| Well, with an inner city legend like Crow where does one begin? Does one litter it with superlatives and hyperbole terms which are more a tool of marketing graduates than that of a fan? Definitely not. Crow the lovely 4 letter word they were, made a huge presence in a city defined by its rock and roll/pop/thrash lineage. Local magazine 'Juice' in 1998 labeled them to be the 'best band in Australia since the Birthday Party'. High praise indeed but unnecessary and very spoiled. For how could one be termed the best? Should they not be considered one of the more important bands since then? Crow were a breath of fresh air. They defied categorisation, a band who simply defined difference and that for me and many made a fine love affair.
To understand Crow the band is to endure a journey of emotive qualities which soared at its best moments and plunged at its worse. The early Crow years from 1988 to 1992 were a shambolic affair and for many the most memorable. The excitement of band who could so easily derail was well worth its ticket. Both Peter (vocals and guitar) Fenton and John Fenton (drums) such nervy personalities that they are played on sheer energy and rawness. Bassist Jim Woff and lead guitar/axeman Peter Archer helped this spark no end. Tracks from their first vinyl 'Sunburnt Throats and Happy Thunderclouds' (Phantom) like the epic 9 minute 'Charlie Horses' and the achingly beautiful 'Sourpuss' echo this claim.
To witness an earlier Crow show was an affair to be believed. I remember many an overseas band, i.e. The Verlaines and Straitjacket Fits being blown away by their intensity. It was as if the gig was over once Crow had packed up and finished. Rather than showering over you their music had that special quality of moving through you like drugs can but less expensive. Later on the band lost the likes of Fenton, J. and Archer but not before they recorded a memorable Australian album called 'My Kind of Pain' (HAC 19) that was subsequently nominated for an ARIA award in 1993. Recorded and produced by Steve Albini (Big Black) in 1992 and re-mixed by local Tim Whitten in 1993, it was an album that reflected a more mature sound particularly evident in 'Railhead' and the cracking 'How and Why Wonder'.
Set ListJohn Fenton left the band not long after 'My Kind of Pain' and was replaced by Andy Marks ( Lunarcide). Another Half A Cow release followed with 'Helicon Days' in 1994. Extensive touring followed and it wasn't long before the band became hot property as color spreads on weekly magazines started to occur. The band was snapped up by large local label Roo Art who released their second album 'Li-Loing' in 1995.
Peter Archer then moved to Melbourne in 1996 to start a family and this left the band without one of its real creators. Though the extraordinary talents of Chris Abrahams and Michael Christie were added on keyboards a more stripped back sound evolved and this is very evident on their last player 'Play With Love' in 1998. Though the said album received industry kudos it was not the necessary amount of sales support needed for a major label like BMG.
Crow will be sorely missed. Any memory is a worthy one.
Bob Blunt, May 1999