Died Pretty – Free Dirt (Aztec Music)

Although Died Pretty are all but unknown outside Australia, their debut album is considered an underground classic among fans in the know. The band had a wide array of influences, but the ones that seem closest to their hearts were The Doors (Ron Peno’s vocals meld Morrison disciples Ian McCulloch and Ian Astbury, and Frank Brunetti’s keyboard are Manzarek-like) and Crazy Horse (lengthy guitar solos that sound like Neil  Young and opener “Life To Go (Landsakes)” sounds like “Old Man” expanded to “Cortez The Killer”-sized proportions). However, despite classic rock leanings, the band maintains an art-rock sensibility derived from The Velvet Underground, Stooges, The Dolls, Captain Beefheart…etc. The thing I find most impressive about Free Dirt is that even though it came out in 1986, it could have come out pretty much anytime between 1970 and today, thanks to the production by Radio Birdman’s Rob Younger. This two-disc edition piles a staggering twenty-one demos, live cuts, singles and EP tracks on top of the original nine songs, making it a very complete portrait of the band’s early days and a highly recommended purchase.