Album Review: Grinspoon


The beautiful thing about music is it’s ability to transport you back to a particular point in time: a kiss, a meeting, a holiday, a fun night out, that really shitty birthday when you spent half the night crying in a toilet stall…

For me, Grinspoon’s Guide to Better Living transports me back to high school. Specifically, year 12.

I was in year nine in 1997, when the album was actually released. But I was already obsessed with so much Australian music at the time Just Ace was a mere blip on my radar… until 1999, when I saw the band perform live alongside Jebediah and Silverchair (two very solid faves).

I’m not sure what it was about the band that drew me in, but I was bloody hooked.

DCX3, Pedestrian and Champion in particular remind me of taking off from my ridiculously overpriced private school to go ‘cruising’ at lunch in my friend’s 1991 Ford Telstar.

Bad Funk Stripe and Repeat were the ‘drunken sing-along’ tunes when we were neither drunk nor entirely certain of the lyrics.

Post Enebriated Anxiety reminds me of wagging the interschool athletics carnival in favour of perving on boys on the neighbouring tennis courts… and I forgot how good the opening bass line from Scalped was when I was so used to hearing it from tinny Discman headphones shoved in a girl’s bathroom basin to amplify the sound.

To cut a long story short, GTBL is amazing. It has been from day one, as long as it took me to realize it initially. It’s a solid soundtrack for the Recovery generation.

GTBL20, the schmick new re-released version (also available on vinyl for the first time), is crazy good. It not only contains a previously unreleased track, the melancholic almost pop-punk Green Grass Meadow; it also has a shit tonne of B-sides, remixes and tracks from two live sets – CBGB’s in New York (not the show where Kris fell off the stage), and Falls Festival.

Of course, Grinspoon cut their teeth in the era of the music festival – Homebake, Livid, Falls, Big Day Out, and even Warped tour – so they know how to put on a bloody good show.

Generally speaking, I don’t like listening to live tracks unless they’re accompanied by video, but I can handle these ones. Perhaps because I’ve seen the band live so many times now I can easily picture Joe’s stance and Phil’s facial expressions. Perhaps it’s just because the songs are that good. Who knows?

What is cool to see is the way Australia is embracing this album, and the associated tour, with such fervour. Are we just sick of auto-tune and YouTube sensations and keen to hear a hard-working rock n roll band? Who the fuck cares? This album will mean something for everyone – whether it’s bringing up great memories or winning over a new generation of music fans with great taste in Aussie music.

As my childhood hero Molly would say – do yourself a favour and add this to your collection!

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