Educating Peter # 3

July 8, 2012

The first instalment in this series was horrendously long (see here if you dare), and the second one wasn’t much better (here), so I’m going to try and make this one a little lot shorter.

(However, in my defence I’d like to say that a fair bit of the first instalment was taken up with me explaining the concept. But I will admit that once I got to the song I did prattle on a bit.)

As opposed to the previous songs being from overseas (i.e., not Australia), this week we have three songs by a stalwart of the Australian music industry, Russell Morris. (I’ve posted his music a couple of times before, so feel free to revisit them thar posts to get acquainted with Mr. Morris if you aren’t familiar with his oeuvre.)

I don’t know why Steve decided to edu-ma-cate me with three Russell Morris tracks. (My guess is that Steve loves all three songs and couldn’t decide on just one).

I’ll present the songs in chronological order.

Russell Morris – “Thunder Ground” (1979)

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Ah, you snuck in a song just before the 1980’s. That’s more than alright by me, because I’m a fan of the music of the 1970s.

Once the introduction was out of the way and the track got going (with the beat and the guitars), I thought “Hmm, that sounds a little like Bob Seger‘s ‘Hollywood Nights‘”. But when Russell sang his first note (at 0:26) I though “Wow, that sounds a lot like Bob Seger’s ‘Hollywood Nights'”:

Russell Morris – “Thunder Ground” (1979) (excerpt)

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Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – “Hollywood Nights (1978) (excerpt)

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I know this post is supposed to be about Russell Morris, but I just have to show you the live video of “Hollywood Nights”:

But back to Russell’s song. I can’t really add much to it at the moment (because I’m thinking I have two other songs to comment on), but I’d like to say that overall I think this is a good pub rock song.

(That’s a compliment. I don’t feel snippy about pub rock at all. I used to be in a pub rock band, and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t scar me emotionally.)

I don’t think the song is terribly unique, distinguished, or memorable, but I can imagine people in a pub back in 1979 enjoying it while they drink their beers.

While I’m listening to “Thunder Ground” I’m also thinking of Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City”. I don’t want to think of Jefferson Starship’s “We Built This City”.

As I’m listening to a melody in the chorus of “Thunder Ground” (1:03-1:05), I’m wondering if I’ve heard it somewhere else. Hmm. Maybe.

And that thing the band does in between verses (e.g., 1:18-1:24) sounds very familiar, too.

Boy, this song of Russell’s sure is making me think of other songs. I guess that’s one of the problems of a song that’s not terribly unique etc.

There’s a quiet section (with falsetto vocals) from 2:18 to 2:55 to break up the rockiness of the rest of the song, but there’s nothing really to report there. (Plus I’m trying to keep this post as short as I can.)

Actually, there is something unusual in this song: Russell’s falsetto note at 3:00. It’s very high and very long. And very weird.

There’s a perfectly serviceable guitar solo (3:08-3:22) before Russell and band get to the choruses that end the song.

Oh, I found one last weird thing. The band hits the song’s last chord at 4:23 but that last chord is repeated very strangely at 4:25 as the end of the song’s supposed to be fading out. It sounds to me like the MP3 was transferred from a vinyl recording (you can hear its vinyl-ness in the distortion on the voacls). I reckon the turntable needle slipped at that moment, repeated the last chord, and whoever transferred the track to digital didn’t notice it. (Or it’s possible they couldn’t fix the problem.) Either way, I found it an interesting end to a semi-interesting song.

Russell Morris & The Rubes – “In The Heat Of The Night” (1980)

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I prefer this song to “Thunder Ground”, but only just. I don’t think Russell’s singing in the first verse is all that good in the introduction (it’s pretty flat in places, especially 0:41-0:44). I did like the tiny piano fill at 0:29. (Sometimes it’s the little things.) I must admit that as I’m listening to the sound quality of all the instruments in the recording, I’m getting the impression that this was recorded on a budget, when Russell had past his commercial peak and there wasn’t much money available to him to record the way he would have liked. (In other words, it sounds like he recorded this with limited resources.)

There are a few other things I can mention about this song, but this post is getting longer and longer. Next song.

Russell Morris & The Rubes – “The Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes” (1980)

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This would be my pick of the bunch. I like the chorus (it’s hummable). However, that guitar riff reminds me of something. It’s played in various places throughout the song (most noticeably from 1:33-1:38) – because it keeps popping up, it’s taunting me to remember it before the song’s finished.

Nope. The song’s finished and I can’t think of where I’ve heard that guitar riff before. Ah well.

Reminiscent guitar riffs notwithstanding, I didn’t mind “The Roar Of The Wild Torpedoes”. I didn’t think it was great, but not horrible at all. It was an OK song to go with the other OK songs in Michael’s ‘Russell Morris Grab Bag’.

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Thanks, Michael. Keep ’em coming.

By the way, I don’t know if Michael will feel miffed about this, but I’d be happy to accept submissions from anyone else who wants to woo me with 80’s tracks they feel might persuade me to think about the 80’s as something other than a musical wasteland.