Electric Hippies

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The Electric Hippies comprised of two former Noiseworks members: Justin Stanley and Steve Balbi. For those not in the know, Noiseworks were a popular Australian Pub Rock band who had such hits in the ‘80s and ‘90s as “No Lies,” “Touch” and “Hot Chilli Woman.” The group disbanded in 1993 and the Hippies were formed shortly thereafter. In 1994, they signed with now defunct Sydney based record label Roo Art and issued their self-titled debut album. This particular reviewer spotted the album in a few second hand stores some time in 2008, but unfortunately made the mistake of never purchasing it. Eventually it dawned on him that the disc was long deleted, so the only way to hear it was to borrow a slightly scratched copy from his local library. Then one day in 2014, he spotted a copy at Lawsons Records on Pitt Street for ten bucks. Once he did that he was finally able to enjoy the TRUE sounds of the Electric Hippies. The following review was then written….. which at times is quite repetitive, but hey, what do you expect when most of the bloody record sounds like The Beatles?!:

Didn’t Mean To Make You Cry: The Hippies have decided to begin their one and only album with an acoustic ballad which almost sounds uncannily like a long lost John Lennon song. It asks the rather interesting question of: “If love is such a masterpiece and hate is such an ugly thing how come I’ve seen them walking hand in hand?” Not much else needs to be said here other than, not a bad opener.

I Believe In You: Hold up a second… was this album recorded in the ‘90s or the ‘60s? Just listen to the way that it begins with all of the instruments being heard solely in the left channel. Again, the vocals on this cut sound almost exactly like John Lennon, especially the way the lyric “Your mother’s on your back” is delivered. Overall, it’s raw as hell. Just the way that it should be. Who’s this Annie Pickett girl that they’re mentioning though? Upon closer inspection, they’re just trying to encourage people to just believe in themselves. They most probably had young kids in mind when they wrote it.

Greedy People: The duo’s second single and to this day their most popular tune. Steve Balbi even performs it live at his own solo shows. Has a great funky wah-wah guitar lick in the intro and a catchy, universal chorus: “We don’t want greedy people, need greedy people hate greedy people round here.” The song was allegedly written as an attack on former Noiseworks lead singer Jon Stevens. Really don’t know what the story is there, but these dudes were amped up back when they made this record. “You’ll have no friends at least you’ll be rich….. ain’t life a bitch?” Classic.

Nothing To Lose: And once again The Hippies are raising both of their middle fingers at a certain “Mr Superstar.” There are lyrics in this song such as: “I believe in karma, man. Oh, you’ve got it coming, man” and “Only want to wish you well, if you can’t wish us well, go to hell!” These guys weren’t playing, son. It’s quite clear though that they were heavily inspired by the Beatles when they made this song, as the harmonies are most definitely in that vein. David Bowie is another name that springs to mind when listening to this tune, there are definitely some shades of him throughout the track.

Jonny Courageous: Sure, let’s make it a hat-trick! In other words, here’s another huge FU to their former boss, Jon Stevens. It’s the third diss in a row on the CD to be exact. You know it’s got to be a scathing attack when it begins with lyrics like: “Did I tell you ‘bout Jonny Courageous?/The gorilla in a human suit…. he’s got a mouth like a kitchen cleaver.” Damn! He must have pissed them RIGHT off. Aside from that, this is such an obvious nod to that early ‘60s Beatles sound. Don’t bother looking up the video on YouTube though, see if you can find yourself a copy of this CD and listen to it on your stereo through a good pair of headphones, cuz then it’ll really blow your head off, it’s just so freaking raw.

