DIED PRETTY - FREE DIRT (Aztec Records) - SO literally out of nowhere, or 'out of the unknown' as their song goes, comes the reissue of DIED PRETTY's (Aztec Records, 2-cd digipack, liner notes, extra songs special edition) master work, and one of my all-time favourite albums – FREE DIRT. I remember clearly hearing this album getting hyped by 'the ghost' Stephen Walker on 3RRR fm, and my brother buying it for me as a get well gift, since I had a bad flu at the time. I listened to it once, but a few weeks later had a stoner session and literally, at that point, my mind split open! From the glorious panoramic blare of opener 'Life to go (landsakes) to the violent and transcendent lead break of 'Just Skin' to the awesome drone-out of 'Next to nothing' that includes that FUCKEN AWESOME KEY CHANGE (around the 4:34 mark), that to this day still causes me to get Goosebumps. But the record doesn't stop there....Side 2 takes a more country-pop kinda weird hillbilly direction with feedback in tracks like 'Blue sky day', 'round and round' and wig out'...there pretty much isn't a dud track on the whole album. The disc also include the sublime 'Next to nothing' ep featuring the killer narco-ballads 'ambergris' and 'plaining days'. If anything, FREE DIRT was the first Aussie indie album to really attack and challenge the hegemony of the whole Nick Cave fucken post-punk pretentiousness that is still the 'benchmark' for worthwhile left-field Aussie-rock to the rest of the world to this day (Cave still is Australia's biggest global cultural export and rock star)..FREE DIRT holds it's own as a purely original record, with a truly unique sound and artistic vision that set it apart from it's contemporaries at the time who, despite being all great, had more 'obvious' sonic lineages, ie : the MC5/Dictator/Ramones rifferama axis..Sure there's a Velvet Underground/Suicide thing sort of going on, but you don't 'hear it' as obviously as most undie-rock bands post 1988 did. I love FREE DIRT and NEXT TO NOTHING and all the singles of that Frank Brunetti period DP, and to be honest they were never the same band after got sacked, I lost total interest in them, but they definitely became popular with a shitload of inner-city nebbishers and crummy Aussie film directors.
If anything though, despite all the obvious accolades Peno and Myers and Brunetti still get from this era of the band, the sound proves one important fact abouit rock music that despite their obvious 'atiste/auteur' kudos A GREAT BAND ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THEIR RHYTHM SECTION!!!@#! Died Pretty at that stage had possibly one of the greatest and most under-rated Aussie rhythm sections ever. Front and centre is Chris Welsh's absolutely swinging psychedelic jazz drumming. Welsh films every single blank with his cascading and flowing jazz fused rolls and fills, and he absolutely eclipses the over-rated jazzpunk cucking of the Dirty 3's (read: rock n roll fraud) Jim White. It's one of those great cosmic injustices that Jim White gets to live in New York and play with indie sweethearts like Chat Power and Palace, and Welsh is struggling in NSW somewhere. One listen to FREE DIRT and Welsh's rhythmic GENIUS is apparent. Likewise Mark Lock's noodling psych basslines add a complexity and sophistication that allows the 3 amigos out-front to really outdo their own limitations, but more importantly transcend their influences and thus create something truly original and inspired and PURE. FREE DIRT/NEXT TO NOTHING sill shines bright to this day...
But the paradox of time and re-appraisal can be cruel, and within the awesomeness of this re-issue, you can also 'hear' the demise of Died Pretty happen in real-time. For me personally, Died Pretty were all over once they released that lousy 'everybody moves' song, and the subsequent LOST album was not much chop either (and don't start me with their friggen REM-stage when they did that dull EVERY BRILLIANT EYE & DOUGHBOY HOLLOW abortion and HARNESS UP ECH!..!) You can hear the energy drop like when a bipolar takes their meds on the flatulence that is 'everybody moves' and 'tower of strength'. The songs meander around, the lead breaks start to become a 'formula', and unfortunately that's what DIED PRETTY became - a dull meandering formula that fit snuggly into the dull 'middleness' of suburban 'lucky cunthead' Australia (and more succinctly 'alternative' Australia). A dull middleness that exists to this day starting with dogshit like the Meanies and Even, Steve Pav and his Sydney Pavlovavites, the Fauves, the bloke from the Corner Hotel, lefties in the Northern suburbs, Christo Tsiolcackas, people that buy Nick Cave records, Australian cinema, OZ hiphop, Powderfinger, JJJ, 'the glasshouse'. 'rock wiz' ..I mean look at today's hotshit alt-Aussie bands like the Drones..They start off incredible and become...PAUL KELLY.
I blame him. The fuck.