Radio Birdman – Live In Texas

January 01, 1970

(Career/Crying Sun/Citadel)


Can we permanently retire the word “underrated” from the
rock ‘n’ roll lexicon? Great is great – hell, for that matter, classic is
classic, and timeless is timeless – irregardless of SoundScan numbers, station
adds or box office receipts. Put
another way, if one man’s measure can be found in his deeds, than why not one
band, too? And in terms of deeds, Radio Birdman’s lifelong toils in the service
of rock are nearly without peer, their influence upon the Australian music scene
nigh-on inestimable and their international influence continuing to resonate
down through the ages. So if you ain’t already hip to all that, pal, you are reading the wrong rag (and definitely the wrong


Cutting to the chase here: in June of 2007, roughly a month
before they would be inducted into ARIA, Australia’s
equivalent to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Birdman was touring North America
and wrapping up promotional duties for their 2006 Yep Roc album Zeno Beach. Hitting Texas,
they hooked up with Houston’s KPFT-FM to record
the June 24 and 26 Austin and Houston gigs for subsequent broadcast (in
January of 2008) over the airwaves. The lineup for the tour featured founding
members Rob Younger on vocals and guitarists Deniz Tek and Chris “Klondike” Masuak, plus bassist Jim Dickson (a longtime
associate and also a member, with Younger, of the New Christs) and drummer
Russell Hopkinson, on loan from You Am I.


It’s been said that touring Texas
will either crush you or make a man out of you, but on this particular foray
into the Lone Star State,
Radio Birdman arrived with all barrels already loaded and looking for trouble.
From opening cut “Murder City Nights,” a primo slice of Birdman thrash that
goes all the way back to their ’77 long-playing debut Radios Appear, to an astonishing finale that segues out of the
sinewy, rumbling anthem “I-94” (which, originally hailing from the Burn My Eye EP, predates “MCN” by a
year) and catapults headlong into a positively incendiary version of Blue
Oyster Cult’s pre/proto-punk classic “Hot Rails to Hell,” this 15-track live
disc provides ample evidence that the Birdmen could still soar higher and
farther than musicians one-fourth their age.


In between those tunes you get plenty of primo Bird-age,
like a riotous “What Gives?” and the 6-minute, surfing-on-a-nuclear-reactor Hand
of Law,” alongside a handful of Zeno
standouts including the tuneful, almost power-pop sounding
“Subterfuge.” The band also lobs a couple of additional covers curveballs:
“Circles,” a relative obscurity from the pre-Tommy Who (in it Younger is clearly relishing the twisty vocal
line), and the Kinks’ smouldering riffer “‘Til the End of the Day,” taut ‘n’
tuff from start to finish.


As a concert recording, a lot of care obviously went into
getting Live In Texas down on tape
and subsequently mixed. Here and there one detects an occasional dropout or
slightly off-mic vocal, but those moments are so few and so fleeting it’s easy
to rank this highly if you like your rock served hot. A 12-page booklet
boasting in-your-face color photos from the show rounds out the package to make
it an essential purchase for longtime fans. It ain’t a half-bad introduction
for new recruits to the Birdman army, either.


of Law,” “Subterfuge,” “‘Til the End of the Day” FRED MILLS




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