No rust on Russell
Rock icon defied expectations to go old-school with acclaimed blues record, writes
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.