Bastard Life or Clarity

Bastard Life or Clarity

by Russell Crowe & 30 Odd Foot of Grunts
     
 

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A few years back, a comedian spun a routine about misnamed ventures, including such establishments as the First Baptist Motel and Bob and Ed's Savings Bank. This Aussie aggregation, fronted by bad-boy actor Russell Crowe, would seem to fit neatly into that category, but the Gladiator star's presence has put the unsavory moniker on the lips of fans who'd

Overview

A few years back, a comedian spun a routine about misnamed ventures, including such establishments as the First Baptist Motel and Bob and Ed's Savings Bank. This Aussie aggregation, fronted by bad-boy actor Russell Crowe, would seem to fit neatly into that category, but the Gladiator star's presence has put the unsavory moniker on the lips of fans who'd probably ordinarily steer well clear of recorded Grunt-ing. Actually, TOFOG (as they've come to be called) aren't nearly as gnarly as you might think, getting by on the strength of strongly strummed acoustic guitars and Crowe's moody (if somewhat limited) baritone rasp. Crowe proves he's every bit as adept at slipping in and out of characters on disc as he is on screen, playing the wounded tough guy on the pulsing "Things Have Got to Change" and the seductive stranger on the Delta two-step "Swept Away Bayou." He also pulls off some nifty vocal mimicry here and there, lacing "The Night That Davey Hit the Train" with a dead-on Elvis Costello impression. TOFOG aren't, however, just another example of Hollywood hubris: Bastard Life of Clarity is actually the band's fourth album (albeit the first to attain Stateside release), and while Crowe is clearly the focal point, he allows ample room for his bandmates -- including trumpeter Stuart Kirwan, whose shadings enliven the striking, Celtic-tinged "Memorial Day" -- to shine. While not an overwhelming effort, Bastard Life of Clarity has a surprisingly subtle charm -- one that can sneak up and win over even the cynics.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Brad Kohlenstein
TOFOG may be one of those bands who's destined to be just a conversation piece. Aside from the fact that everyone outside of Australia is baffled by their name, their lead singer and main songwriter is one of Hollywood's biggest stars. By nature people will link Russell Crowe with the likes Kevin Bacon and Jeff Bridges, who have launched second careers in rock & roll (both to a predominantly unreceptive audience). But this is much more than a side project for Crowe. TOFOG began making music together in the early '80s, well before Crowe was an international superstar. Bastard Life or Clarity is their fifth album. It is well-thought-out, well-produced, and proof that they intend to be taken seriously. That being said, it is not an album that takes many chances. It's straightforward, guitar-driven, mid-tempo rock with a touch of country that sounds a lot like watered-down Bon Jovi or the semi-successful comeback album of any number of '80s bands. "Things Have Got to Change" is a promising start, but turns out to be one of the disc's most distinctive tracks. Crowe's voice is strong enough that one can almost forget that he's a movie star. That is, of course, until he blows his cover with a tough-guy monologue in the middle of the second track. His lyrics are neither offensive or memorable, but the arrangements and musicianship provide some surprisingly moving moments. Though used sparingly, Stewart Kirwan's lone trumpet is particularly affecting, adding another layer and a uniqueness to an album that is otherwise little more than something to talk about.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/18/2001
Label:
Artemis Records
UPC:
0699675109226
catalogNumber:
51092

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Russell Crowe & 30 Odd Foot of Grunts   Primary Artist
Ian McLagan   Keyboards
Lili Haydn   Violin
Novi Novag   Viola
Kerryn Tolhurst   Dobro,Guitar,tiple
Dave Kelly Band   Band
Dave Wilkins   Band
Anthony Kable   Trombone
Garth Adam   Band,Group Member
David Kelly   Group Member
Russell Crowe   Band,Group Member
Stewart Kirwan   Band
Andrew Bickers   Saxophone
Lennie Loftin   Background Vocals
Billy Dean Cochran   Band

Technical Credits

Julian McBrowne   Engineer
Kerryn Tolhurst   Producer
Tony Wall   Producer,Engineer
Dave Wilkins   Producer,Production Mixing Assistant
Russell Crowe & 30 Odd Foot of Grunts   Producer
J.W. Morris   Arranger
Andrew Watt   Production Mixing Assistant
Russell Crowe   Production Mixing Assistant
Billy Dean Cochran   Producer

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