No rust on Rus­sell

Rock icon de­fied ex­pec­ta­tions to go old-school with ac­claimed blues record, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

HEN Rus­sell Mor­ris de­cided his next labour of love would be a blues record, in­dus­try heavy­weights shook their heads and ques­tioned the move.

But the rock icon is de­lighted to have the last laugh – the very same al­bum that top record la­bels re­jected has re­ceived an ARIA nom­i­na­tion for best blues and roots record.

Re­leased last year, Shark­mouth is an al­bum of blues orig­i­nals about no­to­ri­ous, colour­ful Aussie char­ac­ters and sto­ries from the 1920s and ’30s.

The in­de­pen­dent come­back al­bum made it into the ARIA top 20 five months af­ter it was re­leased.

‘‘I de­cided I wanted to do a blues al­bum out of sheer love and it was just a lovely project,’’ he says.

‘‘When I tried to get a record deal – no one was in­ter­ested. Ev­ery­one turned it down. I ran into an ex-man­ager and he said: ‘why would you do that’. Peo­ple were against it be­cause they didn’t un­der­stand me do­ing blues when I was so suc­cess­ful do­ing rock.’’

Mor­ris was in­ducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008 and en­joyed reg­u­lar Top 10 sta­tus in the late 1960s and early ’70s for his hits The Real Thing, Wings of an Ea­gle, Live with Friends and Hush.

The Aus­tralian singer-song­writer en­joyed his re­turn to blues and roots.

‘‘You have got to be prag­matic about th­ese things,’’ he says.

‘‘In the mu­sic in­dus­try, it’s all about which door you will open next. Some­times you open it and the room will be empty.

‘‘Other times it’s full of op­por­tu­ni­ties. There’s a lot of serendip­ity in­volved.’’

Mor­ris and old friend Jim Keays hit the road for a joint tour to play crowd favourites to­gether.

Keays, for­mer front­man for rock out­fit The Mas­ters Ap­pren­tices, is known for his hits Liv­ing in a Child’s Dream, Turn Up Your Ra­dio, Be­cause I Love You and El­e­va­tor Driver.

Mor­ris and Keays wrote Black­dog Blues to­gether, the open­ing track from Shark­mouth.

‘‘Jimmy and I share a nice chem­istry – we mostly just rub­bish each other on stage,’’ he laughs.

‘‘We will both per­form and sing each oth­ers songs.’’

Mor­ris has al­ready fin­ished his next al­bum, which he in­tends to record soon.

‘‘I re­ally have a great love of Aus­tralian his­tory – the next al­bum is still blues and roots, sort of Ir­ish blues in a way,’’ he says.

Rus­sell Mor­ris and Jim Keays play Lon­es­tar Tav­ern, Mer­maid Waters, tomorrow night.

Rus­sell Mor­ris

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