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Hoodoo Gurus - a Retrospective

Updated on April 15, 2010

The Hoodoo Gurus were one of the most revered and dearly loved of the bands that sprang out of the 1980's Australian Pub Band scene. They are still very much active and so loved are they that they still gain critical and popular acclaim for their new albums but are also the mainstays of many charity concerts and festivals to this day.

The Gurus line up has been fairly stable throughout their existence after they achieved commercial success, mainly focusing around vocalist and frontman Dave Faulkner and lead guitarist Brad Sheppard being backed up ably by the solid rhythm section of Mark Kingsmill on Drums and Richard Grossman on Bass.

Over the years they have released nine albums with their latest release coming out in March 2010, these albums have veered between 1960's Power pop and Garage Punk, to psychedelic rock to proto-Heavy Metal. Although they have a distinctive 60's power pop guitar sound they cannot be pinned down to one genre.

First Album - Stoneage Romeos

Originally formed in Perth in 1981 as Le Hoodoo Gurus, as an unusual three guitar, drum but no bass outfit, the band went through a number of line up changes as founding members dropped off before releasing their first single 'Leilani' in 1982. They eventually settled on a stable unit featuring two key members from cult Sydney band The Hitmen, Clyde Bramley on Bass and Brad Shepherd on guitar.

It was this line-up of Founding members Faulkner and James Baker (Drums) along with Bramley and Shepherd that went on the record the bands first album Stoneage Romeos in 1984. The title of the album was borrowed from a Three Stooges film of the same name and the cover harked back to 60's kitsch horror movies with day-glo dinosaurs. On the album itself was a cornucopis of garage punk songs, jangly 60's power pop and off the wall stomperamas. The album tipped its hat to T-Rex, The Flamin Groovies and the Ramones, the Stones and became one of the biggest college radio albums of its era.

Cleverly there were also radio-friendly singles in the mix such as "My Girl" to ensure blanket coverage and burst the Gurus onto the scene.

Stoneage Romeos CD's on Amazon

The Hoodoo Gurus Golden Years

After the release of their first album the Hoodoo Gurus made the big time and followed it up with three albums of the highest quality that would cement their reputation of bing one of Australia's coolest and best bands. These albums "Mars Needs Guitars!", "Blow Your Cool" and "Magnum Cum Louder" also expanded the Gurus reputation overseas.

The second album "Mars Needs Guitars!" with the title playing on the kitsch Sci-Fi movie "Mars Needs Women" was a huge success not only at home in Australia but also in Europe and the US and was followed up with sellout tours around the UK and also the US. The album also featured more radio friendly tunes such as "Bittersweet", "Poison Pen" and the ever-popular "Like Wow, Wipeout". The tendency to stray from their rougher garage punk roots led founder member Peter Baker to leave the band to replaced by another ex-Hitmen alumni Mark Kingsmill on drums to effectively make this band the Hitmen without Chris Masuak and Johnny Kannis but plus (and a very big plus) Dave Faulkner.

The sucess of "Mars Needs Guitars" was followed up with the equally sublime "Blow Your Cool". By this time a solid linup of Faulkner, Shepherd, Bramley and Kingsmill were veering further from their 60's garage punk roots and making more mainstream music although still with their own quirky twist. The "Blow Your Cool" album saw the release of the Guru's major mainstream triumph the catchy single "What's My Scene", the staple diet of local Australian Pub Acts for years to come and the background for thir re-emergence from semi-retirement in 2003 when it was rerecorded as the NRL theme tune - "That's My Team".

Following the release of "Blow Your Cool" and the Gurus highpoint Clyde Bramley left the band and was replaced by long term member Richard Grossman on Bass.

The following album by this new line up "Magnum Cum Louder" saw a change of labels and a harder edged sound. This time the album title played on the Latin phrase "magna cum laude" or 'with great honours'. Although the first single "Come Anytime" was radio-friendly and is still regularly played around the world, much of the rest of the album was not quite so easy listening and so though criticallty acclaimed failed to garner the sales of the initial three albums.

Hoodoo Gurus CD's on Amazon

Mars Needs Guitars
Mars Needs Guitars

The second album Mars Needs Guitars!


