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Members include James Baker(left group, 1985), drums; Clyde Bramley(joined group, 1982; left group, 1988), bass; Dave Faulkner, lead vocals, guitar; Rick Grossman (joined group, 1988), bass, backing vocals; Mark Kingsmill (joined group, 1985), drums; Rod Radalj (left group, 1982), guitar; Kimble Rendall (left group, 1982), guitar; Brad Shepherd (joined group, 1982), lead guitar, backing vocals. Addresses: Record company--Acadia/Evangeline Recorded Works Ltd., P.O. Box 20, South Molton, EX36 4YW, England, website: http://www.evangeline.co.uk. Website--Official Hoodoo Gurus Website: http://www.hoodoogurus.com.
Darlings of the college and alternative music scenes for more than 15 years, the Australian-based group the Hoodoo Gurus have delighted scores of fans with their catchy, spunky, power pop-laden songs and albums. Little in the vast world of American pop culture was immune from the often irreverent and highly amusing musical observations of the Hoodoo Gurus, but their witty and clever tunes failed to ignite the American pop music charts despite winning over numbers of fans in Australia.
Le Hoodoo Gurus--they would drop the French prefix some two years later--formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1981. The band was a collaboration between singer, songwriter, and guitarist Dave Faulkner, guitarists Rod Radalj and Kimble Rendall, and drummer James Baker. According to All Music Guide, the "Hoodoo Gurus were largely a product of their influences; unlike most bands, however, the Hoodoos [drew] their inspiration from the vast entirety of the American pop cultural landscape, drawing on such disparate sources as B-movies, bad sitcoms, and junk food--in tandem with the usual suspects of garage rock, power pop, and surf--to create a distinctly kitschy and catchy sound." The Hoodoo Gurus released their debut single, "Leilani," in 1982, the same year in which two of the band's three guitarists decided to leave the group. Radalj and Rendall were replaced by one guitarist, Brad Shepherd. Clyde Bramley became the Hoodoo Gurus' first bassist.
The following year saw the Hoodoo Gurus sign to Mushroom Records in Australia and A&M in the United States. They also recorded their debut album entitled Stoneage Romeos. Inspiration for Stoneage Romeos came from some rather unusual sources--most notably 1960s American television sitcom actors Larry Storch from F-Troop and Arnold Ziffel, the pig from Green Acres.A pair of minor college and alternative hit songs, "I Want You Back" and "I Was a Kamikaze Pilot," emerged from the album.
Their sophomore release, Mars Needs Guitars, was released in 1985 by a then-new American label, Elektra. By this time, Baker had left the band and was replaced by Mark Kingsmill on drums. The departure of Baker left Faulkner as the only founding member of the Hoodoo Gurus. Mars Needs Guitars was a much more musically diverse offering than its predecessor. All Music Guidenoted, "[the] album [was] highlighted by the superb single 'Bittersweet' and marked by a widening scope which touched base with demented hillbilly humor ('Hayride to Hell') and crazed surf ('Like Wow--Wipeout')." Mars Needs Guitars was the Hoodoo Gurus' first big American college radio hit album.
It would be another two years before the next Hoodoo Gurus album was released. Blow Your Cool!, released in 1987, was filled not only with the Hoodoo Gurus' legendary power pop and punk chords and tunes, but it also contained collaborations with mainstream darlings the Bangles on "Good Times" and "What's My Scene." The following year bassist Bramley exited and was replaced by Rick Grossman.
Despite the help from the Bangles, the Hoodoo Gurus failed to make it big in American pop music. They piqued the interest of college and alternative music fans, but they still had not broken out of the underground. The Hoodoo Gurus had hoped to change this with their 1989 release Magnum Cum Louder. With a new American label, RCA, supporting them, they were poised to break into the mainstream. Magnum Cum Louder yielded three college alternative radio hits including "Another World," "Baby Can Dance," and "Come Anytime." Heavy play on college and alternative music stations, unfortunately, did not translate into crossover mainstream success. Another two years passed before the release of a follow-up to Magnum Cum Louder. Kinky, sent to stores in 1991, supplied the hit, "Miss Freelove '69," adding another single to the list of near-chart misses by the Hoodoo Gurus. Like the albums it followed, Kinky failed to achieve American mainstream success. This may have been because the album "often rocks a bit too hard for its own good," according to Mark Deming of All Music Guide. "[W]hile the Hoodoo Gurus always knew how to crank it up, they also knew when to crank it up, and Brad Shepherd's this-goes-to-11 guitar textures ... on "Too Much Fun," "A Place in the Sun," and "Something's Coming" tended to drown out the band's poppier and more melodic inclinations, always one of their greatest virtues."
