Today's artists are an Australian rock music band formed in 1981. Fronted by founding mainstay, singer-songwriter and guitarist Mark Seymour, they developed a blend of pub rock and art-funk. Other mainstays are John Archer on bass guitar, Doug Falconer on drums and percussion. Soon after forming they were joined by Jack Howard on trumpet and keyboards, Jeremy Smith on French horn, guitars and keyboards, and Michael Waters on trombone and keyboards. Also acknowledged as a founder was engineer and art designer Robert Miles. Joining in 1988, Barry Palmer, on lead guitar, remained until they disbanded in 1998. The group reformed in 2013 with the 1998 line-up........N'Joy
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Hunters & Collectors' founding mainstays are John Archer (bass guitar), Doug Falconer (drums) and Mark Seymour (guitar and lead vocals). They met as residential students of Ormond College at the University of Melbourne in the late 1970s. Seymour is the older brother of Nick Seymour, the bass guitarist for Crowded House. In 1978 with Robert Miles (sound engineer) Archer, Falconer and Seymour formed a casual band, The Schnorts They played cover versions of 1960s songs, including "To Sir, with Love". Their lead singer, Margot O'Neill, was a journalist on radio 3RRR program, Talking Headlines.
A more ambitious band, The Jetsonnes, followed in September 1979, with the addition of Ray Tosti-Gueira on guitar and backing vocals. According to music journalist, Clinton Walker, The Jetsonnes had a "clever post-punk pop sound was lighter, bouncier (rather than funkier) and more infectious than other like-minded bands". Their only released track is "Newspaper" which was one side of a gig give away split single in June 1980 with "Miniskirts in Moscow" by fellow pop group, International Exiles, as the other. By September that year The Jetsonnes had disbanded but Archer, Falconer, Miles, Seymour and Tosti-Gueira decided to continue with new members, Geoff Crosby on keyboards and Greg Perano (ex-True Wheels) on percussion to form a new band
Hunters & Collectors formed in Melbourne in early 1981 with the initial line-up of Archer, Crosby, Falconer, Miles, Perano, Seymour and Tosti-Gueira. Miles was credited as an equal part of the band's output and stayed throughout their main career. Perano provided the band's name from "Hunters and Collectors", a track on 1975's Landed album by German group Can. Originally Hunters & Collectors were influenced by the Krautrock genre and the productions of Conny Plank, featuring strong percussive influences, noisy guitar, and driving bass lines. As lead singer and guitarist, Seymour became the principal lyricist and the linchpin of the group. The core of Hunters & Collectors was expanded by a brass section, later dubbed Horns of Contempt, consisting of Nigel Crocker and Michael Waters both on trombone; Jack Howard, Andy Lynn and Chris Malherbe each on trumpet; and Jeremy Smith on French horn.
Mushroom Records specifically formed a new alternative label, White Label Records, when they signed Hunters & Collectors. Their first release was World of Stone, a three-track extended play in January 1982. It reached the Australian top 50. Their debut self-titled album followed in July and was produced by the band with engineering by Sydney-based Tony Cohen. It peaked at No. 21 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart, and No. 14 on the New Zealand Albums Chart. The album's lead single, "Talking to a Stranger", also released in July, was accompanied by a music video directed by film maker Richard Lowenstein, but it did not peak into the Top 50. By that time, Tosti-Gueira was replaced by Martin Lubran (ex-Spiny Norman) on guitar and the Horns of Contempt were reduced to three: Howard, Smith and Waters.
Another EP, Payload, was released in November, its four tracks were co-produced by Mike Howlett (ex-Gong) and the band. In 1983 the band toured the United Kingdom for six months and signed with Virgin Records. The label recompiled three tracks from the Australian version of Hunters & Collectors and all four tracks from Payload into the international version of Hunters & Collectors, which was released in April. While in the UK and attempting to enter the local market, the group's members "were doing odd jobs, illegally, to keep afloat and getting steadily more miserable in the process".
