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Hello Sailor - Surrey Crescent Moon Album Review

28 Oct 2012 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Hello Sailor are one of those bands that need no introduction. They’re a kiwi institution, like L&P and Pav. Their songs “Gutter Black” and “Blue Lady” were radio staples through my formative years and still appear on the playlists of what the kids call the “old people stations,” the Breeze and the Sound (formally Solid Gold).

Hello Sailor have been around forever and as a sign that they’re still here amongst us they’ve just released Surrey Crescent Moon while simultaneously touring our fine country with Dragon.

Though, with 35 years of releasing records under their belt, one must ask, is Hello Sailor still relevant to New Zealanders today? 

This month we heard that James Blunt had retired from the music business, the response for many was astonishment at the revelation that up to the announcement James Blunt was still making music. 

Unlike James Blunt, In many ways Hello Sailor never really left the music scene. They’ve released two albums a decade since the seventies.  And many thanks must go to Outrageous Fortune for bringing “Gutter Black” back into the public’s collective consciousness.

Also unlike James Blunt the music of Hello Sailor is consistent, listenable and proven. Listening to Hello Sailor’s Surrey Crescent Moon and James Blunt’s All the Lost Souls, needless to say, brings two very different experiences.  There are many reasons for this, and I know the two should never really be lumped together, a Kiwi giant and a British 2 hit wonder, but there is a reason. On the first listen of All the Lost Souls I skipped every track except the first, “1973.” This wasn’t the case with Surrey Crescent Moon. 

Does it sound like “Gutter Black?” comes a question from an Outrageous Fortune aficionado next to me. Well, no.  And I wouldn’t expect it to. The band has been through so much since that song. Does all Nirvana sound like “Smells like Teen Spirit”? 

I am ashamed to say that apart from tidbits here and there, this is the first Hello Sailor album I’ve had the chance to digest head to heel. This makes it difficult to compare the Hello Sailor of the eponymous release of ’77 to the men behind Surrey Crescent Moon.  

From the mouth of Brazier, himself: “These tunes reflect a lifetime of grasping at a 2 dollar poker table, hoping for a Royal Flush, but all too often arriving with two sevens. But today, I feel we have 5 Aces.” It’s a very Bukowski-esque run down of Hello Sailor’s musical journey from the eye of an insider.  I hear it now. After reading that quote. There are hints of melancholy in Brazier’s crooning voice. Close your eyes and you’ll see a tragic Dean Martin figure on a dim lit stage holding a microphone, and a warm glass of scotch. Black shades hide his eyes, Hawaiian shirt faded.

What I can say is the sound of the album is definitely a throwback to yesteryear. A tropical cocktail of Calypso, Blues, Country and Pop/Rock. It doesn’t sound like an attempt to modernise an already tried and true sound, and that’s a good thing. In the past we’ve heard some bands go horribly wrong in attempts to open up their niche sound to a wider audience. I don’t want to point fingers at Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, Nelly Furtado, Nelly, Britney Spears, Marilyn Manson… I’m happy to say it looks like Hello Sailor aren’t ready for that list yet.

Kiddie don’t buy your dad another REPCO voucher for Christmas. Save it for his birthday. He can buy tools and toys any day, this CD will give him something to listen to when he’s out in the shed avoiding your mum. Buy another copy for your mum so she can overshare about her student days as a groupie at the Double Deca Dances in ’75.  Surrey Crescent Moon is fun for the whole family, well apart from the brooding teenagers, unless they’re one of those BoHo retro Hipsters. Teenagers these days, they just… don’t get it.

Surrey Crescent Moon
View Track Listing
 

About Hello Sailor

No one can challenge Hello Sailor's place in the evolution of Kiwi music. They surfaced among the inner city student population in the midst of the 1970's disco boom playing, soul, Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones and their own distinctive brand of South Pacific Rock'n'Roll come 'Ponsonby Reggae'. Their debut self titled album released in 1977 was the first locally made New Zealand record to achieve Gold Record status and Hello Sailor had the country at its feet.

In 1978 the band based itself in Hollywood and came close to securing a signing to an American major. It was not to be and Hello Sailor come home and then tried Australia before running out of money and steam in 1980.

Since that time there have been solo projects, film scores, acting, reformations, tours, two further Hello Sailor studio albums and lots of great music.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hello Sailor

Releases

Surrey Crescent Moon
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
When Your Lights Are Out
Year: 2006
Type: Album
The Sailor Story
Year: 1996
Type: Album
The Album
Year: 1994
Type: Album
Shipshape & Bristol Fashion
Year: 1986
Type: Album
Last Chance To Dance
Year: 1982
Type: Album
Pacifica Amour
Year: 1978
Type: Album
Hello Sailor
Year: 1977
Type: Album

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