Various Artists

Tales from the Australian Underground, Vol. 2: 1977-1990

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Australia produced a wealth of great music during the punk/new wave era, even if a relatively small percentage of it crossed the sea to Great Britain and/or North America, and Feel Presents' second two-disc collection of top-shelf rock from Down Under is every bit as satisfying as the first. Opening with Radio Birdman's blazing original single version of "New Race," Tales from the Australian Underground, Vol. 2 starts in high gear and doesn't let up over the course of 45 tracks. Most of the best-known Aussie bands of the era are represented -- the Saints, the Birthday Party, the Hoodoo Gurus, the Lime Spiders, and the Triffids among them -- but there are some top-notch tunes from lesser-known acts. The Thought Criminals' "More Suicides Please" is great, snotty punk, Tactics' "Second Language" is smart and wiry post-punk, "Hot Cakes for Daddy" is a wild, noisy, and throbbing assault from Salamander Jim, the Inner Sleeves replicate Beat-era pop with panache on "End It All," "Nothing Grows in Texas" by Sacred Cowboys probably could have been a novelty hit in U.K., and Hummingbird fuse R.E.M. style jangle with a fuzzy-muscular attack on "Alimony." The set also offers a cut from Nick Cave's pre-Birthday Party outfit the Boys Next Door (who sound surprisingly benign on "Dice Position"), and Ollie Olsen, best known in America for his collaborations with Michael Hutchence of INXS, can be heard in his element on "Win/Lose." Tim Pittman's liner notes are excellent, offering plenty of information on the tunes and the artists, and the audio is great. Confirmed fans of Aussie rock will want to give this a spin, but anyone who enjoys adventurous music from the '70s and '80s is bound to find plenty to like on Tales from the Australian Underground, Vol. 2.

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