It’s Cool: Video Hits played this clip a few times when it first came out back in ’94 or so, which means that technically it was the album’s first single. Not implying that it’s a bad song by any means, but it doesn’t exactly jump out of the radio and get your attention like “Greedy People” does, which was probably why it did nothing at all when it was first released. Being only about 12 years of age at the time, the lyrics never really registered: “Women loving women and men who love men is just reality.” In other words, it was an anti-homophobia type of rant if you will, which is just telling people to let people be who they are and to get with the times. Or rather, as The Hippies themselves have put it: “If you’re a dinosaur, I’ll pick a bone with you about your attitude.” Interestingly, while the lyrics are not printed in their entirety in the CD booklet, that one particular lyric just so happens to be quoted, along with a few other “highlights” from other songs on the record. “It’s Cool” is a mostly acoustic based song with very Beatles influenced backing vocals and Sitars. Scroll over to a minute or so into the song, cuz that’s where they’re really on some Beatles type shit, they suddenly just break out into some cool ass psychedelia. It also concludes in this particular fashion. Yes, of course it’s cool. Very cool.

Acid Lady: Really? “Take me…. Acid lady. Out of this world into your mind.” Either these guys were actually on the stuff, or they were incredibly creative lyrically. Who’s to say what was actually going on when this album was being made though, right? It’s yet another blatantly obvious nod to The Beatles. And what better way to pay homage to The Fab Four than with an ode to LSD? These bloody rock stars and their drugs. Still a cool song though… which is rather unsurprising to say the least. It must be true when they say that the coolest music was made while the artist was on drugs.

Schizophrenic Terry: Is this another thinly veiled diss at Jon Stevens? Who knows? They were most certainly quite furious with somebody when they made this song, though, which is quite creatively titled. You can hear that fury all the way through, but it comes through even more right at the end when they start screaming out: “It makes me so mad!!” Again, the lead vocals sound uncannily like John Lennon.

And: Just a short fifty eight second interlude comprising of acoustic guitars and some kind of wind instrument. They’ve made it sound like an old record as well. Perhaps this was included just to stray from all of the anger that was displayed on most of the previous songs and to bring us to the midway point of the album.

My Turn To Cry: So then, these guys began by saying “I didn’t mean to make you cry” and now they’re saying that it’s their turn to shed some tears. Kind of makes you wonder what caused that reaction. Conspiracies and speculations aside, they’ve presented us with a very acoustic type of tune, which almost sounds as if they had David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on repeat as it resembles that song quite a bit.

Precious: Probably the most mellow song on the album, which is also quite reminiscent of that Bowie sound. Nobody is getting attacked here, or even being lectured. They’re just singing about “Mamma’s little boy” who is evolving over the years. Not a bad track. Sort of reminds me of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper as well.

Falling Star: Yet another heavily Beatles influenced ballad. This time around it’s quite a huge turn around, they’re now telling folks not to let others hurt them. Quite interesting considering what else they’ve said on this album, really. Definitely not a bad track either. Brilliant. And very encouraging.

I’m Leaving: One last slice of Beatles-styled psychedelic rock to take us out. This one is much more happy going even though it’s talking about leaving somebody behind and not really caring about what somebody says, or even if they cry. It would be awesome to put this one on a compilation filled with those type of jams. Nothing else really needs to be said here, they’re making it pretty obvious!!

I’m Leaving (Reprise): Lyrically it’s the same song as what was just heard. The only difference is that it’s backed by a very ‘70s sounding drum machine and the vocals are sung a lot lower, almost like a whisper. Shhhh!!!! Really don’t think this would have fit anywhere else on the record, so why not include it right at the end? Besides you can’t exactly put a song saying “I’m leaving” midway through the record. It’d be cool to put this one on repeat and just take off.

Verdict: If The Beatles and David Bowie got together and made an album, this would most likely be the end result. It’s a solid album from top to bottom and it most definitely needs to be rediscovered once again. Although it is quite understandable how it could be seen as being too derivative, if anybody just so happens to feel that way. Given that it took about two or three years to track this CD down, a reissue certainly wouldn’t hurt, although there is probably still some legal stuff to get past before any of that can happen. Whether or not these guys are well & truly over their spat with Jon Stevens is unclear. However, if that is what is holding them back, it never stopped EMI from reissuing “Imagine” by John Lennon with that diss to Paul McCartney on it. And it certainly didn’t stop Death Row from reissuing all of those Two Pack songs with disses to other rappers, even though some of those lyrics ended up being removed. The Electric Hippies is essential listening for anyone who enjoys good, wholesome, classic psychedelic rock… or just plain old good music.