Human Frailty Pty Ltd
Information: Hunters and Collectors 1986 commercial breakthrough album. A perfect, distinctly '80s' album popularised by the hits "Say Goodbye", "Throw Your Arms Around Me" and "Everything's On Fire". Most CD versions include the "Living Daylight" EP.
Released In: [Australia / NZ] [USA] [Canada].
Release Date: 7 April 1986. Remaster: 7 July 2003. 20th Anniversary: 2 September 2006.
Australian Chart Position: 10 (AMR) (Double Platinum).
Availability: Extremely common. Available new in Australia in CD/DVD and digital forms.
Highly recommended track.
Version: Mushroom and Liberation Records Australian CD album. This version is available new.
Album length: 53 minutes, 19 seconds.
ReplayGain loudness: -1.49dB (1991); -8.18dB (2003/2008).
01. Say Goodbye
06. The Finger
09. Stuck On You
10. This Morning
11. Living Daylight #
12. Inside A Fireball #
13. January Rain #
Version: Liberation Records 20th Anniversary Australian CD/DVD album.
Human Frailty CD. Album length: 53 minutes, 19 seconds. See above.
Human Frailty DVD. DVD Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0.
Human Frailty DVD. Video length: 64 minutes, 3 seconds.
Human Frailty DVD. ReplayGain loudness: -0.91dB (2006).
01. Everything's On Fire (Live on Rock Arena)
02. Is There Anybody In There? (Live on Rock Arena)
03. Stuck On You (Live on Rock Arena)
04. Red Leather Belt (Live on Rock Arena)
05. Betty's Worry or The Slab (Live on Rock Arena)
06. Dog (Live on Rock Arena)
07. Say Goodbye (Live on Rock Arena)
08. This Morning (Live on Rock Arena)
09. Interview with Mark Seymour (live on Countdown)
10. Say Goodbye (live on Countdown)
11. Is There Anybody In There? (promotional video)
12. Say Goodbye (promotional video)
13. Throw Your Arms Around Me (promotional video)
14. Everything's On Fire (promotional video)
Album length: 41 minutes, 6 seconds.
ReplayGain loudness: N/A.
01. Say Goodbye
06. The Finger
09. Stuck On You
10. This Morning
"passionate think-words melded to compulsive twitch music"
I have long forgotten the name of the Toronto music critic who wrote that line to describe Human Frailty when including it in his Top Ten picks for 1987. But the words themselves are burned into my brain for perfectly capturing what makes Human Frailty one of my personal desert island discs.
In 1986, mainstream music in North America was full of cookie-cutter "hair bands" and elevator music, forcing those of us looking for something original to look to what was then called "alternative music". This meant scouring used record stores, listening to college radio, reading underground music 'zines, and in my case, faithfully watching MuchMusic, Canada's home-grown answer to MTV. Which is where I first heard Hunters & Collectors.
The first songs I heard were "Say Goodbye" and "Everything's on Fire", which to North American ears initially sounded clumsy and off-rhythm. But they were different, and I knew immediately that this band was going to be important. Then "Throw Your Arms Around Me" hooked me for life with the first chorus. While the most mainstream of the songs on Human Frailty, it was different enough from any love song I had ever heard to make it absolutely irresistible. 15 years later, it still has the same effect.
Starting off with the drum & bass heavy "Say Goodbye", and ending with the mournful but equally passionate "This Morning", Human Frailty was not so much ahead of its time, as outside of it. With its complicated rhythms, melodic hooks, passionate vocals, unexpected lyrics, and the unique contribution of the "horns of contempt", Human Frailty is an album that can be listened to daily for years on end and never disappoint.
Mark Seymour's vocals (occasionally described as "over the top") reach right into the listener and grab you by the guts. Here is a man hurling himself, heart & soul, into the lyrics with a rawness rarely, if ever, heard on record. It wasn't until Pearl Jam's "Ten", in 1991, that I heard anything else that even came close.
Lyrically, Human Frailty lives up to its name, covering disappointment and resentment ("Say Goodbye"), subjugation and/or lust ("Dog"), exhaustion ("Relief"), romantic passion ("Throw Your Arms Around Me"), claustrophobia ("The Finger"), temptation and betrayal ("Everything's on Fire"), and grief ("This Morning"), among other human feelings and foibles. All with an extraordinary acceptance and lack of judgement, which results in the listener somehow feeling understood by the material, instead of the other way around.
The sole misstep in an otherwise brilliant album, is the inclusion of "Is There Anybody in There?". The song itself is fine, with impassioned, intelligent lyrics and powerful, angry and evocative vocals of a ferocity not found on the rest of the album. But the overtly (and externally) political lyrics ("Well, Reagan finally cracked/ and the Yankees went to war. / We peeled away the bandages/ and looked into the sore") are jarring, coming in the midst of such personally political songs, briefly wresting the listener's attention from the internal to the external. As flaws go, it's a small one, and arguably rescues the album from the yoke of perfection, adding a touch of the unexpected, even after countless listenings.
By now, Human Frailty should have rightly earned a place in every Australian's music collection; for the rest of us, it is an experience that should not be missed.
" perfect is a fault."
R.E.M. "Begin The Begin"
Human Frailty album:
Produced by Gavin Mackillop and H&C
Recorded at Allan Eaton's Studio St. Kilda
Mixed at AAV South Melbourne 1986
John Archer - Bass Guitars
Doug Falconer - Drums
Jack Howard - Trumpet, String arrangements
Robert Miles - Sound mixing, artwork
Mark Seymour - Lead vocals, guitars, lyrics
Jeremy Smith - French horn, keyboards
Michael Waters - Trombone, keyboards
All songs: Music by H&C, lyrics by Mark Seymour except "Stuck On You" by Ian & Stephanie Rilen (CBS Songs).
The Como Quartet:
Adam Duncan: Viola.
Alex Black: Violin.
George Vi: Violin.
Peter O'Rielly: Cello.
Sue Madlee: Cello.
Dianne Howard: Piano.
Debbie Waugh: Marimba / Xylophone.
Loud & Clear Management - Michael Roberts.
Living Daylight EP:
Produced by Greg Edward with H&C