After 15 years, Mick Turner has turned in the big rock record we always knew he had in him. ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is a different kind of record from all the Mick Turner records - not just his own, but the ones he’s done with Dirty Three, Bonny Billy, Cat Power, Fungus Brains and Venom P. Stinger put together.
‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is inarguably the first post-rock rock opera of our times. It wouldn’t be a rock opera without a vague / indecipherable theme of wonder and disenchantment, and indeed, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ delivers in spades on that account.
Like all the best masterpieces, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ came together slowly, spurred by life experiences and aided by the meditation that only time brings. Over the last four years, Mick put together the pieces at Big Moth Studios in Melbourne, working his magic with aquatic guitar-and-drums chemistry, augmenting the tracks with melodica, piano and Fender Rhodes, and then bringing in the vocalists and other additional players when the tracks were ready for them.
To reach the exalted next-level listening experience that ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ arrives at by the time it reaches ‘The Last Song’, Mick had a little help from his friends - some of Australia’s most distinctive talents augment his trademark instrumental constructions. Vocalists Caroline Kennedy-McCraken (Dead Star, The Plums, Caroline No) and progressive classical / opera singer Oliver Mann, both of whose contributions rub naturally against Mick’s coarse textures. Sitting in the Tren throne mighty drummers Ian Wadley (Bird Blobs, Minimum Chips), Jeff Wegener (Laughing Clowns) and Kishore Ryan (Kid Sam, Where Were You At Lunch) do more than just fill the space equitably, they meet Mick out in his wild landscapes and ride the winds with him, bringing expert percussive colours to his soundworld. Helping set the drummers in the frame is bassist Peggy Frew (Art Of Fighting). Topping off this extensive crew and providing a strong frame for the ‘narrative’ are sweetly sentimental brass arrangements featuring trumpet and French horn.
Replete with classic epics and timely reprises, ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’ is an inspired and focused collection of Mick Turner music that reaches for new borders without sacrificing the dizzy wandering and painterly stillness that has typified Mick’s best work of the past.
Mick is an accomplished painter whose work adorns all the records he makes, and his latest paintings cover every available surface of ‘Don’t Tell The Driver’.