Thursday, June 18, 2015



WET TAXIS – From The Archives (G.O.D. Records, Greece) LP/CD/Download

Review by David Laing.
They were a weird mob these Wet Taxis. Severed Heads-connected experimentalists who discovered the newly-minted Pebbles series and became an industrial-tinged conceptualised '60s covers band on the Birdman-worshipping Sydney scene in the early ‘80s, these guys were not your typical garage revivalists. But they were great. They didn't do dress ups and they didn't care for authenticity (although they did stick closely to the template); they simply heard something in the music and explored it. And they had at least two secret weapons: the expressive low budget guitar pyrotechnics of lead guy Simon Knuckey, and the rich, soulful baritone of troubled vocalist Louis Tillett. These instruments were utilised to highlight the dark feeling in the material and which gave them the power to share stages with the likes of the Celibate Rifles and the Scientists. Although this incarnation of the band was short-lived, Tillett kept the band going, adding keys and brass and strong original material to create a brooding acid blues-jazz vibe (with an occasional pagan/early folk influence in the melodies) , and then continuing with a prolific solo career along the same lines, seemingly becoming some sort Graham Bond-like figure (the cowl and witch-obsessions didn't help) in the process. (As an aside, Tillett's later and post-Taxis stuff is well worth hearing - it's like he latched on to the influences of Ray Charles, Mose Allison and the like in the garage stuff and followed his own path with them. In a Sydney Sound context you could compare some of his stuff to Birdman tracks like 'Love Kills' – long-time Birdman & New Christs bass player Jim Dickson worked with Louis often at this point, and Deniz Tek was a rare collaborator - but Tillett also worked with Ed Kuepper's jazz-inspired Laughing Clowns and a number of figures on Sydney's jazz scene, including Jackie Orszaczky of Syrius.) Originally a posthumous souvenir of the original band’s brief lifespan, From The Archives mixes short experimental pieces with well recorded live material including great covers of the Spit Ends "Rich With Nothin’", We The People's "You Burn Me Up & Down" and the Unrelated Segments' "It's Gonna Rain" (but not their super-intense version of "Cry Cry Cry") amongst others. Sadly this limited reissue sadly doesn't add the great cover of the Atlantics' "Come On" that the early line/up took to the top of the Aussie indie charts in '84, nor the version of the Guess Who's "Clock On The Wall" that was its b-side (and which became a Tillett signature tune), but I guess you take what you can get. And anything with the Wet Taxis or Louis Tillett's name on it is worth your time. (David Laing)

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