From The Desk Of Steve Kilbey: “Amber Headlights” By Greg Dulli

Steve Kilbey is best known as the frontman of Australian legends the Church, whose “Under The Milky Way” was one of the defining alt-rock singles of the late ’80s. He has also released records with the likes of Grant McLennan, Martin Kennedy and Donnette Thayer, as well as a number of solo albums. Aside from being a member of the Australian Songwriters Hall Of Fame, Kilbey pens poetry and is an accomplished painter. His latest CD is Life Somewhere Else (Communicating Vessels) by Isidore, a collaboration with Jeffrey Cain (Remy Zero). Kilbey will also be guest editing all week.

Kilbey: Greg Dulli is like some kind of rock Baudelaire, exploring the sordid side of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. However, just like Baudelaire, Dulli is the architect of the downside: the betrayals, the addictions, the exhilaration of the free-fall, away from morals and conventions.

Incredible intensities come together. The guitars pile up in sweetness and power. There’s always the sense of contradiction as lives fall apart in glorious implosions. We pick up girls, we try to cadge drugs, we indulge in bitter blasphemies, we identify the bastards and strumpets of the streets and low-lives of Dulli’s songs. Filled with real remorse and regrets, these songs burn and smoulder with ambiguous desires that suddenly flare up into anger and sadness.

The melodies and the singing are urgent, taut and always plain bloody gorgeous. Dulli is never the one-dimensional villain; his characters hurt and bleed for us, and the music, too, is economic and hard but always melodic. Dulli expresses his ennui and contempt, not with dissonance but with these acidic pop songs that contain a cast of hundreds of guitars that often hammer just one chord, as all else changes around them.

At the end we have “Get The Wheel,” an aching beautiful song that is to reappear on Blackberry Belle, and indeed is in yet another form in the second song on this very album. Here he re-presents the words and melody in three different ways that show his consummate mastery of songwriting, singing and playing.

In my humble opinion, anything out there that has his name on it is invariably good. At what he does, this dissolute take, he is one of the very best!

Video after the jump.

3 replies on “From The Desk Of Steve Kilbey: “Amber Headlights” By Greg Dulli”

Dulli is the only artist that can make me smile, cry and dance dirty in my living room all at the same time. I’ve seen every incarnation of him, too.

Thanks for a great piece. LC

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