The Hoodoo Gurus' final RCA album, Gorilla Biscuits, was released in 1993. It contained B-sides and rarities. Their next studio album, Crank, arrived the following year on Zoo/Volcano Records. Blue Cave followed in 1996, and like its predecessor, the album mined the pop cultural landscapes of both Australia and the United States. "I think this is the best thing we've done--no holds barred, no apologies," Faulkner said in comments at the iMusic Modern Showcase website. "Speaking for myself, I really feel like I hit my straps on this one. Songwriting-wise, I didn't think of myself off the hook and I think it paid off." Critics noted the group's "no holds barred" approach on Blue Cave: "Sarcastic wit and chunky rhythm let these Australian garage-rock journeymen get away with all sorts of tricks: psychedelic arrangements, spaghetti-western guitars, sprinted tempos, party voices...." an Entertainment Weekly review said about Blue Cave.
In early 1997, the Hoodoo Gurus announced that they were disbanding. According to their official press release, "The Gurus ... have been regarded as one of Australia's most credible and successful bands.... [T]hey decided that now is the right time to bring the band to its natural conclusion.... The Hoodoo Gurus would like to express their sincere thanks to all of their fans and those who have supported them over the past 15 years. It's been quite a trip."
After the group's demise, Mushroom Records released the 1998 album Electric Chair.It was followed by the Acadia release of Ampology,a 40-track, 2-CD Hoodoo Gurus anthology, in 2000. Brad Shepherd continued with the Australian group the Monarchs, which released its debut seven-inch single "2001/This Is All I Can Do" in 2001.
by Mary Alice Adams
Hoodoo Gurus's Career
Formed in Sydney, Australia, 1981; signed with A&M Records, released debut album, Stoneage Romeos, 1983; signed with Elektra, released Mars Needs Guitars, 1985; released Blow Your Cool!, 1987; signed with RCA Records and released Magnum Cum Louder, 1989; released Kinky, 1991; released Gorilla Biscuits, 1993; signed with Zoo/Volcano Records, released Crank, 1994; released Blue Cave, 1996; signed with Mushroom Records, released Electric Chair, 1998 signed with Acadia Records, released Ampology, 2000.
- Selected discography
- Stoneage Romeos (includes "I Want You Back" and "I Was a Kamikaze Pilot"), A&M, 1983.
- Mars Needs Guitars (includes "Bittersweet," "Hayride to Hell," and "Like Wow--Wipeout"), Elektra, 1985.
- Blow Your Cool! (includes "Good Times" and "What's My Scene"), Elektra, 1987.
- Magnum Cum Louder (includes "Another World," "Baby Can Dance," and "Come Anytime"), RCA, 1989.
- Kinky (includes "Miss Freelove '69"), RCA, 1991.
- Gorilla Biscuits , RCA, 1993.
- Crank , Zoo/Volcano, 1994.
- Blue Cave , Zoo/Volcano, 1996.
- Electric Chair , Mushroom, 1998.
- Ampology , Acadia, 2000.
- Entertainment Weekly, August 23, 1996, p. 124.
- "Database--Hoodoo Gurus," Evreka, http://hem.passagen.se/honga/database/h/hoodoogurus.html (April 10, 2001).
- "Discography: Hoodoo Gurus," CDNow, http://www.cdnow.com/cgi-bi...ic/ArtistID=Hoodoo+Gurus/select=biography (April 10, 2001).
- "Hoodoo Gurus," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (April 10, 2001).
- "Hoodoo Gurus," iMusic Modern Showcase, ARTISTdirect Network, http://imusic.artistdirect.com/showcase/modern/hoodoogurus.html (April 10, 2001).
- "Hoodoo Gurus Biography," Yahoo! Music, http://musicfinder.yahoo.com/shop?d=hc&id=1801922947&cf=11&intl=us (April 10, 2001).
- "Hoodoo Gurus--Biography," Australian Music Website, http://www.amws.com.au/h/hoodoo-gurus-b.html (April 10, 2001).
- Hoodoo Gurus Official Website, http://www.hoodoogurus.com/misc/over/htm (April 10, 2001).
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