The Record Collection

Russell Morris: Sharkmouth (2012)

Sharkmouth

Track list:

01. Black Dog Blues
02. The Big House
03. Ballad of Les Darcy
04. Bout to Break
05. Sharkmouth
06. Walk My Blues
07. The Drifter
08. Squizzy
09. The Bridge
10. Money Don’t Grow On Trees
11. Big Red
12. Mr Eternity

Personnel:

Russell Morris – vocals;
Shannon Bourne – acoustic and electric guitars, dobro;
Mitch Cairns – bass, Wurlitzer (#12);
Adrian Violi – drums;
+ Guest Musicians:
James Black – piano, organ (#2,9);
Chris Wilson – harmonica (#7,10,12);
Renee Geyer – vocals (#7);
Mark Lizotte – banjo, cello (#8);
Troy Cassar-Daley – electric guitar solo (#10);
Steve Romig – backing vocals (#2,4,9,10,12);
Jerson Trinidad – backing vocals (#10).

Recorded: at Rooftop Studio and Little Red Jet Studio.
Released: October 12, 2012
Label: RussellMorris
RMM2012

Producer: Mitch Cairns
Recording Engineer: Mitch Cairns
Mixed by: David Carr at Rangemaster
Mastered by: John Ruberto at Crystal Mastering

Artwork by Adam Miller
Photography: Peron Lan
Cover Photo: Thomas ‘Shark Jaws’ Archer, Special Photograph number 283, January 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney, photographer unknown, NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice & Police Museum, Historic Houses Trust.

*****

I’ve always wanted to do an album based on those elusive Australian characters, stories and legends.
My grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 93, and during her lifetime she would always regale me with stories about her youth, and what things were like ‘back then’.

1. BLACKDOG BLUES
written by Keays & Morris
This is a general feel song, interpreted with broad brush strokes. Its intention is to set up the mood for the album. One of listlessness, out of work, boredom. I wanted to invoke a feeling of hot days, big veranda’s with screen wire doors, an abundance of flies, grass unkempt and old cars in the front yard.

2. THE BIG HOUSE
written by Morris
This is a reference to the collapse of wall street, and some of the chaos it would have wrought. My grandmother went through the depression, so I have listened to her accounts of how difficult things were.

3. BALLAD OF LES DARCY
written by Morris & Paige
A song about the iconic Australian-Irish boxer who was one of the few Australian boxers in the American Hall of Fame. His story was immortalised in the movie The Cinderella man. I have always been a fan of boxing with some of Australia’s best as some of my friends. This was quite a tragic story.

4. BOUT TO BREAK
written by Cairns & Morris
I went to school in Richmond (Richmond Tech), a very working class suburb. I got to know, and knock around with some of the guys that went on to become- Painters and Dockers. So the legends of the wharves were never too far away. This is a reference to the 1927 war on the Victorian docks.

5. SHARKMOUTH
written by Morris & Paige
My original inspiration that led me into this album. Thomas Archer was a petty criminal and con man. It was the original photo that I saw, that inspired me to write about him. The photo is of him being accompanied by the arresting detective.

6. WALKING MY BLUES
written by Morris & Paige
A generalised feeling song that was included to create a feeling of constant travel in order to find work. The subject in the song travels all over in his quest for work after the depression. However, in the end he decides he may as well join the army. At least that way he will see the world, and get a regular pay packet.

7. THE DRIFTER
written by Morris & Paige
From my friends in Sydney, I would always hear about all the little sly grog, and gambling dens that were tucked away in the back streets. One of the legends was about a professional gambler, who would drift around these establishments. Being good at his craft, he burnt a few fingers. He was either murdered, or moved on.

8. SQUIZZY
written by Morris
Joseph Lesley Taylor, all five foot two of him, came to dominate the Melbourne crime scene. My grandmother would always talk about him. Seeing him standing on the corner of Church and Bridge Streets in Richmond, where we all grew up. His infamy, was even prevalent when I was growing up and that was many years later. He reputedly worked for John Wren, another identity.

9. THE BRIDGE
written by Howe & Morris
This song is based during the period when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was about to be built. People still relied on the punt, the ferryman to make the journey. While this was happening, a couple referred to in the Sydney dailies as the Squeezer and his Squaw, ran the Sydney crime scene.

10. MONEY DON’T GROW ON TREES
written by Morris
I was trying to, with broad brush strokes, invoke in this song the feeling of being out of work and with no money. The effects that economic downturns can produce. What it must have been like to not even be able to secure the basics of life.

11. BIG RED
written by Morris & Paige
About everybodies champion, Phar Lap. A truly wonderful horse, and a fabulously wonderful legend. I have included some of the facts of his life, but not all. After all this is a song, not a journalistic piece, so it needs some poetic licence.

12. MR ETERNITY
written by Cairns & Morris
About Arthur Stace, who during many years of his life, wrote the word ‘Eternity’ on the sidewalks of Sydney. He became converted to christianity, so he wanted to leave a message of his faith for all to see. For quite a while he was a mystery, until finally he was witnessed writing his iconic word, and his secret was out.
~sharkmouthmusic.com [Feb 2013]
*****

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