2015 CD REVIEW
HARVEY'S BAR - THE BACKYARD SESSIONS (SONY)
ADAM DRINKS TO GEORGE JONES AND OTHER POSSUMS
“When you hear George Jones in the distance/ the planets stay all aligned/ when the roller door she raises up/ that's the open sign/ and the music spreads like wildfire/ you can feel it in the wind/ it's time to get to Harvey's bar/and let the games begin.” - Harvey's Backyard Bar - Adam Harvey-Luke O'Shea.
But that then and now Adam is reaping the harvest of an album recorded at his home with long-time producer Jeff McCormack and muso mates.
The title track is fuelled by the musical mirth of a Harvey's Bar celebration.
Harvey and mates brewed an infectious soundtrack to an evening of beer, wine, laughter and song creating a top shelf studio album.
“I've always loved Jeff McCormack's natural, organic approach to his recordings” Adam told co-writer and Golden Guitarist Luke O'Shea.
“I felt he was perfect for this album! To set the mood we recorded the album in my bar at home over a number of days with the occasional visitor and regulars dropping in for a laugh or a sing-a-long or a beer. We then took it back into the studio where we did a few overdubs, then mixed and mastered it – and I'm really proud of the result!”
Harvey blends his honky tonk celebrations with more reflective memories from his life on the road and revamps of tunes by his favourite mentors including Merle Haggard, Jimmy Buffett and the late George Jones.
“Because I've written a few drinking songs in the past,” explains Harvey, “and I talk about how “this happened in the bar, or we wrote this in the bar.” I have a lot of people that come up to me and say, ‘God, I'd love to spend a night in that bar'. I started to think ‘why don't we try and take a bit of that bar atmosphere and bring the bar to them'. That was the whole idea of the album. I started thinking about some of the songs that we would be singing in the bar. I got the guys in and it didn't matter if they made a mistake. It's all about a bunch of guys sitting around together having a good old night, and a few drinks, and having a bit of fun playing the music.”
KING OF THE BAR-ROOM
“I'm the king of the bar room/ a bar stool is my throne/ my only crown is a cold one/ and a room here alone/ my queen took the castle/ when she left me behind/ but I'm the king of the bar room until closing time.” - King of The Bar Room - Adam Harvey-Stewart French.
Harvey wrote King Of The Bar-Room with guitarist Stuart French whose singing spouse Camille Te Nahu also appears on the album with Brendan Radford, Steve Fearnley, pedal steel guitarist Michel Rose, Vaughan Jones and Hugh Curtis.
Adam drew on his dad as inspiration for At The Harvey's .
“Basically talks about my old man,” Adam explained.
“On a Sunday morning would bow his head and swear he'd never do it again but then would jokingly say to me, “Son, you've got big shoes to fill if you're going to throw a party at home and if you're gonna do it - then do it well!”
Adam's dad Len was on the verge of a rugby career when disaster struck 50 year ago in Queensland.
Len, now 70 and fighting serious illnesses, was badly injured in a motor bike accident.
But Adam mined the family sire's paternal pain into a powerful message in Do The Best You Can and other personal songs on his previous album Family Life .
Harvey heeded his dad's words of wisdom - never lose your faith or give up on your dreams even if it almost kills you.
That philosophy enriched Adam's family life and 20 year career with half a million album sales, gold and platinum albums and thousands of miles on the local lost highways along the coast and deep into the nation's parched red heart.
“Dad worked as a rigger at Alcoa for almost 40 years,” Harvey revealed in a previous Nu Country TV interview.
“He hated the short drive every morning from Leopold to Moolap to the factory near Geelong. He spent almost his life in that aluminium factory at Alcoa and he hated every day of it.”
JUST ANOTHER PLAYER
“I was never much good at school/ the teacher said I was born a fool/ and when it came to my career/ I wasn't going anywhere/ then I found an old white Fender bass/ and country music seemed to point the way/ I made a band with my best friends/ rehearsing in my old man's shed/ we started finding our own sound/ and doing gigs around our home town/ I first packed my bags at 17/ and ever since that winding road has been my home.” - Just Another Player In The Band - Adam Harvey.
Harvey also drew on life on the road for another album highlight Just Another Player In The Band.
“I began writing this song for Andy Toombs, my bass player, on tour whilst in WA” Adam recalled.
“However it turned into a song about myself – as a young man I was touring all over Australia with Corinna Cordwell, Peter Horan and good old Laurie Muggleton - all for the princely sum of $300 per week. It ended up being about me and my early days in the music business so I recorded it and it's one of my favourite tracks on the album.”
Alcoholaday , penned with another prolific co-writer Clint Crighton, examines end of working week release for blue collar slaves to the work machine.
Harvey excels on frequent Aussie tourists Jerry Salley tunes Whose Arms Do You Think You're In and Paper & Pen and David Lee Murphy's I Like Beer.
The singer masters a massive mood swing in the Johnny Reid rumination A Little Less Lonely .
Harvey maintains the party feel in the final stanza of his album from his duet with Lynn Bowtell on James Taylor classic Bartender Blues , septuagenarian Merle Haggard's Misery And Gin , local legends Mental As Anything's hit The Nips Are Getting Bigger and Haggard finale Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down .
“The Bottle Let Me Down was just going to be an out-take but I really loved the vibe and think it sums up the album concept pretty well,” Harvey confessed.
Adam is touring nationally to promote the album - a welcome gig will be in his one-time home away from home at the Terang country music festival at the local race course from March 18-20 with fellow Victorians The Davidson Brothers, Tracy Killeen, Tim Farren, Billy Bridge, Rebecca Lee Nye and others.
Harvey recalls his Terang era when he worked in Timboon - home of an ice cream factory and distillery long after moonshiners ran rampant in a previous century.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” Harvey said of his return to the town where this writer also played Hampden League football as a teenager.
“My wife and I have got great memories of Terang and we look back really fondly on our years there.”
Harvey also uses his good wife to lubricate his humour on and off-stage.
“Hey Kath can you book me into the chiropractor next week,” he jokes in to his intro to his album finale, “my shoulders have had it, baby. I've been carrying this band all night.”
So will Harvey have an open bar on stage to maximise the mood and music?
“Well,” Adam said
“The album's called Harvey's Bar so why not take the bar on the road? The invitation is open to all and I feel the intimate stage, complete with a barman, bottles and a honky-tonk piano will definitely set the mood for a memorable and heart lifting evening of laughter and song.”
That means the ladies bring a plate and the men provide the liquid refreshment.
Harvey and his mates prove they are the heart and soul of their unique blend of country music in the unlucky radio country.
But, touring with the support of ABC and community radio airplay and community and PAY-TV, has ensured Harvey will not only survive but triumph down under.