Graney has always been a raconteur – with equal doses of smooth, smug and wit. They say rock ‘n’ roll is a musical genre on the decline – but with this unusually titled album Graney has raised the rock ‘n’ roll flag and wears his love for the genre on his sleeve, meshed with some blues and psychedlia.
An album title that will cause confusion, but a set of songs that remind us of what a maverick Graney is. Liking his music will make you feel smarter!
YMR Album Rating: **** (4/5)
Proceedings commence with a snaky bass on the sardonic and catchy ‘Baby, I Wish’d Been a Better Pop Star’ – with Graney lamenting “I would have stayed in shape” and “picked my moments” – a humorous song that comes from experience, with Dave Graney having one top ten album in 1994 with his band The Coral Snakes with You Wanna Be There But You Don’t Wanna Travel and winning two ARIA awards including “Best Male Artist” in 1995. The mesh of mass appeal, pop stardom and Graney seemed like a weird mix at the time – but what could have been if he could have been a “better pop star“? I am glad he hadn’t!
With ‘Song of Life’ smooth Graney comes into fore. A track he apparently wrote after an appendix operation. With that American West Coast early seventies vibe, has Graney reflecting on life and the seminal decades “get real sentimental in your thirties/get awful mean in your forties/get even better in your fifties/then you better find somethin’ else to do“.
The Rolling Stones pastiche comes with ‘ULTRAKEEF’ a song that Graney says is about Keith Richards (Keef) and his image. A song that I am sure would get the two-fingered salute from Richards, with that distinct percussive feel of ‘Honky Tony Woman’. The song is pure Keef with Graney delivering a great vocal performance, singing “fuck you breakfast/fuck you food/fuck you meal time/fuck you bedtime” – Keef doesn’t need all those essentials when he has “dope”, “guns and knives” and his “Bentleys” – a little piece of musical history chronicling the loves and hates of Keef – and it is a bit fucking brilliant! The track exemplifies Graney’s love and knowledge of music – he has always been able to innately reference historical points of rock ‘n’ roll with such precision that his vintage feel never feels token, instead feeling intuitive.
The next song has a blues vibe with shimmering guitars – with a sparkling soundscape that is a tribute to forgotten American actress Gloria Grahame. ‘The Masters’ is a buoyant song that is slightly reminiscent of The Jesus and The Mary Chain – jangling guitars, summery vibe and a glorious guitar solo.
An eight minute opus called ‘Is That What You Did’ – psychedelic atmospherics with shades of Jefferson Airplane. Hazy, dreamy and reeking of dope. The album proper ends with ‘Where’s My Buzz’, with that psychedelic feel still in place- this time all Rotary Connection without Minnie.
Clare Moore’s drumming cannot be underestimated on this album, it brings the songs together, provides rhythm to Graney’s idiosyncratic vocals and proves that she is one of Australia’s best drummers and percussionists. Sitting next to my Devialet speakers, I was able to appreciate Moore and her drumming stylings – from powerful to soft, and sexy to disarming, but always providing the musical punctuation that gives life to these songs.
A wonderful album that seems to have been made with love. With his 33rd album, Graney remains in his own musical vacuum, and we are so lucky for it!
ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? is out on March 22nd (Cockaigne)