Glenn Cardier and the Sideshow – Live at Lizotte’s
CD review by Tony Smith
TN1424-D – $30 Published in TNB152 Nov 22
This double disc set of DVD and CD provides an excellent sampler of the work of evergreen songwriter Glenn Cardier.
There are 19 tracks which were recorded live at Lizotte’s.
Joining Cardier were Stuie French (guitars), Pete Clark (upright bass), Phil Grove (accordion/ keyboards) and Dave Fester (drums).
The DVD was filmed, directed and audio produced by Tristan Baker and includes Glenn A. Baker interviewing Cardier about his career.
Mastering was by William Bowden and live audio by Syd White.
This is all good live performance, strong clear and honest.
It is rare for a musician to risk this approach and shows that Cardier’s ability and confidence are high.
There is a carnival atmosphere to these tracks.
It could be a circus or cabaret beginning with the aptly named ‘Sideshow Alley’ – ‘bang on the drum, step inside, you’ll see the weird and wonderful’ – and including ‘Ringmaster Blues’, with its rock-a billy feel and warning of things getting out of control – ‘well that’s showbiz I guess’.
‘House of Mirrors’ with its blues riffs and ‘Dancing the Years Away’ marking the destruction of Brisbane’s Cloudland Ballroom continue the playful theme.
‘Close Encounter (With a UFO)’ features an unlikely offer of happiness and asks ‘why do you look like a parking meter, I don’t know why and I don’t care either’.
‘Asylum Blues’ tells a story in predictably wild style while ‘Cold Out There’ is based around the one sentence. ‘She’s the One for Me’, with its tango beat is an affirmation of love – ‘I never doubt her’.
‘Elvis At the Checkout’ in Dylanesque style tells how ‘I miss the guy like crazy’.
‘The Best of It’ – ‘sometimes I just get by’ tells of ups and downs in a relationship and suggests we make the most of simple things.
‘Exiles from Eden’ asks many questions including ‘did you have your doubts, did you wonder what it was all about’.
‘Angelica’ is a rhythm and blues classic about a woman who has a deep effect.
Cardier belts this out.
The closing track, ‘Shing-A-Ling’, is pure rock and roll and includes idiom such as ‘shake it up baby’, shake it up now’ and ‘wham bam’.
There is Stuie French brilliance here.
‘Rust in the Tailfin’, with its sliding, bending syncopated feeling is about a gas guzzling Cadillac, a car of dreams.
French’s guitar features here too.
‘She Flew Away’ wonders about why a love might up and leave one afternoon.
‘She flew away with her biscuit tin, the one she kept her secrets in’.
Cardier does this with just his resonator guitar and the effect is simply beautiful.
Other quietly musing tracks include ‘Life of the Party’ and ‘Invisible Ink’ about secrets and ‘all of the things you’ve been meaning to say’.
Cardier recorded some rock albums when young and then had a 25 year break until 2002.
Cardier has played with big names such as Bob Geldof, Judy Collins, Spike Milligan and Frank Zappa.
The interview is lengthy and includes anecdotes and demonstrations by Cardier of over a dozen early songs.
He has written a few, perhaps more than 500.
Cardier grew up in Brisbane, which he described as a big country town, and first took to music via the Boomerang songsters.
He says it was all about guitars then – and rebellion.
After releasing a few LPs, he let his music take a back seat and spent 25 years as a school counsellor working with troubled youth.
He says it was a strange experience coming back to it.
He suspects that there are certain tensions in his songs between a literal and metaphorical meaning, between the happy and the sad, and recognises the thin line dividing genius and eccentricity.
Cardier alternates between resonator and acoustic guitars, sometimes played with a slide.
He also has two distinct voices.
Some songs feature a gravelly voice and a gritty style of blues with driving guitar riffs while others are soft.
Cardier is a mature artist who brings a lifetime of experience to his singing and playing.
Along the way, Glenn Cardier has become an exceptional songwriter and musician.