Beasts of Bourbon

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Beasts of Bourbon
Beasts of Bourbon 2006.jpg
Beasts of Bourbon at the Big Day Out, Perth, in February 2006
Background information
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
GenresAlternative rock, blues rock
Years active1983 (1983)–1985 (1985), 1987 (1987)–1993 (1993), 1996 (1996)–1997 (1997), 2003 (2003)–2008 (2008), 2013 (2013)–2018 (2018)
LabelsGreen/Big Time, Red Eye, Polydor, Universal, Spooky, Alberts, Bang!
Past membersSee "Members"

Beasts of Bourbon were an Australian alternative rock/blues rock band formed in August 1983, with James Baker on drums (ex-Hoodoo Gurus, The Scientists), Spencer P. Jones on guitar (The Johnnys), Tex Perkins on vocals (Dum Dums), Kim Salmon on guitar and Boris Sujdovic on bass guitar (both ex-The Scientists). Except for mainstays Jones and Perkins, the line-up changed over time as the group splintered and reformed several times. Their debut album, The Axeman's Jazz (July 1984), was the best selling Australian alternative rock album of 1984. Their debut single, "Psycho", was a cover version of the Leon Payne original, and was the best selling Australian alternative rock single for that year. The group disbanded by mid-1985 and each member pursued other musical projects.

They reformed in 1987 and issued a second album, Sour Mash, in December 1988 on Red Eye Records. According to rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, it "virtually redefined the parameters of guitar-based rock'n'roll. The Cramps-influenced swamp-rock of old had been discarded for a more adventurous slab of gutbucket blues and avant-garde weirdness. Perkins' voice had matured into an authentic blues growl". Their fifth studio album, Gone (January 1997), reached the Top 50 ARIA Albums Chart. They released their seventh and final studio album, Little Animals (21 April 2007) on Albert Productions, which also peaked into the Top 50.


1983–85: Beginnings[edit]

Beasts of Bourbon were formed in August 1983 by vocalist Tex Perkins to fulfil bookings for his previous band, Tex Deadly and the Dum-Dums, and began playing in small Sydney venues.[1] The initial version of the group was James Baker of Hoodoo Gurus on drums, Spencer P. Jones of The Johnnys on guitar, Kim Salmon on guitar and Boris Sudjovic on bass guitar: both of The Scientists.[1][2][3] This line-up was featured on the band's first album, The Axeman's Jazz, which was recorded during October 1983 in a single eight-hour session for $100 by Tony Cohen. Also in 1983 Richard Ploog (former member of The Church) joined the band for a short time on drums as a side project. In January 1984 the line-up of Jones, Perkins, Sujdovic, Brett Rixon on drums and Tony Thewlis on guitar (both from The Scientists) played gigs in Perth.[1] In July that year the album was issued on Green Records and according to Australian rock music historian, Ian McFarlane, "it remains a classic of Australian garage/swamp rock. It was the best-selling Australian alternative album for 1984. It also went on to sell over 30000 copies in Europe".[1] A cover of Leon Payne's "Psycho" was issued as a single in July, which was a hit on alternative radio and became the best selling Australia alternative single for 1984.[1] The previous line-up fell apart in March when The Scientists left Australia to tour overseas; fill-ins included Stu Spasm of Lubricated Goat, Zulu Rattle and Salamander Jim on bass guitar; and Brad Shepherd of Hoodoo Gurus on guitar.[1][2] By early 1985 the line-up of Baker, Perkins, Spasm (now on lead guitar) and Spencer, were joined by Graham Hood (The Johnnys) on bass guitar.[1][2] Although the album became an underground success, the band was largely a side project for its various members and Beasts of Bourbon disbanded by June that year.[1] Perkins worked with Salamander Jim and various other projects, Jones had The Johnnys, and Salmon and Sujdovic had The Scientists.[1][3] Baker tried a self-named group, The James Baker Experience, backed by Perkins and Spasm and joined by Roddy Radalj (The Scientists, Hoodoo Gurus) on guitar and vocals.[1] The ensemble released a one-off single in June 1985 and promptly separated.[1]

1988–93: Sour Mash to The Belly of the Beasts[edit]

In March 1988 Beasts of Bourbon reconvened after both The Johnnys and The Scientists had disbanded. The line-up of Baker, Jones, Perkins, Salmon and Sujdovic recorded Sour Mash with audio engineer and producer, Phil Punch (The Mexican Spitfires).[1][2] The album appeared in December on Red Eye Records, with McFarlane declaring that it "virtually redefined the parameters of guitar-based rock'n'roll. The Cramps-influenced swamp-rock of old had been discarded for a more adventurous slab of gutbucket blues and avant-garde weirdness. Perkins' voice had matured into an authentic blues growl".[1] Allmusic's Skip Jansen found "[a] raw blues-rock album with post-punk afflictions ... dream come true for fans of the Australian rock and garage punk ... [with] the blistering slide-guitar-driven sound, the band does a fine job of re-creating the sound of a twisted night out at the pub".[4] Their cover of "Hard Work Drivin' Man" (original by Ry Cooder and Jack Nitzsche) was issued as a single in November, which became a number-one independent hit single.[1] In August 1989 they followed up with another independent number-one single, "Hate Inside",[1] which was written by Jones and Perkins.[5] By that time, Perkins was also performing irregularly as a member of The Cruel Sea.[6]

