Models bold ambitious fourth outing
When it comes to Australian pop-rock bands in the 80s, no doubt INXS dominate the collective consciousness of the general public. Which is not surprising: statistically they outsold pretty much every other Oz group of the time; wrote decent, memorable ditties, and had a hedonistic front man to boot. But for my money, the Models were a far more interesting and intellectual outfit than INXS could ever hope to be.
Out of Mind Out of Sight was the group’s fourth album and, it could be said, one of their finest. On release some fans argued that it was too commercial, that the band had turned their backs on their more new-wave-indie tendencies of the past, lamenting that they had sold out to the mainstream, &c &c. But at the end of the day, who really cares, so long as the music’s good, right? Because that’s why people buy albums/CDs in the first place.
The title track just oozes sensuality, thanks to James Freud’s seductive semi-baritone, especially when he sings “Do you like the way I love you when I turn out the light/Do you like the way it feels when I hold you tight”, before the chorus comes in, while the horn section lets rip, til it feels as if the roof might blow off at any moment. Unsurprisingly the song proved to be a big hit, peaking at #1 on the Oz charts.
Written by Sean Kelly and Reggie Lucas, “Big On Love” was actually the first single off the album, and consists of nice big booming drums and Kelly’s moody vocals. The atmospheric “Ringing Like A Bell” is bolstered by some chiming guitar and James Valentine’s tasteful saxophone. But the album isn’t all pop aesthetics. “Stormy Tonight” and the dirge-like “These Blues” reveal a deeper, more serious side to the group, especially the latter, where Freud sings “These blues – I walk with/These blues – I talk to at night/Sold in anger, cursing all the time.”
“Cold Fever” and Seeing Is Believing” showed a growing sophistication in Freud and Kelly’s songwriting craft, melding pop hooks with intelligent, often edgy lyrics. Freud offers the listener another peek into his darker side on “Sooner In Heaven:” “Lookin’ out my window/At a brand new day/I wash off the troubles/Wash them all away.” Clearly Freud was no stranger when it came to depression, and whose battle with substance abuse would eventually and tragically lead to his suicide in 2010.
“Barbados” is a true album highlight, and another, one presumes, semi-autobiographical number by Freud: “All I see is washed away/I am the voice left from drinking.” Anchored by a superb bassline, the chorus is as catchy as all hell, and reminds this listener of his sunny youth when living on Victoria’s eastern coast. The philosophical final track “King Of Kings” is Kelly’s personal comment on a world gone mad, and a petition to God to make things right again: “King of Kings/Deliver us/Send us salvation/Speed it to us.”
The CD issue contains the original 12” mixes of the title track, “Barbados” and “Big On Love,” although Mushroom failed to include several additional tracks that were issued as b-sides and on cassette, namely “Tropic Of Cancer,” “Preacher Of The Black Lagoon,” a lonesome “Blue Moon,” and “Steamroller Blues,” the inclusion of which would have enhanced the LP rather nicely, and offered a more complete picture.
Released in 1985, Out Of Mind Out Of Sight would usher in a new phase for the Models, who would go on to tour America (supporting Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark), after which they recorded one more album, Model’s Media, in 1986, which had modest success, before eventually disbanding in the late ‘80s.
Hopefully one of these days, Mushroom will invest a little more in the Models legacy, and issue a deluxe edition of the LP, as has happened with other Australian groups such as The Sports and Jo Jo Zep.