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| 30 October 2012 | Reply

“FORGET the star rating when it comes to the final album from one of this country’s most passionate, rebellious and loved musicians — Ian Rilen was quite simply a star. Family from Cuba is superbly presented and filled with moments that capture the man at his indomitable best.” Martin Boulton, THE AGE

FORGET what you think about posthumous albums. Ian Rilen and the Love Addicts’ Family From Cuba is bursting with life.

Recorded in July 2006 just months before his passing, it’s an album that demonstrates how powerful and inspired Ian Rilen was right until the end. Long-time friend and manager Sebastian Chase has re-activated his Phantom Records label to usher the album into the world.

Chase notes Family From Cuba in imbued with the energy of Rilen’s live set. “He loved this record, he’d found a space where he was really comfortable playing venues that he loved, in front of people that liked him, not in front of big crowds but small intimate settings where he could be comfortable.”

Rilen’s CV includes iconic rock bands Rose Tattoo (he wrote 1977’s Bad Boy For Love) and X as well as solo work before launching The Love Addicts.

His long-term musical partner Cathy Green said recording the album in Sydney with producer Chris Townend was difficult, with Rilen in ailing health – he’d lose his battle with cancer aged just 59 on October 30 2006. The Love Addicts were at their peak – a ‘Shanghai Suite’ with a mattress was set up for Rilen to rest during recording of what everyone involved knew would be his last work.

“Although he was in a lot of pain you wouldn’t have known that,” Green says. “I think we all had an understanding of what was going on, so, you know, we just got in there and did it.” Recorded straight after two road-testing shows at Sydney’s Sandringham Hotel, there is a raw spirit and emotion that is undeniable.

Guitarist Kim Volkman accurately describes opener Wishing Well as “like being hit with a sledgehammer 15 times over and points out the “pure sex” at the heart of the primal You Don’t Love Me No More. “There was no affectation with Ian, just pure honesty,” Volkman says.

Song For Romeo, written for Rilen’s son, is heartbreakingly beautiful – James Cruikshank guests on piano. It captures a softer side to Rilen – one that Tim Rogers discovered as a life-long fan. “He was dismissive of me as a musician but for him to even know who I was was a huge thrill,” Rogers says. “We shared a plane ride only months before he passed, that confirmed what I presumed as a fan for over 20 years. He was generous, ribald, hilarious and passionate. This all was obvious within an hour flight. Living with this record now I’m thrown back on that plane ride and the wide-eyed thrill I experienced. It’s got a massive thumping heart and a twinkling eye and a hand up yer back – the real deal.”

The title track pinpoints Rilen’s vision of his life in music as a family of gypsies travelling the world – “they don’t look medicinal but their music’s gonna soothe ya.”

And in Rock n Roll Man Rilen has contributed a painfully autobiographical antidote to every cliched rock anthem you’ve heard – “Friends ask me did I see it coming, I have to answer yes. Cos I’m a bad man when it comes to drinking, you can guess the rest. I’m just a rock`n’roll man, we’re just doin’ it `cos we can.”

“Ian is pure heart, pure soul, pure music” – PAUL KELLY

“Ian was a national treasure” DON WALKER

“The man was a damn good kisser” TEX PERKINS

“It’s got a massive thumping heart and a twinkling eye and a hand up yer back – the real deal” TIM ROGERS

“Wishing Well was a spontaneous collaboration between myself and my husband Ian. Ian composed the music and i wrote the lyrics. Ian was playing guitar as he always did at home and I heard him playing a cool riff and I stopped him, asking him to play it again. I started humming along with him and started writing to construct a song. I heard words in his music and it was inspiring. The song is basically about waking up to yourself. If you want something to happen in your life, make it happen! Don’t wish on stars that aren’t even there, as by the time we can see a star from earth, that star could have already been dead for thousands of years. Don’t throw your money away in a wishing well hoping you’re going to win ‘lotto’. Instead of wishing, take your life into your own hands and make it happen yourself. The song is a wake up call for people to stop fooling themselves and take responsibility for their own actions and lives.” Sofia Fitzpatrick

“From the heaving, growling opening track Wishing Well to the, beautiful closing moments of Song for Romeo (written for his young son), Family from Cuba is infused with the many ingredients that made up Rilen’s rich, unforgettable life.” Martin Boulton, THE AGE

* Photo credit – © Liz Reed 2012


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