Long Live Artistry
Positive new album release review of The Jaws of Life.
Author: Wally Butcher, The Melbourne Times.
Date: 5 September 1984.
Original URL: N/A
The Jaws of Life is the third LP brought out by Melbourne’s Hunters & Collectors and their second recorded and mixed in West Germany. So if I say that the whole thing sounds like it was done in a garage, you’ll understand that I’m not talking about inexperience of a lack of authority.
Far from it!
What The Jaws of Life does communicate, with consummate authority, is all the energy and raw excitement of backyard rock and roll. This stuff is not the self-conscious and sophisticated sound that characterised their last two efforts in the studio (though they were pretty impressive!).
Instead, the Hunters & Collectors have come up with a n album of rhythmic emotionally charged accessible music. Art has been chucked out the window and artistry dominates in its stead. The result, as anyone who’s been to their recent gigs knows, is great.
Indeed, it’s hard to listen to this recording and not think of it as a performance in itself. It comes across cleanly, directly and with assured control. Only on the fourth track of side one does the studio mixing cause a few hassles – the brass is held back too far – but, really, even this is only a minor quibble.
No, overall, this is an LP which involves. The voice behind the lyrics may well have no fixed address but its cultural roots lie in the life of this continent, and especially its road life. Bitumen and dirt tracks dominate the imagery, and the closest anyone comes to settling down is to pause on the occasional back-porch or doorstep. Houses are left behind and motels are demolished by the “everlasting kiss” of a semi-trailer at full speed.
Oh yeah, it’s fun too. Somehow the group has struck a nice balance between emotional honesty and tongue in cheek scepticism. The result, I guess, is soul, epitomised perhaps in the one song they didn’t write but which they undeniably make theirs – Ray Charles’ I Believe. As the man sings out on another track, The Slab: “You think I’m sweating like this just for fun?” Sometimes fella, sometimes.
The music revs up, changes gear, alters speed and direction but never idles or slips into reverse. All the contributions, instrumental and vocal, are strong, and even the sleeve (for once) has something to offer beyond a casual glance. Needless to say, it comes recommended.
Thankyou to Stephen for typing out this article for us all to enjoy!