Daily Archives: September 9, 2009

174. Rob Clarkson – “Zone One”

In the wake of the retrospective “Shirts & Skins” release, Rob Clarkson reunited with himself and hit the stage and studio as a single singer-songwriter again.

Album Cover Rob Clarkson Zone OneThe single bit is not just a description of his stage set-up but also his social status (it would seem).  So much of this album is a lament to the life the regularly dumped.

Indeed, if this album is autobiographical, it would seem the intervening decade had not been particularly kind to Rob.  He’s now hanging at bars constructing witticisms and witty japes (Thought Bubble) and avoiding mementos of lost relationships (Photo and Audio). He’s still trapped in share houses with the associated risks (The Housemate who Brought a Moaner Home).

Life has gone on for his friends, now entrenched in baby-making (the eerily accurate What did we talk about (before you had your babies)?).  I’m reluctant to quote lyrics, but this one’s a ripper:

“You perpetuate the species
But do you have to mention faeces?”

I’m a little torn on whether I should feel guilt in Clarkson’s melancholy and wallowing. But, in the end, he’s is still a fantastic songsmith, constructing even trickier lyrical twists than in his younger days. It is a shame he won’t ever be a fucking rockstar (that’s another quote).

File under: On track

173. Rob Clarkson – “Shirts and Skins”

A sad reflection on the taste of Aussie music buyers (and labels) is that Rob Clarkson’s afore-reviewed album disappeared from the shelves and catalogues far too quickly.

Album Cover Rob Clarkson Shirts & Skins andThankfully Candle Records cobbled together this “best of”.

You see Rob broke up with himself in 1996 and thusforth played in bands of various names and quality.  This double-album brings together the standout tracks from his album and 3 EPs, including the very unattainable “Hellbent in Hobart” (if anyone has a copy they’d like to share, please contact me).  So here we find his biggest ‘hit’ Beautiful Girls and Beautiful Girls, plus many other gems.

In a perfect world the Tasmanian tourist folks would have embraced his Hobart City of Love as a jingle.

The second CD here are 9 tracks recorded live at the Punters Club in 1996, and this is where the true gold lies.  Finally I ended up with recordings of tunes that I’d learnt the words to from so many live sightings.  The standouts include the very wise Don’t Sleep with Your Best Friends, and the gay anthem candidate I Only Sleep with Boys Now).

These two tracks showcase his ballsy-ness as a songwriter and his wit. The recordings themselves perfectly capture the energy and intimacy of standing 10 feet away from him at venues as he strummed, sung and sniped his way through yet another evening.

The album finishes with the veritable golden fleece a track Rob couldn’t escape over the years, the ridiculously catchy Fiona and her Yellow Car. Pure brilliance.

Donning my critic hat (and my purchase advisor visor), I must say this collection is a little disjointed and there are a few tracks that don’t quite cut it.  If you could still get hold of his earlier album you should buy that.  But this is a fantastic substitute worthy of your hard earned.

File under: A winning selection