Hoodoo Gurus Biography

An Australian rock band whose belief in the power of the bar chord has never diminished, Sydney’s Hoodoo Gurus initially shared links with that city’s other major alternative rock attraction of the 80s, the Scientists (after both relocated from Perth). That connection was instigated by singer-songwriter Dave Faulkner, who had previously played in a band called the Gurus, before joining Scientists guitarist Rod Radalj and Kimble Rendall (guitar) in an untitled band. Bolstered by the arrival of another ex-Scientist member, drummer Jim Baker, the quartet named their new band Le Hoodoo Gurus. That outfit would eventually evolve into the tight, hypnotic garage rock machine that, under a slightly abbreviated title, became widely venerated in underground circles through their releases for a variety of American labels. Indeed, much of their popularity stemmed from the USA, where tours of the west coast made them as popular as the musically aligned Fleshtones.

Led by the power pop playing of Faulkner, Brad Shepherd (guitar/harmonica), with the rhythm section of Baker (drums) and Clyde Bramley (bass), the Hoodoo Gurus’ ceaseless exploration of the riff saw them compared to everyone from the Cramps to the Fall, beginning with their influential Stoneage Romeos debut of 1983. Dedicated to US television sitcom legends Arnold Ziffel and Larry Storch, it included the stage favourite ‘(Let’s All) Turn On’ and the nonsensical ‘I Was A Kamikaze Pilot’. Mars Needs Guitars!, with Mark Kingsmill taking over on drums, was slightly hampered by inferior production, but the tunes were still memorable and even adventurous given their limited musical range, which veered from country punk to booming, bass-driven sleaze rock. A rarer outbreak of melodicism was introduced on 1987’s Blow Your Cool!, with the band joined by the Bangles on several selections, although elsewhere they retreated to pounding rhythms and tough rock ‘n’ roll.

The gap between albums in 1988 saw Bramley replaced by Rick Grossman on bass. More feedback and heightened songwriting tension, together with improved production, produced the band’s finest album in 1989’s Magnum Cum Louder. Released two years later, Kinky mined a similar furrow, drawing lyrical targets from US and Australian pop culture, though there was little stylistic variation to the band’s themes. Crank brought in Ramones producer Ed Stasium, but, like follow-up Blue Cave, was a weaker effort.

The Hoodoo Gurus elected to call it a day in late 1997, although they played one final show in January 1998. Faulkner, Shepherd, Grossman and Kingsmill later formed the Persian Rugs, although Grossman was replaced by Kendall James following a Hoodoo Gurus reunion show in December 2001. A more permanent reunion, with Grossman back on bass, led to the recording of a new Hoodoo Gurus album, Mach Schau, which received warm reviews upon its release in early 2004.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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