when compared with previous album ‘Roll On’, a lot more straightforward.
‘Modern Artillery’ has already spawned the singles One Said To The Other, the anthemic Who’s Gonna Save Us and the early eighties inspired Tabloid Magazine. These are all great songs, especially Who’s Gonna Save Us, which contains what I believe is probably the best guitar solo on the album (which sounds a little like the solo from Hotel California in the way it’s layered).
There are also a surprising number of ballads like Jimmy, Putting You Down (which, if I might go out on a limb seems to me to have elements of Ween and Rod Stewart. So there), the alt-country-sounding So What, and (what I consider to be the best track) In The End. One comparison I could draw from all of the ballads was to Australian stalwarts You Am I; but for old school fans of The Living End there is still plenty of faster tracks like Hold Up, What Would You Do and End Of The World, so you don’t have to worry.
Following the release earlier this year of their debut CD EP, Melbourne trio The Living End have moved away from relatively straightforward rockabilly punch with this tasty little six track EP. Although doffing collective caps to influences such as The Clash, Stray Cats and even a quick check to Duanne Eddy (check the glorious guitar solo on Problem). The Living End are beginning to define themselves by their own sound.
A feisty mix of tunes means it’s difficult to pin these guys down, which is never a bad thing. They are becoming conversant with melody within grunt, and plaintive qualities seeping through punchy rhythms, particularly on One More Cell, which is a pop/punk tune dependent on its neatly pumped out chord progression and cheesy chorus for effect. From Here On In and Stay Away From Me reflect the rockabilly aspect of The Living End, with the latter jumping straight into a thrash out with gorgeous accents and atypical bassline.
Bass player Scott Owen and singer/guitarist Chris Cheney belt out vocals with more enthusiasm than finesse, but this works within the context of the songs. English Army is a little too obvious in its debt to The Clash, however The Living End have stamped their mark on the groove if not the melody.
Closing with an inventive cover of The Cure’s10:15 Saturday Night, It’s For Your Own Good is an immediately infectious slice of this band’s energetic approach to a musical meld that can only be described as a rockabilly/ska cross, however they aren’t afraid to throw in a touch of the pop hook, but nevertheless harness power from the urgency of rockabilly more than anything else. Good stuff for a bit of a dance, if you’re that way inclined.
This has been a frantic year for this three piece punk outfit from Melbourne. It released it’s first EP, Hellbound, at the start of the year and then earned the support slot for green haired trendsetters Green Day. So it is no surprise that this CD’s first track, From Here On In, has a distinct similarity to the American band. But that is where all similarities end. On this second EP, English Army, One More Cell, Stay Away From Me, Problem and 10:15 Saturday Night set themselves apart with the sound embracing all that is punk. Ska and rockabilly are interspersed through the songs which set the head rocking and the feet stomping. The guitars have a harsh resonating sound and Chris Cheney’s vocals are brilliant.
Perhaps Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong could listen and learn. This album is true punkerama.
The Living End have come a long way on their second EP. Where their first release Hellbound lost song quality in sub-standard production, It’s For Your Own Good, produced by Lindsay Gravina, packs brutally honest representation of their live sound – and this sound is most impressive. From Here On In and English Army lead the EP admirably. The songs are more well crafted pop than rockabilly, and both tunes come with a chorus you won’t forget in a hurry. Look out for other highlights; see Stay Away From Me complete with its breakneck drumming and minor bass solo, and Problem, that has a booming chorus showcasing Chris Cheney’s distinctive vocal style.
This EP also comes with a fairly honest take on The Cure’s10:15 Saturday Night, although this reviewer would have preferred to have seen live favourite Tainted Love make an appearance. To label The Living End as a rockabilly band is lazy and/or uninformed. They have the potential to reach an incredibly wide audience, and on listening to It’s For Your Own Good one gets the feeling that one day Cheney and co. will be scaling even greater heights.
Punkish rockabilly trio the Living End draw from the look and sound of fifties rockers the likes of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and more recent revivalists the Stray Cats. They add to this a hefty shot of punk and end with energetic, fiery, aggressive, pounding sound with loads of charm.
The eight track mini-album, Hellbound is a beauty, packed with gems like the frenzied opener Trace Of Doubt, the surf guitar of the title track, the snotty punk rock of The Living End and the rockabilly shuffle of Strange. Tabletop Show is a gritty plodder with great harmonies, Headlines and Misspent Youth are powerful slices of punk, and the closing tune So Lonely is a fun, boppy rock n’ roller.
The Living End are the sort of band that keeps rock n’ roll fresh, regardless of their derivative nature. It’s the energy and enthusiasm that gets you in, as well as the beat of the drums and the slappin’ double bass, the great guitar work and the strong songs. Brilliant!