It is with some trepidation I approach the review of Keepin
It Unreal, the latest offering from Dave Graney and Clare Moore.
Not that I expect it to be anything less than fantastic, but rather because
its kind of like having to audit the Queen. How do you critique
a performer that seemingly sets the standard for what independent Australian
artists can achieve? Judging by what I know of Dave Graney, who is equal
parts famous and infamous, it is unlikely he would care whether I deemed
his album a failure or success. Thankfully Graney has delivered, and his
collaboration with Clare Moore is truly excellent. Keepin
It Unreal is an acoustic journey through an expansive back catalogue,
that utilises the players exceptional skill in song craft. Possessing
a cool and mellow cover story, the album is actually a thought provoking
and exciting trip set against the lush acoustics of guitar, vibes and
light percussion. Its a great mixture and a joy to listen to, so
much so that it seems silly to pick out standout tracks; this is an album
to enjoy in its entirety.
Dave Graney and Clare Moore are to contemporary Australian music what
Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouvoir are to French social and political
philosophy. Whereas Sartre and de Bouvoir gave the world existentialism,
post-Marxist proto-feminist analysis and iconic images of Gitanes and
Parisian cafes, Graney and Moore give us pop music for the sophisticated
lounge lizard, suave fashions and astute, left-field lyrical observations.
Keepin It Unreal is the follow-up album to Graney and Moores
recent Hashish and Liquor double CD. Aided and abetted by Stu Thomas (Surrealist,
Businessman and Paradox leader and bestowed the regal Gallic title
of Comte dAlucard for the purposes of this album), Keepin
It Unreal is more of the delicate, enveloping pop music weve come
to know, respect and love from Graney and Moore. Graneys contributions,
from You Put A Spell On Me (co-written with, and originally recorded by,
Matt Walker) the oxymoronic intrigue of Biker In Business Class, the sprightly
Lt Colonel, Calvary to the arguably self-referential track, A Million
Dollars In A Red Velvet Suit, are classic Graney material. Graneys
voice strains at the seams with crooning sincerity, complimented neatly
by Moores 60s soft lounge harmonies; his songwriting collaborations
with Moore (Vengeance Is On Its Way, Am I Wearing Something of Yours)
are models of collaborative style.
Moores sole solo contribution is possibly the stand-out track, a
cool as sweet fuck A Lot To Drink About, filled to the brim with sly blues
charisma that youd expect to find at the bottom of Hemingways
last glass of absinthe. Theres a few covers that illustrate and
reflect known and unknown artistic influences Diamonds Fur Coat
Champagne by the iconoclastic New York duo Suicide, Parchman Farm by blues
artist Mose Allison (who, amongst other notable achievements, wrote Young
Man Blues, covered by The Who on their seminal Live at Leeds album) and
Who Of Us Two by French crooner Marcel Kanche.
Style, like its companion concept quality, is incapable of objective analysis
and definition. But to listen to this album is to encounter style in its
most pure aural form.
PATRICK EMERY, Beat November 06
Dave Graney and Clare Moore have a fine air of local music royalty about
them. But perhaps the better analogy here is in the American model. On
this truly fabulous set she's easily contemporary First-Lady material,
giving every song a delightful, delicate soul and verve on vibraphone
and vocals while Mr President Graney steers the ship of state with his
distinctive, distinguished crooning.
But where this commander-in-chief shines and surprises is in his inspired
work on 12-string acoustic guitar. Rounding out the winsome trio is chief
of staff Stu D (aka le Comte d'Alucard) on six-string bass and backing
The record is a greatest-hits package of sorts, reworking songs from across
the couple's vast and varied output, such as You Put a Spell On Me, by
Graney and Matt Walker, and Moore's A Lot to Drink About, first seen on
last year's Hashish & Liquor, and her excellent take on Mose Allison's
Parchman Farm retrieved from 2002's The Third Woman.
Recorded in one day in August this year, the overall effect is sexy, swinging
and very jazzy, a fine set of songs to accompany an afternoon of cocktails
by the pool.
The Age EG December 06
"Graney and Moore's Australian blues-punks The Moodists left London
in the late 1980's, beaten by an indifferent British media. In the 1990's,
bone-dry pop irony and suddenly voluminous personality made him briefly
huge back home, the Serge Gainsbourg of Melbourne suburbia. 'Keepin' it
Unrea'l revisits the duo's back catalogue, originally running the gamut
from feral rock to witty chansons, here arranged for a tasteful but punchy
cabaret trio. Graney's knowing, self-mythologising lyrics remain incisive
and effortlessly poetic, and his tremulous vocal twinkles brightly amid
Moore's luminous vibes. New listeners, start here and work backwards into
Dave and Clare's world of wonder."
