A New Zealand Pop Outfit That Aren't Crowded House in a Top Ten!? Sacrilege!
The Mutton Birds - Rain, Steam and Speed (Shhhhh! Records, 1999)
The Mutton Birds - Pulled Along By Love
Good day to you all! I have returned from pastures of peat and moss refreshed and ready to roll on the continuation of this rather pleasant series. Since I left, I have received a very welcome set of packages from both Kelp Records (containing the new Acorn and Greenfield Main albums) and Not Lame (my Clubhouse membership bundle including a snazzy purple t-shirt and 'International Pop Overthrow Vol. 8'). I'm in negotiations to set up an interview with the founder of Kelp and frontman of Greenfield Main and Rhume, Jon Bartlett, as soon as I sort out all this Skype business. I've also given my good friend Jefito the first part of my Otis Redding Complete Idiot's Guide which you can read right here. It's been a very busy couple of days.
Along with all that fuss, I've also rediscovered a lost member of my rather vast CD collection that was picked up for a ridiculously cheap price and then hidden next to Gay Dad never to be gazed on again... until the day I decided to refresh my CD changer for the long trip to Derbyshire. Hence, four days later, I was driving down the M1 back to my lovely lady's abode screaming bloody murder at the car stereo as I just couldn't remember what the blasted CD was! Richard Hawley? I didn't own any of his records! Sparklehorse? No, too vibrant! So with track 8 whirring like a demented dervish on my mental gramophone I pulled into the Leicester services, ripped open the boot door, and discovered that the tiny piece of unidentifiable alloys that had vexed me for so long was in fact the pop genius Don McGlashan and his band, The Mutton Birds.
Now I've given up album reviews for a while so that I can increase my output on Adventures... so a long discussion of the delights of 'Ascloseasthis's cooing feedback loop, the threadbare picking on the folky 'Jackie's Song', and the tearstained nostalgia of 'The Falls' will have to wait for a time when we're all gathered around a splendid fire with brandies in hand and cigars in blistered maws. Over the recent weeks, I've begun referring to certain songs as archetypes; song's with such tight structures and heart imploding melodies as to form a blueprint upon which all other substandard works attempt to build. Wire's 'Outdoor Miner' is such a song. 'Pulled Along By Love' with its economical lyric structure of A-B-A (although with some minor deviations) is a revelation where each word is judged on a its own merit. The imagery raised by McGalshan's statement that "They're buttoned up against it/All the king's horses and all the five cents" goes beyond the witnessing of a simple meeting of two people on a train platform. Metronomic tin pan drum clicks and backwards piano set out their stall as McGlashan begins to move beyond the physical in a push toward the theoretical. Are the two mother and son? Are they lovers who have been long apart? Or are they simply strangers caught in a moment; a bubble captured for all time from which they will never escape. It's a fascinatingly voyeuristic character piece that wishes to wear the mask of a romantic anthem to rival the likes of 'Put Your Arms Around Me' or ' It's Only Natural'. To be blunt, it wears that mask all too well slipping in and out of the masquerade as it pleases buoyed by its exultant chorus which seeks to espouse that life is determined not by a spiritual force but its more popular, secular alternative. That's not to call the song anti-faith in any sense; rather, it is a pure celebration of what of the greatest things in life and, as a result, is a warm musical blanket to wrap oneself in. That's something that someone can always do with even when treading carefully through the Kingdom of the Man himself. Hell, if I end up in purgatory, I'd want this song to be the one to be put on its permanent rotation system. I can't get enough of that intro that manages to maintain a balance between a Spiritualised amphetamine haze and a wholesome acoustic stomp.
Tomorrow: To be honest, I have no idea what tomorrow will bring in at number 4. However, I will hopefully have a review of my visit to see Mew at the Brighton Concorde the day after. Bring on the Scandinavian prog about zoo keepers, spiders, and creepy old men!
Buy - The Mutton Birds - Rain, Steam and Speed