The Loud but Quiet 90's

After the down turn in sales of Magnum Cum Louder the Hoodoo Gurus true to their nature carried on regardless and still continued to put out music they loved and felt happy making. The next album, their fifth, this time with no clever witty title, was called simply "Kinky".

"Kinky" was ploughing the same furrow as the previous album with a harder sound and louder rock songs, but still wedged in amongst this were a few songs, such as "Miss Freelove 1969" and the still superb "1000 Miles Away", that would still appeal to a wider audience and keep them fairly and squarely in the public eye, more so in Australia and the cultish US college radio listenership then elsewhere.

1994 saw the band still touring worldwide but increasingly dabbling in side projects such as project-bands, soundtracks etc. There was a change in record labels again and the subsequent album "Crank" seemed to suffer from all these distractions. Although still good by most standards the album just doesnt seem to quite stack up against its forebears.

1996 saw another record company change, this time to Mushroom Records, and the release of their seventh album "Blue Cave". Again the songs were heavier than their earlier music but this album saw more of a return to their witty and clever lyrics, however with a track called "Waking up Tired" on the album you just get a sense of the band looking for something which didnt necessarily involve the band.

The almost inevitable happened in 1998 when the band "officially" split although they did manage to resign with Acadia Records which is something of a rarity for a "broken up band" who released the fantastic 2 disc compilation "Ampology" ( a clever play on the Beatles Anthology).

Hoodoo Gurus CD's on Amazon


The fifth album - Kinky


The Persian Rugs

By 2001 after dabbling in loads of side projects and having a time away from being Hoodoo Gurus the four band members, Faulkner, Grossman, Kingsmill and Shepherd, started perfroming as The Moops later renaming themselves as Persian Rugs. As Persian Rugs they still performed Hoodoo Guru songs and even provided a track for a Hoodoo Gurus tribute album, but the empasis of the set was very much back to the music that started the Gurus in the first place, 60's Garage Punk. In a way this appeared to be a catharsis for the band getting back to their love and inspiration. Although everyone knw they were the Hoodoo Gurus there was not the pressure of being the Hoodoo Gurus.

The Persian Rugs released just the one album in 2003 called "Turkish Delight" which is well worth the purchase as it is a no-holds barred ball tearer of an album.

Persian Rug CD's from Amazon

Turkish Delight
Turkish Delight

The one and only album by the Persian Rugs. Own this!


Resurgence and Veneration

To celebrate the 2003 Rugby League season the NRL approached the Hoodoo Gurus to re-record their hit single "Whats My Scene" as "Thats My Team" with all profits donated to Breast Cancer charities. This move effectively fast tracked the already obvious reformation of the band who pretty much just changed their name from Persian Rugs to Hoodoo Gurus.

By now signed to EMI the band quickly announced the release of a comeback album, their eighth. "Mach Schau was a complete return to form for the band, back with their old vigour and sense of humour firmly in tact it was if the five year lay off had regenerated their batteries and the short excursion as Persian Rugs had reignited their love of the music that made them great.

The fesh interest in the band and their appearancs all over Australia at various festivals prompted EMI to remaster and reissue all of the old Hoodoo Guru albums and now a new generation of fans was born with kids being able to feel what their parents had felt decades earlier and allwoing them to revisit many Australian classics in their true context.

Hoodoo Gurus have continued to tour extensively including several US festivals, plus a national tour of Australia called 'Clash of the Titans' with The Stems and Radio Birdman. This has been followed by countless other festivals such as the Apollo Bay Music Festival,Splendour in the Grass and the St Kilda Festival with the highlights being an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2008 and Sound Relief in Sydney in 2009..

2010 has seen the band change Record Company yet again, this time signing with Sony Music and release their ninth studio album. "Purity of Essence" sees the band back to their original brilliance and feeds off the high esteem that they are held in by much of the Australian population.

Hoodoo Gurus CD's on Amazon

Mach Schau
Mach Schau

The Gurus return - Mach Schau


Other Australian Alternative Rock Band Hubs

The Screaming Tribesmen

All Hail the Tribesmen. Igloo their second single made big waves and launched a career for mainman Mick Medew that would meander through the 80's and 90's. A band full of potential that was never really realised unfortunately.


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