Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although always much admired, Melbourne's Hunters and Collectors never quite grabbed international attention in the way they might have deserved. And their 1984 single Throw Your Arms Around Me (which was re-recorded twice more) was a genuine classic.
Frontman Mark Seymour (brother of Crowded House's Nick, and early in their career a difficult man to interview in my experience) was a kind of pub rock intellectual with enormous sex appeal.
The band also had an interesting journey and by the time of their Ghost nation album in 1990, the same year they were named Australian Band of the Year and were supporting Midnight Oil, they had changed their sound considerably.
On their exceptional self-titled debut album (double vinyl in '82, one disc at 33 and the other at 45) they delivered a kind of industrial funk with a clanging drive as Greg Perano banged away on an empty gas tank.
Taking their name from a track on Can's album Landed, they were inner-city and edgy, closer perhaps to art-rock than the sound of the pubs in which they would play. Their lead-off song on that debut -- the visceral Talking to a Stranger -- is one of things once-heard, never-forgotten.
Their second album -- appropriately recorded with Connie Plank in his German studio -- didn't quite meet the high expectation they had set, but Jaws of Life (also recorded with Plank) was their breakthrough.
Over the years the percussive bottom was shorn away and they became a more traditonal rock'n'roll pub band, and one of the best. The opening chords of Faraway Man on the '87 album What's a Few Men? could have come from Keith Richards. Do You See What I See? became a live staple.
By Demon Flower of '94 -- which reached number two on the Australian charts -- they were fully fledged rock band.
Despite attempts at getting them away in the US with a rejigged What's a Few Men? retitled as Fate, they didn't connect with audiences there, nor did their Cut album produced by American Don Gehman (REM, John Mellencamp).
Their split at the end of the Nineties was inevitable and Seymour undertook a solo career.
But Hunters and Collectors were a pivotal Ausralian band and that debut remains a remarkable document, and scattered across their later albums were strong hearted ballads and great songs.
This Classic Album Collection rather overstates the contents and unfortunately doesn't include The Jaws of Life, but here is the gutsy debut, The Fireman's Curse, What's a Few Men?, Demon Flower and their final studio album Juggernaut.
And unfortunately on none of them is Throw Your Arms Around Me.
But that clanking, dramatic debut is essential.
And with this much Hunters and Collectors for just $20 at JB Hi-Fi stores here, that is why this is this week's Bargain Buy.