RAM The Way To Go Out Review
Review of The Way To Go Out album.
Author: Phil Stafford, RAM.
Date: 3 July 1985.
Original URL: N/A
Forget their name, even the title of this is a double-edge: The Way To Go Out isn’t just here to herald a leaner, meaner live-r Hunters & Collectors, it’s an assertion of identity.
Do we go out as a fashion band? Well, had no choice in the beginning. Deliberately obscurest (or perhaps as a reaction), inexplicably elevated to some select tier of the tribal elite by outside forces (first by the press, then by self-propagation of the graven image), H&C dwelt uneasily within their own ambivalent appellation. On the one hand, aggressively forward-looking; on the other, regressively precious and ‘random-ambient’ towards their own public perception.
Look at the early images. Lowenstein’s magnetic film montage for Talking To A Stranger, since unequalled for tis lurid, layered glimpses of desolation, paranoia, horror, beauty and vicious humour. A dissolving/reforming artiscape of alien visions. We see Mark Seymour alternately trussed, threatened, in a psychic and physical agony, crying in a brutal wilderness, cackling like a toothless hyena or melting beneath a shower of filter effects from Lowenstein’s voyeuristic camera. A thick rubber band contracts around his features, tensioned for maximum distortion effect. Lights, action, twist face! It works brilliantly, so simply. Constriction…Fear…Nervous Tension…Compulsion.
Art-rock? Phew! So to Lumps Of Lead (‘Floating on the harbour’), post-industrial nightmare visions drilled home via bludgeoning metaphor. Seymour in Silhouette, laser graffiti (phosphorescent paint?) projected on his cheek in a disturbingly eerie evocation of apocalypse soon…Silhouette breeds a lesser silhouette, and cut to starkly contrasting footage of a lone skater leaning light on the turns, Gossamer ice, and the Lumps Of Lead become more than laden images…More like impending crises, the metropolis in ruin. Understand, mind – nothing too graphic…
From future panic to Now Nerves, and Judas Sheep (datelines, as are the two clips preceding). The nerves fray further to abject Fear, as a machete stalks unwary prey – but its cutting edge is smeared with a black, ambiguous humour, slicing through a lemon at vital moments. Relief!
They’re the clips, and apart from later (brief) interludes of random footage, they leave the Hunters Phase One behind. Cue a sweating/gently wistful/grinding machine of blood-and-gristle Hunters, live at the Venue last year. Enter the Jaws of Life as it were…
And that’s where they snap shut on the inherent schizophrenia of the Hunters and Collectors. Collectors they were once – collectors of overblown accolades, beer-hall worship and lengthy late-night arguments in dim-lit garrets over just how tribally eclectic they were, man. Hell, they didn’t know who the fuck they were fooling…
Tonight at The Venue, they’re the Hunters. Stripped of some artillery since Lubran and Perano, yet fiercer for the shedding of gas cycliner and excess baggage guitar. Mark Seymour, glistening like a bronzed shark in his Vic Rools singlet, has opened up his own guitar playing to fill in the gaps and also prolong some others. Depends on his mood, now a cross between suburban larrikin and semi-rugged intellectual…with feelings, y’unnerstand, as he drips cryptic tenderness on Throw Your Arms Around Me only to get raving vicious in the very next song (Chalkie).
Uniformly anonymous-looking bunch, the rest of ’em…Like a muscle driven machine housing for the Real Human out front. Only the gently lyrical horns and occasional keyboard separate Seymour from this sonic wall…
Yup…Quite the humanus photogenus our Mark has become, all dark liquid stares and urge to communicate – something The Collectors never quite got round to doing back in FunkArtsVille.
The said around the time of its release that Jaws Of Life (the LP) was based loosely on the kamikaze mass-murderous ‘statement’ made by a crazed truck-driver who drove his rig through an Alice Springs motel back in ’83. Be that as it might, tonight’s performance at the Venue bears passing metaphorical resemblance – rather like a small bulldozer in its budging impact on the senses, yet burying all memory of H&C Mk I in its wake. They’re now pushing with positive momentum, rather than clinging to outside perceptions in search of their own identity.
It’s here, amidst the smoke-hazed, beery armpikts of Australian suburbia (inner and outer). Glimpses of the great gladiatorial pastime (football), pinball ‘n pool, slabs on the shoulder and party-till-you-puke rub flannelette shoulders with visions of the endless road, the crumbling Melbourne skyline and fragments of the band’s own self-image. Like the wall of the doll’s house in I Couldn’t Give It To You, festooned with press clippings. Personal fame as a microcosm of its own mass delusion? These are thinking Australians, though none the less a product of their environments.
And theses (the video and the record) are the products of their environment. Look around, if only to catch sight of a particular evolution.
Thankyou to Stephen for typing out this article for us all to enjoy!