Album Review: Crucible – The Songs Of Hunters & Collectors (2013 LP)

A positive review for the new Hunters and Collectors tribute album, Crucible.

Author:  Sharon Brookes, The AU Review.

Date: 27 September 2013.

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One would have to have a lot of balls to fix that iconic thing that is not broken. (Definitely not broken.) Fifteen of the bravest bands and beings on the face of this earth have gathered to show respect to one of the greatest Aussie bands of all time Hunters & Collectors. They have come forward to make a go of interpreting a handful of songs by the much-regarded ‘Hunners’, and Crucible – The Songs Of Hunters & Collectors is the product of their valiant efforts.

Sadly, some of the music from the Hunters & Collectors back catalogue is missing, but you do still get a lot for your money and perhaps, to look on the bright side, there would be enough good music for a second volume. A&R executive John O’Donnell co-ordinated this tribute to the band, and few would have envied the tough decisions he must have had to make when choosing who would be on such an album and which songs they would record.

We’ve got to go back to the beginnings of Hunters & Collectors, and look at the band’s influences to make sense of some of these new interpretations. For the times the ‘Hunners’ were way ahead for a group in Australia. They took their inspiration from many genres but particularly German krautrock. They list Kraftwerk as an influence, though managed through their guitar and bass driven sound to make the music relevant to us here, and an Aussie barbecue just wouldn’t have been complete without the Hunners blasting from the old stereo in the garage.

Still there is a place for Hunters & Collectors, as this new recording attests. Whether you really enjoy listening or not will depend solely on whether you are looking for a carbon copy of the band’s music, or whether you are open-minded enough to let the interpretations in. There are some absolute rippers here. The LP begins with Birds Of Tokyo’s cover of the Avalanche’s cover of the song “Talking To A Stranger”, and despite there being more covers than a couch, this is still recognisable as emanating from the original…with lots of differences.

As is the case with a number of the songs on this album, Birds Of Tokyo par back the style and the original krautrock influence on the music is very evident in the electronic beats and almost euro-pop, deliberate presentation of their version of “Talking To A Stranger”. It is perhaps surprising that Eddie Vedder’s voice harmonises so well with Neil Finn’s on “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. There are incredible depths to Vedder’s vocal timbre and his voice is aurally pleasing here. Matt Corby sings “This Morning” with Missy Higgins, and manages to sound like The Tea Party’s, Jeff Martin.

There is so much to rave about. From the clunky industrial sound of Oh Mercy’s clunky industrial version of “The Slab (Betty’s Worry)” to Abbe May’s interpretation of “Dog”, there is something to like in each track and for almost everyone. Mark Seymour approves of what these bands have done and is chuffed with how respectfully the songs have been constructed. Imitation is supposedly the best form of flattery, and this is flattery in its best form. If “Everything’s On Fire” was included here, it’d definitely be just perfect.

Review Score: 9.0 out of 10 – AU APPROVED!

Crucible: The Songs of Hunters and Collectors was released today.