The Sound of Semi-Young Australia

Johnny Ray’s Downtown

Perry Keyes


Sydney Morning Herald 13/3/10
“…listen, really listen to the songs, listen to the stories and you begin to see why Keyes is a proper songwriter who isn’t just taking notice of what’s happening around him but sees it for more than it appears. And then he makes you care. In part because there’s a reason those musical “cliches” have held on; when they’re done well, in their service of a good storyteller; they can be killers ” – Bernard Zuel

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Perry Keyes was born in 1966 and grew up in the inner-city working class area of Sydney known as Redfern. He lived in a two storey terraced house populated by various uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents. Every Saturday morning his Grandmother would do the house work whilst playing the likes of Ray Charles and Roy Orbison at a volume loud enough to spill out onto the neighbouring streets, lined with their tightly packed workers cottages and factories. This was the first music Keyes can remember hearing.

When he was twelve, Keyes got his first guitar from the local pawn shop and within six months he’d written his first song. It was during his first year at high school that his family moved to the neighbouring area of Waterloo, with it’s high rise Department of Housing blocks that stand between 16 and 24 storeys high.

It was within this environment that Keyes – after numerous false starts – formed the band The Stolen Holdens in 1989. Musically inspired by the likes of The Clash and Elvis Costello and lyrically taking his cue from artists like Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen, Keyes and The Stolen Holdens developed a small but loyal following in the local Sydney music scene. Having not released any albums the band faded by the early 90’s.

After a prolonged hiatus, Keyes re-emerged in 2003, playing solo sets featuring songs that would make up the bulk of his debut double album ‘Meter’ – released in 2005 by Laughing Outlaw Records to much critical acclaim and numerous year’s end best of lists. It was hailed by EMI Australia CEO John O’Donnell as one the best Australian debuts ever and by Whitlams main man Tim Freedman as the best Australian album of the past five years.

Keyes’ next album, ‘The Last Ghost Train Home’ was received with even greater acclaim upon it’s release in October 2007. It went on to be short listed for the Australian Music Prize and was named the ABC Radio National Album of the Year.

Johnny Ray’s Downtown contains 16 tracks that, once again draw on Keyes’ local environment – the marginalised and often neglected and rapidly decaying inner-city areas of Sydney – for their inspiration.

These are songs about growing up, or trying to grow up in the face of an environment that often suggests that the mere thought of getting past your late adolescence is hoping for more than what’s actually on offer.

All songs written by Perry Keyes
Produced by Grant Shanahan
Recorded a Leisure Suit Studios, Spencer, NSW
Engineered by Grant Shanahan & Jon Palmer
Mixed by Michael Carpenter at Love Hz Studios, Sydney
Mastered by William Bowden
Boxing Day Recorded at Hordern St. Newtown, Sydney
Engineered & mixed by Jon Palmer

Perry Keyes – Vocals & Guitar
John Gauci – Keyboards
Matt Galvin – Guitar
Lloyd G – Drums & Percussion
Grant Shanahan – Bass & Vocals / Toy organ on 6
Bek-Jean Stewart – Vocals & Percussion
Peter Kelly – Coronet & Trumpet
Additional Players:
Ed Kairouz, Bernie Hayes, Steve Broughton, Mark Na-Na, Charlie Lee, Tim Freedman, Phil Slater, Fergus Barker & Michael Carpenter


Weight .125 kg
Dimensions 20 × 20 × 1.5 cm