By mid-year the band had decamped to Conny's Studio in Germany, where they recorded their second album, The Fireman's Curse, co-produced by Plank (Can, Cluster, Kraftwerk), with Dave Hutchins engineering, and released by White Label and Virgin Records on 5 September 1983. The album did not reach the top 50 in Australia but did so in New Zealand. A three-record deal with Virgin was broken when band members insulted the label's executive, Simon Draper, by telling him that he was "a poncy little blueblood" with no faith in them. Its lead single, "Judas Sheep" (August), reached the top 40 in New Zealand but did not chart in Australia. After November's single, "Sway", failed to chart in both markets, they disbanded briefly.
Late in 1983, Hunters & Collectors had briefly disbanded, but soon reformed without Lubran and Perano. The 1984 line-up now featured greater use of keyboards by Crosby, as well as more emphasis on work by Howard, Smith and Waters. The band began to pare back their art rock pretensions of their earliest albums, although they retained a muscular, bass-driven sound, rounded off by the band's distinctive horn section. Seymour's lyrics became less abstruse and focused on the twin themes of the fraught personal relationships and the politics of the day.
The first album featuring the new line up was The Jaws of Life which appeared on 6 August 1984. McFarlane described it as having "a stripped-down rock sound, a driving rhythm, more concise arrangements and stronger songs".The album reached the top 100 in Australia and top 40 in New Zealand. Again co-produced with Plank, it was recorded at the old Can studio by René Tinner. The title, cover art and opening track, "42 Wheels", all refer to the murder of five people by an intoxicated, outback trucker, Douglas Crabbe.
The Jaws of Life provided a single, "The Slab" (also in August), which did not chart. However relentless touring, airplay on radio station Triple J plus their music videos screening on Countdown and other music video shows, fostered a devoted following on the pub rock scene. On 24 and 25 August 1984 Hunters & Collectors performed two gigs at The Venue in Melbourne, the performances were recorded and filmed. For the gigs Smith and Waters also played organs. The band issued their first live album, The Way to Go Out, on 1 April 1985, which was recorded and mixed live by Miles. The album reached the top 100 in Australia and No. 21 in New Zealand. It "captured all the ferocious power and muscular energy that characterised the band's pub gigs" according to McFarlane.
Greater Australian commercial success came in April 1986, with their fourth studio album, Human Frailty, which McFarlane found was "a further refinement of the sinewy and dynamic approach established" previously. It was co-produced by the group with Gavin MacKillop. It became their first Australian Top Ten album and reached No. 5 in New Zealand. In 2008 Human Frailty, was featured by SBS TV on the Great Australian Albums second series. Creswell presented the series and noted that "the album documents, in the most candid terms, the course of a doomed love affair that [Seymour] was then going through. A parallel narrative is also running through the album, which is of a group adjusting to life on the road and an exploration of what it means to be Australian in the 1980s".
After Human Frailty appeared in Australia Hunters & Collectors toured the US twice and then released their third EP, Living Daylight. It was followed by their fifth studio album, What's a Few Men?, also co-produced with Edward and released in November. It peaked at No. 16 in Australia and No. 9 in New Zealand.
The album provided the singles "Do You See What I See" (October) and "Still Hangin' Round" (February 1988) "Do You See What I See" reached the top 40 in Australia and in New Zealand it became their highest charting single at No. 13. "Still Hangin' Round" was deemed to be too "Australian": it was cut from the US configuration of the album, which was retitled Fate, and released in September 1988. Three new tracks were recorded for the US CD version, including "Back on the Breadline", which was issued as a single and charted at No. 6 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. In August 2003 a re-issue of What's a Few Men? by the Liberation Blue label featured all 15 tracks from the two versions.
Early in 1988 Barry Palmer joined the group on guitar. Ghost Nation, co-produced with Clive Martin and released in November 1989, was their second Australian Top Ten, it appeared on the ARIA Albums Chart. It provided four singles, beginning with "When the River Runs Dry", appearing in September and peaking at No. 23 in Australia in December and No. 5 on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks in 1990.
Hunters & Collectors supported Midnight Oil's North American tour of 1990 and, although the band struggled to find further chart success in the US, they maintained their status in Australia and New Zealand as local favourites. During that year Rolling Stone (Australia) named them Australian Band of the Year. At the ARIA Music Awards of 1990 the group were nominated in six categories and Ghost Nation won Best Cover Art for Miles' work. A compilation album, Collected Works, was released on 19 November 1990, and was another Top Ten album in Australia. It contained a fourth version of "Throw Your Arms Around Me" which was released as a single for a third time by December that year.
