Sublime - Charlie Marshall and The Curious Minds (Charlie Marshall)
The politics of science are far too complicated for anyone without a wardrobe full of white coats and double degrees to navigate, so Charlie Marshall does it for you on this intriguing album of soul-pop and rock.
Remember the concept album? Being anti-prog rock, your average 1970s punk would have had his or her fingernails wrenched out one-by-one with pliers before listening to that shit. “War Of The Worlds,” my arse! Marshall really has pulled off soemthing special here. He's managed to make a concept record without it sounding pompously affected, full of its own shit or boring.
(While we have your attention, yes, we have run a previous review of "Sublime" from Robert Brokenmouth, but it was one those twising and turning rants when he mixed it in with a critique of the new record from Wire. You can read it here, but this one is more a review of a concept album about high brow subjects that's written by a dummy, for dummies.)
Asd a wiode man once asked: Why is it so? From the accompanying screed: " 'Sublime' is a record about “music, science, philosophy and politics, extolling the wonders of the universe and our urgent need to take more care of this planet'. Lyrically, speaking, that is. Musically, it’s soulful, lush, multi-layered and absolutely engaging pop-rock with a big streak of soul.
Marshall is well-known - in the Melbourne musical underground especially - as former vocalist for the much-loved Harem Scarem. In the ‘90s, he helped put punk-blues on the map. He’s recently been seen in the company of his latest band, The Body Electric.
Marshall had a head-start when he assembled the band for this project. The nucleus of The Curious Minds comprises Clare Moore (Dave Graney ‘n the Coral Snakes) on drums, Bryan Colechin (The Body Electric, Hugo Race True Spirit) on bass, Tim Deane (Ron Peno & the Superstitions) on keys and Andrew Watson (Slow Dissolve) on violin. Clare is one of the warmest-sounding drummers in the country - one of those people who actually play the song and not just keep time. That helps a helluva lot.
But so do guest spots from Jack Howard (Hunters and Collectors) on trumpet and fugelhorn, Ko Kunkpe on percussion, Shane Reilly (Tex Perkins, Matt Walker) on pedal steel, Troy Rogan on cello, James Macauley on trombone and backing vocalists Flip Case and Emily Hayes. They add to the musical diversity.
There's some great soingwiting on "Sublime". Wanna hear Michael Faraday, Edwin Hubble and Albert Einsten name-checked in the same song? You’ve come to the right place in “Curious Minds”. Charlie Marshall really is the Dr Karl of the Melbourne Music Scene. He even wears glasses, FFS!
I was almost convinced of my own powers of critical genius when I read the PR blurb referencing Curtis Mayfield as an influence. “Walk Lightly”, with its horns and sweet vocal, could have fallen right off “Soulfly: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack”. I know bec ause I playe dit yestefrday.
If it gets a little preachy for these ears in places - “Caught In The Spotlight” and its spoken word diatribe - it's not that much of a problem. The music wins. It holds the attention better than that annoying prick Mr Pettit did in Year NIne Biology. The cover of The Waterboys’ “The Whole Of The Moon” is a surprise - mainly because it overcomes the overblown earnestness of the original to really shine.
The link below takes yoiu to Charlie's Bandcamp which gives you a chance to hear before you buy. Dumb people won't click it. And you're not dumb, are you?