Crucible – The Songs of Hunters & Collectors (West Australian)

An overall positive review of the Crucible tribute album.

Author:  Simon Collins, The West Australian.

Date: 27 September 2013.

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Tackling one of the most misunderstood bands in Oz rock history can’t be easy.

Hunters & Collectors veered from jagged post-punk to pub rock to national anthems, their early arty explorations drowned out by the raised beers and voices singing Holy Grail and Throw Your Arms Around Me.

The homegrown talent fundamentally take three approaches.

The first is to be utterly faithful: Something for Kate and the Living End rock through, respectively, When the River Runs Dry and Say Goodbye.

Both win, mainly because the songs are already rippers.

The second method is to almost forget the original and apply your own blueprint – the beguiling Alpine “Alpinize” Hear No Evil and the Rubens risk exile by soul-rocking Holy Grail.

Acoustic folk band Husky do an acoustic folk version of Blind Eye. Abbe May puts Dog on her “doom-pop” leash.

The third approach is to channel the essence of the original into something completely fresh. British India does a very good Tubeway Army overhaul of Do You See What I See? Matt Corby and Missy Higgins will surprise many with their dramatic take on This Morning – the Corbster’s baritone sounds like Matt Berninger of the National.

Oh Mercy deliver a fun, funky version of The Slab, complete with sampled footy commentary, while the Panics get trippy on a rare early album track, Alligator Engine.

But the most glorious reinvention is by the triumvirate of Paul Kelly, Stiff Gins singer Emma Donovan and indigenous hip-hop producer Jimblah, who transform 1992 single True Tears of Joy into something pure, entrancing and celestial.

This stunning moment alone makes the project worthwhile.

The biggest, and perhaps only, letdown is the shambolic and shouted campfire rendition of Throw Your Arms Around Me.

The culprits are two of the biggest names on here: Neil Finn and Eddie Vedder.

Crucible is bookended by Birds of Tokyo’s atmospheric cover of Talking to a Stranger and the Avalanches’ Stalking to a Stranger remix, the first new sounds from the Melbourne mix-masters in more than decade.

Not bad, but hardly worth the wait nor the hype.

The young, fearless artists plus Kelly’s gang deserve the spotlight, alongside a renewed recognition that Hunters & Collectors were a damn special band.