cream & the crock
The title of You Am I's instant-classic
greatest-hits smorgasbord is a typical Tim Rogers gesture.
He couldn't possibly consider disc two - "The Crock"
- inferior to the tidy pile of singles that comprises disc
one, but he'd rather make a pithy quip and go write another
song than waste time arguing commercial feasibility with
a bunch of suits.
The alleged "Cream" is indeed the dream compilation
for the casual You Am I fan. Beginning with the frighteningly
raw 1993 studio version of Berlin Chair, it casts its net
over crackerjack rockers Cathy's Clown and Good Mornin',
sensitive young drinkers' ballads Purple Sneakers and Heavy
Heart, and caps it with a balls-out told-you-so: 2001's
underachieving Who Put the Devil In You.
Middle-heavy with tracks from Hi Fi Way and Hourly Daily,
it charts a pub band's uneasy fall into pop with Soldiers
and Mr Milk, then turning its back on comfy chart positions
with the delightfully roughshod Trike, Get Up and one of
Rogers's most affecting moments of adult reflection, Damage.
It's chronological, save for the thematically pleasing finale
of How Much Is Enough, which makes for a neat rhetorical
question at the end of the first disc - the only one that
will remain, one suspects, when this handshake with BMG
is but a fond memory.
"The Crock" is ostensibly more representative
of the band's taste, the upbeat tracklisting dispensing
with chronology, opening with a couple of Hi Fi Way perennials
and one of the band's finest curtain-raisers, Junk. It's
a disc for the true believers, as Rogers would doubtless
put it, ranging a ragged rarity from '91, Cool Hand Luke,
alongside two new Stonesy twangers and under-appreciated
gems such as Beautiful Girl and Gone, Gone, Gone. Also essential
for fans are the acoustic B-side, Open All Night, and the
band's version of Trouble, sung by Powderfinger's Bernard
Fanning on the Dirty Deeds soundtrack.
It's almost pointless to reiterate the obvious about You
Am I. Their unspeakably soulful, crashing and swaggering
chemistry either makes your toes curl or leaves you cold.
Rogers' priceless, self-deprecating turns of phrase - "This
suit's been suckin' on me like a cheap cigarette",
for instance - either make you splutter into your drink
or go clean over your head.
It doubtless helps, too, if you happened to standing in
a pool of beer and butts when any of the 33 songs first
made you feel like you were in precisely the right time
and place in rock'n'roll history. Either way, like an inspired
local brew made to an age-old formula, this album comprises
a great deal of what Australian rock fans have to be proud
By Michael Dwyer