CD Columbia, CK 67954, 1997 US 11 TrackAs these two boys from Brisbane, Australia, know, it doesn’t hurt to be endorsed by Rosie O’Donnell. When the Queen of Nice sang the words to “I Want You” and the praises of the duo behind it, the song catapulted up the charts. Largely ignored by the serious music press, Savage Garden have cultivated a vast fan base on the strength of their music–and airplay–alone. As formulaic as it may appear, the ballad “Truly Madly Deeply” was lodged at No. 1 for week
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I didn’t know what to expect from this album. I thought I would only listen to the released material. One of the catchiest songs ever written I Want You, and a beautiful ballad Truly Madly Deeply. I love every song on this album. It’s one to crank up, especially when I Want You or Tears of Pearls comes on. It’s catchy and unique and I can’t imagine anyone hating this album, it is a lot of fun.
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When I buy a c.d. there is usually at least one song I don’t like. Not on this c.d. though. Darren Hayes, the lead singer, has a truly wonderful voice. He sings every song with emotion and for that the vocals are really beautiful. The multi talented Daniel Jones plays the instraments. The way he plays adds to the songs and Darren’s gorgeous voice. Savage Garden write their own songs which alone demands respect. The first track “To the moon & back” tells of an outcasts search for love. It has a unique quality that makes it stand out. The seacond song “I want you” is about love with a beat. Attraction is the theme of this song. It is fun to dance to and listen to. “Truly madly deeply” is a spectacular ballad about true love. It is sung with emotion and it is definatlly a beautiful song to listen to. “Tears of Pearls” is catchy and the lyrics are stunning. “Universe” is a good love song. The words and the music compliment each other perfectly. “Carry on dancing” ,which was inspired by the vampire LeStat from Ann Rice’s novels, is definatly one of the best songs on the album. It takes on a sweet and almost cinical approch to love. The words and the music create a unique mood. “Violet” has world all its own. It is indescribable and truly fun to hear. “Break me shake me” has intence lyrics and music. Rock and pop walk hand in hand for a stunning combination. “A thousand words” is an other wonderful song. The lyrics speak of rejection and heartbreak. The instraments back it up with matching emotions. “Promises” is a warning to liars. The song is great to listen to and it has good morals. “Santa Monica” has beautiful realistic lyrics. Any one who ever felt like being some one eles can realate to this song. The whole album is amazing. And anyone who says anything bad about Darren Hayes should know that he is married and he cut his hair so he looks a lot more masculine. And plenty of guys have high voices. Savage Garden is really a spectacular band. Unlike many popular boy bands they mean what they sing and they are talented. This is an album every pop fan should own.
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Love, Sex, Anger, Wisdom,
In 1984, the UK pop group Wham! featured its two well-kempt members on the cover of “Make it Big,” the album that spawned “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and a slew of other hits to guarantee interest in the duo’s continuances for years to come. George Michael, unarguably more popular, stared away from the camera, while partner in suave Andrew Ridgeley looked straight at it. Just 13 years later, Savage Garden put out its eponymous debut disc, and nearly the same pose was postured by Australians Daniel Johns and Darren Hayes, the latter eyeing the universe while the former eyed any eye to grace the black and white cover. Hayes, of course, was Savage Garden’s George Michael; he was the accented lead vocalist to be remembered by face and voice as the band’s heartthrob even after its demise. Johns, on the other hand, was less memorable; he and Ridgeley seemed to be mere specialists along for the ride, writing flashy hooks and danceable beats as a fallback if their partners were to lose credibility. Credibility proved not an issue for Savage Garden, as their debut sold 11 million copies (trumping the 7 million of Wham!) and yielded 3 huge hits, the prominent one being “Truly Madly Deeply,” which landed the ever-impossible #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. But beyond hogging bureau space in millions of teenage rooms and dropping filler material for thousands of radio stations, “Savage Garden” is easily the best pop album of the 1990s, perfectly mixing harmony, instrumentation, percussion, sensuality, and a surprisingly effortless sense of artiness.
That artiness, perhaps the make-it-or-break-it feature absent from teen diva albums and boy band albums alike, goes far beyond the retro-cool collage work done for the CD fold-out. It is defined by Savage Garden’s versatility, stretching danceable backdrops through funk, paranoid pop, hip hop, synth pop, pillow-side ballads, disco, and even indie pop. This flexibility doesn’t come unwarned, however, with Hayes promising on “Violet” that he’s “gonna crash into your world/and that’s no lie.” This track, a cleverly-maneuvered disco-pop standout, mixes deep fuzz-funk with a raw, sexual slap bass line almost three years before Britney Spears used that same bass costumed as a schoolgirl to achieve sex appeal in her “…Hit Me One More Time.”
Setting pop standards, like that precursor to Spears, is what much of this album becomes, as is the case with the lead single, “I Want You.” Thank Hayes’ nonsensical motor-rap (highlight: “Sweet like a chic a cherry cola”) for the pop-group members strictly used for raps, like Richard “Abs” Breen of 5ive or, most recently, Lil’ Kim in the remake collaboration of “Lady Marmalade.” Aside from the rapping, Johns’ deranged percussion is the track’s centerpiece, sounding somewhat like Radiohead’s “Idioteque” when at its most creative. Meanwhile, “Break Me Shake Me” actually teaches how to involve frustration in a dance piece. Taking a drama-club confessional approach to the typical hard-edged pop song, Hayes does little more than whisper over foreshadowing tambourine shakes to mount an approach to his thrash choruses, which seem to gain fury with each installment. That pure emotion, revealed in Hayes’ lyrics (“You abused me in a way I’ve never known”) and garnished by Johns’ brilliant multi-instrumentalism, dictates the album, providing it with a collective focal point as to never allow the listener to lose interest.
The first half of the album is the most important emotion, that of love, most excellently examined in “Universe,” which not only features soft rock keyboards but also some surprisingly witty lyrics, shown when Hayes describes his physical and mental relationship as consisting of “two minds, consensual.” After that section, book-ended by “To the Moon & Back” and the aforementioned “Universe,” Savage Garden becomes energetically sexual with “Carry on Dancing” and “Violet,” the former allowing Hayes to equate “dancing” and “romancing” over a warped piano trance that finds the ability mesmerize in its striking percussion. “Break Me Shake Me” and “A Thousand Words” are bitingly vengeful, an emotional segment that ends in Hayes threatening to spit out a horde of deceptive words, the most powerful being “damnation.” Finally, with “Promises” and “Santa Monica,” Hayes and Johns recover from spite with wisdom, playing the role of the owl, the much-illustrated character throughout their in-case spread. “Promises” is the album’s quiet standout, as string and bell accompaniment flutters around flutes and synth effects beneath Hayes’ contemplative vocals. In retrospect, after a complete listen, Hayes and Johns seem to have perfected a full transition, which with staying power is able to etch itself into the pop listener’s ears, heart, and mind. This album-long transition from love to sex to anger to wisdom seems the blueprint for human life, which makes “Savage Garden” life’s inescapable soundtrack.
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