Electric Newspaper OEM Review
Fairly positive “One Eyed Man” review.
Author: The Electronic Newspaper.
Date: March 2001.
Original URL: http://www.geocities.com/weaverandrew/oneeyedman.html.
For a long time, Mark Seymour was in one of the most loved of all Australian bands, the mighty Hunters & Collectors. Their catalogue included such classic albums as The Jaws of Life, Human Frailty and Ghost Nation, and anthemic singles like “The Slab”, “The Holy Grail”, “When the River Runs Dry” and the all-time classic, “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. So how hard has it been for Mark Seymour to forge an individual path as a solo performer? Well, imagine Thom Yorke without Radiohead, Bono without U2 or Ed Vedder without Pearl Jam.
With his first solo album, King Without a Clue, he fell somewhat short of the mark, with that album being perhaps too intense and too dark, almost like the Hunnas stripped of all their power but with their emotions taken to a new level of intensity. Pleasingly, on his second solo album one eyed man, Seymour has found his niche and returned to what he does best – writing great songs and delivering them with passion rather than sheer intensity.
Opening with “don’t you know me?”, perhaps the biggest surprise with one eyed man is just how ‘pop’ it is – whereas King Without a Clue was more roots-rock focussed, one eyed man immediately signals it’s intentions with a more pop bent, with the songs being catchy whilst still full of lyrical depth and power, but not sacrificing that power for sheer intensity. Surprisingly and pleasingly, much of one eyed man brings to mind the work of Crowded House, with a few forays into a more rock sound on a few tracks, but with tracks like “don’t you know me?”, “blue morning”, and “always a fool (for a pretty face)” being the best pop songs Seymour has ever penned.
The sort-of title track, “the ballad of the one eyed man”, is still the lynchpin of the album though. With an almost Bruce Springsteen-like honesty, it’s stripped of all other instrumentation other than Seymour and his guitar until the second chorus, when strings are brought in to increase the emotional impact of the song. And like all Seymour songs, the lyrics on one eyed man are as strong as ever, with a sense of world-weariness and a greater level of social responsibility being readily apparent – “ready to go” is about deaths in custody, whilst the picture under the CD shows the word ‘sorry’, as written by a sky-writer.
Whilst it’s ultimately unnecessary, at the end of the record, after the final track “on my way home” has finished, there’s a hidden, re-worked version of “Throw Your Arms Around Me”, which continues along with the style of one eyed man, with a more pop bent, and a more open sound to it. Along with the likes of Ed Keupper, Stephen Cummings et al, Mark Seymour is another artist that can’t buy radio play on either the commercial stations or Triple J. It seems unfair, as one eyed man is better than the majority of what’s on radio these days, and is another indicator that a more mature version of Triple J – like a BBC2 in England – is desperately needed in Australia.