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Simon Bonney - Past Present Future

  by Adrian P

published: 4 / 7 / 2019

Simon Bonney - Past Present Future
Label: Mute Records
Format: CD


Across this twelve-track anthology, Simon Bonney puts his solo work outside Crime and The City Solution into a refreshed compact context

It’s hard not to feel a tad aggrieved on Simon Bonney’s behalf that his time leading Crime & The City Solution isn’t better recognised. During an initial run between the late-‘70s and early-‘90s, the group followed a similar nomadic Australia-to-Europe career journey as The Birthday Party and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (with whom some band members were shared) and cut a sizeable shapeshifting body of work for Daniel Miller’s Mute label, to insufficiently enduring acclaim. 1990’s ‘Paradise Discotheque’ - the band’s last studio album before returning in 2013 with the boisterous ‘American Twilight’ - is a particularly impressive suite of ambitious Antipodean-meets-European melodrama that deserves to be heard alongside the likes of ‘Henry’s Dream’ or ‘Let Love In’. We should now be reminded, via this condensed anthology set, that Bonney’s solo works have also been cruelly overlooked. Featuring extracts from 1992’s ‘Forever’, 1994’s ‘Everyman’ and the unreleased 1996-98-taped ‘Eyes of Blue’ LP, the twelve-track ‘Past Present Future’ - recorded after Bonney’s relocation to America with his wife and fellow Crime member Bronwyn Adams - is a somewhat of a revelation. Although - or perhaps because - the gathered tracks are sequenced with a disregard for their chronological appearances they hang together with a satisfying seamlessness to form a substantial statement. Constructed with help from Adams as well as the likes of JD Foster, Carla Bozulich of The Geraldine Fibbers, Outrageous Cherry's Matthew Smith, Jim White and others, these recordings take the lusher textures of the late-pre-hiatus-Crime works into warmer widescreen Americana terrain. Largely eschewing his gnarlier tendencies for a softer vocal timbre and a more romantic lyrical palette, Bonney explores richer arrangements replete with plaintive pedal steel, balmy female backing vocals, elegiac strings and more. Thus, this collection delivers some of Bonney’s most hospitable and memorable material; such as the twangy languorous ‘Ravenswood’, the yearning almost-gospel-infused ‘There Can Only Be One’, the rousing brass-adorned ‘Don’t Walk Away from Love’, the wistful ‘Where Trouble is Easier to Find’ and a soaring rendition of Scott Walker’s ‘Duchess’. That said, there is still some darker edginess in-between times, which yields the obsessional prowl of ‘A Sweet Kind of Pain’, the guitar-squalling roiling of ‘Eyes of Blue’ and the freeform violin-driven crescendo-building churn of ‘Can’t Believe Anymore’ to remind of his dextrous range. Whilst it might have been even better as a comprehensive and fan-friendly three-disc boxset, taken as it is ‘Past Present Future’ is an engrossing entry-point into and summary of Simon Bonney’s solo detours.

Track Listing:-
1 Ravenswood
2 Don't Walk Away from Love
3 There Can Only Be One
4 Where Trouble Is Easier to Find
5 A Sweeter Kind Of Pain
6 Everyman
7 Duchess
8 The Great Survivor
9 Forever
10 Annabelle Lee
11 Eyes Of Blue
12 Can't Believe Anymore

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