Down In The Valley – 2001

Bondi Cigars Album Cover

1. Key To Your Heart


2. Howling At The moon


3. Cry To Me


4. Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You


5. All I Want Is Everything


6. Intensive Care


7. Life After You


8. Leaving Thing


9. Path Is Clear


10. You're A Mystery


11. Driving Blindly Through The Night


12. Alberts Alley


13. Got The News


14. Ain't No Big Deal On You


15. Calling Card


16. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright


17. Bad Weather Blues


18. I Can't Sleep


19. Someone Else Is Stepping In


ROUSEABOUT RECORDS (Warren Fahey) Down in the Valley 12th Anniversary live (and kicking) double album The Bondi Cigars’ music is a peculiar animal in that it takes so many ever-changing forms. Rhythm ‘n’ blues has a noble history born of blues and emerging rock ‘n’ roll somewhere in America during the war-torn nineteen forties. It is indeed a twisted path that also takes in Elvis-styled hillbilly music, big band beat, jazz, gospel and soul.

Musical labels are always confusing however some sense can be made if one generalises as follows: Hillbilly is white country music; rock ‘n’ roll is latter day hillbilly plus rhythm ‘n’ blues, and rhythm ‘n’ blues is soulful blues with a big beat. To further complicate the puzzle there is such a thing as Australian rhythm ‘n’ blues and there is little doubt that the Bondi Cigars is its greatest success story.

Formed in 1989 the band has well and truly played itself into Australia ‘s musical heart. After nearly a dozen years, a half a dozen albums and exhaustive touring schedules the band continues to attract new audiences for their music. One of the keys to the continuing success of the Bondi Cigars is the highly original songs written and performed by frontman Shane Pacey.

This is no here-we-go-again ‘covers’ band and that in itself is evidence of a genuine Australian R&B new tradition. Shane Paceys songs smack of the real R&B tradition and I when I listen to songs like Bad Weather Blues, Key to Your Heart and Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You I still have to remind myself that these great songs were written right here in Australia by Shane Pacey.

When the band does perform covers they do so with real bite and I further recommend you to listen to their highly original version of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. I believe the Bondi Cigars contribute a major slice of originality and excitement to the Australian musical landscape. This album celebrates their 12th Anniversary – long may their unique R&B rule this land!’

RHYTHMS – AUSTRALIA ‘S ROOTS MUSIC MONTHLY (Billy Pinnell) Sydney band The Bondi Cigars celebrate twelve years together with the release of a double CD Down in the Valley recorded live over two nights at The Healer, Brisbane, in February of this year. Playing a mixture of Blues and R&B, the two guitar quartet is dominated by the awesome talents of guitarist/singer Shane Pacey who wrote fifteen of the albums’ nineteen songs. A veteran of the Sydney blues scene, Pacey was an on-again off-again member of the Foreday Riders where he met bass guitarist Alan Britton, the other founder member of the Bondi Cigars.

From the band’s earliest days, Pacey insisted on a two-lead guitar concept, initially with Les Karski who had been a member of Super Charge (remember `You’ve Gotta Get Up and Dance’?) and the Hippos . The Current line up consists of Pacey, Britton, drummer Andrew Vainauskas and guitarist Eben Hale who was discovered while playing in the house band at an RSL club in the Blue Mountains. Both of the new members have been in the band for five years and, on the strength of their performances on this album, have made comfortable transitions.

While there’s no question that Pacey is the star of the show, his willingness to arrange songs to accommodate his guitar playing partner makes for exciting and satisfying listening. The album’s first track – a re-working of Denise La Salle’s R&B hit Someone Else Is Stepping In – opens with Hale’s sustained wah-wah before both guitars settle in to a solo trade-off as Pacey interprets the lyric from a female point of view, as it was written.

The other non-original songs include a blues arrangement of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright. Solomon Burke’s `60s soul classic, Cry To Me becomes a cruisy sensuous vocal workout from Pacey with the guitars playing second fiddle while Little Milton’s Ain’t No Big Deal takes it’s inspiration from Albert Collins who is paid a heartfelt tribute on the instrumental, Albert’s Alley, highlighted by Pacey’s sustained, earthshaking solos and his thoughtful, passionate and inventive musicianship, free of clichés and devoid of unnecessary histrionics. Pacey also takes great care in providing varied ideas within the twin lead guitar arrangements.

On You’re A Mystery Pacey and Hale play rhythm in sync, before the younger partner lets fly with another rousing wah-wah solo. Path Is Clear allows both musicians to push each other into flurries of melodic improvising, while Intensive Care (featured in the ABC-TV show Sea Change) is the album’s most interesting musical diversion, the moody, atmospheric intro preceding it’s funky laid-back feel that’s held together by Britton’s pulsating bass. This talented musician, who has played an integral role in Pacey’s musical life, anticipates every move the soloists make, and with Vainauskas, fronts a tight adaptable rhythm section.

It sounds like it must have been a special night when these tracks were recorded, because the Bondi Cigars certainly came up with an inspired performance.

Shane Pacey – Guitar, Vocals
Alan Britton – Bass, Vocals
Eben Hale – Guitar, Vocals
Andrew Vainauskas – Drums
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