The Collection

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Now virtually forgotten outside (and sometimes even within) their native Australia, Skyhooks were once one of that country's most successful, influential, and controversial bands -- a true antipodean phenomenon for much of the 1970s! But because the group's dozen Top 40 hits often relied on Aussie-centric cultural references and insular comedy, history eventually revealed that they shockingly consisted of rather ordinary music, made extraordinary by the charismatic characters involved -- androgynous lead singer Graeme "Shirley" Strachan, in particular. This startling realization is certainly substantiated by this 30-song, two-disc survey containing most all of the signature songs ("Living in the 70's," "Toorak Cowboy," "Ego Is Not a Dirty Word," "You Just Like Me Cos I'm Good in Bed," "Horror Movie," "Million Dollar Riff," "Women in Uniform," etc.) found on Skyhooks' five 1970s studio efforts, along with a wealth of non-album singles and outtakes. Obviously, you just had to be there (and then), because the band's open parody of the era's reigning glitter rock trends ultimately amounted to surprisingly watered down, pre-new wave pop music, out of which not even bassist and songwriter Greg Macainsh's cleverly amusing lyrics always manage to stand the test of time, so many years and a few generations removed from their original context. Ironically, the same could be said for the 11 cuts contained on disc two, which were recorded between 1990 and 1994, when Skyhooks reunited their classic lineup with a view of touring behind a new album, but threw in the towel after a couple of new singles ("Jukebox in Siberia," "Tall Timber") failed to spark enough consumer interest (note: these same sessions would be released separately in 1999 as The Lost Album). All this being said, there's no doubt that The Collection provides a very thorough and arguably definitive Skyhooks primer, but listeners are hereby forewarned that the band's historical importance now greatly overshadows its musical legacy.

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