This Smudge Is True (the best of Smudge 1991-98) by Smudge on Apple Music

27 Songs


About Smudge

Smudge is an Australian slacker pop trio who were thrust onto the world stage in the early '90s after recognition of singer/songwriter Tom Morgan's co-authorship of material on the Lemonheads breakthrough, 1992 It's a Shame About Ray. Since then, the group has diversified somewhat with bassist Adam Yee and drummer Alison Galloway contributing material and the occasional lead vocal performance. In 1996, they made a concerted effort to expand their sound by recording the You Me Carpark Now album in Chicago with producer Casey Rice, and recruiting a number of additional studio players, among them Tortoise's John McEntire. In 1997, the trio expanded to a four-piece with the addition of second guitarist Pete Kelly. Formed in 1990 in Sydney Australia at the suggestion of friend (and soon to be Lemonhead bassist) Nic Dalton, who was putting together a compilation CD, Slice, for his then-new label Half a Cow Records. The trio -- singer-guitarist and main songwriter Tom Morgan, drummer Galloway (the unwitting inspiration for the Lemonheads Shame About Ray classic "Alison's Starting to Happen"), and bassist Paul "Duncs" Duncan -- recorded the track "Tea, Toast & Turmoil," decided they liked the group's chemistry, and went on to record their debut EP, Don't Want to Be Grant McLennan, which was released on Half a Cow Records in 1991. The EP met with slight controversy with the title track being a catchy backhanded tribute to the then-struggling solo career of former Go-Betweens guitarist and songwriter Grant McLennan. This was followed quickly by the Love, Lust & Lemonjuice and Superhero EPs in 1992 and 1993, respectively. The former featuring the groups first near-hit "Divan," while the latter included covers of the Laverne & Shirley theme "Make All Our Dreams Come True" and John Waite's "Missing You." Around this time, Nic Dalton filled in on bass duties for friend Robyn St.Clare during her band the Hummingbirds co-headlining Australian tour with the Lemonheads. Dalton and Lemonheads leader Evan Dando struck up a firm friendship, and by the tour's end, Dalton had roped the Lemonheads into recording two songs for his Sneeze side project with Smudge's Tom Morgan. To say Morgan and Dando hit it off in the songwriting stakes would be a radical understatement, with the pair co-authoring a number of songs, including the title track, for the Lemonheads breakthrough 1992 release It's a Shame About Ray, with several more co-authored songs appearing on the bands 1993 follow-up Come on Feel the Lemonheads. In 1993, U.S. label Shake/Cargo issued the Smudge compilation Tea, Toast & Turmoil, comprised of tracks from the group's first three EPs, plus compilation contributions and some otherwise unreleased songs. Later that year, bassist Paul Duncan left Smudge to complete his business studies degree and was replaced by former Headache bassist Adam Yee. This lineup recorded Smudge's debut album proper, 1993's Manilow, which was preceded by another almost-hit-single for the band Impractical Joke. The single was released in three different countries, each with different B-sides culled from a large number of homemade four-track recordings conducted independently by each of the bandmembers. In 1994, the group released a U.K.-only EP on Domino Recordings to coincide with a European tour. This five-track release included the otherwise unavailable title track (covered by the Lemonheads on their 1996 Car Button Cloth album), two songs from the Manilow album, and a rockin' cover of You Am I's "Berlin Chair." In Australia, 1994 saw the release of the eight-track Hot Smoke and Sassafras EP, a more straight-ahead guitar pop release in the vein of the band's early recordings that included the popular "Tenderfoot." (Also covered by the Lemonheads on 1996's Car Button Cloth). Initial pressings were also packaged with the Big City Poontang EP, a compilation of eight B-sides from the "Impractical Joke" singles. In 1995, the group traveled to Chicago's Idful Studios to work with producer Casey Rice and record their most diverse and compelling album to date You Me Carpark Now. Further diversifying their sound, the band worked with a wealth of additional orchestration and guests including Tortoise's John McEntire on pedal steel. The record was preceded by the Slight Return EP from the sessions, which saw them reinventing Manilow's catchy "Ingrown" as a slow ballad, as well as covering Mike Nesmith's jaunty "Some of Shelly's Blues." The record's first single was the catchy "Mike Love Not War," named after a Beach Boys' bootleg, and included among its B-sides a Ben Lee cover, "Trying to Sneeze," and a full-band reworking of "Tenderfoot." Around this time, drummer Galloway was given the job as presenter of Didge-Indie, a weekly new music program on MTV Australia. In 1997, the band released Mo Poontang, a more extensive collection of B-sides and unreleased covers along the lines of 1995's Big City Poontang EP. The group also expanded to a four-piece with the addition of second guitarist Pete Kelly, formerly of Sydney group Disneyfist. In early 1998, the newly invigorated four-piece Smudge constructed an eight-track studio in a large house in the tiny coastal town of Gerroa, a few hours outside of their native Sydney. Their resulting third album, Real McCoy Wrong Sinatra, was recorded in just five days, and is the bands rawest and most straight-ahead pop recording since their early EPs. ~ Nick Corr


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