We’ve all listened to bands over the years that none of our friends knew about, right? You know, the bands that you really liked and couldn’t figure out why they’d never made it big. Well, the #1 band in that category for me is undoubtedly The Hoodoo Gurus. I first bought a Gurus tape back in the mid-80’s at a little record store on High Street in Columbus. I believe it was the magificently named Magnolia Thunderpussy. Anywho, I was with Goose and I basically just made a blind purchase (Note: I hate it when people say “anywho”. Unless it’s me). I don’t know if it was the band name or the album cover that caught my eye, but I grabbed “Mars Needs Guitars” and was hooked. Thus began my 20+ year love affair with The Gurus.
The Hoodoo Gurus are a band out of Australia, home of Midnight Oil, AC/DC, and INXS among other great bands. It’s also the home of Olivia Newton-John, who I had the biggest-ever crush on in high school, but that’s neither her nor there. The Gurus formed in ’81 in Sydney and are led by Dave Faulkner who sings lead and plays guitar. His vocals are very distinctive as you will see when you hear the guy. See when you hear the guy. Does that even sound right? Anyway, Faulkner was joined by Richard Grossman (bass), Brad Shepherd (guitar, vocals), and Mark Kingsmill (drums). The Gurus actually achieved some cult status in the states in the late ’80’s to early ’90’s, but nothing to speak of although they were obviously more popular on the college circuit than the backwater burgs like Bainbridge or South Salem. That said, I hear they achieved some measure of exposure at a small school off of Route 50 in Highland County around 1989 to 1991 (OK, I taught at Rainsboro during that time and was broadening the cultural horizons of my students. So to speak).
The Gurus style is based on straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll, no doubt about it. From 1960s power pop to garage punk to hard-driving rock and funky psychedelic kitsch their music pretty much covers the spectrum. The kicker for me though, as always, is the hook. Gotta have the hook in my opinion, and the Gurus deliver them in abundance. They also are a lyrically intelligent group who invariably bring a smile to my face when I hear them.
So, if you want to hear some good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll peppered with a dash of wit, catchy hooks, jangly guitars, and some occasional scathing social commentary, The Gurus are for you.
In 2007, The Hoodoo Gurus were inducted into the Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. They’ll never make it to the hall in Cleveland, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it (Note #2: Todd Rundgren and Jeff Lynne aren’t there either. Blondie is. End of argument).
Check out their website here . If anybody wants a mix, I have their entire catalog and will burn you what you need. I’m always happy to spread the legend of The Hoodoo Gurus. If you just want to pick up a CD for a taste I highly recommend 1991’s “Kinky.”
You won’t be disappointed.