Alone at Last
Mick Hamilton became a professional rock musician at the age of fifteen, hanging out with the big boys, playing with them on stage and even getting paid. Over 35 years later he is still doing it and his life and career have taken him to the far flung regions of the world. During that time he has survived a raft wreck in Northern Thailand, a bus crash in an isolated mountain region area of Venezuela, detention in and deportation from Brazil, a mugging by three knife wielding assailants in Rio De Janiero and a hurricane destroying the stage on which he was performing in New York State. Far from taking it easy Mick has just done possibly the most dangerous thing in his life - released his first ever solo recording. His recording career began with The Moods, a quasi-Rolling Stones band who managed to produce a highly sought after track called 'Rum Drunk' which has become a favourite of contemporary grunge bands worldwide, even inspiring cover versions. The Moods even performed on The Stones second Australian tour, bottom of the bill but on the same stage no less. The Stones remain a group Mick has great admiration for. In fact the Jagger/Richards song Salt Of The Earth is one of only two covers to appear on his new album, complete with a guest vocal from Lyndsay Hammond who uncannily bears more than a passing vocal resemblance to Marianne Faithfull. Mick's Australian rock 'n' roll fame entry rests squarely on time spent in two seminal outfits. Sixties hitmakers The Vibrants and the later rock 'n' roll trio he spearheaded called The Mighty Guys. Between the two came his first foray overseas as a sideman with the manufactured pop band The Springfield Revival. When the group supported The Osmonds on a huge tour taking in such venues as The London Palladium and New York's Madison Square Garden, Hamilton's wanderlust was baited. It wasn't the bright lights he lusted for but out of the way places and in the intervening years he resolved to travel to them even at the expense of a musical career. Last count he has been to 60 countries and had many adventures. Some have made it into song, such as the acute observation evident in Copper Canyon Railroad off the new album where with the aid of members of Texicali Rose, Hamilton sets up a lilting Mexican ambience to tell of the train journey through the world's largest canyon. For a man who drove the hard rocking Mighty Guys, a group who actually pre-dated the 1980's rockabilly revival, this is a thoughtful, acoustic based album. Casting against type Mick explores his sensitive soulful side on the Dan Penn sounding Eyes Of A Woman. Folk influences abound most notably on Two Women which could be straight from an old Elektra label New York Village 1960's folk boom era recording. Mick and Keith Glass have known each other since the age of 11, but it is really only in the 90's they have collaborated musically. One song that appears on the album the pair wrote together, Wilderness Trail has already gained some success. They were joint winners of a national song contest conducted by the Australian Heritage Commission and performed the song in Parliament House Canberra back in April this year. The song has since received national radio airplay. Unlike most of us, Mick has been to most of the places mentioned in the song, which covers the length and breadth of Australia. With Alone At Last, Mick has stepped forward to sum up his musical life by incorporating his normal life in it. He has a thirst for knowledge, adventure and an open mind to cultural experience that belies a comment from a journalist some years ago that he is 'possibly the most cynical musician in Australia', a quote Mick has included on his business card. He is most likely very cynical about any chance this album has to reach a wide audience but musicians like Mick [and there aren't too many] deserve to be able to go about their trade and keep creative. Somewhere along the way, we've all been mugged in to believing quiet achievement is no achievement at all. A musical pedigree doesn't happen overnight, harder still to keep the creative juices going after a long haul. He may look a little haggard but this music veteran sounds pretty fresh on this way overdue release added and abetted by some of Melbourne [and Australia's] finest musicians.