4 out of 5
Stewart Lee Sunday Times (UK) February 2007
Strip away the brash showman and what is left of Dave Graney? This album
shows that beneath the style, theres substance. Dave and his partner,
Clare Moore, are fine songwriters, and the songs are the focus of this
album, which revisits and reinterprets tracks from their imposing catalogue.
Its Daves "Liberation Blue" record, except its
not a Liberation release (for those wondering it means a collection of
acoustic versions of an artists back catalogue). But its not
a "hits" collection Dave and Clare (joined by cohort
Stuart Thomas, "Stu D") take the minimalist approach to album
gems such as Biker In Business Class, There Was A Time and A Million Dollars
In A Red Velvet Suit. Unreal, indeed.
Jeff Jenkins, MAG , Dec 06
Sir David & Lady Clare Keep It Unreal
Time for a break for all things Stooges and Dolls. The Barmaid and I caught
Dave Graney and Clare Moore last Friday-week, at the Spanish Club in Sydney.
The occasion was the local launch of their fine album, "Keepin' It
Unreal" (on Reverberation).
I lost touch with Sir David's output in the late-ish '90s - his breakthrough
album "Night of the Wolverine" and the follow-up, "You
Wanna Be There But You Don't Wanna Travel" (the Big Rock Production
Album) were played to death in these parts - but I've since caught up.
"The Soft and Sexy Sound" always had some of the most biting
songs Dave's written. "The Devil Drives" deserved more attention
than I gave it and even the re-configured band of "Kiss Tomorrow
Goodbye" works a treat, in retrospect.
Dave's songwriting is every bit as good as it was when he was in the thrall
of a major label, but he's framing it in all sorts of ways other than
your stock-standard, rock band guitar-and-keys. The latest configuration
is Dave on acoustic guitar, Stu Thomas on big, thick bass and Clare on
vibraphones and harmonies. It's languid, sometimes laid-back and pretty
fetching when the trio re-interprets the expansive Graney back catalogue.
Is it rock and roll? I'm not sure what the fuck is, but I do know that
Dave's unique phrasing and always intriguing lyrics inevitably makes it
a weird and wonderful ride, no matter what musical kaliedoscope it's being
There were some rock and roll moments when the gig was shifted from the
band room (which apparently had an issue with its entertainment license)
and the Spanish guitar player of 11 years residency was displaced - only
to be called back to fill in when Stu Thomas' flight from Melbourne was
delayed. He got there in the end. The band lost its door deal - it's a
bit hard to charge diners in a restaurant - so bemused tourists and punters
there for the show got more than tapas and sangria for the price of their
meal. It was all good.
Posted by The Barman (i94bar blog)March 2007
Rock and roll might have been where Dave Graney
used to hide but he blew his cover years ago. After tasting mainstream
beer barn and festival success in the mid-'90s, the chameleon of Australian
rock 'n' pop cast off his leather coat of many colours and his musical
muse headed for musical byways less travelled, where it was harder to
put pigeons into holes but they could subsist on their own terms. "Keepin'
It Unreal" is just one more excursion on that strange trip.
The latest finds Graney and musical muse Clare Moore farming their grooves
in stripped back mode. This time it's Sir David on acoustic and 12-string
guitars with his partner eschewing drums for vibraphone, for the most
part. Filling out the line-up, which spent the time in residency at a
club in Melbourne and then on low budget road trips around the country,
is boss bassman Stuart Thomas, on six-string bass.
The 14 songs are a mix of familiar and some lesser-heard Graney compositions
or co-writes with Moore and others, plus the odd cover (sometimes "odd"
is the operative word). The whole album was cut in a day at Dave and Clare's
Pondersosa home studio, so you know it sounds great.
OK rock pigs, let's cut to the chase: No-one ever claimed vibraphone to
be a rock and roll staple. There's not one screaming guitar solo to be
heard. Graney may own a fuzzbox but he's not going to use it. This is
lounge-blues, richly anchored in warm acoustic sounds but topped with
Dave's unique vocal stylisations. So if you pick up this CD, give it a
spin and find yourself lost for descriptors, don't do a Favio and say
"I can't believe it's not rock". There's more goodness in his
disc than some mass-produced slab of laboratory margarine.
Who woulda thunk New York noise-and-menace merchants Suicide would have
their "Diamonds Fur Coat Champagne" re-birthed as a driving
acoustic piece that's still edgy in its own oblique way? Or that Clare
would vocally tackle "Parchman Farm" (credited to Mose Allison
but I know the version by John Mayall's Clapton-populated Bluesbreakers
best) and infuse it with warm understatement?
Of the re-worked Graney originals there's none better here than "There
Was a Time", which is stripped of its Mack truck engine room to propelled
along by something more lithe and exotic. "Biker in Business Class"
and "Lt. Colonel, Cavalry" also sound radically different to
their alter egos.
