Tex Perkins (w/ Stuart Coupe)
Tex Perkins’ version of hard work involves a hell of a lot of partying and good times. And his memoir, scratched into place in perfectly digestible bite-sized pieces, has a hell of a lot of great stories.
If he’s not exactly the greatest natural talent then he has canny timing, a devil may care attitude and enough attitude, enthusiasm and grit to get it down. But then, isn’t that a version of natural talent? It sure seems like it when you take the ride through this book – from being bitten by the bug to fronting dozens of bands, several of them successful. And then the enormous highs of Beasts of Bourbon and The Cruel Sea.
Want critical acclaim? Try his long-running Johnny Cash show or his trio of albums with slide-guitar great Charlie Owen and Cold Chisel’s songwriting royalty Don Walker.
Want rock’n’roll excess stories? From pissing blood at the Arias to drunken flights to one-upping competitive soul-mate Tim Rogers to freaking out backstage at SNL around so many famous people to Iggy Pop wanted to get in on the door to see the band because it’s Tex!
Through it all there’s good humour, some grace and humility, subtle references to the drug and drinking excess – well it’s all there, but there’s not too much boasting about it; more a what-goes-on-on-tour-is-what-went-on-on-tour/And-NOW-I’m-gonna-tell-you-about-how-much-of-an-animal-was-THEN.
Threading it all together is veteran Australian rock scribe Stuart Coupe. As with his recent biography of another larger-than-life player in the Australian music scene (Michael Gudinski), Coupe knows how to mine for the good oil; knows how to keep you turning the pages. Here he does that without ever really making you think that this is not Tex Perkins’ voice. These are his stories, sure. But we get the feeling that it’s always him telling them – Coupe blurs with the lines, both he and Perkins leaving plenty unsaid of course.
There are capsule reviews – or reminiscences – around each album Perkins has been involved with across nearly 40 years now. He’s candid, honest (presumably) and entertaining. As he is when sounding off over football, Sydney and its outskirts in the 80s, Brisbane in the 70s and some of his favourite bands and records that were formative.
Good fun. And for that alone it is worth reading. But also, this lovable rogue, this larrikin-made-good, does a fine job of contextualising the madness and mirth, the fucking-up and frivolity. It can’t all have been for nothing. And “TEX” the book explains that, of course, it wasn’t. That there’s some sort of one-off legacy right here.