Share SEA SHANDIES - Dead Shades (Bird Fire Records)
Recently, I had word passed to me down from Queensland.  It was felt that one of my more strident reviews had crossed some imaginary line.  I was told that what I had to understand was that this was a small industry and no-one paid artists the attention they deserved.  It was felt that it was unfair to criticise those who were out there trying.  It was suggested that my bad reviews could seriously scar someone’s career and hurt their feelings.  To which I reply “grow a pair.”

Seriously.  I put it down to the state of the education system and the invention of special awards for effort.  I put it down to a culture that refuses to call an F a failure; a culture that demands a three day course to operate a slow/stop sign.  A world where all the kids have to wear elasticised shoes so the “intellectually challenged” don’t have to feel bad about shoelaces.

I’m talking about a world where people can listen to the White Stripes and the John Butler Trio and decide they too can play the blues (even if they have never heard or heard of Howling Wolf or Robert Johnson).  A world where playing turgid semi funk chords at a safe 40 kilometres an hour in a built up area is acceptable.

No, it is not acceptable.  It is not desirable.   It is like watching the world die; not with a bang but with barely a whimper.  Should I tell the Dead Shades they have written splendid songs when they have put such little effort into the task?  Lyrically they would embarrass your average thirteen year old.  Musically, you spot a chord change coming at three hundred paces.  People ask me why I keep playing.  I’ll tell you.  I refuse to abandon the pitch to the likes of this.

If the delightful photo inside the disc is anything to go by, you would cross the street at the sight of this trio before they asked you for spare change.  I have given this disc two stars because “Early Morning Eyes” and “Man Eating Woman” at least pick up the pace a little.  It is as far as my charity goes.  I see from their web site that the Dead Shades have gone to Los Angeles to play.  Surely, given the fact the Americans make so much effort trying to keep Mexicans out, their border control should be a little more stringent with regards third rate Australian musicians.   They really must have enough unemployed guitarists of their own already. - Bob Short



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