Reckless (Don’t Be So) (J Reyne) – Australian Crawl 1983
In 1982 the band had gone to Hawaii to record the album Sons of Beaches with expat Aussie producer Mike Chapman of “ChinniChap” fame, who had curated the careers of Suzie Quatro, Sweet, Smokie, Racey and Mudd with his offsider Nick Chinn, during a period in the UK in the 1970’s when their market dominance would only be equaled in the 1980’s by Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
The band were striving for a harder rock sound than the coastal casualness and glossy pop of previous outings, Shut Down was the lead single taken off the album and it charted at #17, no other singles really impressed but the album was another #1 hit and stayed on top for three weeks.
But the Crawl were moving on from their signature sun, surf and sardonic lyrical take on life when they recorded Reckless, a slice of cleverly crafted pop/rock from a more soulful James Reyne, it was the band’s musically sparse metaphorical reference to such historically adventurous and tragic heroes as Scott of the Antarctic and Burke and Wills who perished in remote locations.
It also references iconic locales in Australia – Circular Quay, Manly (ferry), the “dig tree”, as well as Russian subs beneath the Arctic Ocean – the nuclear-powered K-27 Soviet era sub, had been deliberately scuttled by Russia in 1983, in contravention of the policy of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the time.
Reyne has claimed that the early verses were written very quickly, he was on the set of the film Escape to Eden and during a break in filming he was strumming his guitar and noticed the Manly ferry passing by and the pontoons on which passengers were waiting, the verses literally fell out but it hardly resonated with him at the time, it was something he believed would finish in the future, he thought it might be a good B-side!
Reyne had however been separated from his girlfriend for almost a year, and consciously or unconsciously the themes of loneliness and abandonment were discernible, and he beautifully evoked these in a way quite different from most of the upbeat and exultant songs for which Reyne and the band were famous.
APRA acknowledged the simple grace and refinement of Reckless, it was listed in the best songs of the period 1926-2001, and it was the 12th biggest-selling record of the year. There were no Reyne “mondegreens” here although some fans incorrectly translated Russian “sub” to be “sun”, it was recorded and produced by Mark Opitz at the Rhinoceros Studios (Syd) and AAV Studios (Melb) and lifted from their #4 hit EP Phalanx.
The band would issue three more albums. A compilation of greatest hits titled The Crawl File which charted #2 in 1984, their last studio album, Between a Rock and a Hard Place which climbed to #11 in 1985 and their swansong live album, The Final Wave in 1986 which was a #16 charter. The band were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1996 along with Horrie Dargie; James Reyne would go on to anillustrious solo career. Guy McDonough sadly passed away in 1984.