Shark­mouth

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

Rus­sell Mor­ris

Fan­fare

★★★★✩

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 . . .

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