Sunday 30 January 2011

Ross Lovell - Trains / Long Distance Calls 7" Sneaky Radio PRS-13001, 1980

Judging by the number of hits for the last three posts y'all just can't get enough of the approximate vocals which dot the DIY landscape. In which case, have we got a treat for you! Ross Lovell manages to take Plastic EP's rank long hops and bottom edge them into his stumps. For the cricket non-inclined, he makes Plastic sound like Glenn Danzig. Having said that, this one's gonna test even our most diehard followers. All we can say is put it in your personal music device and give it a couple of chances. As much as we are fans of being grabbed by the gonads on the first listen, this one repays more constant attention.

A friend of mine once described Father Yod as Homer Simpson doing Jim Morrison. Here, we have Homer doing, what? Graham Parker? (Wave era) Patti Smith? Video Nu-R? Jerry Rooth? Whatever the influence, there's a magnificent set of lungs bellowing here. We leave it up to the listener whether this kind of thing inspires giggles or awe. We tend to fall on the side of the line that says untutored, outsider art is sincere, and intended to be treated as such, and it's just a happy accident that it comes out so mind-bendingly awful/awesome.

The musical backing here is more than proficient, especially the bass and drums, which scream session muso. The way the guitar gently wails away in the background, and then more forcefully over the rhythm bed for the last minute, is undeniably cool. We're guessing, given the photo below, that Rosco is the guitarist. His playing is pretty good, so it's not as if he doesn't have a musical bone in his body, but that voice...

Long Distance Calls

Like a modern producer pushing a pudgy Dannii wannabe onto Auto-tune, we imagine producer Peter Wragg saying gently, "Why don't we try the vocoder on the next track?". So, on Trains, we have Homer doing Electric Light Orchestra (our first guess, Neil Young's Trans, wasn't out for another year or so). In a bizarre twist, in another decade and a half, Homer himself paid tribute to Styx's vocoder led Mr Roboto. Hard to decipher the lyrics here but we guess the song is about standing on Albion overpass watching trains, or as Ross would portentously have it, "The Trains" da dum da dum da dum.


Interestingly, the only search engine hit on Ross Lovell in Brisbane lists a contact for a men's choir. Part of us hopes he took lessons to harness and sculpt the magnificent wind coming up from his thorax, but a larger part hopes it still flies forth as free as when he laid down Long Distance Calls.

A few years ago a promo copy of sorts emerged from a Brisbane rock critic's archives, nestled inside was a photo of Ross sitting beside his phone, waiting for that long distance call.


Anonymous said...

There seems to be a bit of a Brisbane connection there. Maybe that's why Ross Lovell's singing reminds me a bit of Ed Kuepper? It's almost like a parody. But only on Long Distance Call.

Ross La Vel said...

Although I had come across this post before my young brother (to my embarrassment)brought this to my attention again a couple of months ago. "Trains" was my very first recording with Peter Wragg at Southwind Studio, Indooroopilly. The overpass was at Nundah on the way to school. If I heard a train coming I would race to the bridge to stand in the steam and soot. About "Long Distance Calls"...this was recorded several years later. I must confess it's my vocal (and song)! It sounds far better here than the cassette I have at home.. ha ha!

Anonymous said...

PS How the hell did you get hold of this single? I put most of them in the wheelie bin!
PPS Anyone interested can check out my romantic music (instrumentals and songs)on YouTube.
Best wishes,
Ross La Vel

Anonymous said...

I am sure I had a guitar teacher called Ross Lovell around Nundah area about 1975/76
Was teaching me classical guitar.