Beasts of Bourbon toured Europe and then released a third album, Black Milk, in July 1990.[1] Jansen was disappointed "it pales by comparison to the two previous albums" although it was "a fine album of lurching blues-driven rock".[7] In Germany they issued a non-album single, "You Let Me Down" / "Blanc Garçon", the tracks appeared on the German version of the album,[2][8] Jansen felt these "two cuts surpass anything on [Black Milk]".[7] By February 1991, Baker and Sujdovic were replaced by Brian Henry Hooper on bass guitar and Tony Pola on drums – both from Salmon's new band, The Surrealists.[1][2] Beasts of Bourbon undertook their Kick Arse Australian tour.[1] The line-up of Hooper, Jones, Perkins, Pola and Salmon recorded the group's fourth album, The Low Road, with Tony Cohen producing.[1][2] McFarlane saw it was "brimming with urgency, surrealism, atmosphere, myth, illusion and honesty, but above all, hard-nosed rock riffs".[1] While Jansen described their "straighter, less garage punk sound" although "it proved a little tough to get the live energy of a performance to tape".[9] The Low Road featured "Chase the Dragon" – which relates to heroin smuggling – a "blistering ... nefarious delight".[1]

Beasts of Bourbon performed at the inaugural Big Day Out Sydney concert in January 1992 and followed with another tour of Europe.[1] In January 1993 a double album of live tracks and rarities, The Belly of the Beasts - Live '91 & '92 and Shit We Didn't Put Out the First Time, was issued to celebrate the group's tenth anniversary.[1][10] Also in '93 came the sheet music songbook Ten Years Behind Bars, which boasted an introduction by Clinton Walker.[11] The band played the second Big Day Out in 1994, which had expanded into a series of concerts to four Australian capital cities, and then toured Europe again.[1][10] Following the tour, Salmon – with Hooper and Pola – left the group to concentrate on The Surrealists while Perkins focused on The Cruel Sea, which was achieving success with their album The Honeymoon Is Over (May 1993).[10] Jones joined various projects and released his debut solo album, Rumour of Death (November 1994).[3]

1996-2012: Later years[edit]

In September 1996, Beasts of Bourbon reformed with Hooper, Jones, Perkins and Pola joined by former Divinyls' member Charlie Owen – also in Tex, Don and Charlie with Perkins – on guitar.[1][2] In January 1997 they released Gone prior to another appearance on the Big Day Out series.[1][2] The album reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 50.[12] Gone received lukewarm reviews, but produced a single, "Saturated". The group's 1997 live performance at the Esplanade Hotel was recorded – five tracks appeared as a bonus disc on their 1999 compilation, Beyond Good and Evil. However, by the end of 1997 the group had dissolved again.[1][2]

In late 2003, they reformed and recorded a live album, Low Life, which was released on Spooky Records in August 2005.[2][13] In 2006, they reformed to play in the Big Day Out around Australia and New Zealand. In late December 2006, Albert Productions signed an exclusive worldwide recording deal with the band, and they released a new album, Little Animals, on 21 April 2007. Perkins declared "Alberts label releases have been a huge influence on the Beasts of Bourbon, so to be signed to this legendary label is not only a great honour and the start of an exciting new chapter in the bands history, it feels like... destiny". The album peaked in the Top 50.[12] The group played with Australian bands and artists at the Rockin' for Rights concert, which protested the Workchoices legislation. In April 2008 after a show in Berlin the group cancelled their remaining tour dates and ended the band.[14]

In 2012 the group announced plans to reunite the original line-up for a one-off gig at the 2013 Australian All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in mid-February.[15][16] As of January 2013 Jones works in his band, Nothing Butts, with Baker and The Drones' members Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin;[17] while Perkins fronts Tex Perkins & the Apes with Gus Agars (Dark Horses with Perkins) on drums and Raúl Sánchez (Magic Dirt) on guitar.[17]

2013-present: 30th anniversary and The Beasts[edit]

In August 2013, Beasts of Bourbon played a series of shows in Sydney and Melbourne to celebrate their first 30 years.[18] The three shows in each city featured alternate lineups for each night with James Baker and Tony Pola sharing drumming, Boris Sujdovic and Brian Hooper swapping as bass player and Kim Salmon and Charlie Owen rotating on guitar. As it has been for the history of the band, Jones and Perkins are the only persistent members. A triple live album 30 Years On Borrowed Time was released to coincide with the live shows.

