CD review by Tony Smith
This fourth album by Soursob Bob is supported by many instrumentalists and vocalists including Jon Van Bowman, Guillaume, Megan McDowall, Andra, Joel McMillan, Mark Meyer, J-Wah, Tim Bennett, Mike Throckman, Linton Johnston, Bridget McDowall Anna Fairy, Catherine Watt, Mel O’Dowd, Courtney Robb, Suzie Skinner, Michael Bidstrup and the ‘Reddy Schoolgirls’ Choir’.
Receiving Bob’s typically humorous coverage are 12 tracks including ‘Centrelink’, ‘A Reddy in me cossie’, ‘Polly’, ‘Grant got a grant’, ‘Muddy waters’, ‘New American century’, ‘Mount hopeless’, ‘Mannequin man’, ‘Red Catherine’, co-written with Andra, ‘Hard Rubbish Day’ co-written with Cheesman, ‘Chocolate ice cream’ and ‘Pizza haven Enfield national anthem’.
It is not clear why the lyrics to some songs only are supplied in the sleeve notes.
Bob sings clearly and his delivery is sound, so perhaps he provides just a sample of his clever words to give the flavour of his music.
Also, his voice is pleasant to listen to, even when he is trying to play the role of one of society’s victims.
Indeed, one of the most appealing features of Bob’s songs is that he picks up stories and gives them a respectable airing where many songwriters might consider the subjects unworthy of their attention.
A good example of this eye for social underdogs is ‘Hard Rubbish Day’, co written with Cheesman.
This song describes the end of a rust bucket sedan and seems like a song that needed to be written.
While it might not quite lift the death of a car into the realm of the humorous, it does acknowledge, albeit in exaggerated caricature, the predicaments we all face occasionally when machines let us down.
It is not only life’s losers who encounter catastrophes.
Similarly, ‘Mannequin Man’ describes someone whose penchant for putting underwear on dummies might make us think of him as pathetic.
Perhaps he is the one responsible for the redback spider in some swimming costumes.
While most of the songs are flat and recitative in delivery, Bob’s singing becomes more melodious when Andra joins in on ‘Red Catherine’ and ‘Chocolate Icecream’.
By way of contrast, ‘New American Century’ is a song of social conscience.
It identifies the way in which major political decisions have become matters of marketing what seems possible and includes the acid remark, ‘We bring you now an important message from the prime minister: ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what it can do for America’.
Soursob Bob has a dry sense of humour which is possibly partly attributable to the arid South Australian landscape that surrounds him.
Although he makes no grand claims to be taken seriously, even supplying a ‘self-portrait’ showing a chinless bloke with a rather bewildered look on his face, Bob’s songs are delivered in good humour and the impact of his lyrics sneak up on you – a bit like that ‘reddy’ perhaps – and they certainly have bite.