Surrey Crescent Moon is a new album by Hello Sailor. I’ve listened to it a few times and truly enjoy it. The blurring of guitar lines between Harry Lyon and Dave McArtney, one of the best guitar tag teams this country has ever produced; the blurring of blues, rock, calypso, and country ideas – the best songs on the new album (Bric A Brac Shop, Looking for My Shades, Holly and Billy
Remember to Say Hello to The Sailor
These Furs Were Hers, De Dog) harken back to some of the band’s earlier material, in that there are certain flaws. But today it’s the sound of Sailor, one of the best rock bands our country has ever produced. The new material has already found its way into the live performance; the band is presently opening for Dragon on their 40th anniversary tour and is playing a few songs from Surrey Crescent Moon. Hello Sailor and Hammond Gamble may have been the openers for that event, but there was no doubt in my mind (I saw the Wellington show on Wednesday night) that Sailor were the stars. Still a fantastic live band, with something special about the way they look, sound, and feel. Rock music is performed by rock stars. Good rock stars performing good rock music. In New Zealand, we’re not very adept at being rock stars. There have been a few. They aren’t long-lasting. People either laugh it off or dismiss it because it isn’t persuasive. The folks claiming to be rock stars are sometimes – in fact, most of the time – the ones who laugh it off. They’re quite aware that they’re acting. They are well aware that they are imposters. Hello Sailor was always authentic. There are even tales of burnout and blowout to add to the legend. There are also tunes to add flavor to the legend. I first heard Sailor when I was a small child, when songs like Blue Lady and Gutter Black were played around the home, on the radio, and on tape; later, my brother would introduce me to the seminal Hello Sailor/Th’ Dudes split album. That was a real eye-opener. Electricity that is white-hot.
When I was in high school, I couldn’t understand why more people my age weren’t listening to Hello Sailor, a fantastic band. Then they came out with a new record. It wasn’t as good as the band’s early work, but it reintroduced them to the public. They demonstrated that they still possessed that sound. Because they performed the job, they have that tone. Hello Sailor was (is) one of this country’s top bands because they put in the effort, continuously touring and performing in front of receptive audiences. The first album was then released, with three major hits written by three separate writers. This was a band with three distinct vocal, instrumental, and compositional voices. They did, however, have that appearance. As a result, the sound was influenced. They were equipped with a strut. They were charming.
They also exuded self-assurance. You can see it now, 35 years later. Graham Brazier may joke onstage about being out of shape and not being what he used to be, but he has a different dance move for each song, a wiggle, a shuffle, or a shake of the tambourine that lets you know it’s both prop and instrument. He builds a character for each song and then lives that character to the fullest. If a Jagger-inspired hand wiggle appears ridiculous, it’s too late – there’s no time for self-conscious, controlled gestures. Simply be present in the moment. Pacifica Armour is one of my favorite albums; it’s one that I’ve been listening to for a long time but still surprises and seems new. It has a lot of fantastic music on it. Sure, the first album produced three huge hits (Blue Lady, Gutter Black, and Lyin’ in the Sand). But I’m a Texan, so this has a lot of strut. In addition, On Parade (For the Hell of It). And it’s a fantastic record from beginning to end. One of the best bargains I’ve ever found. I got it for a buck and received a lot more bang for my buck than I expected.
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