The Drum Media
by Ross Clelland
The Whtilams remain an interesting case study. Of the dozens of bands that rose and fell between the barstools of the old Sandringham Hotel in the ’90s, you probably wouldn’t have picked them as the one to be performing with symphony orchestras a decade later. There’s also the feeling for many (as the cover suggests) that Tim Freedman is The Whitlams. Which, as far as the brandsname’s mainstream success is concerned, is pretty much the case. So, it’s to the piano-player’s credit that this compilation does feature songs from their more rollicking, early ragged-sleeved era. Like I Make Hamburgers, a template for Freedman’s cynical romantic persona. There’s also Stevie Plunder’s dark-edged whimsy, such as Following My Own Tracks, so sad in hindsight.
Some were suprised the band survived, let alone flourished, after Plunder’s death – and with songs that were not the typical stuff of commercial success: Blow Up The Pokies’ anti-gampling diatribe and No Aphrodisiac’s odd mix of longing and fuck-seeking classifides. Freedman even saw fit to address the various tragedies surrounding the band with the pugnacious The Curse Stops Here.
The music – and maybe even the singer thereof – has matured over their career and there are some differing moods herein, from Melbourne’s long-distance relationship to the wry confessional of Thank You (For Loving Me At My Worst).You can still raise a glass to them, though these days it’s probably more likely a good Shiraz than a schooner of Reschs.