Label: Fire Records Release date: 01/06/10 Link: Myspace I first got into Smudge after listening to and falling in love with The Givegoods’ 'I Want To Kill A Rich Man' after a friend massively into the Australian indie scene got me into them. Now, that is one of my favourite albums of all time because of its variety and because of Tom Morgan, lead man of both, and his ability with storytelling and bold lyrics. Listening to The Givegoods, an Australian super-band with members from Something For Kate, Smudge etc., was like listening to Smudge’s punk rock/power pop style put through a series of producers to make an album that took all the rawness of Smudge and polished it and made it brilliant. But the trouble with that is that is that Smudge never meant to be brilliant. In these two albums, released originally in ’98 and ’94 respectively, the main point was to play it loud and play it fast to make songs that lasted an average of 2 and a half minutes. The songs were made to carry Morgan’s voice and make his lyrics stand out too; Smudge made songs that could sound like an Australian Broken Family Band or Jarvis Cocker at times, singing and lamenting drink and drugs and wasted lives, or they can be love songs, both genuine and embittered (the latter will always be the better type of love songs). ‘Real McCoy, Wrong Sinatra’ from the album of the same name is a brilliant demonstration of this, the chorus line “...methamphetamine and dirty magazines, still buying cigarettes...” sounds like came straight from Steven Adams’ best. Smudge have never been known for their complexity and that’s to their credit and (coincidentally why these re-releases are so important, I’ll elaborate later). All of the songs on the albums sound rushed, pushed through and not thought all the way through. They sound rehearsed, but not extensively and don’t always make sense in both the composition and the lyric. This is both a sign of laziness (I think they would be more than happy to concede that) and their biggest strength; these songs run as almost stream of consciousness, runs of thoughts and styles from band members. Sure, songs like ‘Impractical Joke’ on Manilow may sound carefully composed, but it all gives the impression of purity because it’s sung from the top of the head and that is the beauty of these songs. The music itself could not be simpler. It is, on almost every song, a bass, a guitar (with the occasional effect) and some drums. To quote the upcoming book “The 10 Rules of Rock and Roll” from fellow Austrailain and Go Betweener Robert Forester – “The three piece band is the purest form of rock and roll expression”. It really is, in the truest sense, rock and roll. There is no pretension in the songs, there’s no fanciness or anything over produced – this is pure stuff made by people who want to play music because it’s fun to do, not for any other reason and you can’t say anything more than that. And that is precisely why these reissues are necessary – because that style of songwriting and music has been lost. Not lost forever – whenever music gets too complicated and pretentious, people rebel, and when music gets too simplistic, people make it more complex. So now, at a time when even punk gets complicated and delicately composed (Male Bonding for example), this is the sign of rebellion. There is nothing wrong with the more carefully composed, pretentious music, but there is little that can beat rock and roll in its purest. That is why these releases are important – they are the antidote to the rising complexity of music, the compositions and the songs with layers of sound and beauty. Those songs are sculptures and paintings, these songs are elaborate cocks drawn on classroom walls, they’re pieces of graffiti, they’re not done for critical acclaim or reward, they’re done because they’re fun to do. They’re the purest form of the art. Real McCoy, Wrong Sinatra - Photobucket Manilow - Photobucket