The Hunt for Red October – a review

From the first scenes, where the new Soviet Typhoon class submarine leaves the Polijarny Inlet, the sense of menace is profound. You just know this is going to be tense all the way through.

Sean Connery is perfectly cast as commander Marco Ramius, “The Vilnius Schoolteacher” of Russian attack Commanders. A bear of a man in charge of a monster of a boat with an arsenal of annihilation at his disposal …… and then there are the “doors”.

Meanwhile, the Americans become aware of the emergence of the new sub. Tom Clancy’s perennial character CIA analyst Jack Ryan puts his highly sensitised and suspicious nature to the test.

Concurrently, USS Dallas, an LA class attack submarine is patrolling near the Russian Sub base at Murmansk. It picks up the Red October, tracking the new beast of the sea carefully, until, the Russian inexplicably disappears.

Unaware of the proximity of a US sub, Ramius confronts a weasel like Soviet political officer who precociously awaits the commander in his private cabin. This does not bode well. Together they must open their mission orders from the Commander’s safe. They use their two independent, missile arming keys. A “dreadful accident” ensues and the scene is set.

It never lets up from here. The build of Red October is intense and anxiety provoking. As the Soviet fleet scrambles and the US NSA fears a fist strike, against the odds one person prosecutes a rational interpretation of events.

This is a deep sea game of cat and mouse that threatens the security of the world in a way that any one of us can relate to, fearfully, in fiction or in truth.

As relevant and potent today as when released in 1990, be afraid, be very afraid.

Australian Crawl – Sirocco (S2 Reviews)

sirocco

EMI Records 1981 Vinyl

The cover outside:

Six very clean cut young men grace the gatefold black and white cover. They are generously spread across front and rear panels. The nice thing about this is you have to open the cover fully to appreciate the photograph. It is a grand image, on a truly large scale, in a way only an LP cover can deliver. They look so comfortable with each other. A relaxed confidence and bonhomie smiles out from the sleeve. They are a pretty handsome looking crew as well. Only front man James Reyne stands apart, challenging the cameraman with a look of veiled menace. Somebody in this band has to represent the rock ethos.

The cover inside:

Black and white once again features across the interior. Six portraits from the same shoot as the front hang across the centre top of the display, only this time it is Simon Binks doing the meaningful look into the camera. The potrait shots are placed across a greyscale muted sun, shining down onto the yacht Sirocco (it does look like the actual yacht). The yacht is sailing a calm sea. White on black gives the lyrics definition. They wrap themselves around the sides and base, parting just enough in the middle to encourage our eyes to track reflected sunlight up to the silhouetted boat.

 

Side 2: Track by track

Trusting you (Bill McDonough, Guy McDonough)

This song immediately sets a frantic, choppy pace with Reyne’s similarly choppy vocals requiring a familiar (to the previously initiated) bit of concentration if you want to catch all the lyrics. The sentiment revolves around a relationship from which trust has fled. But it doesn’t appear to be a romantic relationship. Maybe it was with management.

 

Errol (James Reyne, Guy McDonough)

Errol is based on a genuinely infectious pop bass run that gets straight into your head. This was a big hit for the band and I have fond memories of belting it out at dances and parties along with the rest of the off your face masses (wistful sigh). It is an expert paraphrasing of the great Errol Flynn’s bio. A song that not only makes you want to dance, but also know more.

 

Can I be sure (Simon Binks)

I think you could describe this as a bit of a lyrically sophisticated, musical plodder, of the dah de dah bass line variety. In a fairly analytical way, the lyric once again is questioning trust. My guess is that being in a highly successful band meant coming across all sorts of fakers and people so image conscious you would never be quite sure who was real. It is a worthy piece of reflection.

 

Easy on your own (Kerry Armstrong, Brad Robinson, Simon Binks)

The ringing guitar solos and a cute reggae break are features here. James’ voice invites you in by challenging your capacity to understand what he is singing, so you tend to concentrate on what is going on. This is not a bad thing. Actress Kerry Armstrong was partner to Brad Robinson, so writing lyrics about how much easier to be on your own was a surprise to me. Maybe the song is saying it is tough being partner to someone often on the road – and this could have referred to either of them.

 

Love boys (Bill McDonough)

Something a bit musically heavier. This song would have gone down well live. It is topically a pretty heavy song as well. I mean the characters are tattooed, bent, bash their women and heading for prison. I don’t know who the Love Boys were (are?), but they sure sound nasty. I only ever went to King’s Cross a few times. I am glad we never met.

 

Resort girls (Guy McDonough)

Here’s one that pricks up your ears as initially the lead guitar follows the vocal nicely and closely. However, it also has an air of desperation from the get go as women, young and older, head for resorts looking for love and finding something less.

 

Summary

This second Aussie Crawl album was a huge hit for the band. Sitting at the top of the charts for 6 weeks and only bested by John Lennon’s “Double Fantasy” for the year, it remains a keeper. Side 2 is no slacker, hosting one of the three single releases, “Errol”. The lyrics hold much more interest than your average pop/rock album. For this feature in particular, I rate it highly. Full of memories and just as fresh to hear again today. I still enjoy it.

Diary of a Retiree: Day 281