Are You Gonna Be My Girl (N Cester/C Muncey) 2003 and Rollover DJ (N Cester/C Cester) – Jet 2004
St. Bede’s College (Melb) was where the Cester brothers Nick (vocals/guitar) and Chris (drums/ vocals) hooked up with Cam Muncey (guitar/vocals), and after recruiting Mark Wilson as bassist, the classic Jet lineup was complete. The tradition of brothers founding great rock groups in Australia is well documented – Gibbs (Barry, Robin, and Maurice), Youngs (Angus and Malcolm), Jacobsens (Col and Kevin), Farriss (Tim, Andrew, and Jon), Finns (Tim and Neil), Hunter (Todd and Marc), Spiby (Michael and John) and many others who have contributed to the rich musical heritage of Australia, the Cesters were looking to add to that tradition.
Jet took their musical cues from such 1960’s and 70’s bands as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Faces, Easybeats, AC/DC, and Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Their band name was inspired by a Paul McCartney and Wings song title, on the album Band on The Run.
Jet were unapologetically retro and happy to plunder the back catalogues of Motown and the British Invasion bands to deliver heart-on-the-sleeve hits that rocked and awoke us from our alternarock ennui of the previous decade.
The band went into the Sunset Studios in Los Angeles in 2003 with producer Dave Sardy (Marilyn Manson, Dandy Warhols) to record their debut album, Get Born, the album was a revelation, bristling with hits and brimming with mod rock machismo, it divided the critics, but the fans loved it.
The first single released was the pop perfect Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Nic Cester clears his throat, bass intros, tambourines seep in from behind, drums grab your attention, Nic exhorts the band to “Go!” and the countdown starts – “So one, two, three, take my hand and come with me/ Because you look so fine/ That I really wanna make you mine.” Funk Brothers rhythmic attack, Motown tambourines, epic pauses, and outrageous rock riffs that tumbled over and over “Big black boots/ Long blond hair/ She’s so sweet/ With her get back stare,” created an instant anthem for the summer of 2003, and was picked up by Apple to promote their iPod, as a black shadow person is connected to a white iPod while grooving to this song.
Critics claimed the song was derivative of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and the White Stripes Screwdriver, but the band argues, convincingly, that it has more in common with such Motown songs as You Can’t Hurry Love by the Supremes and I’m Ready for Love by Martha and the Vandellas. The whole derivative argument is pretty pointless, Iggy Pop is on record as admitting that he and David Bowie were strongly influenced by Motown riffs and rhythms when they wrote Lust for Life, and seminal artists such as, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Led Zeppelin and Van Morrison’s early songs were clearly derivative of black music.
As Paul Kelly has said in his memoir How To make Gravy “Some people continue to be surprised by this (composers borrowing material from other artists songs), – those who have notions of the artist as some kind of self-dredger, dragging precious originality up from the depths of their soul … self-expression is overrated, though. There’s so much of it around these days. A good line is worth using again. And again”. We should enjoy the rebirth of all those magical Motown cadences in this song, it’s not what you borrow, it’s what you do with it that counts, just listen to great exponents of rap and hip hop to appreciate the innovative ways that sampling has been used since the 1980’s.
Are You Gonna Be My Girl peaked at #12 locally, #28 and #16 in 2003/04 in the UK when re-released a year later after being featured in a Vodaphone messaging TV commercial. It also climbed to #29 in the US, won the ARIA Award for Single of the Year in in 2004, and it was such an adrenaline rush of a single that the band struggled to top it in the future.
The second single released from the album was Rollover DJ, which was another punchy slice of retro garage rock which featured the legendary Billy Preston, once known as the “Fifth Beatle” on keyboards. Preston was the only person to be co-credited on a Beatles record – Get Back- and he appeared with the Beatles in their final live performance on the roof of the Apple Building at No. 3 Savile Row, London in 1969. Billy Preston sadly passed away in 2006, but left us with such solo classics as Nothing from Nothing and That’s the Way God Planned It. The song ridicules DJs who dominate supposedly live musical events, to the exclusion of the bands, “Well I know that you think you’re a star/ A pill poppin’ jukebox is all that you are/ So tell me it ain’t that way/ What’s your name?’ \
The song charted #32 locally, #34 in the UK and #14 on the US Billboard Alternative Songs and Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts, the album Get Born was a genuine international hit, #1 locally, #17 in the UK and #26 in the US. The group would take two more albums into the top ten – Shine On (#3 in ’06) and Shaka Rock (#6 in 09), disband in 2012, but then reform and support Bruce Springsteen in 2016 on his most recent Australian tour.