The one departure from what passes as the norm is the closer (which is
to say it has drums). A self-confessed Francophile, Graney gives an English
language spin to French artist M's "Who of Us Two?". No idea
how the original goes but in his and Clare's hands it's a jaunty slice
of unmistakably Gallic pop (and, unsurprisingly as it sounds out of place,
was recorded in a separate session.)
I was talking to a Melbourne muso about the musical place where Graney
and Moore live and we were both stumped for an adequate name for it. It's
not defined by conventional record company strictures but in its own way
it's a more subversive existence as they've led in the past. Old fans
will still make a connection.
Anyway, if you approach this album don't do it with trepidation. It mightn't
get you to spend the rest of your life on the lounge but it does us all
good to get out of the garage, occasionally. -
i94bar -The Barman
For the last 25 years or so, Dave Graney and Clare
Moore have been in the fringes of Australian music perhaps out of an audiences
fear of anything good and a little different to whats understood
as the norm. For Keepin It Unreal, the tapes rolled at the Ponderosa
in Melbourne - with Graney and Moore stripping down a 25 year old catalogue
down to its underwear.
What makes Dave Graney interesting (or any artist for that matter) is
that knack for both reinvention and progression. And like Ed Kuepper,
its Graneys constant Dr Who-like regeneration makes him and
partner-in-crime, percussionist Clare Moore ever so endearing.
Graneys interpretive skill and subsequent rendition of Suicides
Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne, is quite simply jaw-dropping
and pitches Graney as Alan Vega in safari suit and pork-pie hat. Keepin
It Unreal is a live recording which showcases Graneys lyrical genius
along side clever, simple arrangements behind smart song-titles such as
Biker In Business Class or Vengeance Is On Its Way (Dont
Worry) which arent moments of black comedy, more of strange
circumstances. So there you have it, another good reason made out of a
CD which underlines Dave Graney and Clare Moores undeniable genius.
Donat Tahiraj , Time Off, Brisbane
The new album by Dave Graney and his long term musical
partner Clare Moore is characterized by the sound of 6 string bass,
12 string acoustic guitar and shimmering vibraphones.
Throughout 2006 Dave and Clare (along with bassplayer Stu D) have been
performing songs from Daves vast and arcane songbook in this accoustic,
stripped down and naked format. Within this sound, they have been revisiting
and reinterpreting many songs from different periods of Daves career,
(and a few tasty covers as well).So successful were these shows, that
the trio decided to record some of the songs live in the studio, with
a minimum of overdubs and no electric guitars, keyboards or drums for
a possible future release.
The 14 tracks here are the best of those spontaneous sessions. Some
of the highlights include;You put a spell on me, a song Dave co-wrote
with Matt Walker, that both Matt and Jimmy Little have recorded, but
strangely Dave had not tackled before.A cover of Diamonds, Fur Coat,
Champagne, the classic opening track off New York synthesizer duo Suicides
second album (Suicide were a great inspiration for Dave in his early
musical shots for impossible goals).
And; smokey, laid back interpretations of the following Graney classics;
A Million Dollars in a Red Velvet Suit (1990), There Was a Time (1994),
Biker in Business class (1997), lt Colonel, Cavalry & Am I Wearing
Something of Yours? (1998), Vengeance is on its Way and The Stuff That
Night is Made of (2000), and 2 recordings of tracks from last years
opus, Hashish & Liquor.
The album closes with a stomping, glam-rock, electric-boogie cover of
a 2003 French smash hit titled Qui De Nous Deux. Originally recorded
by the French artist M, and well known in Australia through the So Frenchy
So Chic compilations, here it is re-recorded by Dave & Clare in
english as Who Of Us Two?. (This closing song is the only one on the
album recorded with drums and electric guitars).
Herald Sun HIT magazine
Graney and Moore are like that uncle and aunt playing away in the corner
at your family get togethers. Over the years theyve stuck at it;sometimes
theyre funny,sommetimes theyre not, sometimes theyre
good and sometimes theyre forgettable,but they just keep at it.
You liked them when you were younger but somewhere along the way they
became too familiar. "Keepin it unreal" is not going to push
the first couple of alternative rock back into the spotlight but its
a wonderful collection of songs that celebrates a sound the pair have
discovered doing a series of shows in Melbourne using just vibes, 12
string acoustic and bass. Most of the songs have been recorded in one
form or another but find new life here. A standout is a cover of Suicides
Diamonds,fur coat, champagne. Its hard to imagine how you can
use acoustic guitar and vibes in place of the synthesized hell of the
original but, surprisingly, it owrks. Other highlights include a shimmering
version of you put a spell on me, plus Anchors Aweigh and A lot to drink
Peter Lalor, the Weekend Australian