Friday, 22 August 2014

100 LPs Shortlist #39: Richard Clapton - "Goodbye Tiger"

It seems to be the season for anniversaries within Australian music circles right now. Something for Kate celebrating their 20th anniversary, Albert Productions celebrating their 50th, and Richard Clapton celebrating 40 years.

Despite being influenced by the Rolling Stones initially, Richard Clapton (a stage name created as a nod to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton) fashioned himself as a narrative story teller and songwriter, in the mold of Jackson Browne or Neil Young. With arrangements lush with delicate and intricately woven guitar lines and deep, image-heavy lyrics, Clapton seems at once out of place in the context of the classic Pub-rock era, and yet so inextricably part of the same scene that it's hard to imagine it without him.

Album number four for Richard (not counting the surf movie soundtrack "Highway One" to which he contributed 6 songs in 1976), "Goodbye Tiger" was issued in 1977 and was his first to go platinum (selling over 70,000 copies domestically). Being a seasoned European traveler, many of his experiences abroad inform the lyrics of this album. From debauched nights stranded in Holland ("Wintertime In Amsterdam") to general madness elsewhere on the continent ("Out on the Edge Again"). One of the songs "I Can Talk To You" was worked up in the studio on a bet.

Most of these songs were written while snowed in at a resort in Denmark. Fueled by beer and isolation, the songs just poured out of him. Probably having respectful distance from Australia at that point, it makes songs like "Deeper Water" and "Down In The Lucky Country" sound nostalgic and longing as opposed to jingoistic.

Despite the fact the songs originated from afar, the album was recorded at Festival Studios in Sydney. As per the aforementioned description, the guitars are lushly arranged and copiously applied throughout this album. The production still sounds fresh and the sound on the original vinyl sounds warm and inviting. It rewards repeated playing because of the fact that there is so much tastefully going on in these songs, both in the music and in the lyrics.

Songs like "Deep Water" are so embedded in my psyche that I can't help but recalling the last half of the song whenever I'm in Palm Beach, looking out to sea, even though I'm inevitably sober and my car is in good working order...

"...Sitting out on the Palm Beach Road,
I'm so drunk and the car won't go,
My crazy eyes still looking out to sea..."

Take a listen to the album below:

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