Noah Taylor & The Sloppy Boys
Live Free Or Die!!!
6 Track, LP (2011, Z Man Records)
Related: Noah Taylor.
Note to directors: Noah Taylor is a one-take kind of guy. That’s one of the lessons to be learned from Live Free Or Die!!!, his first recorded outing after three decades as an actor (you may remember him from such films as He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, Almost Famous and as a teenage David Helfgott in Shine). Written in a week and recorded in a day with the help of the Mess Hall’s Cec Condon and The Wreckery’s Edward Clayton-Jones, these are six tunes banged out in the space of half-an-hour. There’s no messing about.
Celebrity bands don't have a great track record, of course, too often being mere vanity projects used to prop up fragile egos. This is different. Taylor's always been a music fan – in his early youth he was a skinny wide-eyed teen, hanging around the old Missing Link store in Flinders Lane after school – and he plays with a more permanent outfit at home in Brighton, England.
I was half expecting some kind of tongue-in-cheek, kitsch alt-country, but this is darker and more rocky. Maybe it’d be a stretch to point to Neil Young as a prime influence, but not much. This is dirty and greasy and strange. Sometimes you suspect that bands have taken a slack lo-fi approach because they can’t do any better but that’s not an issue here. It sounds like it’s made by driven people and, more importantly, it sounds like it was made by a real band.
There’s not a lot to get a solid grip on, so it’s best to just go with the flow: the murky echoing vocals of the title track slip by in a mess of reverb and angst, with the odd phrase repeated over and over. At nearly eight minutes long, the choppy, surging ‘Rose’ almost outstays its welcome, but overall this is a record that leaves you wanting more.
Some may say he's too old to be doing this – making this sort of fun, fucked-up racket – but that's half the appeal of it. No less an authority than Nick Cave is quoted on the press release, calling this a “flat-out, freaked-out masterpiece”. And who wants to argue with him?
by Trevor Block