Tip of My Tongue (Diesel/Tate) 1992 and Never Miss Your Water (Diesel/Tate) 1993- Diesel
American born, Mark Lizotte emigrated to Australian with his family in 1971 when he was six, the Lizottes ultimately settled in Perth (WA) where the young guitar-slinger, who took his musical cues from James Taylor, Johnny Cash, and the Band, paid his dues on the Perth pub circuit.
He formed Johnny Diesel and the Injectors in 1986, Mark Lizotte became Diesel after an in-joke about the corruption of their bass player John Dalzall’s name, the band had early singles success with two top ten entries in 1989, Soul Revival (#8) and Cry In Shame (#8) and they came to the notice of Jimmy Barnes wife Jane, who recommended them to her husband as a support band.
Diesel subsequently contributed to Barnes Freight Train Heart album and he and the Injectors joined Barnes on the road to promote the album. Diesel would ultimately share a more fraternal relationship with Jimmy Barnes when he married Jane’s sister Jep and the two rockers became brothers-in-law.
By 1993 Diesel had gone solo and was making his debut album Hep Fidelity at variously the Hot Tin Roof Studios (Los Angeles) and Studio Six (Memphis) with gun American producers Terry Manning and Don Gehman.
Come to Me and Tip Of My Tongue were both released before the album, the former charting #8 and the latter #3 here and in NZ, for Diesel’s biggest hit to that time. Tip Of My Tongue was a unique slice of sassy rock-funk and soul in contrast to the prevailing trend of Seattle-inspired grunge, Diesel wrote the song in LA at the home of co-composer Danny Tate, a local musician who let Diesel use his piano and basic four-track machine to record a demo of the song. On first hearing producer Don Gehman was impressed, said it was a hit, but Diesel was more concerned that his bass-playing was sub-standard.
Diesel was a luminous presence on the local music scene throughout the 1990’s, not showy or demonstrative, but assured and convincing, he quickly became one of the most popular singers in the country and won the ARIA Award for Best Male Artist three years in a row from 1993-95.
His rhythm section of Yak Sherrit (drums) and Matthew Branton (bass) laid down the rhythmic base of this song, Diesel displayed equal proficiency with both acoustic and electric guitar, his heavily-strung instruments produced a resonance and depth that set his guitar-playing apart from others. Strings enriched this production, Diesel’s guitar solo at the bridge was convincing, and Hep Fidelity would take out the 1993 ARIA Award for Album of the Year.
The monochrome promo video intercut performance of the song with suitably steamy, sexy bedroom/bathroom scenes which were all designed to help Diesel to get those important words off the tip of his tongue.
Follow up singles came and went but it was not until the rock-funk recording of Never Miss Your Water was lifted off Diesel’s next album, The Lobbyist, that he recaptured his mojo, evident on his debut album. The rhythm section again works tightly in support of Diesel, who also provided double bass accompaniment, strings deliver a subtle counterbalance, the harmony backup singers are right on the money, and overall the sound was crisp, precise, almost sparse and very effective, it charted at #13 and the album went straight to #1 to replicate the success of Hep Fidelity.