The Living End
There was probably no more infectious music than Rockabilly. Roaring to life in the '50s it was a riff-driven blast notable for romps up and down the guitar neck to a shotgun beat. The songs were lean and fast.
Rockabilly has been regularly revived and updated. But as the Stray Cats discovered, from their meteoric rise and subsequent fall in the early '80s, Rockabilly is a rather limited concept.
Living End guitarist/singer/songwriter Chris Cheney was a major Stray Cats fan. That obsession led him to form a covers band named Runaway Boys (after the Stray Cats' song) with former keyboardist turned stand-up bass player Scott Owen. The two had connected through their older sisters while attending high school. Working with a procession of drummers they built a solid Rockabilly reputation in Melbourne. After a high octane run down the Rockabilly road, The Living End decided to alter their course, taking a hard left toward Punk.
'95 saw the release of The Living End's first EP, "Hellbound" with Joe Piripitsi on drums. A year later a second EP "It's For Your Own Good" came out. It featured their Aussie breakthrough single "From Here On In." At this point, Travis Demsey was installed on drums playing the stand-up Rockabilly style.
A full length, self-titled CD hit in '98 with "Prisoner of Society" and "Growing Up (Falling Down)." "Roll On" was issued in '01 and contained the title track's throaty sing-along chorus, speed Rocker "Picture In The Mirror" and "Riot On Broadway," a song similar in style and feeling to the Stray Cats' "Rumble In Brighton." With Andy Strachan on drums, The Living End released "Modern Artillery" in '04 and went on a North American tour with The Vines and Jet (two other Aussie bands).
The simplest way to think of The Living End is - the Stray Cats meets the Clash. The combination is a good one. Cheney has a powerful voice well suited for Punk but with the Brian Setzer accessibility. "Modern Artillery" relies on a sharp beat and whipsaw guitars oscillating between rhythm and lead. The spitting lyrics are a perfect match for this energetic din. It's a right-between-your-eyes onslaught of Punk-styled Rock. The songs are tightly wound explosions, one not much different than the other, but each still unique. Lyrically, The Living End barely scratches the surface. But who needs depth when the guitars are ripping chords and the backbeat is solid?
"The Living End" and "Roll On" are worth owning. "Second Solution/Prisoner of Society" is a good two CD set. The "Hellbound" EP is the group's first and most Punk oriented effort. The Living End has far better recordings in their catalog.