Thursday, 26 July 2012

Night Of The Wolverine - Dave Graney & The Coral Snakes

GLARING OMISSIONS IV

Mr Graney was going to be Glaring Omission #V and a certain Sydney via Canberra band was supposed to be #IV anyway whatever. I just had to double check The Age's Top 50 Australian albums list because I cannot believe this record and/or some of his others are not included. This is the LP I'm most surprised didn't make it into either list. You Know feedtime and The Primitive Calculators are not that commercial so they weren't surprises just overlooked gems. Less is More by fucking Even gets a guernsey in The Age 50 over this? In that freakin' book Baby fuckin Animals get an entry over this iconic Melbourne via Mt Gambier, Adelaide, London etc. singer/songwriter and his team of crack musicians. Maybe Dave was right that he was the invisible rock singer hiding in full view that everyone just took him for granted. I mean this guy was King of Pop, won ARIAs and shit and uh oh... he had a great fucking personality. This is Australia Bland Please!


The Moodists
Couldn't find pic from
the book with Mick Turner

Robert ford on stage look

So I was a country boy (boy was I country) and I must have been in about year 8 or 9 when I discovered the school library and they had some Rock books, you know, like the encyclopedia of rock with Jagger on the cover etc. There were a couple of Aussie ones as well and the one I flogged (no security buzzers in those days) was The Next Thing: Contemporary Australian Rock by C.Walker. It became my ozrock bible and I still have it to this day, school stamps throughout, contacted and with a Dewey no. 780 (was that Dewey for ozrock) WAL. Anyway it was this photo of the band The Moodists that just stayed with me. They looked so normal maybe even a bit daggy, this was the 80s the time of Real Life and Pseudo Echo and at the other end of the spectrum punky/goth shit. Yeah they were like dressed down way before grunge. This book was from 1984. I mean Mick Turner in this photo in the book was wearing the same clothes I was wearing. Dave was wearing something quite unique though.  Anyway I don't think I heard the band until they'd broken up. I have this tape, can't recall where it came from possibly a friend or a friend of a friend or an op shop I dunno. It's a Sony HF90 containing 3 Moodists classics Engine Shudder, Moodists & Thirsty's Calling. I'm listening to it right now and it's in fine condition. I prefer it to the CD compilation which came out in the 00s, things in the right place know what I mean? The Moodists were good at kinda building momentum from their  minimal repetitions that tended to swirl into some kind of intensity. Sometimes they had pop songs though didn't they? Influenced by the Velvets, The Stooges, The Birthday Party, PIL and maybe even Flipper. Some tunes are similar to other artists at the time Like The Gun Club, Dream Syndicate and maybe even The Triffids at their roughest.

Then it was this film clip on Rage (Australian all Night Music show), in around 1990, Robert Ford on Stage where Dave had a twirly mo and a beard. He looked like something out of Deadwood. This was very very strange at the time. Now walking through Northcote can be a bit like the set of Deadwood. I was showing my friends and my little sister the clip saying 'how fuckin great is this song?!' People couldn't get past the image, you know, they didn't look like the Stone Roses. I still love that song. By the time I was living in Melbourne in 1991 he was back from London I think and sometimes I could go and see him for free. Wasn't this guy a legend? I was seeing him for free on a week night at The Espy. Also up in the old piano bar at the Prince Of Wales, I loved that place. By 92 there were some records finally floating around and he was gettin played on the radio finally. He was really finally becoming a Melbourne cult thing. Everyone loved him.


The cover I originally had.

I guess what happened next was a little unexpected. In 1993 he had a top 40 hit with You're Just Too Hip Baby a beautifully soft and funky Doors influenced tune. Then the fabulous LP Night of The Wolverine was unleashed onto the public. JJJ had the single in their end of year top 100 and he was nominated for best alternative release at the ARIAs for the album. The LP is fuckn great from start to finish. Tracks like Mogambo, I Held The Cool Breeze, 3 Dead Passengers in A Stolen 2nd Ford, Maggie Cassidy, You Need To Suffer, I Remember You etc are all classics. Not one dud on the whole record! His songwriting was peaking and the band, man they were cookin. Beer, Scotch, death, cows, movie stars, country, city, Beat poets, cars, loneliness, dwellings, drunkenness, Grace Kelly, Jazz in 1950s Paris, Ava Gardner, Dope, Football, Serge Gainsbourg, Clarke Gable, outlaws and even the Beatles, it was all here and much more. Clare Moore on percussion, vocals and drums, Rod Hayward on guitar, Robin Cassinader on keys and other stuff and Andrew Picouleau on bass. Tex Perkins guesting on the centrepiece of the album Night of the Wolverine 2 which was in 3 parts and was 8 and a half minutes of pure pop heaven. This was a group recorded at an absolute peak of their powers. It's hard to desrcribe the music an almost Euro/Hotel Lobby Band/AOR/MOR feel with some kinda acoustic Australiana/Hollywood/Beatnik vibe played by the best band in the country who you felt could do anything and possibly would. It had an air of timeless sophistication and it was addictive as hell. That record's been played hundreds of times by me and I love it more each time I hear it. The melodies, the words, the band, the backing vocals, the arrangements......so cool!

I guess he also introduced me to some cultural icons like Serge Gainsbourg and now one of my favourite actors Warren Oates. After reading his terrific book 1001 Australian Nights I thought I'll have to dig out those CDs My Life On The Plains, Night Of the Wolverine, Soft & Sexy Sound but they were gone (too many share houses, robberies etc.). So he is one of the few artists I have bought their same record twice (rare company indeed only Beefheart, My Bloody Valentine and Roxy Music are in this category). Still can't find the first couple of records anywhere though. I'm not an E bay type of human yet. Other Graney records also could have made it here and certainly would be in my Aussie 100 list like The Soft & Sexy Sound, Hashish, Knock Yourself Out, We Wuz Curious etc. I am also diggin on the new one You've been On My Mind!


The cover of my 2nd copy.

   *I used a Dave Graney tongue ie. 'I was a country boy (boy was I country)'
 **There was a Coral Snakes tongue throughout the entire post actually.
***Interview with Clare more here at messandnoise

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