All Music Guide: Hunters and Collectors

Information on Hunters & Collectors over the years.

Author:  Ed. Nimmervoll, All Music Guide.

Date: 1998.

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Article Text

Ending up with the intensity and passion of a U2, Hunters And Collectors carved a unique path and place for themselves in Australian rock culture. The group was originally formed in post-punk 1981 in Melbourne as a collective rather than a band, an excursion into funk-rock rhythms and industrial Kraut-rock. They named themselves after a song by Can.

The group’s early performances are remembered as chaotic, with audience members encouraged to join in on the banging rubbish bin lids or fire extinguishers. The extended line-up included a massed horn section known as the Horns of Contempt. Inside all this was singer Mark Seymour, with an ear for a melody and a taste for lyrical poetry. Illustrating the dichotomy at work “Talking To A Stranger” the band’s first single in July 1982 featured a concise edited version of the song on one side and a full length seven minute version on the other side. The single’s theme of alienation and aguish is one the band would return to, but for the moment the group’s emphasis was the free-form side of their work. The Hunters’ reputation spread to Europe where a stripped-back band spent six months in 1983, recording a second album The Fireman’s Curse in Germany with producer Conny Plank (Can, Kraftwerk). Pruned back to its essentials the band recorded another album with Plank, The Jaws Of Life and a single-only song “Throw Your Arms Around Me” in the “”Talking To A Stranger” mould. Hunters And Collectors was at a crossroads.

After a live album came Human Frailty where singer Mark Seymour’s deep songs about alienation and sexual politics came to the fore. The band had discovered how to tap the unique vein they had unearthered in the audience, where in a sweat-dripping venue packed to the rafters with a beer swilling macho rock audience, that audience would at the top of their voices sing the song chorus “you don’t make me feel like a woman anymore”. A newly recorded “Throw Your Arms Around Me” became one of the undisputed classic songs of Australian rock, and from now until their end Hunters And Collectors would remain one of Australian rock’s favourite live attractions. While successive studio albums did their best to explore new themes and new sounds to varying degrees of success it was the live performances fans were waiting for, and with each new album it was the older material radio wanted to play. In the end Hunters And Collectors was strangled by their own legend.

In 1998 the band announced they were recording their final album, Juggernaut, and supported it with a farewell tour. Mark Seymour released a solo album King Without A Clue, continuing his relentless search for meaning through song. When one Sunday in Mebourne sound man John Archer auctioned off the personally-designed PA which had been carried by the band for almost twenty years it signalled not just the end of Hunters And Collectors but the end also of Australian music’s post punk era.