Don't get me wrong, here. I'm really quite fan of Tex Perkins, who makes up Tex, obviously. In person, he's a slim, medium built dark haired, attractive man with straight white tombstone teeth, who you would pass in the street without much of a glance.. but when he gets on stage, he has an easy, laid back presence that gives you the impression that he's a bigger figure than he in fact is. The stage presence comes, I'm sure, from spending so long performing. Perkins is--and if you take anything away from this post, it should be this--a prolific and talented musician. He has been (and still is, I guess) the front man for Beasts of Bourbon and the Cruel Sea, respectively, while also producing three solo albums, though the latest was released under the name of Tex Perkins' Dark Horses. (When I saw him and the band perform, they were Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses, and I don't much understand why they just didn't go with that on Sweet Nothing.) The thing of note about each of these outings is that it showcases a different strength: Beasts of Bourbon are pub rock punk; the Cruel Sea a much more refined, drifting alternate rock sound that changes from album to album; his solo work an urban blues kind of thing; and the Tex, Don and Charlie albums are country. Out of all those choices, country would be the least of my favourites, and I guess an album every ten or so years is about the right speed for me.
Still, it must be said that All Is Forgiven has more in common with Perkins' solo albums than anything else, which is not really a surprise. Charlie Owen is Perkins' long time collaborator (he goes back to the Beasts of Bourbon, and if before that, you'll have to ask someone else) and receives song writing credits on all the solo albums. Perkins and Owen have a sound together, they've developed a rhythm, and the album has that until Don Walker, with his gravelly, whiskey and cigarettes stained voice appears, breaking up the two like an interlude in a film for the handful of tracks he performs vocals on. You could almost be forgiven for thinking that the album should have been called Tex and Charlie (and a bit of Don).
Still, there's no denying that it's Perkins' voice that holds the album together, and while I don't like All Is Forgiven as much as his other work, it's still quite a listenable album, and I totally love the opening tracks, Paycheques, and A Place to Hide.
Where I can get my shit together
Somewhere I can try to stem the tide
And I may kiss you
Or the ground below
Would you be my friend this one time
All I need is a place to hide
All I'm looking for is a place to hide
I, in fact, have a story that relates very vaguely to Tex Perkins, and I shall share it here, because I don't get to tell it often. It is, in fact, my Tex Perkins Story (which is only vaguely related to Tex Perkins).
It was round six, seven years ago, and at the time I was working as a projectionist in a cinema that never had any patrons. It was an old, pink heritage building called the Roxy, which is now white and is a pub I see the occasional band in. At that time, Village had taken control of the cinema to get control of the whole area so it could pack its complex up the road, a deal reached in one of those odd, shady cinema deals. Anyhow, basically, it meant that Village owned an old cinema that could have done business, but was instead pretty much ignored and given dead films or films at the end of their run. This suited me just fine. No big bosses, no stupid promotional gimmicks, no fucking teenagers. Sure, hours kept getting cut back, but at the time, I didn't much care (or suffer from this). Anyhow: evening sessions would have one or two people in them, and you'd spend your time talking with those people if they were friendly, especially if you were running the films. Being a projectionist in a three cinema building is a pretty easy job most nights of the week. It takes about a minute to thread up a machine, something like a second to push a button, and then you hang round for two hours in case something bad happens. Ninety nine percent of the time, nothing happens.
So, it was on one of these nights that I met a girl who'd come in by herself and got her number, which happened somewhat less than films going off screen.
You're probably thinking this story will have more to do with cinemas, but it doesn't.
So, I did what I do when I get the phone number of a cute girl, and that is tell myself what a charming, handsome guy I am. Then I tell my friends. In response, my friends say, "You haven't called her yet, have you?"
Sometimes, just sometimes, I kinda hate my friends. Still, they had a valid point, as quite often they do in these situations, which is why I hate them, and so after a couple of days where I enjoyed the fantasy that women wanted to be with me, I decided I would go and destroy it by calling her. So: in go the numbers, the phone rings, I think over something witty to say, decide that it's probably best just to wing it, hey fuck, maybe just say hi when she answers... and then it's picked up by the answering machine.
And the theme to the Partridge Family begins to play.
I stand there, holding the phone, a little stunned. I'm not sure how to react. There are no words, but I find myself humming, "Come on be happy," beneath my breath and realise that this is not what I want to be doing when I leave a message. And added to that, is this even the right number? I mean, seriously, there's no words. The song plays for what must be the entire length of the show's credits, and then there's a beep. My mind says, "Is that the fucking Partridge Family?" but fortunately my tongue can't translate, so I just leave a short message about calling and my name.
A couple of days pass. I go to work and don't pick up. My friends hum the theme to the Partridge Family around me. I decide which ones to poison first. Maybe someone famous dies. Eventually, the girl calls and we set up for a date, which is fine and good except that all I can think about is that answering machine. It's a sign, yes? A sign. A fucking sign. I'm sure it can't be a good sign.
I go along to the date which starts off well, because both of us show up. But this good stuff cannot last forever, and indeed, it appears that it can't last for five minutes, because after the greeting she apologises for not calling me sooner and tells me she has been away. Away? I reply, politely. "Yes," she says, "I was at a camp to learning about Jesus' sacrifice."
A Born Again.
Guess that explains the answering machine, I think, perhaps unfairly to the entire born again community, but still, within five minutes of sitting down to eat, she's asking me about my faith, and if I've got any, because that's important to her. Well, I don't, and the moment I tell her that God isn't my guy, that any organised religion isn't my thing, her whole demeanor changes. She slumps in her seat, sighs--sighs--and tells me that this isn't going to work out, and then begins pushing round things on the table with her fingers. Well, my reality about me and women has returned quite strongly, and I shrug begin talking, cause I'm here and why not? But, y'know, we've got nothing to talk about because all she wants is to talk about how religion has changed her life, and all I want to talk about is everything else. Eventually--no, finally--finally, we hit the topic of music, and it is here that she tells me that she is Dan Rumour's sister.
Dan Rumour is the guitarist of the Cruel Sea.
We talk about this for a bit and, eventually, she tells me that Tex Perkins is a nice guy. Quite charming, really, she says, though a bit wild.
The date ends not much later. I think we're both happy. In fact, she tells me she's going to go in and use the toilet in the place we ate at, and that I should not wait. I agree, though it occurs to me that she looks a little upset, but I tell myself that I am obviously wrong. So I walk down the street, back to my car, and that is the end of my Tex Perkins Story (which is only vaguely related to Tex Perkins, as I told you).