Monday, June 7, 2010

From East to Arcane

On the 30th anniversary of Australian pub-rock band Cold Chisel's LP East and in anticipation of the release of Crow's Arcane, here's "Cheap Wine" (below, at this post's end). Indeed, with the wine glut in Australia and having maintained a permanent rash of greying ginger beardiness for a while now, I can relate to the chorus.

East itself is thematically unified by a blues and reggae-tinged isolation and anger; an uncertain masculinity coming to terms with Asia and the demise of the Labourist-social-liberal armature in Australian political culture. It still bites. And swings, with a lyrical and romantic lushness that comes out in Barnes and even Moss's voices and in Moss's classy blues guitar lines, these elements at times given spot-on support by the spaciousness of the arrangements. It's the link between the piano and the drums that work so well and I think I was, not consciously at the time, going after this feel and reverbating sound when I played with drummer and musical production powerhouse Richard Andrew in Crow.

On one of Chisel's comeback tours--Yakuza Girls (I think it was called)--Crow played support in the concrete arena of Sydney Entertainment Centre. We set up on our small allotted space--which was massively large in comparison to other venues like the Globe or Annandale--and were introduced by Chisel's keyboard-playing lead songwriter Don Walker. Walker asked the Chisel audience to give us a go, and praised Pete Fenton's songwriting.

True dat, Pete Fenton is a fine songwriter, up there with Robert Forster, David McComb and Don Walker. And Pete Archer, now back in the My Kind of Pain era line-up, is an outstanding songwriter and six-stringed soundscaper. Reunited with Jim Woff and John Fenton on bass and drums, whose sophisticated feel for rhythm and arrangement brings the band into the ambit of a dynamic power, subtlety and depth.

Crow are now in the midst of launching their reformation LP, and while I'd like to be there with them I'm looking forward to Arcane and hope it's what they were hoping for and that it proves for those who see them as heirs to Chisel, the Birthday party (and even Midnight Oil), that they have always spoken their own musical language.

Once I smoked a Dannemann cigar . . .

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