On 6 October 1992 Hunters & Collectors released their seventh studio album, Cut, co-produced by Don Gehman (Jimmy Barnes), Sansano and the band. Although relationships were strained due to Gehman's aggressive working methods, the band almost broke up during recording sessions, Cut peaked at No. 6 in Australia and No. 17 in New Zealand. It retained a balance between the band's artistic core and its commercial ambitions. The album provided six singles, all charted on the ARIA Singles Chart Top 100.
Demon Flower, their eighth studio album, followed on 16 May 1994, which was co-produced with Nick Mainsbridge (The Triffids, Martha's Vineyard, Ratcat). It peaked at No. 2 in Australia – their highest charting album – and No. 9 in New Zealand. Demon Flower provided "Easy", which reached the top 40 in both countries, and three other singles, which did not chart. Demon Flower was dominated by themes relating to the politics in the state of Victoria, particularly the economic rationalist policies of Premier Jeff Kennett.
A double live album, Living ... In Large Rooms and Lounges, was released in November 1995, with one disc consisting of an acoustic set at the now-defunct Continental Cafe in Prahran, and the other was a typical pub performance. Juggernaut, their ninth studio album, was co-produced with Kalju Tonuma (The Mavis's, Boom Crash Opera) and Mark Opitz (Hoodoo Gurus, Jimmy Barnes, INXS). The album was recorded in 1997 and released in January 1998, and featured the single "True Believers". With its release, Hunters & Collectors announced that they would disband after the Juggernaut Say Goodbye tour.
Hunters & Collectors embarked on their final tour of Australia in 1998, with a concert performed at Selina's, Coogee Bay Hotel, Sydney being recorded and released on CD and DVD as Under One Roof. The group's last public show was on 22 March 1998 in Melbourne.
On 14 July 2005 Hunters & Collectors were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame at the Plaza Ballroom alongside Split Enz, Renée Geyer, Normie Rowe, Smoky Dawson, and The Easybeats. They were inducted into the Hall of Fame by Peter Garrett, former lead singer of tour mates, Midnight Oil, At the ceremony Hunters & Collectors provided a one-off performance of "Say Goodbye" and "Throw Your Arms Around Me".
In 2008 Seymour published his memoirs, Thirteen Tonne Theory: Life Inside Hunters and Collectors, detailing his experiences with the group. He described the difficulty in writing tracks for the band with all members involved, "the thing that ultimately made things more difficult was the sheer size of the band".
Hunters & Collectors played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 14 March 2009 for Sound Relief, which was a multi-venue rock music concert in support of victims of the Victorian Bushfire Crisis. The event was held simultaneously with a concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground. All the proceeds from the Melbourne Concert went to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire relief.
A tribute album, Crucible - The Songs of Hunters & Collectors, was released in September 2013, including contributions by Birds of Tokyo, Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn (of Crowded House), Cloud Control, Something For Kate, and The Rubens, as well as a remix of the original "Talking to a Stranger" by The Avalanches.
The band reunited in their 1998 line-up of Archer, Falconer, Howard, Palmer, Seymour, Smith and Waters, at the 2013 AFL Grand Final playing "Do You See What I See" and "The Holy Grail". They headlined a series of A Day on the Green outdoor concerts in early 2014, and supported Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band during their tour of Australia on 15 and 16 February 2014 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. On 12 April 2014 they performed their last concert for the reunion series at the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda. The band subsequently won the 2014 Helpmann Award for Best Australian Contemporary Concert.
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Hunters & Collectors' self-titled debut is seething art funk comparable to a harder-edged Shriekback or less political Gang of Four. The latter two bands were built on the bedrock of Dave Allen's bass, and H&C's sound is likewise often dominated by formidable bassist John Archer. At this stage of H&C's career they were still working to develop an identity. The lyrics on Hunters & Collectors are stream-of-consciousness poetics that range from the merely incomprehensible to the downright silly, and singer Mark Seymour does not sound entirely comfortable delivering them. This would change in later years; Hunters & Collectors, meanwhile, is all about the muscular rhythms provided by Archer and drummer Doug Falconer. When they get hold of a good one, they motor right over the young band's shortcomings. This album's best moments are "Tow Truck," "Talking to a Stranger," and, especially, "Run Run Run," an epic song that begins on a relentless beat, then shifts midway through to a hypnotic groove that builds to a towering crescendo
Hunters and Collectors - Hunters and Collectors (flac 486mb)
01 Talking To A Stranger 7:31
02 Alligator Engine 5:57
03 Skin Of Our Teeth 8:07
04 Scream Who 4:13
05 Junket Head 5:19
06 Boo Boo Kiss 5:52
07 Tender Kinder Baby 4:51
08 Run Run Run 9:12
World Of Stone E.P.
