Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has tackled many different styles in his long career. His latest project brings together some of the finest singers from his native country, and the result is Paul Kelly Presents the Merri Soul Sessions(read our review here), a collection of eleven R&B-tinged tracks recorded with a live band. Some of the guests include Clairy Browne, Vika & Linda Bull, Kira Puru, and Dan Sultan. Kelly talks about what led to this all-star album, the stripped-down way things were recorded, and what each vocalist brought to the project.
He’s taken the Do It Yourself mentality to a whole new level. Australian Claude Hay has built his own instruments, his own studio, even customized his touring van. When he plays live, he’s a one-man show, using looping technology to essentially play all the instruments himself. We talked to Hay when he released Deep Fried Satisfied back in 2010. Now, he returns with his 3rd album, entitled I Love Hate You. The title track is about his touring van, which he’s tricked out with a bar, but also has left him stranded on several occasions. He also talks about recording in his home studio, which is fitted with a giant Darth Vader head which lights up.
Australian songwriter Paul Kelly has put a new twist on the past. His new 8-CD box set, The A to Z Recordings, features recently performed live versions of 100 of his best songs in alphabetical order. The collection comes housed in a handsome booklet featuring photographs, old concert posters, paintings and pictures of artists that influenced Kelly’s music over the years.
He’s also written an accompanying book, How to Make Gravy, which he describes as a “mongrel memoir, that tells the story behind each song on the set. Icon Fetch talks with the prolific writer about the origins of the concerts which spawned the box set, how he chose the particular 100 (he’s written over 300), and some of the inspirations behind his best songs.
Guitarist Joe Robinson won Australia’s Got Talent back in 2008 when he was only 16 years old. He’s also been named “Best New Talent” by Guitar Player Magazine. Now he’s heading out on the road for his first-ever tour of the United States. Icon Fetch catches up with the young virtuoso to talk about his experience becoming a TV star in his homeland, recording his latest CD, and where he gets the wacky titles for his songs.
Colin Hay – Live at the Corner DVD (Compass Records) DVD review
Americans mostly remember Colin Hay as the lead singer for Men At Work; making goofy faces in the “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under” videos of 1982. The parent album, Business as Usual, spent a staggering 15 weeks at number one and was eventually knocked off the top spot by the even-bigger “Thriller” from you-know-who. I mention all this because Men at Work were HUGE, selling a combined nine million copies of their first two records.
Yet, even more surprising was how quickly they faded from view – the band released just one more disappointing album before calling it quits. Since his band’s breakup, Colin Hay has led a rather quiet solo career. But, as Live at the Corner shows, the Australian singer deserves a second look. The first thing you notice is that Hay’s voice has deepened a little, but he can still hit the high notes and he’s still got that trademark quiver at the top of his register as well. Some songs find Hay accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, while he’s joined on others by his fine-tuned band. Great care has been taken in the recording, especially in the impeccable sound quality. The concert features eight songs from his latest album at the time, 2007’s Are You Lookin’ At Me.
There’s a smattering of his previous solo albums; especially good is his spoken-word introduction before “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin” where he talks about getting dropped by his record company. Another surprise is how Hay handles his old Men at Work hits: many artists try and “reinterpret” old songs that they’re tired of, but he gives them very faithful readings. Adding an element of eye candy is Peruvian background vocalist Cecilia Noel, who slinks around the stage. Without a flautist, Noel mimics the beginning of “Down Under” acappella. The 21-song setlist moves incredibly fast; there’s so many good songs here that you find yourself asking “why is this guy playing a small club”? He’s improved as a songwriter over the years as well; his great melodies are still here but his lyrics have a deeper, resonating quality.
For proof of Hay’s true prowess as a songwriter, check out “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You.” If this song doesn’t move you, nothing will. The DVD features even more songs left off the actual concert, plus a 15 minute monologue that shows that Hay hasn’t lost any of the clever wit that made him a darling of MTV back in their heyday. Live at the Corner is a very enjoyable concert film. –Tony Peters
Australia’s Hoodoo Gurus have mixed garage rock, psychedelia, Motown and punk into their own brand of catchy tuneage for the last 30 years. Some of their alternative-rock hits include “Come Anytime,” and “Miss Freelove ’69”. They’ve just released their first new album in six years. Purity of Essence finds them doing what they do best: rocking out and having fun. Icon Fetch talks with singer Dave Faulkner about the new CD, managing to keep the same group of guys together, and recording one of their classic songs with the Bangles.
Australian Claude Hay is literally a one-man band, using his custom-made twin neck guitar-bass combination, plus a looping machine, to layer instruments while he plays. He’s just released Deep Fried Satisfied, a collection of songs as greasy and irresistible as the fast-food that inspired them. Icon Fetch talks with Hay about making his own instruments, and his love of both American music and food.
Following the death of original drummer Paul Hester, the remaining members of Crowded House reconvened in 2007 to record their first album in 14 years. That disc, Time On Earth, was a morose affair, yet even the most heartbreaking songs of loss were wrapped in gorgeous melodies, making it another triumph for the band. Flash forward to current day and Intriguer. Not surprising, the album sounds like the sister of Time on Earth; which is to say, it’s another mid-tempo affair filled with great songs.
Leader Neil Finn’s earliest work with the band, over 25 years ago, was perpetually sunny and immediately grabbed you. The songs on Intriguer are more intricate, darker, and sometimes haunting. It will take a few listens for these tracks to set in, but then they grab you. This is intricate pop music at its finest. There are little touches, like the fuzz bass and mandolin on “Saturday Sun,” or the dreamy sequence in “Either Side of the World,” adding to the ear candy. Many of these tunes start out as one thing and then turn into something altogether different.
Take “Falling Dove,” it starts as a fragile acoustic piece, then morphs into a Faces-type rocker in the middle, before returning for a quiet ending. Or, the next song, “Isolation,” which has this guitar-freakout ending. Another standout is “Twice If You’re Lucky” with its slinky guitar lines, it’s probably the happiest tune on the album. With two great albums in a row, here’s hoping Crowded House sticks around for a long time. — Tony Peters
Guy Sebastian won the inaugural season of Australian Idol and parlayed that into five top ten albums in his native country, including “The Memphis Album” that featured legendary guitarist Steve Cropper. Now Guy has his sights set on the US, with his first domestic release “I Like It Like That.” He gets help on the new disc from John Mayer, who plays guitar on three tracks and former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who duets with him on “Art of Love.” Icon Fetch talks with the soul singer from “down under.” Click below for the Guy Sebastian interview.
Sam Cutler was the tour manager for the Rolling Stones during their 1969 tour that ended in the Altamont concert tragedy. He later became the road manager for the Grateful Dead, helping them get out of debt and on their way to being one of the top-grossing bands in the world. Sam is the author of a new book called “You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life With the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates.” Icon Fetch talks with Cutler from his home in Australia, where he gives some of his thoughts on what went wrong during the Altamont free concert, and shares memories of the Dead and Janis Joplin. You can download an App for your I-phone and hear Sam read the book by clicking here. Click below for the Sam Cutler interview.