Stephen Cummings is coming home to Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group.
The ARIA Award-winning rocker has signed with Mushroom affiliate Bloodlines, which will re-release Cummings’ entire solo catalogue and the forthcoming studio album Prisoner of Love, which will be his last.
The enigmatic singer’s solo work spans 17 studio sets together with two Liberation Blue albums, Close Ups and Good Bones. Before Bloodlines swooped, Cummings’ career solo works were issued on nine separate labels.
Cummings, as frontman of The Sports and as a solo artist, has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Gudinski, punctuated by many highs, and some lows.
With their troubles behind them, reuniting with Gudinski at Mushroom Group “makes sense to me,” he says. “There is something to be said for local expertise,” Cummings explains. “My recording career began with Mushroom and Michael, and in these mystifying times, Mushroom and Michael seems the right place to maintain my fanbase. I need help with stuff.”
Gudinski says he’s proud to welcome back Cummings. “He is etched in Australian rock history, and Bloodlines is the perfect label for him.”
With a swag of hits, including “Who Listens to the Radio”, “Don’t Throw Stones”, “Strangers on a Train” and “How Come,” The Sports emerged in the late ‘70s as one of Australia’s premier rock outfits, and a key signing to Mushroom Records (Gudinski sold Mushroom Records to Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited Group in 1998, while retaining the Mushroom Group name).
In the U.S., “Who Listens to the Radio” was a chart hit in 1979, peaking at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, and logging seven weeks on the survey.
When The Sports went their separate ways, Cummings released a debut solo album, Senso, in 1984. Senso contained the hit “Gymnasium” (fun fact: “Gymnasium” had a NSFW music video). His third album, 1988’s Lovetown was featured in the 2010 book The 100 Best Australian Albums (ranked No. 40), as did The Sports’ Don’t Throw Stones (No. 51). Cut on a budget of just $2,000, Cummings told its authors, Lovetown was “the easiest record I ever made.”
Gudinski managed The Sports for a time. It didn’t end well. Today, both parties are happy to reminisce about those less auspicious moments. “I gave up management for 10 years because of Stephen Cummings,” comments Gudinski in a statement outlining the new deal. “He was traumatic to manage. But he’s great now and in a much better space.”
Cummings said, “I have had my issues with Gudinski, but I am grateful for this opportunity.”
Bloodlines will also issue a two-disc Stephen Cummings career anthology. Prisoner of Love is due out February 2019. Cummings will take his show on the road for a national tour, kicking off Oct. 4 at Smiths Alternative in Canberra.
Bloodlines, which offers a full range of creative services to its stable of heritage acts, was established in late 2017 through a relaunch of Mushroom Group’s flagship label Liberation Music. Its roster includes Jimmy Barnes, Ian Moss, Nic Cester, Diesel and Troy Cassar-Daley.