Thursday 22 October 2015

Smudge - Manilow tribute album

Manilow is 19 songs over one record. It's some gift to write this many short songs with so much punch, pop and depth that still sound fresh 21 years later.

Evan Dando co-wrote two of them, but Smudge's Tom Morgan wrote many more than that with Evan for the Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray and Come On Feel albums.

And Manilow is at least the equal of either of those albums. It's a slacker masterclass with a punk backbone and an easy way with simple hooks. It hits the spot every time.

That Lemonheads connection is still the claim to fame, but this misses just how vital the Sydney scene was in the early 90s. Nic Dalton's label Half A Cow showcased many of them, including Smudge and his own Godstar.

Nic was playing with Sydney band The Hummingbirds, supporting the Lemonheads in 1991. After that, Nic and Tom joined the Lemonheads.

I came to the Lemonheads through Godstar's Kitchen because a girlfriend knew it as a Lemonheads song. So I went to the Lemonheads' It's A Shame About Ray album that way. Yeah, it's got all the production smarts and the hit singles but you know that doesn't mean it's better.

Manilow should have been a hit, but you also know the world doesn't work that way. A new generation (and Evan Dando) of musician fans has made a Manilow tribute album. I haven't heard it, but Courtney Barnett's Divan cover should be a knockout on the basis of this live version:

I haven't ordered the album yet. They're signed by Smudge. Do you think they'd not sign one if I asked nicely? Yeah, I prefer record sleeves that people haven't written on. What? If you're the type of person who's been buying these sort of records for decades you've got to have at least one (and, in my case, only one) quirk.

Alison Galloway anecdote
Alison was, and sometimes still is, Smudge's drummer. She's the subject of Alison's Starting To Happen. She took a break from rock'n'roll and Australia from 1999-2002.

During that time, my friend Tali from The Lucksmiths was living in London and fulfilling his ambition of using his teaching qualification instead of touring the world penniless and sleeping on floors.

On his first day at a south London school, a colleague said, "There's another Australian here. You probably know her."

Tali told me that this happens all the time. Everyone in Britain thinks there are only about 1,000 Australians and they all know each other.

You're ahead of me here, I can tell. That other Australian teacher was Alison Galloway. She'd interviewed The Lucksmiths for Australian MTV. "The indie mafia is teaching your children," Tali claimed.

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