Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Song of the day

"The River People", by The Walkabouts.

Listening to "Rain", by Jimmy Tait, the subject of yesterday's Song of the Day, put me in mind of The Walkabouts, a band that never really got the credit they deserved (or who, perhaps more accurately, were ten years ahead of the times they were made for). They were a shining light amidst the gloom of the "Sub Pop 200" compilation in 1988, at a time when the bulk of that record's intended audience was only interested in the gloom [sheepishly puts own hand up].

I recently hunted down an album of cover versions they made in 1993, and was surprised to hear a song that sounded remarkably like the second song on Robert Forster's 1990 debut solo album, "Danger In The Past". I'm not good with names, as anybody who knows me will attest, but surprisingly (or not) that extends to song names. What it took me a while to realise, therefore, was that it is actually a cover of that same song (and there I was about to accuse Robert Forster of having ripped somebody else off -- whoops). The song is called "The River People" (as I now know) and, apart from the obvious phrasing/timing at the start of the verses (if we can call them that; it's not exactly a verse-chorus-verse kind of song), The Walkabouts play it very differently from Forster. Yet the particular haunting quality that often comes through in Forster's songs is intact, only deeper. (The other curiosity is that the vocals on the Walkabouts version bear a more than passing resemblance to Grant McLennan.)

"Danger In The Past" was produced by Mick Harvey, who also plays most of the instruments on it, and who hails from Rochester, which, as you know from yesterday, is within spitting distance (depending on wind direction) of the home town of Jimmy Tait. And so here we are, right back where we started.