The Whitlams: their 25 greatest songs – sorted!

Tlisted below are a couple of indelible qualities distinctive to the Whitlams, detectable from their first days as a trio taking part in college bars round Newtown, and nonetheless there now as they play their again catalogue of gutsy ballads with orchestras as well. There’s Tim Freedman’s distinctive voice; someway as plaintive and clear as when he began singing, regardless of now pushing 60 years outdated. Then there may be the wry cleverness of the lyrics, usually centered on lengthy nights (and mornings) out on the plonk, chasing elusive ladies and troubled associates. And Freedman main from his piano, which feels virtually old style for an alternate rock band – although that label has by no means felt like a cushty match for a gaggle that dips out and in of blues, jazz and pop, from track to track.

I used to be six when their breakthrough album, Everlasting Nightcap, got here out; You Sound Like Louis Burdett will all the time maintain a fond place in my coronary heart for permitting me to say “fuck” in entrance of my dad and mom for the primary time. They’re the primary band I ever noticed reside and by far the band I’ve seen carry out most frequently. That’s to say: I’ve by no means felt so ready to write down a bit, or agonised over one a lot.

25. Fall for You (Torch The Moon, 2002)

With its shuffling beat and flexible guitar notes, that is the Whitlams track most frequently loved by individuals who don’t usually just like the Whitlams. It’s undeniably catchy and the whisper of a girl’s vocals beneath Freedman’s offers it a hypnotic high quality.

24. I Will Not Go Quietly (Torch The Moon, 2002)

Written for a now forgotten ABC drama, this playful tune about behaving badly and have a good time whereas doing so is enjoyable. Freedman delivers the braggy lyrics with actual gusto: “I used to be the most effective, you all knew it / On the times I cared in any respect / You may all say I blew it, you’ll be speaking about me for years.”

23. Following My Personal Tracks (Undeniably The Whitlams, 1994)

The one track on this checklist that’s not sung by Freedman, however certainly one of his fellow founding members, the late Stevie Plunder. You’ll spend the day buzzing this monitor’s beachy little guitar riff.

22. Up In opposition to the Wall (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

A dismal, grubby track a few tempestuous relationship that greater than earns its spot for the lyric: “She was one in 1,000,000 / So there’s 5 extra simply in New South Wales”. One to sing subsequent time you’re heartbroken.

21. Respiratory You In (Torch The Moon, 2002)

Hidden amongst all of the grander songs on Torch The Moon is that this dreamy little monitor in regards to the easy joys of spooning with a liked one on a weekend: “Don’t stand up, I’m in heaven.”

Tim Freedman performs with the Whitlams in 2005, in Melbourne.
Tim Freedman performs with the Whitlams in 2005, in Melbourne. {Photograph}: Kristian Dowling/Getty Pictures

20. Royal within the Afternoon (Torch The Moon, 2002)

A blokey rock track about abandoning the lifetime of a hellraiser for home bliss: “No one’s going to fulfill me / Besides you and the infant and the color TV.” Freedman sounds as if he’s having enjoyable as “the mad king of all of it”, whereas Jak Housden gives the bouncy guitar.

Tim Freedman Photo Shoot - February 8, 2006Tim Freedman during Tim Freedman Photo Shoot - February 8, 2006 at Channel 10 in Sydney, NSW, Australia. (Photo by John Stanton/WireImage)
Tim Freedman in 2006. {Photograph}: John Stanton/WireImage

19. 400 Miles from Darwin (Love This Metropolis, 1999)

A sweeping, mournful track in regards to the East Timor genocide and Australia’s apathy to violence so near our shores. Freedman imagines a crowd watching a movie in regards to the massacres and consoling themselves afterwards: “Compose ourselves and repair our hair / We’d have all been Schindler there.”

18. Make the World Secure (Love This Metropolis, 1999)

As the primary monitor on the Whitlams’ album after Everlasting Nightcap, Make the World Secure might have appeared an odd opener, coming after a lot gloom. However this buoyant track wins everybody over, with Freedman promising to guard a romantic associate and ending on a cute string pluck.