09 World Of Stone 7:31
10 Watcher 4:42
11 Loinclothing 5:29
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The Fireman's Curse was recorded in June and July 1983, Hunters & Collectors had decamped from United Kingdom, where they had been based while touring Europe for six months, to Neunkirchen, West Germany. There they recorded their second album, which was co-produced with Konrad 'Conny' Plank (Can, Cluster, Kraftwerk), at Conny’s Studio, with Dave Hutchins engineering.
The industrial epic funk-rock "The Fireman's Curse" brings to mind a fusion between the Simple Minds and Cabaret Voltaire, while the grotesque industrial music-hall "Fish Roar" brings to mind Foetus' orgies. "Blind Snake Sundae" veers into atmospherics and utilizes a more minimal approach, although the tortured wails of the singer echo Nick Cave and The Pop Group at their most desperate. Staying on this path, "Mr Right" sounds like The Birthday Party trying their hand at playing pop music.
The album gets slightly more ambitious from this point onwards. "Slave, Moan & Sway" shows how they can build an elaborate, multi-layered industrial-funk, until they reach a genuinely menacing atmosphere; this isn't dissimilar at all to how Shriekback and Yello operate. Further applause can go to the anarchic disco/ funk/ jazz crossover "Judas Sheep", worthy of Rip Rig + Panic, while "Eggheart", perhaps the most impressive, is a metallic jazz-funk huff, deviating towards a deformed chant, succeeding in evoking dystopian futuristic images. This is some dense, bewildering and often violently noisy stuff that's still definitely funky post-punk.
Hunters and Collectors - Fireman's Curse (flac 256mb)
01 Prologue 0:33
02 Curse 5:46
03 Fish Roar 3:18
04 Blind Snake Sundae 6:10
05 Mr. Right 3:38
06 Sway 5:54
07 Judas Sheep 4:05
08 Eggheart 5:02
09 Drinking Bomb 4:49
10 Epilogue 0:55
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The Jaws of Life represented a breakthrough for Hunters & Collectors where their more ambitious artistic impulses were harnessed to melodic, concise, and structured songs. Less pretentious than Hunters & Collectors and less anarchic than The Fireman's Curse, The Jaws of Life took a strategic step toward accessibility without sacrificing any of the band's powerful intensity. While still predominantly dark, H&C's music in this period showed a growing humanity that could even be called soulful. Who would have guessed that they were capable of such a convincing take on Ray Charles' "I Believe to My Soul"? While Mark Seymour's words on The Jaws of Life can hardly be called linear or narrative, they are considerably less random and more evocative than on previous albums, and his vocals benefit from increased restraint. H&C's sound still rests squarely on the solid foundation of the Archer/Falconer rhythm section, with Seymour's slashing rhythm guitar and The Horns of Contempt working in and around the grooves. A couple of ballads -- "Hayley's Doorstep" and "Carry Me" -- and the anthemic "It's Early Days Yet" show off the band's increased range. On the whole, a superior and highly recommended record.
Hunters and Collectors - The Jaws of Life (flac 415mb)
01 42 Wheels 3:21
02 Holding Down A D 3:42
03 The Way To Go Out 3:23
04 I Couldn't Give It To You 3:32
05 It's Early Days Yet 3:40
06 I Believe 2:57
07 Betty's Worry Or The Slab 3:59
08 Hayley's Doorstep 5:38
09 Red Lane 3:47
10 Carry Me 4:13
11 Little Chalkie 3:27
12 Towtruck 4:58
13 Droptank 4:56
14 Mouthtrap 4:10
15 Lumps Of Lead 4:10
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