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MEDIA: Reviews: "More of Her", Four Hours Sleep

"More of Her" - Four Hours Sleep

3 stars out of 5

by Chris Johnston - Australian Rolling Stone, March 1996 (issue #520)

Four Hours Sleep is a Melbourne supergroup, of sorts, with music by Bill McDonald (Rebecca's Empire, Frente, Ultrasound), lyrics by Stephen Cummings, guest appearances by Angie Hart and David McComb and the wildcard, a thrilling cameo by ex-Orange Juice singer Edwyn Collins, from Scotland.

But More of Her, a one-off release with this line up but a continuing project for the versatile McDonald, is not as clearcut and linear as it seems. With input also from brothers Peter (Black Sorrows, Chris Wilson) and Dan (Blackeyed Susans) Luscombe, and with the grab-bag of singers and musicians given the room to interpret the songs reasonably freely, Four Hours Sleep in this instance has become a varied musical palette with individuals clearly able to influence the final mix at will.

Continuity, therefore, is a problem, but not a large one. More of Her manages to run from a tear-soaked but totally traditionalist duet between Cummings and Hart ("Stick To My Fingers") to a classic ballad about falling in love ("A Real Miracle", again featuring the voice of Hart) to a clutch of fairly rollicking guitar-rock tunes. All, however, display the subtlety and tendency toward sublime melody that have distinguished both Cummings' and McDonald's musical history.

The Edwyn Collins connection emerged when McDonald played bass for him on a promo-tour last year (he's also more recently lent his bass sound to a forthcoming Neneh Cherry album). The result, "Don't You Ever Listen To Me", is classic pop in the same way the top ten "A Girl Like You" (and much of Gorgeous George) was, and confirms Collins' standing as one of the finest vocalists of both the Eighties (with Orange Juice) and, now, the Nineties.

But, in the end, More of Her, succeeds because of the instinctive musical chemistry between McDonald and Cummings, who have worked together for years, and, of course, Cummings' bittersweet lyrics of urban joy and heartbreak. In this way it could be seen as the Cummings album you have when you don't have a Cummings album, as he has always been an active collaborator within the Melbourne scene. But it's not. It's just a lowkey but accomplished supergroup.

"More of Her" - Four Hours Sleep

by Peter de Vries - Modern Movement

This one apparently slipped into the shops late in 96, but I only heard about it recently over the Internet on the Stephen Cummings homepage. I was amazed enough that he even had a home page - the singer/songwriter, formerly of Sports fame, is hardly a household name. But he is a fine songwriter and singer.

Four Hours Sleep is a band put together by Cummings bass player and Frente member Bill McDonald. He and Cummings wrote all the songs on the CD, half of which are sung by Cummings, and the rest by guest singers such as David McComb (sounding like a cross between Cummings and Nick Cave), Angie Hart, and Edwyn Collins.

The songwriting is sublime, bursting with melodies, unusual harmonies, and Cummings incisive lyrics. McDonald's simple electric guitar-driven production allows the listener to focus on the songs and the great vocal performances of Cummings and guests. Listen out particularly for Angie Hart and Cummings duetting on Stick to my fingers - what a vocal combination! It's nice to hear Cummings at his best again - after the Steve Kilbey-infiltrated Escapist album. Let's hope Four Hours Sleep is not just a one-off project.

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