Critical Writings

Articles and Reviews: MUSIC

In the Pines by The Triffids / Calenture by The Triffids (Reissues) (Domino)

Australia in the ’80s spawned two sublime song-orientated folk/pop/rock groups, The Triffids and The Go-Betweens, neither of whom enjoyed anything like the popular success they should have achieved at the time. Hailing from Brisbane, The Go-Bes had a slightly sunnier, surfier disposition. Coming from Perth, the most isolated major city in the world, The Trifs’ territory true territory was always the wilderness, the forsaken, the emotionally yearning but barren. As has been commented, you could drop a medium-sized European country on areas of the outback, and not kill anyone.




In The Pines was the ‘getting-our-heads-together in the country’ interlude between the band’s highpoint Born Sandy Devotional, and the follow-up proper, Calenture. Redolent of Dylan and The Band’s long available only on bootleg The Basement Tapes, it was made in a woolshed for $1190, most of which was spent on beer. Calenture, in contrast, was recorded in a London studio, and is a much more polished, lusher affair. But what they both share is killer songs. Listening to cuts like ‘Hometown Farewell Kiss’ and ‘Jerdacuttup Man’, you realise how much David McComb, sadly no longer with us having succumbed to his various addictions in 1999 aged 38, after a heart transplant in 1996, had already achieved his aspiration to place himself in the pantheon of great songwriters occupied by his heroes, Dylan, Cohen and Gene Clark.

Let’s not mince words here: Born Sandy Devotional is not only one of the best albums of the ’80s, but of all time. You shouldn’t have to be asked twice to get into music this good, and hats off to Domino for this continuing series of reissues.

First published in Magill, March 2007














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