Crucible: The Songs of Hunters and Collectors
THE first problem you’d have, in what practically amounts to a reworking of the soundtrack of a generation, is this: who the hell would be game enough to take on that most wrenching yet deceptively simple creation, Throw Your Arms
Around Me? It once, a lifetime ago, may have been a perfect gem of a song, with its blunt three-chord structure and love-everlasting lyrics, but it has surely been buggered up beyond all belief by a million high school singalongs and drunken foolon-a-stool renditions down the local. Luckily, two of rock’s towering figures, Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn, have stepped up and given Mark Seymour’s signature piece a new layer of complexity. It works. The next question would be, how do you do justice to an anarcho-democratic musical outfit that covered the gamut from experimental percussion to finely crafted tunesmithing? The answer turns out to be that you just let people have their head — and it comes off remarkably well. The band’s earliest days are well represented ( Betty’s Worry or
The Slab, in a slick treatment by Oh Mercy; the Panics attack Alligator Engine; and there are two versions of Talking to a Stranger to bookend the piece, the latter, by the Avalanches, being a sublime thing). Later years get a decent guernsey, too: the Living End gives Say Goodbye a rollicking crack and the wistful sound of Melbourne act Husky comes nicely at the 1989 hit Blind Eye. Disc two contains the H&C originals, should all this reinterpreting have you feeling antsy.