17. You Gotta Love This Metropolis (Love This Metropolis, 1999)

Like a misanthropic Springsteen, Freedman whisks us by means of the lifetime of a man in Sydney who’s having a tough outdated time – “too sick for breakfast / automotive wouldn’t begin / the prepare was actually full / and his girlfriend has acquired a boyfriend” – and builds all of it as much as the rotten cherry on prime: discovering out his metropolis is about to host the Olympics. It’s humorous about every thing that’s garbage about Sydney, it’s bluesy and it has backing vocals from Marcia Hines.

16. Out the Again (Torch The Moon, 2002)

Considered one of my colleagues thinks this track is “too Tim Winton”, however she’s flawed. The nice and cozy strings and lazy percussion makes for a really beguiling track, filled with elegant imagery of a day spent browsing: “I can sit out right here like a teabag”; “gum timber are stamped into the sky”.

15. I Make Hamburgers (Undeniably The Whitlams, 1994)

Who hasn’t tried selecting somebody up with the road, “Hey, that’s a salad roll”? That is the closest to a novelty track the Whitlams have. Hollering “extra sauce!” throughout reside performances ranks up there with “no means, get fucked, fuck off” within the pantheon of Australian music name and responses. However beneath the enjoyable, it nonetheless has coronary heart: a burger-flipping lothario who simply likes giving ladies the world.

14. Ease of the Midnight Go to (Torch The Moon, 2002)

“Present me a option to cease loving you and I’ll cease coming ‘spherical,” Freedman opens wistfully. This sluggish monitor is the most effective of what I lump collectively as his “outdated man love songs”: horndog lyrics swapped in for craving for emotional connection, a sure languid high quality in music, and did I point out a lot craving?

13. Charlie No. 3 (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

With its lyrics a few good friend within the thralls of dependancy, some interpret Purchase Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2) to be about Plunder, the Whitlams founding member who died a 12 months earlier than Everlasting Nightcap was launched. However Freedman has mentioned that Charlie No. 2 is about fellow musician Charlie Owen, whereas Plunder is the topic of No. 3: an appropriately moody track dominated by punchy piano chords, as Freedman sings a few despondent man, “staring down from the 56th flooring”.

12. Maintain the Gentle On (Little Cloud, 2006)

Studying the feedback on YouTube, it appears Maintain the Gentle On has develop into a daily at funerals. This melancholic track is a stupendous selection despite the fact that it isn’t overtly about loss of life, however a liked one who solely will get in contact after they have misplaced their means (“Every time you attain out, a brand new shout or shine-on”). It really works as a narrative about friendship and love that endures even when the worst occurs: “I’ll all the time hold the sunshine on for you / You attempt so exhausting to be alive.”

11. Greatest Work (Torch The Moon, 2002)

Some would possibly overlook this monitor for the band’s different large songs, like Blow Up the Pokies or Kate Kelly. However Freedman’s falsetto opener and daring piano sound makes it stand out – together with the nice bridge, the place the stunning yowl of an electrical guitar spills over the crescendo.

10. Catherine Wheel (Sancho, 2022)

On a primary hear, this cowl of a Megan Washington track appears like it could be destined to play at weddings for the remainder of time. However the place Washington’s sparse authentic is extra overtly sorrowful and grieving a relationship burning out in actual time, the candy piano and strings on this model lends a hopeful high quality to Freedman’s grave voice, someway nonetheless sounding like he’s thirtysomething.

9. 1995 (Undeniably The Whitlams, 1994)

From the second the clock begins ticking, it’s apparent that 1995 is teetering on being overproduced, particularly when in comparison with the remainder of the band’s laid-back second album. However the momentum builds so steadily and Freedman actually places his pipes to the check, singing “there’s nothing I can do” with such ferocity that it’s exhausting to not really feel electrified.

8. The Curse Stops Right here (Little Cloud, 2006)

A shifting companion to the subsequent track, Freedman pays tribute to the 2 different founding members of the band: bassist Andy Lewis, who killed himself in 2000 whereas struggling along with his playing dependancy, and guitarist Plunder, who died in an obvious suicide in 1996. “I’m the final one,” Freedman sings, as strings and horns construct beneath. “And the curse stops right here.”

