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Oh Go On, Say You’ll Be My Baby

Oh Go On, Say You’ll Be My Baby

We perhaps have never given Australia the credit it really deserves when it comes to exporting fairly good music over to our oil slicked shores. We have, it would seem, a tendency to only think of the girlie Neighbours star turned cancer fighting, pop Goddess, Kylie Minogue as the only good thing that ever came out of the land that gave us Kevin ‘bloody’ Wilson.

Okay, so we can spare a moment to remember the sultry vocals of Morrison-esque Hutchinson and his band, INXS, but the story of modern Aussie audio contributions doesn’t stop there. Therefore, it may be high time to give Savage Garden an affectionate hug.

Donning the style of meaningful male duo and taking a graceful place in the line of extraordinarily and slightly effeminate male two some bands, Savage Garden first trusted their black eyeliner and arching vocals upon us in June 1997 with ‘I Want You,’ a fairly straight to the point, no holes barred ‘come and get me you beast’ type track that was enough to strike a chord in even the mildest of stalkers. Allowing us to fall into a trance like ‘I’ll say yes to anything,’ type of reaction, the low, chanting vocals gave us just about the most captivating track of the year. Quite like nothing the middle of the road public had heard in a long time, it’s repetitive mumbles transported us to a different world. Out of the norm and 30,000 miles above sea level, this track led to a massive increase in sleep walking (only joking.) Reaching the dizziest heights of number 11, the rest of their short, three year career seemed set in melodic stone. Tragically, their story of incredible impact on the international scale rose dramatically through the charts and faded with just as much readiness.

Their first self titled album, ‘Savage Garden,’ climbed proudly to number two in March 1998 giving us a mix of already established hits and exciting propects of future releases. It would have been easy to believe that their gathering speed in our hearts was to be permanent. However, from their first single being a number one in Canada, their hardest work had already gone unnoticed. Since applying to an ad in 1993, teacher and budding vocalist, Darren Hayes teamed up with over talented keyboardist Daniel Jones broke away from a mediocre band to launch ‘Savage Garden.’

Not many debut albums have ever held the title of being platinum across the line of the Equator, yet this album brimming with eclectic ideas proved to the members of the world with ears that this band were to create a phenomenon of excellent song writing and diverse, instrumental capabilities. Perhaps the track that we familiarise ourselves with the most from this album is the thunderous ‘To The Moon And Back,’ which comes complete with all the rock slants that Richard Marx would have experienced if he had stayed with a decent recording label. First released whilst the rest of the world was asleep one day in September of 1997, it totally passed the world by. If only the volume perhaps would have been set at a different number (Nigel Tufnell from Tap could have helped out here) as strangely, it flopped at number 55. This dramatic piece full of depth, angst and masses of fading violins should have produced more venom than it did the first time around. Thankfully Columbia saw sense and re issued the single in August the following year and the result was a violent elbow up to number three. This space age intro puts us totally in the mood for something fairly big. Bordering teasingly on the cusp of soft rock and grunge pop, it was easy to see that this band could be responsible for all types of genre as well as young teenage girls wetting their knickers…

If there could have been another song almost as depressing and equally as irritating as ‘Anything I do,’ by charity shop clothed Bryan Adams (the man who never gave Levi’s a good name,) then Savage Garden’s ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ wins the second prize of a short break for two in Hull. Beautifully poetic and equally as nauseating as two fingers down the throat to anyone recently made single, this track was the icing on the cake to all those poor mums stuck with oodles of teenage washing. Prone to anyone under the age of sixteen, this track had the rest of us reaching for the bucket and wishing we had a dog. Well, someone bought it and masses of copies of it as it sat uncomfortably at number four and got the most air play that people were buying shares in LBC (97.3) As you can gather, the romantic bone in my body is having a day off….

In smatterings of wild consciousness, the rest of the album seems to be a slight disappointment. The oriental undertones of ‘Tears Of Pearls’ may have been something we would have over looked in this vaguely ordinary disco thumper if it wasn’t for the perhaps, the chorus, where, as if by magic, the mood is lifted and the rest of the track mildly pleasurable. Perhaps the is too much of a ‘Truly, Sickly, Sweetly,’ in ‘Universe.’ Sometimes a band should give a wide berth to certain styles and lounge theme easy listening anthems are a definite no no for this typically Nineties rock/pop band. Although Hayes does carry off a soft, seductive vocal rather well, but for the thought of coming dangerously close to a Michael Jackson B side, it’s just not worth it. On the same theme, the Australian single release ‘Break Me, Shake Me,’ happens to edge close to the same frightening corner. Too thrashy, it is about the same level that MJ tried to achieve when he decided to have a bit of fun with trying his hand as some sort of heavy metal – you, I’ve managed to annoy some of you by using MJ and heavy metal in the same sentence, and for that, I am on my knees for your forgiveness…

‘Carry On Dancing,’ I felt was a mild attempt and trying out the space age theme again. Where some bands in the past have taken the best aspects of a good hit and turned an entire album on it’s side by filling it with ten or so different angles of that very single, it would appear that Savage Garden felt the urge to so the same thing. They don’t, but they come too close to it. The edginess of ‘To The Moon And Back,’ is very much apparent in ‘A Thousand Words,’ yet it is a theme that suited them. It’s a let off the leash for the aching vocals of Hayes and the free run for Jones to have at the keyboards and the drum machine his mum probably bought for him one Christmas. It is still an achieving moment for the album and ‘Moon,’ fans will be delighted with this track, yet one track does not make a band, as they say in the old industry…

The final track so this album will have a tendency to pass you by so be careful about allowing air time for these dullish tracks. The final ‘Santa Monica,’ may not have the same sparkling ring to it if you were to change the words to ‘Kidderminster, in the Winter time…’ yet it is still listenable, just even more so if you swap the words around for your own entertainment. It’s soft and gentle and will not in the least bit disappoint the teens or the smallest of imaginations so we should be relieved that it’s not some quick last minute stable as prog rock or even worse, pop reggae, so thanks guys….

The album will be of interest to anyone who remembers them and anyone in still at school studying social history. They perhaps don’t quite deserve a reserved seat in the theatre of modern music history, yet, their quick career should still be mentioned even if you’re not from Oz….

They split in 2001

Their compilation ‘Truly, Madly, Completely,’ includes some solo work and was released in November 2005.

Find out more on http://www.savage-garden.net

Strangely Darren Hayes looks like Deano from Eastenders….

Savage Garden were;

Darren Hayes – vocals

Daniel Jones – everything else

Columbia records

1997 sony music entertainment.

All song written by Savage Garden.

HMV – £6.99

Virgin – £5.99

Amazon – £7.99

©michelle hatcher (sam1942 on ciao and dooyoo) 2006.