Russell Morris’ ‘Sharkmouth’ Brings to Life Colorful Characters [Exclusive Video]
When Australian singer/songwriter Russell Morris releases an album, there's always a good story to go along with it; that's especially true of his 2012 blues album Sharkmouth, which Morris released in the U.S. for the first time on Sept. 30. To celebrate the project's recent release, Morris is giving readers of The Boot an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at making of the record: Fans can learn the tales behind Sharkmouth and its unique exploration into Australia's history. The following is Part Two of the four-part series.
From infamous criminals such as Al Capone to legendary sports stars such as Muhammad Ali, every culture has their own mythic legends and folk heroes. And as a few of the tracks on Russell Morris' Sharkmouth reveal, Australia is no exception.
Most know (at the very least) boxing legend Ali's name, but the name Les Darcy is a bit less familiar. One of the first great boxers to ever live, Darcy won a stunning 52 out of 56 matches in his short lifetime (he died at the age of 21 from sepsis) -- and Morris knew that, to make Sharkmouth complete, he had to write a song about Darcy, one of Australia's greatest sport icons.
"If ever a boxer stood over the rest / Les Darcy surely was the best," sings Morris in the first verse of "Ballad of Les Darcy," paying homage to the World Heavyweight and World Middleweight Champion. "From Maitland to Memphis, well, they all knew his fame / In the ghosts of a stadium, the shadows cheer his name ..."
On the other end of the fame spectrum lie more infamous Aussies whose lives also begged to be told in song: For example, there's the notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor, whose name may not seem more silly than scary ... until you realize just how dangerous he was.
"I had to write about Squizzy because my grandmother used to see him standing on the corner ... and she said he was only a little squirt!" Morris recalls with a laugh -- but, he adds, his grandmother also knew that the owner of well-known gambling dens and speakeasy clubs was not to be messed with: "He was always surrounded by really heavy, tough thugs, and she said he did dress particularly snappy."
Then there's the records's namesake, Thomas "Sharkmouth" Archer, who is also featured on the album's cover. He was a petty criminal and a conman, "and looking at his face, I reckon he could con you into anything," Morris muses. " Because he's so scary, you'd say, 'Yes, yes, yes, whatever you say!'"
Readers can press play above to learn more about the history behind Morris' roots-inspired blues album Sharkmouth.
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