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The City’s Calling Mick Thomas

New Mick Thomas Roving Commission album

MICK THOMAS’ ROVING COMMISSION

Announces New Album

‘City’s Calling Me’

Out April 29, 2021

Mick Thomas’s Roving Commission‘s new album City’s Calling Me started life as a simple covers record, but as Melbourne’s second lockdown of 2020 took hold, it grew into something more substantial.

Thomas saw his own chance to illustrate the hidden city inside all Melbournians’ – indeed all Australians’ – imaginations. He started with a selection of songs from some of his favourite local songwriters – Van Walker, Sal Kimber, Marcel Borrack, Charles Jenkins and Peter Lawler (with the latter two both providing previously unreleased songs). Adding to the mix a song from local grunge rockers Legends of Motorsport, a few choices from his own, extensive back catalogue and, at the very last minute, Barry Humphries‘ poem “The Suburbs in Between”.

Before long, Thomas had formulated an album to honour the city and reflect on the troubled times that we all faced during lockdowns that extended over six months in aggregate.

City’s Calling Me is the second album Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission recorded during lockdown, the first being See You On The Other Side: A Postcard From April 2020 (read our review and interview) which was released in June 2020.

Mick explains. “My one thought when choosing the songs was that the subject matter could all be contained within the five kilometre-from-the-home lockdown restriction zone. “Forever Now” makes it in because it was recorded for the Triple R Radiothon (less than one K from home) and the “Corner Hotel” is just outside the zone, so we’ve stretched it a bit there.”

The new album’s title (with an erroneous twist) is from the Van Walker song “High Street Bridge” (from Walker’s brilliant 2020 release Ghosting).

Jen Anderson from Weddings Parties Anything-days became a major contributor to the record with major string sections on that band’s “The Sound of a Train” and Borrack’s “Regent to Ruthven”. Roving Commission regular Brooke Russell sings lead on Lawlor’s “Captain Collingwood” and there’s Kimber’s “Met Police”.

The entire record was recorded in isolation including Dave Foley‘s drums in Aspendale, Ben Franz‘s bass in Perth, Squeezebox Wally beaming in his keyboards from Ocean Grove, with Russell’s vocals and guitar from Reservoir, even down to the mix being done by Craig Pilkington from Audrey Studios working out of home, also in Reservoir.  

It might seem odd that an iconic Australian singer-songwriter would record an album of primarily other people’s songs and that an album of Melbourne songs might have such universal appeal. To that, Thomas explains:

“Perhaps 2020 was a year when we were all forced to evaluate what was most important to us, what we could do without and what we missed the most. For me it was an easy answer: I missed playing music with other people – something I was able to approximate in isolation – and I missed being out and about in the city I have spent the last 30 year bumping around. So the city was something I was forced to reimagine as well. But it’s a city that could be anywhere in the world – insert your own place names. Because it’s the city of the heart’.”

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New Mick Thomas Roving Commission album

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Author: Rob Dickens

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