Russell Morris

"Van Diemen’s Land"

(Fanfare Records); Blues And Roots

By ​Phil ​Bennett

Probably best known for his psychedelic pop masterpiece from the 70s, The Real Thing, Russell Morris actually achieved his greatest success just recently with his 2012 album, Sharkmouth.

Van Diemen’s Land continues at the end of Sharkmouth’s dotted lines…part 2 of his trilogy of albums tracing the deeds and misadventures of great Australian characters.

A mixture of raw blues and folk, the album is really very good indeed, breathing new life into some of this land’s historic names and places.

Of course, Morris’ own history as one of Australia’s contemporary cultural icons affords him the luxury of being able to gather together some of the country’s finest musicians to lend a hand, with names such as Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst, Daddy Cool’s Ross Hannaford and Vika and Linda Bull all adding their sonic signatures to proceedings.

Morris himself is in fine voice, and he’s still able to explore real depth and emotion in these songs, with the added ingredient of experience to enrich the timbre.

Highlights include the murderous guitar work of Breaker Morant, all concise blues licks and reverb, the mournful Loch Ard Gorge, and the back porch acoustic blues of Witch Of King’s Cross.

As enjoyable as a reread of one of your favourite page-creased paperbacks - familiar but with a few surprises.


​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.