Friday, November 18, 2005

Hunters & Collectors - Cut (1993)

Lately my morning and evening commutes have been accompanied by and large by Hunters & Collectors. While normally I prefer the raw energy of their live material, I've lately come to appreciate the brilliance of some of their studio material.

There are those CDs you hear that are good from start to finish, nary a weak track on them. Cut is such an album.

The album immediately hooks you with H&C's trademark groove on the opening track, Head Above Water. For those unfamiliar with H&C's work-- their style falls somewhere between U2 and INXS. Lead singer, Mark Seymour has a style all his own, but on first listen one can certainly hear traces of Bono and Michael Hutchence in his vocal delivery.

Admittedly, at first listen I didn't get it, I didn't understand the fuss. I had purchased their Collected Works compilation, listened to it and set it aside... But without my realizing it, something had happened when I listened to it that first time. The groove snuck into my bloodstream and stayed there. A few years later I gave the CD another try... again I didn't "get it" (or at least I didn't think I had)-- but once again I was wrong, that groove that had snuck into my bloodstream the first time around, just kept getting louder on each subsequent listen.

I'm a self professed, "Oztraphile" (fan and collector of things Australian and pertaining to Australian culture-- including books, films, and music)-- I've sampled a handful of Australian groups, Cold Chisel, The Cruel Sea, and heck even the ones most Americans HAVE actually heard of (Little River Band, INXS, ACDC, Midnight Oil, etc.), but unlike those other groups that I've sampled, I find myself coming back again... and again... and again for more of this infectious groove, for more of Mark Seymour's voice (which I grow to enjoy more and more with each listen), for the subtle trumpet and French horns which sneak there way into and linger in the background of many of their songs.

A handful of these songs from Cut found their way into H&C's live set and thus onto their live albums in the mid-late nineties. But even those that didn't are strong songs, songs I find humming to myself, or serenading me to sleep on that mental jukebox that only I can hear in the wee twilight hours as sleep wraps me in its gentle embrace.

This band which got to me unknowingly at first just with subtle nudgings, has wrapped itself around me so tightly and made me fall in love with their music so deeply that even when I'm not listening to it, I'm hearing it in my head-- a soundtrack of my life. But as Mark Seymour so eloquently sings on the track, Hear No Evil-- "give me total control, and I'll give you salvation." I gave Hunters & Collectors total control and they gave me a musical salvation!

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