The problem with tribute albums is that, if the saluted artist is worth their salt, then they will never measure up to the real thing.
As with the Cold Chisel salute, Standing On The Outside disc one is cover versions and disc two is the real deal. And similarly, this mirror imaging, to the detriment of the covering artists, shows just what a great band H&C were/are.
Cynicism is given a free drinks invitation when you compare the artists involved in both projects, with Living End and Something For Kate’s appearances on both making you wonder what their management teams are up to. Paul Kelly, on the other hand, is so ubiquitous and representative of great Australian songwriting that his double appearance is not only forgivable but seemingly de rigeur.
The logic-defying selection of Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn as a duet on Throw Your Arms Around Me comes across as standard fare late night karaoke, while the highly energetic and brash British India with all their youthful vigour somehow manage to reduce the killer rock of Do You See What I See to pedestrian blandness.
But all is not lost and the solution for listeners is quite simple because disc two is one of the finest musical treks through Australiana you’re likely to hear.
From the spiralling groove of Talking To A Stranger to the anthemic Holy Grail there’s a mutedly epic quality to these songs. They’re grand but simple, rich but sparse, flashy but withdrawn.
H&C ploughed their own furrow with one hand penning a love letter and the other cradling a middy.
They appealed to the everyman and to the connoisseur which is why albums like these are made - as a salute and reminder of all these great songs that so many of us grew up with and still enjoy today.
Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.