Song of the day: Railroad Gin – "A Matter Of Time"

November 3, 2009

Today’s song isn’t particularly power-poppy, but my friend Stonefish suggested it*, and it’s rare, and unusual, so…

Here’s Brisbane band Railroad Gin with “A Matter Of Time” (1974):

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“A Matter Of Time” appears on the band’s debut album, A Matter Of Time, which was recorded in 1974 but released in 1975. No, I don’t know why either.

(Here’s a small review of the album: it sounds very early-70’s. I can hear shades of jazz rock, prog rock, Santana, Chicago, Woodstock, and a pile of other things – all accompanied by long, long hair. If that’s your scene, man, then you’ll probably enjoy it.)

Railroad Gin were apparently hugely popular in Brisbane in the early 70’s. I have absolutely no recollection of any Brisbane bands in the early 70’s. This is probably due to me being a South Australian boy listening to South Australian radio in, er, South Australia in the early 70’s. However, according to this page, Railroad Gin “often played in Adelaide” (I don’t remember that), and “A Matter Of Time” “topped the charts there” (I don’t remember that either).

Boy, there’s so much Australian rock history I still don’t know…

Anyway, “A Matter Of Time” reminds me of two other songs. First of all, the feel of the song (or “vibe” if you want to get all Seventies) reminds me a lot of Santana‘s “Oye Como Va” (1971):

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That vibe also reminds me a little of “Lady Montego” by Ayers Rock which was released around the same time (1974). (Unfortunately, the video for “Lady Montego” reminds me of this scene in This Is Spinal Tap.)

But most of all, the main vocal melody in “A Matter Of Time” makes me wonder (“Ooh, and it makes me wonder…“) if the writers were at all familiar with “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” one of the songs in George Gershwin‘s opera Porgy and Bess – especially this Australian version:

Normie Rowe – “It Ain’t Necessarily So (1965)

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I’d say yes.

By the way, there are two versions of “A Matter Of Time,” one much longer than the other (the short version is at the top of this post). It’s basically the same song played twice, but played in two different ways. The first half is entirely instrumental, played not by yer standard guitar, bass, and drums, but with orchestral instruments (cor anglais, strings, and flute). The second half of the song starts at the 2:30 mark (this is where the short version begins) when the band comes and plays the rest of the song in its own jazz-prog-rocky way:

Railroad Gin – “A Matter Of Time” (long version) (1974)

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(*Thanks, Stoney!)