Many people claim solidarity with the rock’n’roll cause, but few can lay claim to Johnny Casino’s empathy and passion. Somebody make this guy an ambassador for Australian rock’n’roll.

One day some bright economic spark will work out a way of incorporating the value of Australian rock’n’roll in the national accounts; and once that’s done, it’s a short accounting step to recognising the export value of Australian artists, especially in light of the popular attention paid to everyone from The Drones to James McCann each time they set foot in continental Europe.

Walk into a Spanish rock’n’roll venue, and it’s a reasonable bet they’ll know the name Johnny Casino, and the potency of his rock’n’roll attack – more so, in fact, than would be the case in Johnny’s home town of Sydney. It was in Spain last year that Johnny hooked up with a bunch of Spanish friends for a week of gigs, as well as arranging for some studio time in Australia six months later.

The result of that entrepreneurial spirit is Johnny Casino, Live At The Hanging Tree. Recorded live at Hanging Tree Recording Studios in Sydney, the record largely comprises material from Johnny’s excellent catalogue of rock’n’roll. ‘Take Me Down To The River’pounds like a motherfucker; ‘Brother Grahame Says’is even more the riff-perfect good time rock’n’roll pop tune. There’s a bruising edge to ‘Nothing Left To Hide’that leaves you bearing the honourable scars of an encounter with the dirty side of rock; ‘Can’t Be Who You Want Me

To Be’ evolves into the quintessential marriage of Chuck Berry and The Celibate Rifles.

There’s a couple of quieter moments – a truncated version of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Galvaston’, and the reflective ‘This Christmas Time’– but for the most part, Johnny and his band are firing on all eight cylinders.

4.5/5 stars


Live At The Hanging Tree is out now throughOff The Hip.

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