Share OVERBOARD - Rich Webb (All Killer Music)
If I were a kindergarten teacher, I could write how Richie was progressing well with his fourth solo long player and give him a nice gold star. I'm sure his mum would be proud. If I owned a record company I'd tap my toes and dream cocaine dreams of airplay, licensing deals, money for nothing and my chicks for free. But I am none of these things. I am a large vicious ball of spite that is happy to confuse criticism with being critical. All I can tell you is why I hate this disc with such unmitigated vitriol that my fists randomly clench whilst typing. I am offered no quarter by this drizzle and give none in return.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to tell you that Rich Webb is talentless. He is a seasoned entertainer launching himself off on 42-date European tours. I would guess that he is kind to children and animals and may possibly even give donations to tax deductible charitable institutions. I'm not going to tell you that his band isn't professional because they could easily find work at any session they put their names down for. I'm not even going to tell you that there isn't a market for this kind of disc. Unfortunately, I know there is. There is respect and success and the promise of more glittering prizes.
The press release tells me that Melbourne-based Mr Webb took his band over to the Scorpions' German studio and, over eight glorious live in days produced this stunning rock and roll album. If that wasn't enough to make me want to run a mile, I listened to it. I heard no rock and no roll (at least not in any way I understand those terms). Whilst it did get louder towards the end, all I heard was a disc aimed directly at the middle of the road. It hit its target squarely but minimal damage was inflicted. There is no fun to be had on this particular autobahn.
Meanwhile, the press release tells me this "rich, crazy, vibrant and intense" album is "tidal and governed by the moon". It's "like a pirate flag flashing in the sea of a shimmering sunshine." The "see-saw guitars rock the boat then bring it home". What? I mean, seriously. What the fuck does that mean besides pass me a bucket; I'm going to spew.
Imagine Crowded House without the vocal crescendos that mark where the choruses should be. I know a lot of people have respect for the alleged song writing skills of Crowded House but I don't. I hate the simpering, whining vocals that invoke metaphor rather than man up and tell you exactly how they feel. For this very reason, I hate this album by Rich Webb. It should have been subtitled "Tales of Passive Aggression and Male Pattern Baldness Angst." It made me want to break things. It made me want to run over pedestrians. It made me want to walk into Glebe Books armed with a fully fuelled chainsaw and really do a number on the poetry section. It reminded me of everything I despise about this plastic, mundane world in which we live. Whilst Rich tried to spread love into his beautiful world, all I feel is a horrible seething rage. When I hear his Velvet Underground and Dylan "borrowings" and "appropriations" mutated into FM radio friendly Whitlamesque (the band not the Prime Minister) filler, my blood boils. When he casually lifts a phrase from The Clash, I actually feel embarrassed for him.
This is what passes as the alternative these days. Every perfect shimmering moment slaps my face like a cold wet flannel. This is a disc for readers who trust the Sydney Morning Herald's album reviews as well as fans of Paul Kelly (if such things are not mutually inclusive). It is music for social workers, university lecturers, flaccid wine-drinking socialists and dodgy old men trying to pick up girls half their age. They'll put it on at their parties and soirées and pretend they're still with it (whatever the fuck "it" was ever supposed to be in the first place.)
Am I being unreasonable? No. There are many out there who know exactly what kind of a cunt I am. But gentle reader, who can blame me? Is there not a line that I've been forced to cross. I had to listen to this disc. Surely, such a gloved slap invites a duel and thus, as the aggrieved party, I have chosen my weapon; the poison pen. I have to live in a world where such music is considered not merely acceptable but desirable. Must I bear this insult or should I take arms against this turgid sea of trouble. For me, this disc brings only pain as smarmy, smug couplets beat their way over well trodden chord progressions in the hunt for nothing in particular. There'll be plenty of punters who'll love this stuff. If the press release is to be believed, the Germans fucking love him. But not me, babe. No. No. No. Not me. - Bob Short
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