The group returned in 2019 with the name of The Beasts. The name change was made out of respect for Spencer P. Jones and Brian Hooper who both died in 2018. The band released a new album Still Here which included contributions from Jones before his death.[19] The band completed an Australian tour in November and December 2019 with Adalita in support.[20] The line up for the tour was Tex Perkins, Charlie Owen, Tony Pola, Kim Salmon and Boris Sujdovic. In December 2020, The Beasts Of Bourbon were listed at number 42 in Rolling Stone Australia's "50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time" issue.[21]


  • Spencer P. Jones – guitar, backing vocals (1983–85, 1988–93, 1996–97, 2003–08, 2013) - Deceased 2018
  • Tex Perkins – lead vocals (1983–85, 1988–93, 1996–97, 2003–08, 2013, 2019)
  • Boris Sujdovic – bass guitar (1983–85, 1988–90, 2013, 2019)
  • James Baker – drums (1983–84, 1984–85, 1988–90, 2013)
  • Kim Salmon – guitar, harmonica, backing vocals, slide guitar (1983–84, 1988–93, 2013, 2019)
  • Brett Rixon – drums (1984)
  • Tony Thewlis – guitar (1984)
  • Graham Hood – bass guitar (1984–85)
  • Stu Spasm – guitar (1984–85)
  • Brian Henry Hooper – bass guitar (1990–93, 1996–97, 2003–08) - Deceased 2018
  • Tony Pola – drums (1990–93, 1996–97, 2003–08, 2019) - Deceased 2021
  • Charlie Owen – guitar (1996–97, 2003–08, 2019)


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
The Axeman's Jazz
  • Released: July 1984
  • Label: Green/Big Time (BT 7032)
  • Format: LP, Cassette
Sour Mash
  • Released: December 1988
  • Label: Red Eye Records (REDLP 5)
  • Format: LP, CD, Cassette
Black Milk
  • Released: July 1990
  • Label: Red Eye Records, Polydor (REDLP 12)
  • Format: LP, CD, Cassette
The Low Road
  • Released: December 1991
  • Label: Red Eye Records, Polydor (REDLP 26)
  • Format: LP, CD, Cassette
  • Released: December 1996
  • Label: Red Eye Records, Polydor (REDCD 58)
  • Format: CD, Cassette
Little Animals 44
Still Here
(as The Beasts)
  • Released: 2019
  • Label: Bang! Records (BANG!-CD128)
  • Format: CD, Download

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums, with selected chart positions
Title Album details Peak chart positions
From the Belly of the Beasts
  • Released: January 1993
  • Label: Red Eye Records, Polydor (RED LP 30)
  • Format: LP, Cassette
Low Life
  • Released: August 2005
  • Label: Red Eye Records, Polydor (SPOOKY017)
  • Format: CD, download
30 Years on Borrowed Time
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Bang! Records (BANG!-LP78)
  • Format: LP, download

Compilation album[edit]

List of Compilations
Title Album details
Beyond Good & Evil - The Best of The Beasts of Bourbon
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Red Eye Records (547947-2)
  • Format: CD


  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2012. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac McFarlane, 'Beasts of Bourbon' entry. Archived from the original Archived 9 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine on 20 April 2004. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Holmgren, Magnus; Penkie, Henkie. "Beasts of Bourbon". Australian Rock Database. Passagen (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b c McFarlane, 'The Johnnys' entry. Archived from the original on 9 August 2004. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  4. ^ Jansen, Skip. "Sour Mash – Beasts of Bourbon". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  5. ^ "'Hate Inside' at APRA search engine". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  6. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed. "The Cruel Sea". Howlspace. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 21 February 2001. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b Jansen, Skip. "Black Milk – Beasts of Bourbon". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  8. ^ Miles, Richard (21 April 2002). "Beasts of Bourbon Discography". Richard Miles. Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  9. ^ Jansen, Skip. "The Low Road – Beasts of Bourbon". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Lewis, Jonathan. "Beasts of Bourbon". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Beasts of Bourbon". Clinton Walker. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b Hung, Steffen. "Discography The Beasts of Bourbon". Australian Charts Portal. Steffen Hung. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Low Life – Beasts of Bourbon". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  14. ^ Teague, Marcus (22 April 2008). "Beasts of Bourbon beat themselves up again". The Vine. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  15. ^ "ARP Launch I'll Be Your Mirror Melbourne w/ The Drones, My Bloody Valentine, GY!BE". All Tomorrow's Parties. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  16. ^ Roberts, Jo (10 August 2012). "All Tomorrow's Parties Returns to Melbourne". The Age. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  17. ^ a b "A Flaming Good Time Had by Falls: The Beasts Are Back". The Age. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Beasts Of Bourbon Plan Six Shows With Three Different Line Ups ♫ Late…". 24 August 2013. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  19. ^ Condon, Dan. "The Beasts – Still Here". Double J. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  20. ^ "The Beasts and Adalita team up for Australian tour". Double J. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  21. ^ 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #42: The Beasts Of Bourbon. Adalita, Rolling Stone Australia, 3 February 2021. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Discography". Beasts of Bourbon Official Website. Archived from the original on 12 November 2001. Retrieved 23 January 2013.

External links[edit]