TITLE: Rock is Dead
ALBUM: Rock is Dead (September 2007)
Bridging the power chords and riffs of the late 70s with a contemporary sound and subject, Rock Is Dead is a timeless classic that will empower anyone who listens to it to celebrate the true sound of rock’n’roll.
Review: Sean J. O’Kelly (Inflation Times magazine) 2007
Orginally, I approached Rock is Dead cautiously. Murdoch’s claim of “bringing back the lead break” made me slightly fearful of the contents. To be honest I was not expecting such a fresh album. It’s been a long time between drinks for Taste and I was half expecting something resembling a pop-glossed nostalgic re-release … fortunately I got nothing of the sort. Driven by Murdoch’s poignant lyrics Taste has structured a powerful collection of hard hitting classic rock songs. I find the vocals incredibly strong along with the meaningful lyrics which are consistently direct and relevant which is always a good thing. There are no pretty boy prancing songs in this lot. All songs, except ‘Same Old Story’ which has been lifted from their first album, were written within the last 12 months and recorded at Melbourne’s Sing Sing Studio.
In much of today’s new music it is not difficult for the vintage listener to find familiar a riff here or an identifiable rhythm there, it seems quite common in modern music to regurgitate sounds from the past. But to my surprise this album serves up original sounds while still managing to reincarnate the big sound of last century’s super rock production.
This truly is an iconic album by an iconic band. Bridging the power chords and riffs of the late 70s with a contemporary sound and subject, Rock Is Dead is a timeless classic that will empower anyone who listens to it to celebrate the true sound of rock’n’roll.
Hello Can You Hear Me the opening track cunningly mellowed by the sound of Tortoni’s Jazz double bass which is awakened by the echoing sound of Murdoch’s reverberating vocals. A statement of what most fans seem to expect from their rock idols. ” Hello can you hear me? Hello can you see me? You want love you got it. You want sex you got it, you want blood, you want it all. ” this is perhaps an unmarked response by the hype created idols referred to in the title track.
The deeply haunting Sanctuary provokes a frantic adrenalin rush of anxiety as the racing guitar riff provides the haunting back beat that condemns the horrors of child abuse. Originally written as a short story, the narrator tells of revisiting the orphanage to get a job as a gardener. Unrecognised by the priest he waits for the 30th anniversary of his mistreatment to seek revenge.
The title track Rock is Dead incites feelings that ever since Bill Haley did it around the clock Rock Music has always been a powerful medium to express the voice of youth culture and in this track Murdoch protests the lack of traditional rock in popular music of today. “Rock is Dead, it died last night on your TV ……… Rock is Dead, voted off by you and me.” he claims as the musical voice of a half a dozen generations become packaged and franchised to increase the wealth of the corporate greedy.
The meaningful Kyle with it’s darker sound tells a story about some of the choices we make while growing up combating peer pressure. Constructed like a rock operatic monologue this is a reflective tale of decisions and regrets.
Still marketing a social conscience the pounding Don’t Wanna Be Like You, the only track by Amenta is an unpolished ruby in a buck full of diamonds truly a compliment to his obvious talents and could very well become an anthem of our time. With it’s cutting lyrics it promotes individuality and condemns our social complacency. A made to order track for every air-guitar virtuoso which will certainly come alive when it gets a chance to explode in a live performance.
Breathe, a beautiful rock ballad by anyone’s standard is dedicated to Murdoch’s brother. It tells of the agony of losing someone to the devastating disease of cancer. “Remember what you said to me. It’s all the strength I need” Mellower than the other tracks on the album, it is an uplifting track inspired by a devastating situation.
Elizabeth Makes Me Smile is another social statement that talks about the many troubles of the world today as it expresses the comforting escape one can find in the innocent smile of a child, namely Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth.
Same Old Story, any original Taste fan would be sure to remember this live favourite which has been lifted from the ‘Tickle Your Fancy’ album. Over thirty years old its revitalised treatment brings its old story of conflict between parent and child into the new millennium with its sharp and punchy sound bought alive by Witenberg’s strong rhythm.
Crazy Mother* is perhaps the rawest track on the album and I have to tread lightly with it because of it’s ultra-modern lyrical approach. Musically it is primal and infectious although it’s questionable chorus’ lyrics may prevent it from being a contender for the song of the year even if no one can get that damn melody out of their head. Another contender for being a favourite live anthem
All The Good Things the longest track on the album is credited to longtime friend Susan Turner. This is a nice track which once again seems to be an operatically inspired rock ballad. Soft and flowing it shows a gentle side to this many times seasoned group of rock stars… who close the album with a reprise of the Tortoni double bass
To know the old TASTE tracks and sound so well as I do and to hear the revitalised version is a great thrill.
Rock may very well be dead but great guitar licks are alive and well electrifying the fingers of great guitarists like Amenta, Murdoch and Tortoni.