Lisa Miller - Car Tape 2
- Catalogue No:
- Release Date:
1. Hidden Charms (Charles Clark)
2. It’ll Never Happen Again (Tim Hardin)
3. Superfly (Curtis Mayfield) [free download]
4. He Wants To Play Hearts (Ryan Adams)
5. I’ll Run Your Hurt Away (Ruby Johnson)
6. Ambulance Blues (Neil Young)
7. Needle Of Death (Bert Jansch)
8. You Can Have Him (The Cake)
9. La Maison oú j’ai Grandi (Françoise Hardy)
10. Traction In The Rain (The Cros)
11. Moonraker (Shirley Bassey/John Barry)
The late-night road trip: half-lit visions in the rear-view mirror, road signs looming like phantoms. Darkness settles into the car’s interior; the driver’s companions asleep, or dreaming. The distant AM radio signal fades in and out, trailing into static. You fumble in the glove box for the car tape, hold it up for a moment to the dull lights reflected through the windscreen; typically, it needs rewinding. The cassette deck’s motors whir into motion, then clunk to a stop and for the next 45 minutes, this car tape is like nothing you’ve ever heard. Half-forgotten songs take on a startling new ghost-life, inhabiting a parallel world where the road, time and space, memory, dreams and thoughts are held in suspension, while you’re propelled in your little capsule towards… somewhere else. It’s as if you’ve crossed some invisible, inner state line, and you’re heading for someplace that only the car tape songs can take you to, or from.
‘Car Tape 2’, is the new album from acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Lisa Miller, the much anticipated follow up to 2002’s original ‘Car Tape’ which was both inspired by, and made in the spirit of, the quintessential car tape experience. The album made it into many critics best of 2002 lists and sat at the top of the Australian independent charts for close to a year. It also earned Miller three ARIA nominations, a second time for Best Female Artist as well as Best Independent and Best Adult Contemporary Release.
While the idea of a taped compilation is perhaps almost entirely anachronistic in 2010, ‘Car Tape’ (The Series!) is more about loving music and the real records it comes from and sharing it with friends than it is about recycling retro imagery. It’s also about travel, of the kind done at 100km/h, close to the ground, listening to that music in a very closed environment with those friends, and with the time to listen properly.
“I was always intrigued by those tapes that you listen to on the road,” says Miller. “Those Tapes that other musicians pull out in the tour van – grimy cassettes which get stuck and you have to stick a pen into the reel to wind them up. And they’re funny songs that someone puts on a tape because they’re special to them, and they’re often a bit odd. And they sound even more odd when you’re driving late at night in the middle of nowhere. Everyone is quiet, if they’re not asleep they’re listening, hanging on every word… the songs on a car tape come together as a group, often in a very strange way. A good car tape is its own little world.”
Once you’ve spent some time in the “little world” which is Lisa Miller’s Car Tape, the term ‘covers album’ no longer seems like an adequate descriptor. “I didn’t want to do covers albums, where I put my own slant on songs everyone knows”, Miller explains. “I tried to pick songs that could carry themselves, and they had to tend to the fairly obscure, with seductive melodies, and words that wouldn’t disappoint me when they were written down to be learnt”.
Miller has engaged in that somewhat mysterious process that gives forgotten songs a new shape, not just in the performance, but in the very act of selection. Just as obscure songs take on a new familiarity once they’re put on a car tape, there is also something that happens to songs when they’re documented on tape, in the (equally old-fashioned) sense of putting songs down on tape – recording live, direct to tape, in the studio. “The big test for each song”, says Miller, “was whether the tape loved it”. It’s what she calls “the spooky relationship between tape and performance”.
Working once again with original ‘Car Tape’ producer/guitarist Shane O’Mara, Miller returned to his Yikesville studio to lay down a selection of tracks which includes songs by legendary songwriters such as Tim Hardin, Bert Jansch, Neil Young, David Crosby, and the more contemporary Ryan Adams, as well as less likely covers of songs by soul man Curtis Mayfield, ‘60s French singer Francoise Hardy, and even a stunning take on Shirley Bassey’s James Bond theme, “Moonraker”.
‘Car Tape 2’ is, like the previous volume, compiled with love. Demangnetise. Rewind. Repeat-Play. Enjoy.