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THE JAWS OF LIFE. Hunters and Collec tors. White Label Records. Manufac tured and distributed by Festival Re
EVER wondered about those people
who say they love music but are the first to leave a room when they hear sounds not quite to their liking?
It's strange really. How can you love something if you don't at least give it a chance? Such reactions seem to reflect very narrow tastes, where closed ears greet anything unconventional - no. matter what field, whether it's classical, jazz, rock or parts thereof.
This all leads in to the Hunters and Collectors' latest album, 'The Jaws of Life', recorded and mixed earlier this year in West Germany.
It's an album that many will shy away from - at first listenings, especially, there arc some jarring notes - but it certainly doesn't deserve to fall on deaf ears.
The music is abrasive but creative. Full of raw energy and power. Not particularly pretty but incredibly satisfying. Be warned: if you're heavily committed, to the gentle and conventional, you'd best veer
But if you're willing to venture into the more jolting and thought-provoking areas of music, the rewards are rich. In many ways the album is one of the most exciting,
challenging and honest records compiled by an Australian band in recent times.
An inkling of what lies ahead comes through the words of the album's title - the more seamy side of life, the ugliness and terror. And the storming, blues-edged music backed by the untamed and rough vocals of Mark Seymour (who's also re sponsible for most of the lyrics) fit com fortably with the message.
It would be a huge shame if the band slunk into oblivion. And there have been some strains. Already some upheavals and disappointments have been suffered. The band, formed in Melbourne in late 1980, developed a big live following in that city and later in Sydney and other parts but success with records did not follow at a similar volume. A great pity because the band's delivered some memorable stuff, including the weird and wonderful 'Judas Sheep'.
The crunch came for two members - Martin Lubran (guitar) and Greg Perano (percussion) - after the "lack of success" during a six-month stay in Britain last year. They've left the band. But Hunters and Collectors remain buoyant and op timistic because, as Seymour says, the remaining members believe "they have something valuable to offer the Australian music scene". It's easy to agree with that
From the opening track, '42 Wheels', the darkish mood of the whole album is
set. And it doesn't take much to realise what the song's about, especially with lyrics such as: "I got a heavy little number, 42 wheels of pleasure and pain, I'm going to head it on down upon the Alice again." It's a song with driving drum, good key boards and revving-motor sounds. And if you don't know what the song is about by now there are more clues: a semi trailer on the album cover and an epitaph to those who died at the Alice Springs pub in August last year.
The band's sound relies heavily on bass guitar and percussion. There's a steady, throbbing beat throughout. All the songs have something going for them, whether it's good brass solos (trumpet, French horn, trombone), or the harmonies of voices or guitar work or lyrics. The latter are brimming with skill. Seymour has a lovely, if somewhat grisly, way with words, such as on 'Betty's Worry or The Slab': "I was looking to see some dreams drip from my fingers, I was working in that lonely place where memories linger."
There are quieter moments such as on 'Hayley's Doorstep', but the quieter tempo of that song only camouflages the threat ening and disturbing power of both the lyrics and music.
One of the best songs is a rendition of the Ray Charles' number 'I Believe'. Classic blues updated.
All in all, a package of power and great impact.