Our Best - Sunnyboys (Warner Music)
There are obvious life lessons in the saga of the Sunnyboys and they’ve been related so many times that they probably don’t bear repetition here. If you’re a fan, you’ll know them all anyway (the results of crashing and burning, the enduring nature of brotherly bonds, the power of redemptive love.) If you’re not, you can wise up, musically speaking, with this collection.
There have been Sunnyboys compilations before and they’ve been of varying excellence. “Play The Best” (1999) wasn’t mastered that well and, apart from the inclusion of the odd out-take, felt like lip service. The more recent “This Is Real”, on the other hand, was a corker, with its marriage of the band’s singles to a live bonus disc. “Our Best” views the recording history squarely from the band members’ own perspective, ups the stakes sonically with some re-mastering tweaks and throws in demo/alternative mix material plus a live track.
There aren’t many surprises, but what’s here works well - and thus it’s a great starting point for the uninitiated and a must for completists. There are bands with similar career trajectories to the Sunnyboys and more than a few that deserved the same attention but never proceeded past second base. Sunnyboys arrived, fully formed it must be said, on a Sydney scene bursting with talent. Survival of the fittest and all that.
Sunnyboys hit the spot in early '80s Australia with their mix of raw pop, high energy and unaffected charm. An EP and a debut LP were gems. Album Number Two found them slightly lost and a darker (and underrated) third studio effort confused their fans and failed to connect with new ones.
The obvious inclusions are here (“Happy Man”, “Alone With You”) and a few not so obvious. “No Love Around” is one of the latter and sounds fuller in its rough mix. “You Need A Friend” grows another leg with less sonic meddling but you still have to wonder about that soundscape (with vocals intermittently placed in someone's backyard, two houses down the street.) The 1981 demo of “Tomorrow Will Be Fine” shows precisely why a major label embraced the band. It's full of energetic fire and the reckless abandon of youth. Here's hoping the full set make it to thepending re-issues or a box set.
The live version of “Let You Go” (from the 2013 Sydney Opera House gig) is a little murky sounding but focussing on Jeremy Oxley’s inspired vocal tells you why it was included. Speaking of Jeremy, his track notes are concise and enlightening. It’s hard to fault this collection and impossible not to urge you to procure it.