Published June 1996, The Aquarian Weekly
Australia's HooDoo Guru's kick their seventh album, Blue Cave (Zoo/Mushroom Records), off with two of the loudest blasts of vintage-sounding HooDoo noize since "I Want You Back" and "Bittersweet" rocked the Reagan-era.
Playing off sing-song vocals, odd orchestration, a huge, sprawling riff and a ponderous rock beat; "Big Deal" bridges the "grunge gap" since 1994s Crank while it lobs a few well-aimed lyrical bricks in the general direction of music critics. "Down On Me" blends a hit-bound riff, Byrds-ian solo, shout-along chorus and gut-wrenching vocals with another acid-drenched diatribe against would-be critics of the long under-appreciated band.
"Mine" follows with a weird cross between "Like Wow-Wipeout!" and vintage Stones, while "Waking Up Tired," "If Only ," "Please Yourself," "Son-Of-A-Gun" and "Always Something" showcase vocalist/guitarist Dave Faulkners' knack for writing ringing, ear-friendly, endearing pop songs built on solid rock credentials.
Adding steadily to their fan-base since the release of 1983s Stoneage Romeos, the new album (due out on August 13) finds Australia's favorite sons (Faulkner, guitarist/vocalist Brad Shepherd, bassist Rick Grossman and drummer Mark Kingsmill) poised for the major commercial breakout they've long been denied.
"I think this is the best thing we've ever done - no holds barred, no apologies," said group co-founder Faulkner in a recent press release. "Speaking for myself, I really feel like I hit my straps on this one. Songwriting-wise, I didn't think of myself off the hook and I think it paid off."
"I mostly write on the road and had a really nice creative period during our last tour," continued Faulkner. "In the past, I might let a lyric get through because I was writing from a songwriters view this time there was no expediency. I really made sure all the lyrics counted."
While the group hasn't drastically changed their basic formula or overall sound, the return of Mars Needs Guitars producer Charles Fisher, the astounding maturation in the wordplay and songwriting skills of Faulkner, Shepherd's heart-tugging "All I Know" and a loose, relaxed, for-the-fun-of-it feel that clearly comes through allows the band to relax on Blue Cave and turn in the start-to-finish masterpiece they've always had in 'em.
Zoo Entertainment: 8750 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. CA 90211-2713. Write to the band at: Melody Management, PO Box 598, Coogee NSW 2034 Australia.
-- AL MUZER