Photo credit Emma Jane Johnston Ash Naylor
Following the 2018 release of their seventh album Satin Returns, Melbourne’s masters of pop’n’roll, EVEN return with DOWN THE SHOPS, a newly-minted, beautifully presented vinyl collection of covers they’re released along their journey.
Ever since working up a rocking version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” in their early-mid-‘90s days playing the pubs around Fitzroy and St Kilda, Even have usually had a cover or two on the go. And they weren’t averse to working up a load of them; they did Even Jukebox performances every year at Melbourne’s illustrious Cherry Bar for a while where it was all covers and themes, like an ‘Even Stevens’ night where all the songs were written and or performed by a Stephen, Steve or Stevie, and Ziggy Stardust from start to finish for the album’s 40th birthday.
They were also the house band on The Heart of St.Kilda benefit gigs at the Palais for quite a few years where they backed Daryl Braithwaite, Adalita, Normie Rowe, Kate Ceberano, Tim Rogers and many more.
Originally appearing on singles and tribute albums, the tracks included on Down The Shops go right back to covers of the Kinks’ classic “Til The End of the Day” and Gary Valentine’s Blondie power pop masterpiece “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” which appeared as B-sides on Even’s early CD singles.
The most recent track is a cover of the Meanies’ “The Reason Why” which appeared on a split single the band shared in 2019. The album’s track listing reads very much like a list of the band’s influences – including Beatles, Yardbirds, formative Australian inspirations the Sunnyboys, Hoodoo Gurus and Stems, and classic ‘90s power poppers the Posies, whose 1993 classic “Solar Sister” was on regular rotation when Even formed in early 1994.
A couple of unexpected highlights include a great version of the MC5’s “Shakin’ Street” (which appropriately originally appeared on the B-side of their “Rock’n’Roll Save My Life” 45), and the brilliant “True” by Sydney ‘90s indie supergroup Carton featuring Mandy Barron, Smudge’s Alison Galloway and Screamfeeders’ Kellie Lloyd. Taking the cake for unexpected however, is a roaring and swinging never-before-released version of the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant” from a 2014 Jukebox gig at Cherry.
Their stunning cover of the Masters Apprentices “Living In A Child’s Dream” appropriately shows off Even as true current day masters of a school of classic Australian guitar-based melodic rock that dates back to the ‘60s. Of course, Even’s singer/guitarist /songwriter Ashley Naylor has backed many of Australia’s great singers from earlier eras as a member of the Rockwiz Orchestra, and even more as a member of the Countdown Spectacular band in 2006 and 2007.
An in-demand guitarist, he has also worked over the years with Tim Finn, Stephen Cummings and others, and as of now is a long term member of Paul Kelly’s band. In recent years he has also been part of a dynamic ‘60s covers band Thee Marshmallow Overcoat alongside fellow Melbourne guitar legend Davey Lane and drummer Brett Wolfenden, and he is also now a permanent fixture in both the Stems and the Church!
Not to be outdone, Even bass player Wally Kempton still holds down his spot in the Meanies and runs the very record label (and management and bookings empire) that is releasing Down The Shops this January, amongst many other things. And drummer Matt Cotter is also an accomplished artist who these days spends a lot of his time in the Northern Territory working with indigenous artists. The gorgeous painting on the cover of Down The Shops is, of course, one of Matt’s, and yes it will be available as a t-shirt.
Before Down The Shops is released in January, Even will undertake a somewhat limited (and fully seated) version of their annual Christmas shows at Richmond’s Corner Hotel with two shows a night on Monday, December 21 and Wednesday, December 23.
1. ‘Til The End Of The Day (The Kinks)
2. And Your Bird Can Sing (The Beatles)
3. (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear (Blondie)
4. True (Carton)
5. Shakin’ Street (MC5)
6. For Always (The Stems)
7. Show Me Some Discipline (Sunnyboys)
8. Arthur (Hoodoo Gurus)
9. For Your Love (The Yardbirds)
10. Living In A Child’s Dream (The Master’s Apprentices)
11. Solar Sister (The Posies)
12. Pretty Vacant (The Sex Pistols)
13. The Reason Why (The Meanies)
Even’s Down the Shops will be available on LP and CD from Cheersquad Records & Tapes on January 22, 2021. Distributed by Magnetic South.
Down The Shops is now available to pre-order from http://www.cheersquad.com.au/releases/down-the-shops/ orhttps://artistfirst.com.au/search?q=even