Personnel: Rob Younger (vocals); Deniz Tek, Chris Masuak (guitar); Pip Hoyle (piano, organ); Ron Keeley (drums).
Recording information: Rockfields Studios, Monmouth, Wales (04/1978).
While Radios Appear (overseas version) remains the full-fledged classic by Radio Birdman, the reissue of Living Eyes shows that it was damn near as good as the first one, and maybe a bit more original. Fully loaded with classic songs that inspired several generations of Australian rockers, Living Eyes is an album that has benefited greatly from modern technology as well as a little luck. Recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Wales when the band went to Europe to tour with the Flamin' Groovies (their first shows outside Australia), the original master tapes disappeared before the album was released. The band then broke up and Living Eyes ended up being mastered from a cassette. While no one really complained about the sound quality at the time, it wasn't all it could've been. Flash forward to the '90s and the master tapes are found on a dusty shelf at Rockfield. The band bakes them up and remixes, remasters, and re-sequences the album. It is now a total monster, screaming out of your speakers with intent to do damage. From the time Chris Masuak's stun guitar comes in at the beginning of "Hanging On," it is apparent that this is not your big brother's Living Eyes. The sound is deeper by degrees. The songs remain superb. "Crying Sun" and "Breaks My Heart" were both made classic by the New Race but rock in a slightly more tempered way here. "More Fun" is an upbeat little punk-surf tune while "Smith & Wesson Blues" is truly chilling. Sample lyric: "You're never alone with a Smith & Wesson, baby...." There are plenty of references to the Ann Arbor, MI, area where guitarist/songwriter Deniz Tek grew up, particularly "I-94," which was covered on the Dodge Main disc and has even inspired a website dedicated to Detroit/Australian rock & roll. Living Eyes, unlike its predecessor, doesn't have any "there's an MC5 riff" moments. In fact, one of the four bonus tracks, "Didn't Tell the Man," finds guitarist Chris Masuak heavily influenced by the Flamin' Groovies, and it is simply a gorgeous, twangy rock song. Singer Rob Younger is as ferocious as ever, a true original to the hardcore, and Deniz Tek solidifies his place as father of real Australian rock & roll. This CD reissue makes clear that had Radio Birdman stuck it out and released this album they would have been a contender. ~ Geoff Ginsberg