|Past members See "Members"||Origin Sydney, Australia (1983)|
|Years active 1983 (1983)–1985 (1985), 1987 (1987)–1993 (1993), 1996 (1996)–1997 (1997), 2003 (2003)–2008 (2008), 2013 (2013)–present|
Labels Green/Big Time, Red Eye, Polydor, Universal, Spooky, Alberts, Bang!
Associated acts The Scientists, Salamander Jim, Hoodoo Gurus, The Johnnys, The James Baker Experience, The Cruel Sea, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists
Albums The Axemans Jazz, Sour Mash, Black Milk, Little Animals
Genres Alternative rock, Blues rock
Members Tex Perkins, Kim Salmon, Spencer P Jones, James Baker, Charlie Owen
The beasts of bourbon hard for you
Beasts of Bourbon are an Australian alternative rock, blues rock band formed in August 1983, with James Baker on drums (ex-Hoodoo Gurus), Spencer P. Jones on guitar (The Johnnys), Tex Perkins on vocals (Dum Dums), Kim Salmon on guitar and Boris Sujdovic on bass guitar (both ex-The Scientists). Except for mainstays, Jones and Perkins, the line-up has changed as the group splintered and reformed several times. Their debut album, The Axeman's Jazz (July 1984), was the best selling Australian alternative rock album for 1984. Their debut single, "Psycho", is a cover version of the Leon Payne original, and was the best selling Australian alternative rock single for that year. However the group disbanded by mid-1985 and each member pursued other musical projects. They reformed in 1987 and issued a second album, Sour Mash, in December 1988 on Red Eye Records. According to rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, it "virtually redefined the parameters of guitar-based rock'n'roll. The Cramps-influenced swamp-rock of old had been discarded for a more adventurous slab of gutbucket blues and avant-garde weirdness. Perkins' voice had matured into an authentic blues growl". Their fifth studio album, Gone (January 1997), reached the Top 50 ARIA Albums Chart. Their seventh studio album, ''Little Animals (21 April 2007) on Albert Productions, which also peaked into the Top 50.
- The beasts of bourbon hard for you
- Beginnings 198385
- Sour Mash to The Belly of the Beasts 198893
- Later years
- 30th anniversary
- Studio albums
- Compilation albums
- Live albums
- Video albums
- Extended plays
Beasts of Bourbon were formed in August 1983 by vocalist Tex Perkins to fulfil bookings for his previous band, Tex Deadly and the Dum-Dums, and began playing in small Sydney venues. The initial version of the group was James Baker of Hoodoo Gurus on drums, Spencer P. Jones of The Johnnys on guitar, Kim Salmon on guitar and Boris Sudjovic on bass guitar: both of The Scientists. This line-up was featured on the band's first album, The Axeman's Jazz, which was recorded during October 1983 in a single eight-hour session for $100 by Tony Cohen. In January 1984 the line-up of Jones, Perkins, Sujdovic, Brett Rixon on drums and Tony Thewlis on guitar (both from The Scientists) played gigs in Perth. In July that year the album was issued on Green Records and according to Australian rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, "it remains a classic of Australian garage/swamp rock. It was the best-selling Australian alternative album for 1984. It also went on to sell over 30000 copies in Europe". A cover of Leon Payne's "Psycho" was issued as a single in July, which was a hit on alternative radio and became the best selling Australia alternative single for 1984. The previous line-up fell apart in March when The Scientists left Australia to tour overseas; fill-ins included Stu Spasm of Lubricated Goat, Zulu Rattle and Salamander Jim on bass guitar; and Brad Shepherd of Hoodoo Gurus on guitar. By early 1985 the line-up of Baker, Perkins, Spasm (now on rhythm guitar) and Spencer, were joined by Graham Hood (The Johnnys) on bass guitar. Although the album became an underground success, the band was largely a side project for its various members and Beasts of Bourbon disbanded by June that year. Perkins worked with Salamander Jim and various other projects, Jones had The Johnnys, and Salmon and Sujdovic had The Scientists. Baker tried a self-named group, The James Baker Experience, backed by Perkins and Spasm and joined by Roddy Radalj (The Scientists, Hoodoo Gurus) on guitar and vocals. The ensemble released a one-off single in June 1985 and promptly separated.