7. Blow Up the Pokies (Love This Metropolis, 1999)

Advised from the angle of a musician taking part in the pokies the place he as soon as carried out, this protest anthem about the poison of gambling in Australia is the Whitlams’ greatest radio hit (although, as Freedman writes, “one regional community would back-announce its title as I Want I in order to not offend native sponsors”). Understanding that Lewis killed himself simply three months after this album was launched, having simply misplaced per week’s wages to the pokies, makes it much more impactful.

6. You Sound Like Louis Burdett (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

Named for the “inner-west Sydney eccentric”, drummer and Freedman’s one-time housemate, this energetic track is full of sleazy guitar, jangling piano and a breathless account of life in Sydney that’s bewildering to Whitlams followers dwelling anyplace else. (I could have believed Tempe was invented by Freedman till very not too long ago. And does everybody begin masturbating after they get to Marrickville?)

5. Gough (Introducing The Whitlams, 1993)

It’s unattainable to not faucet your toes to this jaunty whirlwind tour by means of the lifetime of the band’s namesake, former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam. Plunder, actual identify Anthony Hayes, attended the identical faculty as Whitlam, which was sufficient to get Freedman writing in regards to the hyperlinks between the 2 males: “He learnt Latin, held his head up excessive and he hated the Liberals although he didn’t know why”. And the “days of wine and roses” when Australia had a chief minister who, amongst different positives, championed the humanities: “All of the artists flew in and all of the arseholes flew out.”

4. Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst) (Love This Metropolis, 1999)

I, for one, am very keen on all Whitlams songs that sound like Freedman is a bit pissed in a honkytonk bar. (Maybe one out east referred to as Scrum, with solely purple wine and the best of cigars?) This upbeat ode to days spent with roguish associates is unabashedly earnest – however, if this isn’t love, it’s very shut.

3. Melbourne (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

A lot of Everlasting Nightcap was formed by Freedman’s relationship with youngsters’s creator Martine Murray (creator of the A Canine Referred to as Bear, amongst others). The open sweetness of its lyrics – “If I had three lives, I’d marry her in two” – paint a heartfelt portrait of younger love, whereas the drone-like strings and tinkling piano evoke the most effective of Nineteen Nineties pop – Manic Avenue Preachers, the Verve, Oasis.

2. No Aphrodisiac (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

“A letter to you on a cassette, as a result of we don’t write any extra,” ranks among the many most immediately recognisable opening lyrics in Australian music; even in 2022, when each cassettes and writing to ex-lovers are however distant reminiscences. Freedman says he wrote the track “rapidly, after ingesting Irish whiskey”, having simply visited Murray in Melbourne and sensing they had been drifting aside. Initially launched with no video or advertising, it grew to become a radio hit, received track of the 12 months on the Arias and topped the Triple J Hottest 100.

No Aphrodisiac is a demarcation within the Whitlams’ sound: gone had been the boyish songs about mates and ladies, changed by melacholic, intelligent songs about being lonely and ingesting an excessive amount of (and ladies). In a neat encapsulation of the band’s shift, Lewis even swapped his double bass for an electrical bass midway by means of the monitor.

1. Purchase Now Pay Later (Charlie No. 2) (Everlasting Nightcap, 1997)

Whereas some might have wished to see my No 2 right here, there is just one No 2 and its No 1. The lyrics of Purchase Now Pay Later, being each so particular and common directly, are what make it so highly effective, instantly addressing a good friend wrestling with dependancy: “If I hadn’t left early final night time / I’d have made a speech to you / The way you’re not the one one you’re going to harm”. However the good friend tends to their dependancy lovingly, hauntingly: “You like it like just a little canine / and feed it on the scraps you discover.”

The loss of life of Plunder a 12 months earlier than this track, and the loss of life of Lewis simply over two years later, means this track got here to encapsulate every thing that makes the Whitlams stand out: Freedman’s exceptional voice, the poetry inherent in his lyrics and his willingness to step as much as the piano and confront tragedy.

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