By Geoff Jenke
It’s been 21 years since Stuart MacLeod (guitars), Joel Quarterman (drums & guitar) and Kavyen Temperley (bass & vocals) formed Eskimo Joe in East Fremantle, Western Australia and to celebrate they are re-releasing their back catalogue on special CD, vinyl and digital editions.
The first in the series is Eskimo Joe’s 2001 debut album Girl and will be available on limited edition green vinyl as well as remastered CD with 12 bonus songs. Before their debut album, the band had released the EP Sweater, which received extensive airplay on Triple J, the song reaching #33 on the Hottest 100 of 1998.
However, it was their debut album Girl that really got them noticed around Australia and had sales that certified it gold. Seventeen years later the album still holds up extremely well. Head Hurts opens the album and sets up a great run of 6 successive songs on the album. You know them all, Wake Up, Planet Earth, Who Sold Her Out, Love list and Liar. It almost reads like a Greatest Hits album not a debut album. The melodies are simplistic and the lyrics fun.
Things are not quite as good on what would be side two of vinyl with Election and Sydney Song not quite up to the standard of the songs before them. Sydney Song featured on a commercial for Kit Kat Chunky bars, which didn’t hurt album sales. That’s not to say the 6 songs on “side two” are bad, it’s just they have a lot to live up to after the opening songs. The final track Driver is different enough to stand out on its own and demand attention. This was a band still finding their way. The album won’t be talked about in the same breath as the two follow ups, A Song Is A City and Black Fingernails, Red Wine but it is still a fine debut album.
If you already own the album, naturally it is the bonus tracks that will decide if you need to update or not. You get a couple of B-sides from singles in Hey Now, Old and New, seven demos of songs on the album which show the development of the songs from here to the final finished effort. There is also a live acoustic version of Who Sold Her Out as well as Planet Earth live at The Chapel. To round out the extras is a beautiful 2018 Eskimo Joe Mix of Liar. All tracks are worthy of inclusion, making this a must buy set.
Girl provides the foundations for Eskimo Joe to move forward. They had already disowned the song Sweater from live performances and were already moving towards A Song is a City and platinum.
Eskimo Joe is doing performances across Australia with symphony orchestras, but there appears to be no information about an Adelaide show as yet. Hopefully it comes to fruition. It would be a travesty if we missed out.
Kav says, “We have more surprises in store as we celebrate Eskimo Joe turning 21, so thanks for sticking with us over the years, we are honoured.” Fans can expect to see and hear a lot more from Eskimo Joe as 2018 rolls on.