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LIQUID BRIDGE: SOUNDTRACK

Review by Brad Green:
I donít surf, never have. In fact, I wouldnít know a goofy-footer from a Walt Disney cartoon character. But I donít think itís a disadvantage when it comes to assessing surf music. None of the Beach Boys could sing. Itís even been said that only one of them could swim -- Dennis Wilson. And he drowned. Besides, only a portion of their music was of the authentic surf variety, which is why I like a lot of their work -- basically, the other portion.†

Thereís no Beach Boys on this soundtrack, but my reaction is much the same. The surf music that comprises the first half has all the appeal of the splat made by a seagull depositing the waste product of beachgoersí charity chips on a freshly waxed surfboard. This whole genre, of cloyingly jolly guitar riffs drenched in reverb over asinine chord progressions and monotonous beats, is the Mariana Trench of pop music. The lowest point (if we exclude the worst excesses of techno, which hardly qualifies as music anyway) in the sea of popular slush.†

On the other hand, when the music gets away from the California beach sound and turns to Hawaiian influences, it starts to advertise the sun and surf like reggae promotes the Caribbean. As an aside, Iíve never been to Jamaica, I donít worship Haile Selassie and Iím sure Iíd be a sad sight in dreadlocks, but I canít get enough of good reggae. Which only strengthens my conviction that I donít need to ride the waves in order to cast judgement on the sounds of surf-rock.

Fortunately, around the halfway mark this album gets rolling in a new direction. The fatuous guitar twangs fade out, Hawaiian percussion fades in on the cue Bombora, and then, riding the crest of a wave if you will, we get some soulful tunes, some laid-back but gritty blues and a fine orchestral theme.

A couple of ballads by Joe Creighton are replete with tight vocal harmonies and plenty of soul, and in particular his song As One is an intriguingly intimate recording. Then, also making plenty of melodic appeal is Tim Carterís The One, which even manages to overcome the fact that thereís so much compression on the acoustic guitar strings that they sound like they could provide cross-bracing for an iron bridge.†

The best two tracks, however, are the titular song and the title theme. The first is an earthy (so to speak) offering from Brett Hunt whose gravelly blues-style can best be described as the drawl of Tom Petty combined with the no-frills delivery of Lou Reed. While the instrumental title is a well-constructed orchestral track that serves to echo the wide open spaces from a beach-side perspective, in much the same way that sci-fi soundtracks and Western scores honour their respective frontiers.

From afar, Iíve wondered why surfing culture is always so dumbed down. The fine art of riding the breakers seems to have passed from impressive early figures like Duke Kahanamokou to clones of Gidget and The Great Kahoona. I exclude, of course, the genuine champions of the sport (and Australia continues to have more than its fair share) who like masters of any craft deserve respect. They also deserve some decent music. After all, rugby has Queen and the Olympics even got Vangelis in one instance. Anyone in the surfing game who feels that itís been represented for too long as the preserve of peroxided bimbos and himbos would be well advised to toss the traditional music to the waves and adopt the second half of this soundtrack. Then again, the surfies could have it worse. I wonder what a great man like Pele thought when Ricky Martin became the voice of soccer?†

Published August 14, 2003

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REVIEWS

TITLE: Liquid Bridge
ID: 316797995551
JSEM
ARTISTS: The Atlantics; Beej featuring GTE; Glenn Cardfer; Clair Wyndham; Joe Creighton; Brett Hunt; Tim Carter; Rollerball; Pacifier; Brett Rosenberg
TRACKS: 13







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