Monday, April 13, 2015

Rabbit - Selftitled (1975) / Too Much Rock 'n' Roll (1976) + Bonus Tracks

(Australian 1973-1977)
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Originally "The Cherries" Rabbit was an Australian hard rock band from Newcastle, Australia. The band was formed in 1973 by Mark Tinson (guitar, vocals), Phil Screen (drums) and Jim Porteus (bass). Vocalist Greg Douglas joined in 1974 and was replaced in October of that year by Dave Evans, formerly of AC/DC. Dave had seen them performing at Chequers nightclub in Sydney and was impressed with their confronting stage presence. The band played a mixture of originals and covers by artists such as Alice Cooper, The Who and The Sweet. Rabbit adopted a thumping brand of commercial glam-boogie (somewhere between US groups like Kiss and Brownsville Station) and the members decked themselves out in bare-chested silk blouses, spandex leggings and stack- heeled boots.

Rabbit swiftly became Newcastle's foremost rock attraction. The climax of the band's shows came with Phil Screen's spectacular fire-breathing displays (à la Gene Simmons from Kiss). The band moved to Sydney and soon rivaled Hush in the glam stakes.
Two early singles were followed up by a self-titled album in 1975 having signed with CBS records, which had mediocre success. David Hinds (ex-Father Mouse, Hot Ice, Marshall Brothers Band and Highway) joined as guitarist in 1976.
Their second album 'Too Much Rock n Roll' was released in October, 1976 after the release of another two singles.
The album produced two hard-rockin' singles, `Too Much Rock'n'Roll'/ `Shake that Thing' (February 1976) and `Wildfire'/`Bad Girls' (July). Rabbit appeared on the ABC-TV's pop show Countdown, and set off on a national tour with the Ted Mulry Gang.
With their appearances on the numerous television pop/rock shows their 2nd album launched them into national popularity. Rabbit were described as frenetic, violently hedonistic and Dave himself was described as savagely heterosexual. Rabbit after-show parties were always wild affairs and popular with friends, fans and groupies. (and roadies from other bands)



The 'Too Much Rock And Roll' album was then distributed in Japan, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Holland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Although sales were steady Rabbit did not tour these countries as two members called it quits after a grueling three-month Australian tour. The band continued after adding a new drummer and released the single "Let Me" in 1977 but it wasn't the same feeling without the two original members and the band folded in 1978.
Tinson, Porteus and Screen then formed Heroes who released an album in 1980. Hinds joined Finch. Tinson and Screen also worked together in Swanee and The Tex Pistols. Dave Evans went on to play with a string of other bands.
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The following is an interview with the members of Rabbit published in RAM magazine on 17th  December, 1976, conducted by by Chris Marne. 
The article was entitled 'Bad Boys Are Too Tired For Bad Girls Tonight'

Rabbit have happened fast. From the seeds of a three-piece Newcastle band (Mark Tinson - guitar; Jim Porteus - bass and Phil Screen - drums, formed 1973) has grown a hot property live-piece band with two albums behind them and a recently completed first national tour — as a support for TMG
Who the hell can fearlessly pinpoint which ingredient is the success factor in any given band? Of course that old chestnut 'Talent' is always hauled out for an airing, but in Rabbit's case I'd select brash confidence and ability to project their naturally loutish personalities from the stage.
Witness Dave Evans. He's a rock and roll shaman. In performance he plays all the ace-high tricks of the game. He beats on his chest like a bible-belt revivalist huckster. He pulls off Frank Sinatra schticks, like singing Strangers In The Night dead in the middle of a searing hot rock set. He rips out Little Richard funky-spunky tear the joint apart trips. He whips up the crowd with all the jitter frenzy of a strip club spruiker.

Then off stage you see him hamming around in trickster gear, like maybe a carefully tailored sports jacket that just happens to be made of red and white candy striped satin. And a white straw hat with a dancing red feather boa in the band. And he'll be thumping his chest or the bar or anything within arm's reach.
Observe Phil Screen ... not even the Navy knew what to do about Phil. He emanated too much aggression to pass muster as seaworthy. The Navy shrink prescribed drumming as an outlet for Phil's violent tendencies.
Sitting in the band room at Hurstville Civic Centre, yer slack reporter is in shock. Dave Evans has just admitted to a teenage ambition to join the police force. But he grew an inch too short for the service and had to rethink his future.
"I really wanted to be a cop, y'know," he says, picking up my notebook. "I was rapt in the idea of getting out and busting dope smoking hippies and creeps in rock bands.
To prove how hard he tried for a blue uniform, he inscribes a line of perfect shorthand outlines in the notebook. They translate thus: Bad girls are great roots. What a loss for the police force ... they missed out on a bonza candidate for the Vice Squad.
Mark Tinson blazes into the room like he was born with a lifetime supply of amphetamine in his bloodstream. His speedy energy seems to be the band's power-cell on stage. He flashes all over the place in some sort of gypsy dementia ... driving the other guys to the limit, then pushing them into overdrive.


