King Curly is essentially a vehicle for Australian Steve Appel and this album is a collection of odds and ends covering a decade of a decidedly idiosyncratic career. The track selection was apparently decided upon after canvassing fans and encompasses a wide variety of styles. With musical backing ranging from fairly straightforward rock band instrumentation to utilising toy pianos, home made instruments and a vaudevillian swagger there are twists and turns throughout it. Despite this, what shines through is the quality and uniqueness of Appel's vision.
Opening with "Falling Downstairs," a ballad reminiscent of The Blue Nile or even Mercury Rev, the album touches base throughout with intelligent and well crafted songs but even then the black humour and left field lyrics are present. "Daydream" is a very pleasant, piano driven pop song with yearning vocals by Appel and ethereal female backing. However the lyrics seem to point to the daydreaming as a condition requiring psychotherapy. Similarly "Porpoise Club" has a hypnotic pulse in a song that has a nagging similarity to Sting at his best but would Sting write lyrics such as "you seem like the kind of girl who would put out for a boy like me?"
Then there is a less pop driven sensibility here which gives the album its Jekyll and Hyde personality. A ukulele piece inspired by Tiny Tim (The Bumblebee Has No Home) and a spooky, stalkerish croon to a "Girl in The store" stand out. "Let's Have An Orgy (Viagra Mix)" is a funky (and sexy) vamp with orgasmic female backing vocals and dirty guitar and horn parts and a thrusting bass rhythm. In the excellent sleeve notes Appel writes, "when King Curly plays Orgy live audiences usually respond by looking confused. An actual orgy has never eventuated (as far as I know) though I did notice someone taking off their jumper once."
With detailed notes for all of the selections within a nicely packaged CD I can thoroughly recommend this album. Time to hunt out their masterpiece, "Doomsday Piano."