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Bastard Life or Clarity/Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts
Produced by Kerryn Tolhurst
and TOFOG
Reviewed by: Belinda Coward

Well, readers, the Bastards are back and someone let them loose in the recording studio again! Bastard Life or Clarity is the second CD from TOFOG and for their sophomore effort I have to say, good work guys. I know, alot of reviewers lined up to slam the CD, the band and the especially the lead singer (and chief songwriter).

But, unlike some other bands fronted by celebrities, this band has been around awhile, long before the media hoopla began. But because of that lead singers day job they don't get to be a "band" as often as I believe they would like. Oh, who is the lead singer? Some guy named Russell Crowe.

I can honestly say the songwriting on BLOC has tightened up alot. (could still a use a little more work, but hey, I can't write a lyric to save my life). Russell has a tendency to write more poetry and than lyrics, but I can see a growth in that area. The rest of the band, Garth Adam, Billy Dean Cochran, Dave Kelly, Stewart Kirwan and Dave Wilkens fall easily into rhythm with one another and have developed their own style. I can really start to hear this time a TOFOG sound. That is a sign of a real player. With the recent successes, they could have hid behind studio musicians, over-processed recording styles that hide all the flaws (and make overrated acts more successful than they deserve) but the Grunts are up front and doing it all themselves. I always back up a band that is willing to just put it out there in an honest way.

The CD kicks off with Things Have Got To Change, written by Crowe and Cochran. It's an upbeat sounding song which really utilizes that addition of the horn to the band. This really adds something to the power and sound of the group. Memorial Day, a tribute to Russell's grandfather follows. This is a loving tribute to man who obviously meant alot to him, but this is one of those songs that is written more as a poem than as a lyric. It does suffer some from that but it is written with love and respect, a deeply personal moment. Actually, the CD is full of very personal moments. The Night Davey Hit The Train is written for and dedicated to Daniel Pollock, the young actor who costarred with Russell in Romper Stomper. Sadly, Daniel
killed himself. A very emotional experience unfortunately shared by many.

Hold You is an extremely sensuous song. This one has the feel of a dark lounge, late at night and you can almost smell the Marlboro's and beer. Russell's cigarette soaked vocals and the almost lazy feeling bass will make you want to get up and slowly swing your hips while sipping a Rum and Coke while strange men ...Oh wait, sorry, I was getting carried away! Ahem.

Sail Those Same Oceans, written by Crowe, Cochran and Adam could easily find it's place on any top 40 radio station play list. This song is the strongest as far as singles go! Everything just works right here. Russell uses his vocals to their best while Garth, Dean, Stew, Dave and Dave bring it on home in capable hands.

Now, on this CD are two songs from the first CD, Gaslight. Wendy and The Legend of Barry Kable. I thought I was going to have to take the band to task for doing this. I was half right. The remix of Barry Kable and the vocals add a softness to this sad, violent tale. The pure poetry is revealed in this version, "he crossed that road like a river", is really given the meaning it deserves. But, Wendy does not work for me here. It is almost like an interruption. I wish the band had actually opted to cover someone else's song instead. The band members write all the material they record.

Well, this group is not signed to a label so I am sure finding BLOC won't be as easy as running down to your local record store. But, this is the internet, so go to www.gruntland.com and place an order. Hell, while you are there, you can even vote for what cities the band will visit when they tour.If you are a Russell Crowe fan, this is a must have. If you believe in supporting a band that doesn't hide behind pretense then get it. You'll get caught up in the stories being told here.

Belinda, signing off and going to put the Bastard back on for another listen and another Rum and Coke!

 

 

 

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