Human Frailty Pty Ltd
Information: 1994's non-commercial album featuring guitars more strongly than ever before. Includes the hit single "Easy", not recommended at the first Hunters and Collectors album to try out.
Released in: [Australia / NZ] [Europe] [Canada].
Release Date: 16 May 1994. Remaster: 11 August 2003.
Australian Chart Position: 2 (ARIA) / 2 (AMR) (Gold).
Availability: Extremely common. Available new in CD and digital form.
Highly recommended track.
Version: Mushroom and Liberation Records Australian CD album (all the same except for the UK version which adds "Holy Grail").
Album length: 49 minutes, 44 seconds.
ReplayGain loudness: -5.96dB (1994); -8.43dB (2003/2008).
03. Back In The Hole
05. Mr. Bigmouth
13. Holy Grail [included on UK version only]
For somebody living on this side of the planet, the Hunters & Collectors are not a band you just stumble across. You really do have to go out and look for them.
I first started looking when I heard a cover of one of their best-known songs, Throw Your Arms Around Me, on UK radio. The song seemed to fit with some things I was going through at the time, and intrigued about this band, I tracked down their Collected Works compilation album. It actually proved to be something of a disappointment to me, with an unmistakable 80s production sound throughout, which was somewhat lost on me. I felt similar when I then found Human Frailty, and although they are albums I can listen to and enjoy, they never really made it into my pile of favourite CDs.
I then stumbled upon Demon Flower while browsing through a local rarities shop. The version I got had a couple of stickers on it, one advertising the band's (then) upcoming appearance at the Fleadh in 1994, and another with a mini-review by Bono from U2 commending the group and this album in particular. Bono's a fairly good judge of a song, I thought, so I went ahead and parted with my cash.
I was far from disappointed. Demon Flower dates from 1994, and is the Hunters & Collectors penultimate studio album. With the 80s production sound (unsurprisingly, for a 1994 album) in absence, and the whole atmosphere generated by the album more in keeping with what I've heard of their live repertoire, it's now one of my favourite rock albums of all time. The loud, guitar-driven sounds define the album, giving it a more vibrant and uplifting feeling than their earlier studio recordings.
For all that I've classified it as a rock album, though, there's some things on there that you mightn't expect. In almost equal proportion to the wonderful, loud, energetic rock standards are some more ponderous, more intricate tracks. These songs - Back in the Hole, Mr Bigmouth, Newborn, Desert Where Her Heart Is and Ladykiller - don't get in the way, and can in no way be considered fillers. In both lyrics and music they are pieces of well-crafted punctuation that keep the album from becoming thirteen variations on the same theme. Back in the Hole is one of the highlights of the album, with its delicate, almost inaudible keyboard intro, gradually rising and rising. Even among the rockier tracks, there are things in there that you wouldn't expect from anyone other than H&C, like French horn and trombone on Betrayer, sounds that just fit and make the songs so much more memorable.
Of the more guitar-based tracks, Easy gets the album off to a good start with its talk of "Crawling my way/like a crab on a shelf". Panic in the Shade provides another twist in sound, as well as the demon flower of the album's title, but for me the outstanding track of the whole album is without a doubt Drop in the Ocean. The dominating bass line and distorted guitars provide the perfect platform for Mark Seymour's voice, and lyrics which I can only interpret as being a wonderful rant against two-facedness.
Indeed, all the way through this album, the lyrics are a joy to listen to. In equal measures cynical, biting, imaginative and astutely-observed, they add a special final ingredient on top of the music itself. No song sums this up more accurately than the final track [UK], Holy Grail, a masterpiece of story telling - as it says itself, it's a short song but one helluva story!
So, we've got the complete recipe list for a great album - catchy tunes, energy, twists, subtlety and razor-sharp lyrics. It's just a crying shame that so few people outside Australia will ever have heard it.
~ by Alan Gibson.
Note: "Holy Grail" is only on the UK version of "Demon Flower". It is included in all versions of 1992's "Cut" album.
Recorded at Sing Sing Studio's Melbourne.
Produced by Hunters and Collectors and Nick Mainsbridge for Absolute Productions.
Engineered by Nick Mainsbridge, assisted by Lawrence Maddy and Anthony Cook.
Mixed at Platinum Studio's Melbourne.
Mixed by Mark Freehard for 140db assisted by Kalju Tonuma.
Mastered at Studio's 301, Sydney by Don Bartley.
Management: Michael Roberts and Sarah Pearson for Loud and Clear Management p/l
P.O. Box 276, Albert Park, Victoria 3206 Australia.
Fax: 61 3 537 1371
Hunters & Collectors
John Archer: Electric bass, P.A., backing vocals.
Doug Falconer: Drums, percussion, programming, backing vocals.
Jack Howard: Trumpet, keyboards and backing vocals.
Barry Palmer: Lead guitar.
Mark Seymour: Lead vocal, lyrics, guitars, mandolin.
Jeremy Smith: French horn, guitars, keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals.
Michael Waters: Trombone, keyboards.
Robert Miles: Live sound, art / design.
Andrew Chapman: Stage manager.
Mark Hill: Stage / trucks.
Nick Lagler: P.A. rigger / trucks.
Rod Matheson: Monitor engineer.
Alan Stone: Lighting director.
Paul Torney: Lighting rigger.
Special thanks to Stephanie, Lillian, Jodie, Meaghan, Declan, Gideon, Danie, Amanda, Spencer, Sylvia, Laura, Jo, Eva, Lee, Lachlan, Sophia Louis, Nick Seymour, Phill Viggiano, Simon B, Eleanor, Sam, Tony, Gerard, and Kalju Tonuma for his assistance on "Cut".
[Information on who exactly is playing what in every song]
Lyrics by Mark Seymour.
Music by Hunters and Collectors.
(Human Frailty / Mushroom Music)
(p)+(c) 1994 Human Frailty p/l