Sour Mash to The Belly of the Beasts: 1988–93
In March 1988 Beasts of Bourbon reconvened after both The Johnnys and The Scientists had disbanded. The line-up of Baker, Jones, Perkins, Salmon and Sujdovic recorded Sour Mash with audio engineer and producer, Phil Punch (The Mexican Spitfires). The album appeared in December on Red Eye Records, with McFarlane declaring that it "virtually redefined the parameters of guitar-based rock'n'roll. The Cramps-influenced swamp-rock of old had been discarded for a more adventurous slab of gutbucket blues and avant-garde weirdness. Perkins' voice had matured into an authentic blues growl". Allmusic's Skip Jansen found "[a] raw blues-rock album with post-punk afflictions ... dream come true for fans of the Australian rock and garage punk ... [with] the blistering slide-guitar-driven sound, the band does a fine job of re-creating the sound of a twisted night out at the pub". Their cover of "Hard Work Drivin' Man" (original by Ry Cooder and Jack Nitzsche) was issued as a single in November, which became a number-one independent hit single. In August 1989 they followed up with another independent number-one single, "Hate Inside", which was written by Jones and Perkins. By that time, Perkins was also performing irregularly as a member of The Cruel Sea.
Beasts of Bourbon toured Europe and then released a third album, Black Milk, in July 1990. Jansen was disappointed "it pales by comparison to the two previous albums" although it was "a fine album of lurching blues-driven rock". In Germany they issued a non-album single, "You Let Me Down" / "Blanc Garçon", the tracks appeared on the German version of the album, Jansen felt these "two cuts surpass anything on [Black Milk]". By February 1991, Baker and Sujdovic were replaced by Brian Henry Hooper on bass guitar and Tony Pola on drums – both from Salmon's new band, The Surrealists. Beasts of Bourbon undertook their Kick Arse Australian tour. The line-up of Hooper, Jones, Perkins, Pola and Salmon recorded the group's fourth album, The Low Road, with Tony Cohen producing. McFarlane saw it was "brimming with urgency, surrealism, atmosphere, myth, illusion and honesty, but above all, hard-nosed rock riffs". While Jansen described their "straighter, less garage punk sound" although "it proved a little tough to get the live energy of a performance to tape". The Low Road featured "Chase the Dragon" – which relates to heroin smuggling – a "blistering ... nefarious delight".
Beasts of Bourbon performed at the inaugural Big Day Out Sydney concert in January 1992 and followed with another tour of Europe. In January 1993 a double album of live tracks and rarities, The Belly of the Beasts - Live '91 & '92 and Shit We Didn't Put Out the First Time, was issued to celebrate the group's tenth anniversary. Also in '93 came the sheet music songbook Ten Years Behind Bars, which boasted an introduction by Clinton Walker. The band played the second Big Day Out in 1994, which had expanded into a series of concerts to four Australian capital cities, and then toured Europe again. Following the tour, Salmon – with Hooper and Pola – left the group to concentrate on The Surrealists while Perkins focused on The Cruel Sea, which was achieving success with their album The Honeymoon Is Over (May 1993). Jones joined various projects and released his debut solo album, Rumour of Death (November 1994).
In September 1996, Beasts of Bourbon reformed with Hooper, Jones, Perkins and Pola joined by former Divinyls' member Charlie Owen – also in Tex, Don and Charlie with Perkins – on guitar. In January 1997 they released Gone prior to another appearance on the Big Day Out series. The album reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 50. Gone received lukewarm reviews, but produced a single, "Saturated". The group's 1997 live performance at the Esplanade Hotel was recorded – five tracks appeared as a bonus disc on their 1999 compilation, Beyond Good and Evil. However, by the end of 1997 the group had dissolved again.
In late 2003, they reformed and recorded a live album, Low Life, which was released on Spooky Records in August 2005. In 2006, they reformed to play in the Big Day Out around Australia and New Zealand. In late December 2006, Albert Productions signed an exclusive worldwide recording deal with the band, and they released a new album, Little Animals, on 21 April 2007. Perkins declared "Alberts label releases have been a huge influence on the Beasts of Bourbon, so to be signed to this legendary label is not only a great honour and the start of an exciting new chapter in the bands history, it feels like... destiny". The album peaked in the Top 50. The group played with Australian bands and artists at the Rockin' for Rights concert, which protested the Workchoices legislation. In April 2008 after a show in Berlin the group cancelled their remaining tour dates and ended the band.
In 2012 the group announced plans to reunite the original line-up for a one-off gig at the 2013 Australian All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in mid-February. As of January 2013 Jones works in his band, Nothing Butts, with Baker and The Drones' members Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin; while Perkins fronts Tex Perkins & the Apes with Gus Agars (Dark Horses with Perkins) on drums and Raúl Sánchez (Magic Dirt) on guitar.
In August 2013, Beasts of Bourbon played a series of shows in Sydney and Melbourne to celebrate their first 30 years. The three shows in each city featured alternate lineups for each night with James Baker and Tony Pola sharing drumming, Boris Sujdovic and Brian Hooper swapping as bass player and Kim Salmon and Charlie Owen rotating on guitar. As it has been for the history of the band, Jones and Perkins are the only persistent members. A triple live album 30 Years On Borrowed Time was released to coincide with the live shows.
Chase the DragonThe Low Road · 1991
I Don't Care About Nothing AnyLittle Animals · 2007
Hard Work Drivin' ManSour Mash · 1988