Seething since 2000*
The sad story of Glide perfectly encapsulates the highs and lows of the early 1990s in Australian music. Glide, fronted by the extraordinary singer-songwriting talents of William Arthur, burst onto the Sydney scene in 1991, releasing two breathtaking EPs – Pretty Mouth in 1991 and the huge Shuffle Off To Buffalo in 1992 – to critical acclaim. A girl I had the hots for at the time gave me a tape with both EPs on it and I was soon a fan. Pretty Mouth was a very dark pop record, the lyrics (in my ears) alluding to childhood abuse and an accompanying innocent/ experienced vulnerability. “Dream of Sammy”, the EP’s poppiest moment, with its “should have been me/ could could have been/ could have been me” chorus, counter-balanced the melanchology in a powerful way. The other thing Glide had going for them, a factor which became immediately apparent on the second EP’s opening track, the simply astonishing “Waterfall”, was an intricatly crafted wall of sound that has also been described as a “wall of harmony”, a necessary counterpoint to the industrial, atonal wall of sound manufactured by British counterparts Ride. “Waterfall” was perhaps the best Australian single of 1992, and that’s saying something. How can I describe the song except to say that its sound was simply massive. The band’s lead guitarist at the time was also a phenomenal player, matching Arthur’s melodies with some impressive noodling on both releases. In hindsight, his departure from the band (and from my memory) was the first step in a long and slow descent from grace which culminated with William Arthur’s death in 1999. For a while though, Glide were on the top fo the freaking planet. I saw them wipe the floor with UK misery merchants Adorable in 1993 at the Phoenician in Sydney, playing so well and producing a sound so huge it just wasn’t fair. Perhaps Glide were just in the wrong place. Consider the fact that the “band” they supported produced just one LP and then died in the arse. Enough said. Fittingly enough, Glide’s first LP was a fairly melancholy affair, and was succeeded by several more well-crafted albums, all of which lacked the immediate spark and tention of the early EPs. I never did end up kissing the girl who gave me the tape way back in 1992. In fact, I’m not sure I can even remember her name. I do remember the spirit of that time, however, and the special talents of William Arthur. RIP, man, seriously. I think it was Rachael.