MUSIC legend Russell Morris has taken on the trappings of a husky-toned bluesman to produce a powerful album steeped in Australian history. Morris shot to fame in the late 1960s with the Molly Meldrum-produced classic The Real Thing and went on to record a string of hits such as
The Wings of an Eagle and the haunting Sweet Sweet Love. Here Morris takes his powerful voice to surprisingly earthy depths to tell the stories of a progression of 20th-century Australian characters, ranging from boxer Les Darcy to notorious hard-man Squizzy Taylor and Sydney’s Mr Eternity. The album gets into the groove with
Black Dog Blues, a toe-tapping piece co-written with former touring mate Jim Keays and featuring some nice guitar from Shannon Bourne. Bourne is joined by Adrian Violi on drums and Mitch Cairns on bass/Wurlitzer to underpin the album, but Morris also gets some help from the likes of country singer and guitarist Troy Cassar-Daley, the legendary Renee Geyer and Mark ‘‘ Diesel’’ Lizotte (who plays banjo and cello). The result is a nicely balanced album of blues, ballads and rock ‘ n’ roll enriched by the historic subject matter. It is an album whose lyrics are as interesting as the music. Favourites include the banjo-backed Squizzy and the atmospheric The Drifter, about a 1927 gambler who, legend has it, survived his reported murder, which sees Morris trading vocals with Geyer, backed by the eerie harp of Chris Wilson.
Sharkmouth is a classy, bluesy journey through Australiana that keeps giving, through to the closing strains of final track Mr Eternity. As Molly Meldrum would have said in his glory days: Do yourself a favour . . .