Malcolm Turnbull – Gone


Malcolm Turnbull (with musical accompaniment devised, executed and produced by MIKE RAINE).

GONE and its predecessor BITTERFEAST explore the sub-genre of gay singer-songwriting. (Both CDs took their impetus from a workshop of ‘Gay Rights songs’ that Malcolm co-presented at Cygnet FF last year). Where BITTERFEAST was deliberately minimalist in its instrumentation, however, GONE teams Malcolm with the multi-instrumental versatility and techno-wizardry of Tasmanian producer/arranger (and old friend) Mike Raine.

In addition to material by such pioneering gay songwriters as Steven Grossman, Patrick Haggerty and Michael Cohen, the CD contains several originals that examine romance from a same sex perspective, as well as a handful of more mainstream selections (notably Neil Gardner’s nostalgic ‘Grandfather’s Horses’ and the compelling ‘Bottom of the Lake’ from the band Tin Pan Orange).

Malcolm J. Turnbull is a historian, academic, former teacher and sometime folksinger with interests in Classic British crime-writing, the Australian Jewish community and 1960s folk revival. He has published on aspects of the Australian revival in Trad & Now, Drumbeat, Cornstalk Gazette, Australian Music Museum, In-Folkus and the Town Crier.

As a performer, Malcolm started performing in Tasmania in the 1960s and, after many years ‘out of the scene’, picked up the guitar again about a decade ago. He sings an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary, with specific emphasis on neglected songs by Tasmanian writers and songs from the Gay Rights movement. He cites Buffy Sainte-Marie, Odetta, Peter Yarrow and Theodore Bikel as key influences on a performing style that has been described as “lovely … and mellow”, “emotionally powerful”, “ hypnotic”, and “gently introspective”. He has recorded five CD albums and an EP, as well as contributing to Break of Day, a Lawson tribute with veteran Melbourne folkies Lenore Somerset, David Lumsden and Martin Evely. His most recent CDs, Bitterfeast and Gone, explore songs that have emerged from the Gay Rights movement.


CD Review by Chris Spencer

For this album Turnbull asked Mike Raine to undertake production duties. (Turnbull and Raine both played for the same Tasmanian jug band for a short time in 1970). Raine has certainly put his stamp over the album. There is a continuity and cohesiveness in the arrangements that makes this album so much different from Turnbull’s previous work. Raine’s production could stand alone in its own right, there’s so much going on instrumentally, yet it doesn’t distract from Turnbull’s singing.

Initially, I kept thinking of Charles Asnavour, particularly in the way he seems to talk/sing over a lush melange of orchestration. I also hear Rod McKuen in Turnbull’s voice and singing style.

Malcolm again chooses songs that have gay themes: “Ballad of Reading Gaol” touches on gay youth suicide, “Gone” is a cover of a Michael Cohen song first recorded in 1973; “Georgy Pie” is another cover from the same period, written by country singer Patrick Haggerty; “Out” is a Steven Grossman song from 1974.

Turnbull includes 4 of his own songs: “Hopeless Romantic”, “Winter Pride”, “Brief Encounter” which has a soundscape of people at a railway station subliminally in the mix, and “Ten, Twenty, Thirty”.

Another interesting cover is that of Billy Bragg’s “Tender Comrade” which covers relationships between men who went to war together.

A welcome addition is a cover of another Tasmanian, Neil Gardner: “My Grandfather’s Horses”. This is a ‘down’ album! Nothing uplifting, think Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits.

However it demands a listen, like its predecessor this album is challenging, and will reward those who make the effort to listen intensely.

Not one of those cds to put on in the background while cooking tea!

5 in stock

SKU: TN1825-70 Category:

Additional information

Weight .100 kg
Dimensions 14 × 12.5 × 1 cm