Daily Archives: May 14, 2009

117. Vika and Linda – “Princess Tabu”

I’m supposed to be doing these reviews in alphabetical order, but for some reason the following three albums have resided alongside the Buffalo Tom CDs on the shelf for years – presumably because I erroneously assumed Vika & Linda Bull included their surname in their band name. And I’ve listened to this one now, so, alas, the slip-up will be perpetuated.

Bull Vika Linda Pincess Tabu album cover farnhamThe Bull Sisters are stalwarts of the Aussie music landscape. Possessing luscious Polynesian voices that harmonise seamlessly, they occupied the backing slot on many big acts’ hits in the late 80s and early 90s (think Farnham, Kelly, Camilleri, Roach, H&C).

I didn’t buy this album. It came along with my darling missus. It is the album of theirs we listen to least. I find it least representative of the excellent live shows I’ve seen them deliver.

Live these two are powerful singers who harmonise fantastically and bop along at a fair clip.

On this album many of the tracks are lead by one of the pair or the other, and the harmonies are underplayed. Also many of the tracks are at the slow end of the spectrum.

Unlike most albums, the standout tracks are towards the end of the CD. For mine the most exciting tunes are the Tongan language closers ‘Akilotoa and Mano. I’d love to hear more of the more traditional material, rather than the middle of road fare that dominates here.

File under: Lacking that regal feel

116. Buffalo Tom – “Smitten”

I was one album off in my memory of Buffalo Tom losing it. This is the album where the wheels fell off and I stopped purchasing (they also took a very long hiatus after this release – perhaps understandably).

buffalo Tom album cover smittenThe band really have misplaced their mojo here. The tracks are way too soft and overproduced.  There is very little edge. The focus on slower numbers only serves to highlight their inadequacies.

It feels like a band going through the motions.  At the same time there is a sniff of desperation. New elements like harmonising are explored. The song-writing is laboured. They are grasping for rhymes, and wallowing in a deep pit of cliches.

I’m searching for redeeming characteristics here.  I guess if you’d never heard any of their other stuff you might see glimpses of gold and promise.  But when the fall has been so swift it is very hard to get excited.

The opening track (Rachel) is their best effort, but it isn’t anywhere enough to justify the album.

My CD comes with a bonus 4-track live set at Melbourne’s own Triple-R radio station.  As these are songs from their glory days, it just serves to remind us what has been lost.

File under: I think they meant smited