In 1978, James Reyne formed Australian Crawl with Simon Binks. Australian Crawl made one of the most memorable debuts on the popular music television program of the day Countdown, for the fact that James performed with both arms in a plaster cast, a result of injuries sustained after being hit by a car. The band went on to sell more than 1 million albums in Australia in the 1980s, creating several memorable songs that still resonate within Australian culture and on Australian radio today (perhaps most notably "Errol", "Boys Light Up", "Downhearted", "Oh No Not You Again" and "Reckless").
During his time with "The Crawl", Reyne established himself as a powerful and versatile singer/songwriter and one of the leading talents in the country.
As the decade wore on, Australian Crawl enjoyed a succession of smash hit's on the Australian (and oddly enough, Brazilian) charts, but after fellow band-member Guy Mcdonough was diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer, the steam went out of the band and after several albums and a lot of fantastic concerts, Aussie Crawl was a thing of the past and the band members went their separate ways.
Following the demise of the seminal Australian Crawl, lead singer James Reyne continued to chart the musical path he initiated in the last stages of his former band's career. It was through leaving his homeland that the Melbourne native found the inspirations for his debut disc. The distinctive voice and singing style of James Reyne, was always in my opinion "the sound of Australian Crawl". After two years of touring the world, Reyne began his solo work in London, sculpting out a sound indebted to the Crawl but with a depth, scope, and edge uniquely his own. The resultant cinematic James Reyne, released in Australia in 1987, was a powerhouse of an album, a claim-staking arrival cry of a new voice in popular music -- one that would touch down in rock, country, folk, outback, poetic, and rootsy territory, while still managing to transcend them all. The album produced three Australian Top Ten hits and afforded Reyne a fanatical following culminating in a dynamic tour with Tina Turner. Ironically, it was only after this jaunt with Turner that Reyne's album was released (to minimal response) in America nearly two years after its initial appearance.
Working with frequent collaborator Simon Hussey, Reyne's sophomore effort echoed the success of its predecessor in Australia, yet slipped through the cracks nearly everywhere else. Hard Reyne produced several more chart-topping singles and spawned another sellout Aussie tour, but was never released overseas. As a result, Reyne chose to extend his collaborations for his third album to include Jim Vallance (Bryan Adams' longtime producer) and Louisiana maestro Tony Joe White. The resultant Electric Digger Dandy (released in America as Any Day Above Ground) was a wildly original variation on Reyne's first two albums. While still maintaining the urgent and edgy rock feel of James Reyne, the lyrics became significantly darker and even more cryptic ("Dust on the bible/The man who waits behind your door/You can't feel/You can't score/Breathing on his face to make him real" from "Take a Giant Step"). A startlingly oddball collection, Electric Digger Dandy was capped by Reyne's re-do of the Australian Crawl classic "Reckless," as if reminding his fans that these wildly eclectic works came from the same source as those old Crawl beach ditties (having much the same effect as Brian Wilson's 1988 solo album).
After another tour that established Reyne as one of the most important and groundbreaking Australian artists past or present, the bush poet laureate further shattered convention by collaborating with offbeat country artist James Blundell on a wacky re-do of The Dingoes' "Way Out West" for Blundell's This Road album. The charity single for the National Farmer's Federation lodged at the top of the charts for a considerable time, and providing significant relief for a period of major droughts.
After a two-year hiatus and a major-label change, Reyne returned to the solid song craftsmanship of his solo debut for The Whiff of Bedlam, in many ways his strongest album to date. Produced by radio-friendly Stuart Levine, this epic collection boasts some of Reyne's finest writing, his edginess worked into the fabric of the songs rather than racing around them. Bookended by hit singles "Red Light Avenue" and "Day in the Sun," Whiff also contains a beautifully tragic rendition of Steely Dan's "Only a Fool Would Say That." But the highlight of this song cycle is the haunting single, "It's Only Natural," which laces an unforgettably hook-laden melody around bizarro lyrics like "Anglo-Reptilian/Wrist-watch radio titters/She waltzes her way through the aerodrome/Powdering conversation with pigeon-Indo/She catches her plane to petty, sun-white, two-tone
|James Reyne Today|
Not Reyne's best album, but still OK nonetheless. Further collaboration with Simon Hussey finds Reyne treading water to some degree, trying to replicate the success of his debut, while lacking the fury and energy that made that album so utterly compelling. "One More River" and "Wake Up Deadman" share a more traditionally bluesy feel, while "House Of Cards" tries to echo the intensity of earlier classics. A mellower, less surprising effort, Hard Reyne is not a bad album by any means. There is just nothing here to render it great. [review by Tomas Mureika, Rovi]
I would like to add my 'two bobs worth' by saying that I think this album is better than this - there are some wonderful moments on this album and although not every track has the catchy riffs and whining vocals typical of his Crawl days, each song has something to offer the listener. In fact, my favourite tune is "Rumour" which could have easily been a hit if released as a single.
This post consists of a MP3 (320kps) rip taken from CD and includes full album artwork for both CD and LP. In addition, I have included two B-Side singles that did not appear on his album, and they are by no means throw away tracks. "Jim Dandy" is the flip-side to "One More River" and "Walking In The Dreamtime" is the flip-side to "House Of Cards".
So forget the laim review above and do yourself a favor if you haven't heard this album already. Grab yourself a copy now. How hard can it be?
01 - House Of Cards
02 - Rumour
03 - No Such Thing As Love
04 - One More River
05 - Shine On
06 - Harvest Moon
07 - Lamp Of Heaven
08 - Drifting Away (Confusion Of Slow Novas)
09 - Trouble In Paradise
10 - Five Miles Closer To The Sun
11 - Wake Up Dead Man
12 - Jim Dandy (Bonus B-side Single)*
13 - Walking In The Dreamtime (Bonus B-Side Single)*
* Non-album tracks
James Reyne (Guitar, Vocals)
Simon Hussey (Keyboards)
Andy Cichon (Bass)
John Watson (Drums)
James Ralston (Guitar)
Ollie Marland (Piano)
Gary Barnacle (Sax)
John Thirkell (rumpet)
Judy Cheeks (Backing Vocals)
James Reyne Link (137Mb) New Link 28/06/2016