The Living End is Australia’s answer to Green Day, The Offspring and The Clash. But more technical and rockabilly.
The group formed in 1994 in Melbourne by Chris Cheney on guitar and lead vocals (also their main songwriter and a bonafide guitar hero), along with Scott Owen on double bass and backing vocals. In 1996 they were joined by Travis Demsey on drums.
Their self-titled debut album came out in 1998. The album reached No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart and remained in the top 50 for 63 weeks. In Australia, it is certified 4x Platinum.
And they had momentum coming into this album as they broke through to the mainstream with their EP, “Second Solution / Prisoner of Society”, released in 1997.
“Prisoner of Society”
A groovy “Peter Gunn” like riff kicks it off and then the fast punk starts from the 15 second mark.
Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do
Oh yes we’re on our own and there’s nothing you can do
It was a new anthem for a whole new generation of kids growing up in the 90s, in the same way songs like “Were Not Gonna Take It”, “Stand Up And Shout” and “Bang Your Head” became anthems for the early 80s generation.
Check out the guitar playing from the 2 minute mark which leads into a rockabilly solo.
“Growing Up (Falling Down)”
It’s a got a fast galloping riff.
Open up your eyes
And maybe then
You’ll realise the truth is in
The thoughts you hold
And not the obstacle in front of you
It’s the same advice that the billion dollar self development industry peddles out around “fear holding you back”. But this is 10 years before the industry started taking a hold on the best sellers charts.
I like the ska reggae start before it moves into a jazzy punk song.
Can that be a thing?
Well it is.
Make sure you check out the lead break.
Lyrically, you get the scene described as a dark street at night, a crime is committed and the police are after the criminal.
“West End Riot”
The Intro is excellent, it sounds like the soundtrack to a crime noir film.
The verses remind me of “Let There Be Rock”, just bass and drums, waiting for a vocal melody.
Make sure you check out the unique 12 bar blues swing rock jazz solo.
That “Peter Gunn Blues Brothers” vibe comes back again and I like it.
Make sure you check out the riff after the solo at the 2.20 mark. George Lynch and “It’s Not Love” would be proud.
It sounds like a alternative pop song, almost happy like for a serious subject about the Dunblane School shootings in which sixteen pupils and one teacher got killed and fifteen others injured by a lone gunman, who then turned the gun on himself.
“All Torn Down”
I used to cover this song circa 1999/2000. The Intro is metal like and I like the ska/reggae influenced verses and melodic rock Chorus.
Lyrically it deals with how our cities skylines are changing, as history is torn down for bigger and shinier buildings to be put up.
Save The Day
It’s a speed punk metal song with a rockabilly anthemic chorus. Volbeat gets a lot of press for these styles but The Living End did it years earlier.
Sleep On It
It’s a rock song in the verses (think “Kryptonite” but years before the Three Doors Down version) and punky in the chorus.
Check out the guitar lead.
And also check out the palm muted guitar riffs in the bridge.
An instrumental. Technical and avant- grade. Almost progressive like jazz music but it’s still rock.
So if you need any more reasons to check out The Living End, guitarist Chris Cheney uses a beer bottle to play slide guitar live.