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Two years ago this week, Jack Howard did a gig at the Grace
Darling with Monique Brumby and Ron Peno. It was a turning
point in a long and varied career. At the end of the night,
Jack split the takings between the three acts. They each
took home $20. "That pretty much stopped me in my tracks,"
Jack recalls. "I couldn't keep calling upon the exceptional
musicians that I've played with … so I gave it up for a
Jack relates that tale in the liner notes of his new album,
The Story So Far … (out through MGM). It's a story with
a happy ending. Since "quitting", Jack has released a superb
solo album, Shadowlands, while the new album is a fine retrospective,
gathering tracks from Jack's six solo releases. It also
comes with a bonus DVD - Live At Pure Pop. Jack says "a
more sympathetic live environment" boosted his spirits.
"With the Caravan Club, Pure Pop and a few others, I've
found an audience that I didn't seem to be able to get to
before." What are Jack's memories of the DVD gig? "Fear,"
he laughs, revealing that he actually shot two shows. "The
first one was a fizzer, so we had to get the second night
right. Luckily, everything fell into place." The DVD features
a hidden track - a stirring version of the Hunnas' Holy
Grail. "I sing it quite regularly with a variety of outfits,"
Jack says, "and it usually gets a big reaction … one of
those small moments of glory."
After Hunters and Collectors ended, Jack found a happy home
as a music teacher at Wesley. "It definitely helps my playing
because I play all day every day." But he says his solo
career suffered because of dodgy management - "I was the
manager". He doesn't enjoy the business side, "but I've
come to terms with it now. I operate on a pretty small scale
and know plenty of sympathetic people, so it's not too bad.
I just never go north of the river!" As the saying goes,
all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. His liner notes
conclude, "Now we just want to play - we love to play."
And there's nothing dull about The Story So Far. Though
he writes that "melancholy and minor key are my middle names",
it's a power-packed collection of dynamic songs. Jack launches
the album at the Caravan Club on Sunday afternoon.
WHAT WE'RE LOVING THIS WEEK
Early gigs. We also love late gigs (speaking of which, The
Cheats are doing Pony's infamous 2am show on Saturday).
Seeing Chris Wilson at Cherry at 6pm on a Friday … you gotta
love that! Friendy was making cocktails, while Max Crawdaddy
introduced Chris: "Some call him a national treasure, I
call him a national pleasure." Looking out at the large
crowd, Chris remarked, "You're either the sophisticated
set, or the biggest bunch of pissants in town." Chris is
back at Cherry this Friday at 6pm, to play more tunes from
his fantastic new album, Flying Fish.
THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES
Howzat! has written the liner notes for Aches and Shakes,
the new compilation celebrating 10 years of Popboomerang
Records. In the lead-up to the launch (at the Tote on Sunday,
18 November), we put label boss, Scotty "Pop" Thurling,
in the Howzat! hot seat, asking him to nominate his three
favourite Popboom albums, as well as his three biggest mistakes.
For part one, Scotty nominates the 85th Popboomerang release,
The Sugargliders' new retrospective, A Nest With A View
(1990-1994). "In 1994 I discovered RRR, and over the airwaves
came an evocative, delicate, jangled guitar line with whispered,
gentle, intellectual vocals," Scotty recalls. "The band
was The Sugargliders and the song was Ahprahran. My world
and path was never the same!" And Scotty's third biggest
mistake? "You always remember your first, don't you? When
I stumbled on Sarah Sarah - the first band signed to Popboomerang
- they were playing a battle of the bands. They comprised
of duo Zac and Kate, belting out cheeky, addictive pop tunes.
This ambitious yet precocious pair quickly caused a love/hate
buzz on the Melbourne scene and were joined by a revolving
cast of members to record six sparkling songs before imploding
in a mess of lies and lust - I aged six years in six months!
But it wasn't all bad news - through Sarah Sarah's bass
player Michele, I met Remake Remodel (the only Popboom band
to play the Big Day Out), and their good vibrations landed
me the Splendid/Frente recordings."
Delta scores her 12th Top 5 hit.
Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number four)
Wish You Were Here DELTA GOODREM (five)
Rock Star REECE MASTIN (16)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (25)
Paul Kelly has a Top 10 debut.
Beautiful Nightmare REECE MASTIN (number three, debut)
Armageddon GUY SEBASTIAN (seven)
Spring & Fall PAUL KELLY (eight, debut)
Beautiful Noise LEE KERNAGHAN (nine, debut)
The Sapphires soundtrack (15)
Broken Brights ANGUS STONE (18)
The Late Blue GYPSY & THE CAT (23, debut)
Bless This Mess LISA MITCHELL (24)
Lonerism TAME IMPALA (25)
The Rubens THE RUBENS (27)
Hate THY ART IS MURDER (35, debut)
All For You COLD CHISEL (38)
Falling & Flying 360 (39)
If I Were A Bird JACK HOWARD
Another Faux Pas THE SUGARGLIDERS
Bend Not Break NICK BARKER AND THE REPTILES
And I'll Sleep Tonight DESERTERS
Dawsons Creek SARAH SARAH
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