Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cruel Sea - Where There's Smoke


I've mentioned on earlier posts here how I was in an indie band in the 90s who did really well in the city where we all lived at the time.  Most of us have since left this city, escaping, as it were, to bright lights and bigger cities both in Australia and overseas.

Back in the day, we played a lot of support shows for major acts at the local university and supported some great acts, like Pavement (see our review here).  The Cruel Sea were another of the bands we supported back then.

On the day, we arrived at the uni, set up and did our sound check.  All went well and we got to hang out and watch The Cruel Sea do the same.  Later, when we got up to start our set, the worst thing that can happen to a musician happened to me - my amp refused to work.  After a few minutes of madly scrambling around trying to sort out the problem, one of the guitarists from The Cruel Sea (I think it was Dan Rumour) plugged me into his amp and gave me strict instructions not to touch his settings.  Thanks to him, we were able to continue our set without any further problems.  Of course, when I got the amp home and plugged it in, the fucking thing worked fine.  But to share the stage with this band would have to be, despite my amp problems, one of the highlights of my musical career.

Where There's Smoke is their swan song, recorded not long before the band decided to call it quits, although they have done the odd show or two here and there since and occasionally threaten to reform and record (I wish they would).  Recorded with one of Australia's best producers, Magoo, this album isn't far removed from their previous efforts, is a shining example of their hybrid blues/reggae/rock and a perfect bookend to their first album, Down Below, recorded over a decade earlier.

Now, what happened to my copy of This Is Not The Way Home and The Honeymoon Is Over - purloined by thieving house-mates years ago, no doubt.  Guess we've gotta add these to our must haves as well, Mine. Oh boy, that list is getting long.



It's not the most fabulous Cruel Sea album, but it has their trademark sound - bold and bluesy.  I guess my biggest objection is that the tunes don't showcase the sound of Tex Perkins' vocals as well as The Honeymoon Is Over did.

I remember when that album swept the ARIAs (The Aussie equivalent of the Grammys) in 1993, and one of the guys I worked with asked me who the hell they were.  It was kind of difficult to explain that they'd been an instrumental band who'd picked up a vocalist with a personality bigger than most who'd previously fronted a legendary pub-rock band called the Beasts of Bourbon.  I remember snickering to myself in a record shop in country Victoria one time when I came across one of the Beasts albums - called The Axeman's Jazz - filed in the Jazz section.  They'd obviously never listened to it.

Tex is a true performer and the tight, driving tunes the rest of the Cruel Sea provide form a perfect backdrop to his gravelly, wild vocals.  He's also one of those guys who looks like he's not only undressing you with his eyes, he's also doing unspeakable things to you before borrowing $50 for cab fare and never showing up again.  A barbarian.


For more information go to http://texperkins.net/

In our collection we also have The Most

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