The Honeymoon Is Over by The Cruel Sea sounds as refreshing today as it did in 1993.
Its collection of songs conjured up long, humid, insect infested, semi-intoxicated nights. It was driven steadily by eerie, seductive, earthy rhythms and percussion and of course the gritty but lubricating low register of Tex Perkins.
We got an insight into what made this album such a unique record in 1993 when The Cruel Sea frontman came into triple j to share the songs that informed this third standout release.
The Meters – ‘Look Ka Py Py’ (1969)
The Meters and Booker T & the MGs were both major influences on The Cruel Sea. The band even covered some of The Meters’ songs live.
This song drew inspiration from New Orleans street parades. The story of its conception has it that the band’s van was playing up, making mechanical popping and gasping noises like 'ooka-she-uh, ooka-she-uh' which they began riffing off resulting in this song.
There’s a lightness and looseness to their tight rhythms which infected The Cruel Sea’s sound.
The Neville Brothers – ‘Yellow Moon’ (1989)
The Meters’ connection continues here, with Art Neville having played in both groups. The ‘moon’ reference is heard on the Cruel Sea record through ‘The Honeymoon Is Over’, as well as their Gene Thomas cover ‘Blame It On The Moon’.
Sound wise, ‘Yellow Moon’ mixes an Eastern feel with African rhythms and a Cajun influence. It gives it a kind of swampy reggae vibe, which is heard in a number of Cruel Sea tracks like ‘Naked Flame’, ‘The Right Time’ and ‘X-N-Pop’.
Tom Waits – ‘Clap Hands’ (1985)
The gritty rasp of Tom Waits always makes one think of him singing in some shambolic back alley.
The spooky and surreal sonic setting of this song is further enhanced by hollow percussive sounds which resemble cheap bamboo wind chimes clonking in the wind under grey skies.
Like Tom Waits, The Cruel Sea also allow a larger landscape to unfold in our imaginations through use of interesting rhythms and percussion throughout The Honeymoon Is Over.
Koko Taylor – ‘Up In Flames’ (1990)
Chicago blues queen Koko Taylor sang this song, written by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch for the Wild At Heart soundtrack. It’s a slow, sexy, slightly inebriated sounding one-way strut through a demented nightclub.
This is a David Lynch soundtrack we’re talking about here, anything could happen! You also get a strong surrealist vibe listening to Cruel Sea tracks like ‘Sly Din’, ‘Naked Flame’ and ‘Delivery Man’.
Funkadelic – ‘Music For My Mother’ (1970)
Tex Perkins says the first album by Funkadelic is near ‘flawless’.
The creeping bass line lays out the groove and takes this song through to its conclusion with percussion, guitars and some psychedelic shouting and hollering peppered in the background. The chant is steady: ‘WO HA HEY! WO HA HA’.
It’s an illustration of the propulsive power of a repeated, killer riff and fluid rhythms which you can hear in The Cruel Sea’s ‘Black Stick’ and ‘Seems Twice’.