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Music Review: Hoodoo Gurus – Purity Of Essence

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The Hoodoo Gurus are Australian legends, having been inducted into The Australian Recording Industry Hall Of Fame in 2007 joining such luminaries as AC/DC, Men At Work, The Bee Gees, INXS, The Seekers, and Olivia Newton-John among others.

They were founded in 1981 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Faulkner. Except for a brief hiatus from 1998-2003, they have been active ever since. Longtime band members Richard Grossman on bass, drummer Mark Kingsmill, and guitarist Brad Shepherd round out the group.

The Gurus have now returned with their ninth studio album titled Purity Of Essence. They have reunited with producer Charles Fisher, with whom they worked with on Mars Needs Guitars and Blue Cave. Former Ramones producer Ed Stasium mixed the album.

The band may be getting older and balder in the case of Faulkner, but they still know how to rock. They were formed as an alternative guitar based rock band and still play within that style although they have forays into power pop and what can be loosely defined as a modern American surf sound. Their music is catchy and at times tongue-in-cheek, but always fun.

The lead song “Crackin’ Up” supposedly came to Faulkner fully formed in a dream. Not exactly what I dream about, but it presents the Gurus at their best. The guitars are up front and the lyrics incisive all within a melodic framework.

It is a generous release as there are sixteen songs. As such there are a number of fine performances. “Burnt Orange” has some rare brass to compliment the guitars and gives this uptempo frenetic rocker a different feel. They might want to explore this direction a little more often. “I Hope Your Happy” is a whimsical tune about cults, cosmetic surgeons and so on. They even get a little bluesy with “Ashamed Of Me.”

The songs just keep coming in rapid succession. From The Ramones sounding “What’s In It For Me” to the ominous stripped down “Over Nothing” to another brassy outing with “Only In America,” its all expertly created. Also of note is the stereo mix, with the resulting balance one of the best I have heard in years.

The Gurus are road warriors constantly touring in The United States and other countries. While they have been commercially successful in America, they have never reached superstar status. Hopefully this new release will help to rectify that situation. Purity Of Essence finds this veteran band doing what they do best.

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