DIARY - 18 MARCH 2005 - GRAEME CONNORS
GRAEME CONNORS FINDS EDGY ENERGISED LOVE
Connors toured Australia at 19 in 1974 with Kris Kristofferson he was
way ahead of his time.
He was just a raw teenager from Mackay in North Queensland - not exactly
a music mecca then or now - but fertile font for his writing.
Kristofferson - former singing spouse of Rita Coolidge and musical director
Billy Swan - nurtured Connors' recording debut And When Morning Comes.
Swan, one time member of Kinky Friedman's Texas Jewboys, was re-united
with The Kinkster when he toured here with singing actor Harry Dean Stanton.
Connors debut was credible - because his mature songs such as She'll
Wake Up On Her Own shared vinyl with tunes penned by writers diverse
as Kristofferson, Donnie Fritts, Linda Hargrove, Larry Gatlin, Larry Murray
and Dave Loggins.
When the album made it to CD, just 25 years later, it featured six more
of the singer's original singles and an archival track that was never
The career of the father of five boys was punctuated by a lengthy stint
in Sydney as a songwriter and latter day writing and performing icon for
Despite being perceived as mainstream country the prolific writer's songs
were cut by rock and pop artists as well as bush balladeer Slim Dusty.
Connors won spirited battles with Tamworth Tsars who once denigrated local
artists who dared to seek international stardom.
Or had the temerity to record in Nashville or use Music City musicians
or producers on their albums.
copped flak when he cut his punchy 1993 album, The Return,
in Nashville with Bruce Bouton as producer.
Now, after winning multiple prestige awards for eclectic tunes embracing
Australiana and childrens' music, he has made the trip back to Music
City for his 12th disc This Is Life.
Bouton and co-writer Mark McDuff produced the album released by
ABC Music - not ABC Country.
like many peers, is fighting the commercial radio and TV boycott of country
music with an album and videos aimed at a broader market.
So will this
disc work for Connors who has long commanded a healthy loyal audience
- mainly beyond the concrete corrals of the capital cities?
"There's a slightly harder edge country wise," Connors revealed.
"We used a lot of dobros and banjos to give that feel."
Wanda Vick, one time member of all girl band Wild Rose, played banjo,
fiddle and mandolin and Bouton added pedal and lap steel.
The edgy love songs also break the mould - the title track and Every
Time You Fall In Love have enough clout to invade the psyche of discerning
The reality check in the latter where the country girl finds flaws in
her hero transcends that gap between good and great song with gritty message
about love's complexities. "Don't mention that word forever/ just
talk about time together/ treasure every moment you can/ every time you
fall in love."
salient soul-mate connection is nailed in You're Getting To Me
while the regret of a ruptured romance is captured with delicious
dexterity in Good On You.
Connors uses escapist entrée, Big Country and The
Simple Truth, to examine bigger priorities in life.
And he lampoons the fools gold of materialism - ahead of real happiness
- in We Are What We Do and Ain't That The Way It Goes.
the population drift from bush to coast in Sea Horses and a bitter
bar war between former lovers in All Hell Broke Loose.
Graeme wrote five songs with McDuff and included Don Walker's nostalgic
Could You Still Be Here.
"For me, the focus has shifted from Australian stories to a more
classic song form - the exploration of relationships, emotions, connections
between people," Connors said.
"I've touched on those things before, but this time I've looked right
into the heart of who we are. I've found new emotions and ways of expressing
myself through music."
Connors may not leap the radio moat but is likely to win exposure on CMC
on PAY TV and Nu Country TV.
REVIEW - 2004
GRAEME CONNORS - THE MOMENT (ABC)
minstrel Graeme Connors shares literary licence with Sydney crime
writer Bob Barrett.
But the father of five, now 49, hasn't given infamous Kings Cross
identity Perce Galea a thinly veiled alias in On A Roll - his
14th album in a 30-year recording career
Connors sets his hedonistic tale in locales inhabited by Barrett's
character Les Norton - Bourbon & Beefsteak and Bondi.
"Cards and drinks at Roslyn Gardens/ boy I am on fire/ I bet
even Perce Galea would fold/ a full house or a routine flush."
message is universal on a disc cut in Nashville with A team pickers -
guitarist Bryan Sutton, pianist John Barlow Jarvis, double bassist Byron
House and drummer Steve Brewster.
There's deft doses of fiddle and mandolin from Andy Leftwich, Rob Ickes
on dobro and accordion by Jeff Taylor.
Graeme returned to the scene of the rhyme long after scoring flak from
precious power brokers for recording The Return in Music City in
1993 with producer Bruce Bouton.
Bouton again produces a disc exposing Connors diverse songs - heavy on
philosophy and light on fashion.
He entrees with Life Ain't Perfect - maximising second chances
- and segues into positive parables Hard Decisions and On a
Connors wry humour name checks Randy Newman and John Prine in What
If and recent tourist Andrea Zonn harmonises on a trio of love songs.
Connors's sequencing works - he punctuates cerebral I'm In The Middle
Of This and Go On with love lava in You Are Everything,
Only One You, Before I Went Crazy On You and You Remind Me Of Someone.
The fitting finale, aimed at our shrinking radio market, is a duet with
Felicity on Hoyt Axton-Renee Armand tune I Dream Of Highways, also cut
by local lass Corrina Steel.
It's a tribute to Connors spirit he continues touring to promote music
rarely heard inside the city limits - his solace is royalties from others
cutting his songs.
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