Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Available now on vinyl for the first time, this was the re-formed Hello Sailor in '94 after the glory (and inglorious) days of the Seventies.
Hello Sailor was here reduced to the core songwriting trio of Harry Lyon, Graham Brazier and Dave McArtney – all of whom had enjoyed solo careers in the Eighties – for this reunion album where they were supported by a cast which included former shipmate Rick Ball (drums), Dave Dobbyn, longtime fellow traveler/producer Stuart Pierce (Street Talk, Poi E, Shihad etc), Warratah Barry Saunders and more.
Brazier delivered the hit New Tattoo which was archetypal Sailor, but McArtney's lyrics on the semi-autobiographical material like the ballad Never Fade Away (“we learned art of funky rock'n'roll, the singer had to be the show”) are the more interesting.
Although Brazier was considered the poet in the band (he styled himself that way, could quote screeds but went unpublished himself), McArtney here draws from King Lear (Ragin' With the Storm) and obliquely addresses his dangerous association with hard drugs (the anxious rock of Please Tease Me, the gritty Black Dreams co-written with Lyon).
There's a touch of Sailor's Ponsonby reggae (Brazier's GMT) here too, and Brazier's most lyrical song is Million $ Hand ("in a six dollar glove") but mostly this is a collection of mid-tempo pop-rock which only rarely blazed with the fire of their earlier work.
The Album, according to McArtney's autobiography Gutter Black was “a bit polished for Sailor” but it “outsold the Stones'Voodoo Lounge”.
Despite that sheen and some unmemorable songs, this largely overlooked and now repackaged collection deserves a revisit.
The Album is available on vinyl from Southbound Records in Auckland.
You can hear these songs and others at Spotify here.