Ramming a lead plug into the little amp in the bandroom, the Tinson guitar is pronounced tuned after a couple of quick runs. The Tinson guitar, just for the record, is a powder blue Fender that looks like it got it last paint job from the duco apprentice at the shonkiest garage in town. Chipped. scratched, dented ... it's a workingman's axe required to do its job without any temper tantrums.
"Now my guitar, announces Jim as he lifts a Gibson Grabber from its case, "is the cheapest bass you can play without being laughed at by other musicians."
Out onstage. Jim spins one turn too many for his lead and the amp top crashes to the floor. He grins back over his shoulder as a roadie leaps to the equipment's aid and, without missing a beat, he returns to his show ... all gutter-bred leers, flickering come-on tongue and up front carnality. All the bad girls want Jim.
I'm watching the crowd from the wings — a crush of schoolgirls, their older sisters, and a sprinkling of likely lads who know what good gut rock is when they hear it. They're
pushing hard up against the stage barrier waving strips of cloth with David or Phil or whoever written on them; some are holding up the Too Much Rock 'N' Roll album cover; others are busy working up black outs for the fainting ritual. All of it is standard rockmania
In front of the crowd, five sets of clingskin tights, platform boots, feet, hands and heads are hard at work. The guitars scream over solid rhythm underpinnings, flashpots explode right on cue and Dave pounds his way through Wildfire. Heartbeat, Go Down Screaming and everything else the kids yell for ... including, of course. Bad Girls. "Bad girls make good lovin'/Gimme a bad girl now.'"
The Rabbit household is awash with post-gig girls ... bad ones, good ones, and ones who can't decide which they are but want to find out.
I retreat solo to the kitchen which is pure funky joy to explore. A note pinned to one cupboard says "Notice! Please do not leave food packets open in here as they encourage the breeding of several forms of exotic wildlife. Thank you".
Said cupboard, upon opening, reveals several forms of exotic wildlife whose activity suggests they're doing OK in the Munchies Dept.
On the bench below is an opened but un-sampled can of pineapple rings in the dead centre of which a lone cockroach practices backstroke.
I don't wanna go back in the living room. It's like an Andy Warhol movie in there. There's a roadie walking round with a nipple in his hand ... reputedly the ex-property of a band lady who was willing to give most generously of herself. And then there's all those girls sitting on all available surfaces waiting for something, anything to happen.

Okay. I'm sucked in. Who's the blonde with the hyperactive set of affectations?
That is Mysterio, says David Hinds "She wants my body. '
You going to allow her the pleasure?
No. Oh, it'd be okay I guess ... but I'm getting off more on watching to see how long she'll hang out. She's been following me since we first played the Lifesaver.
But that must be five or six months ...
"Yeah. She one very dedicated girl.
Noting the string of guys — roadies, visitors, a couple of band members trying to crack on to her I enquire if Mysterio isn't tempted by the more available bodies.
"No, never. She is completely devoted to me."
Meanwhile another girl in the room is under discussion. It transpires that she put out for all interested parties the previous night and came back for a return engagement.
"She's off, man. really fu*ked in the head."
"No, she's a good chick. She happened for us all night and then she got up and did the dishes this morning."
"Dig this,"one of the roadies addresses me, "We said to her, 'Well aren't you going to take your clothes off?' and she just said, 'Yeah, after I've drunk my milk'.
"Look, piss her off will you. She makes me feel sick."
"Give 'er a break fer Chrissakes. She's cool. I mean, she doesn't try and talk to us or anything."
"Yeah, look somebody tell her to get happening in the bedroom. It's getting late."
But nothing much happens. The girl is scagged. mandied and drunk. The guys are disinterested ... they're moving out of the house in the morning and going straight on the road with TMG. To hell with bad girls tonight ... bad boys need their sleep.
[Article from RAM #47, December 17, 1976]

