The Celibate Rifles (aka 5 Languages)
"The Celibate Rifles" (aka "5 Languages")
  • Second studio album
  • Released : April, 1984 Formats : CD, LP, MC Cat No : HOT 1007
  • Produced by : Kent Steedman & Dave Connor
  • Engineered by : Dave Connor
  • Recorded at : Honeyfarm Studios, Sydney
  • General Comments : Re-mastered for CD in 1992. Also released with "Sideroxylon" on CD by Megadisc (MDC 79467), LP by Megadisc (MD7946/7) and MC by Survival (HOT 0017). CD re-released by HOT in 1999 with correct French spelling (merci Gabriel).
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    Track Listing
  • Wild Desire - hear a 50 second Sound Sample of this track
  • Kiss Me Deadly
  • Pretty Colours
  • Back In The Red
  • Darlinghurst Confidential
  • Thank You America
  • Rainforest
  • Netherworld
  • Electric Snake River

    If nothing else, the Celibate Rifles' eponymously-titled second album makes it quite plain that it is no longer possible to dismiss this Sydney group as mere three-chord-thrasharama. But more than that, the fact is that this is a bloody good album, wherein the Rifles move away from the restrictions of their roots, palpably growing before your very eyes, and that's not a compliment I use lightly.

    The Celibate Rifles, however, were never as limited as the three-chord-thrasharama label would suggest anyways. As evinced by their best-selling debut EP, "But Jacques the Fish?" and their debut album "Sideroxylon", the Rifles were a post-punk hard-rock outfit of humour, irreverence, (personal and political), commitment and, perhaps most relevant to this argument, real agility and flair in their relentless assault. You only had to hear bassist James Darroch run up and down the fretboard, or guitarist Kent Steedman shoot a scorching solo straight from the hip, not to mention the group's sheer drive, to know that. Then there was the single of late last year, "Pretty Pictures", a delicate acoustic ballad that surprised more than a few people.

    The Celibate Rifles proves the group too have learnt something about restraint, not so much in attack but rather in the pacing. Now, not every song is at break-neck speed; in fact on this album, only two songs - Kiss Me Deadly and Back In The Red - really fit the fast formula of the first album. The remaining seven songs cover more diverse ground, while staying consistent with the Rifles' roots, certainly retaining their relevance and without doubt, gaining power.

    Photo : Back slick of Sideroxylon
    The album opens with Wild Desire, one of the album's superior cuts (an obvious single), surging with strength, sonorously seductive, while the aforementioned Kiss Me Deadly is distinguished by a terrific piano solo, contributed by I-don't-know-who. Indeed the group plays superbly throughout - that is raw, tight and sharp. Kent Steedman in particular delivers some fine, fluid solos that demonstrate his increasing maturity, often recalling the great Tom Verlaine.

    Darlinghurst Confidential is the first of two rock-raps on the album. Although it initially comes across as somewhat contrived and uncomfortable, for some reason it grows on you. Thank You America (words courtesy beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti) is set-up like the Velvet Underground's "Murder Mystery" with a vocal track in each channel. In it, Lovelock's obsessions are put on a national level; he rails against the American Imperialism that threatens the entire world a well as Australia.

    Electric Snake River which closes the album, is an extended workout replete with acoustic guitar intro, flutes and references to Aztec religion. It's at least positive in its speculation.

    But it's Netherworld, the second-last track, that is probably the album's more proper conclusion. Netherworld is Lovelock's "Wasteland", where we are all lost in a sea of despair. The Rifles paint a bleak aural vista built upon a reverberating bass-figure (which is slightly reminiscent of The Doors), while Lovelock in-tones mournfully out of the darkness through a deep echo : "My soul's on fire".

    The Celibate Rifles have always prided themselves on their resolute unfashionableness (a rejection of the facile), but what are they going to do if fashion comes around to them? Because after an album this good, it may well do just that.

    -Clinton Walker, Rolling Stone (Australia), May 1984

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