Review Summary: The second release from Powderfinger proved to be their best for some time."If it's a fight you want, my hands are untied.
A little bit of push and shove might make me feel alright"
As Bernard Fanning screams his way through these lyrics in the soulful epic Change the Tide
, you wonder if this is the same Powderfinger that saw your shadow on the street now, and heard you push through the rusty gate. You look through the album credits, and see those same five members - then youthful faces with much more hair - staring back with a malicious intent missing from their current band photos. This is Powderfinger circa 1993, an entirely different breed to that which is now lost and running.
, the band's second and best EP, you can witness a hungry, fiery beast hitting it's stride. In an effort to silence the critics who misjudged the relatively successful self titled EP released in 1992, the band made an effort to modernise their sound. Mostly gone are the bluegrass influences that rang loudly before, replaced by a much grungier tone that was shared by pretty much every band in the early nineties. The heavy southern influence still lingers however, and what Powderfinger have achieved here is something of a missing link between Neil Young and Soundgarden; the heartfelt sentiment of the former, with the gruff angst of the latter.
This is most notable in opener Reap What You Sow
, where Fanning's high-pitched, folksy delivery eventually gives way to a suitably face-melting solo by guitarist Darren Middleton, which is something sorely missed on most of the band's material post-growing up. Change the Tide
proves to be a two-faced epic, with the sorrowful first half giving way to the cathartic bridge and a near inspirational close. Leaving aside the ballsy mid-section, it's probably the only song here that could sit snugly alongside their later, more popular efforts, and not leave you wondering if someone had switched the CD over while you were in the loo.
As epic as Change the Tide
is though, it pales alongside the anthemic Blind to Reason
, which is the dark and foreboding anti-government shtick the band would later perfect on such political hits as Day You Come
and Like a Dog
. Of course, at over six minutes in length, the chance of it ever receiving commercial success similar to these was out of the question, but it does prove that there has always been a common thread of political and cultural interest permeating throughout all of their work - as opposed to many of their contemporaries who may jump on such bandwagons only when the trend suits them.
It's refreshing to know however that the band were still in touch with their primitive side, as closer Rise Up
steamrolls the listener with it's stomping riff and Coghill's ringing drums. Comparable to Double Allergic
duo Boing Boing
and Take Me In
in it's ability to thrill on a mostly tribal level, it presents an easy case as the most crudely enjoyable song the band have ever recorded. There's not much going on behind the frontal lobe in this headbanger, and why should there be when you can have as much fun as this"
It's almost sad to see this meshing of styles disappear completely on the band's subsequnt LP, Parables for Wooden Ears
, which proved a little too convoluted and self-conscious for it's own good. On this self-recorded and produced EP, Powderfinger struck the perfect balance between the old and the new - their influences and their colleagues - and it wasn't bettered until their breakout album Double Allergic
in 1996, which was everything this EP implied their misguided debut would be. If you're interested in finding out where these Australian rock veterans cut their teeth, Transfusion
would be one hell of a start.