Album Review 'Too Much Rock'n'Roll'
(From Vicious Kitten, Issue 9, Nov/Dec 1998 by Steven Danno )
Why is it that collectors of records will pay massive amounts for Australian progressive rock (i.e. laid-back early 70's music with flutes made by fat stoned dudes with beards), Australian 60's beat or Australian 70's punk, but consider themselves too serious to check out some of the amazing rock and roll made by 70's glam rock-stars in Australia? Take Feather, Finch, Hush and of course the band we are reviewing here - the great Rabbit. What is their fucking problem? The problem is that these train spotting, ant farming collectors are full of shit cause this record, their second, is a killer heavy-rock masterpiece!!If you enjoyed classic-era Sweet (before they grew moustaches and started suing keyboards) and early Kiss (before they started doing ballads and fake live albums) then you will flip-out over this record. A previous issue of Vicious Kitten reviewed the first Rabbit album and there are a few slight differences in the two albums. "Too Much Rock'n'Roll" was recorded at one of the most famous studios in Sydney - Alberts (AC/DC, Rosey Tatts, etc.) and the sound is not quite as raw as the first LP. The band were joined by an additional guitarist in David Hinds - who after Rabbit went on to join Finch with ex-AC/DC bass player Mark Evans, but that's another album review.

Kiss and The Sweet still appear to be big musical influences on the music. Firstly the front cover...the five band members all dressed to kill in stack heel hell and then the music - the opening intro a chant version of "Too Much Rock'n'Roll" with five pairs of boots stomping!! Then it's straight into "Higher Than A Kite" which starts like "Ballroom Blitz" on speed but comes into its own once the vocals kick in. "...I can hear my baby calling but I can't even see that far..." - cool lyrics or what?! There are a few slightly poppier sounding tracks like "Go Down Screaming" which has a T-Rex-meets-AC/DC vibe to it and "Keep On" (not the Brady Bunch song) yet there's also some hammer-riff classics like "Bad Girls" and of course the title track (which is not unlike the the Kiss song "Deuce" which isn't a bad thing).

As great an album as this is, the best way to experience Rabbit (second only to boarding the time-machine bound for a seedy Newcastle nightclub in 1975) is on a bootleg video which features a 1974 thirty minute TV special where the band plays live tracks from the first LP and also a one off re-union gig from the early 90's. Yes they are all a bit fatter and older but it still rocked as wild as ever - or as Al Bundy once told me "If you've got it, you've got it." 

Track Listing
01 - Too much rock 'n' roll (intro)
02 - Higher than a kite
03 - Go down screaming
04 - Bad girls
05 - Shakin all over
06 - Too much rock 'n' roll
07 - Heartbeat
08 - I like to hear my music
09 - Shake that thing
10 - Wildfire
11 - Keep on
Bonus Track
12 - Jumping jack Flash (Live)


(MP3 / 256kps with artwork + Bonus Track)

Selftitled Album Review
So what to make of this album? Well, due to its close ties to AC/DC, one can't help but draw comparisons. The problem is that, frankly, most of the writing doesn't stand up to the legacy. There are hooks here and there, but the album and its followup are both devoid of any real staying power, save for a few tracks between them. Hush and Rabbit are actually almost discernibly identical, different vocalists aside. Nonetheless, this extremely elusive album is highly sought by collectors. This particular rip was passed on to me recently, and for the most part it's a solid conversion with tracks sounding clean and mostly free of clicks and pops. 

Track Listing
01 - Let's Go Rockin' Rollin' Tonight
02 - Magic
03 - Crying Her Eyes Out
04 - Marvel Man
05 - Running Bear
06 - Rock 'N' Roll
07 - Lady La Di Da
08 - Next Time
09 - Sing A Song
10 - It Couldn't Happen To You
11 - Dinosaur
Bonus Track
12 - Running Bear (Bonus Live on TV Ch NBN in Newcastle)

 

Rabbit - Selftitled  (MP3 / 320kps with artwork + Bonus Track)
 
 Note:  If you are interested in obtaining Rabbit's final single "Let Me / Kiss Me Goodnight", you will find a copy on my good friend's website Ozzie Musicman

1 comment:

  1. Great as usual. You may be interested to see my latest post, an exclusive (as far as I know) story about and album made in Sydney in 197a, by Roy Rutanen: http://www.aftersabbath.com/2015/04/the-last-song-roy-rutanen-and-his-short.html Enjoy!
    Cheers
    Rich

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