Mike McClellan last played the Byron Theatre in August 2014. For many who were there that night it was the first time they had seen him in years. They left entranced, many commenting that he was singing and playing better than ever – pretty remarkable given he has long been regarded as one of the finest of that generation of performers to emerge in the 70s.
His new album No Intermission continues the exceptional consistency of Mike’s late career revival. Yet again he has delivered an album of wonderful new songs – his third in 6 years. In reviewing his 2011 album If Only For a Moment… Pat Drummond wrote in Country Update, “stunning new CD. In the context of a long and illustrious career this is a very special album… for one of Australia’s most influential country/folk legends.” And the album that followed, Dancing In The Rain, was regarded by many as even better. So, where do you rank No Intermission? Steve Britt, writing in Rythms magazine wrote, “I regard this album as the strongest of his latter day albums and easily the equal of his 70s work.”
It is now over 40 years since Song and Danceman was a national hit and voted Song of The Year by the music industry at its annual awards. His songs have earned him an honoured place within the history of Australian music and you’ll still hear Song and Danceman, The One I Love and Rock’n Roll Lady on radio, along with several others from his extensive back catalogue but until the release of If Only For a Moment in 2011 it had been 20 years since Mike McClellan had released a CD of new songs. A “best of” collection (Time. And Time Again) was released back in 2001 to the joy of many whose vinyl collections were wearing rapidly.
It has surprised nobody who knew his early work that his three albums of new songs since returning to his music full time should be so good. He remarked in a recent interview: “When I made the decision to return to performing and writing again I didn’t want to come back and just play the old stuff, as good as it might be. And I didn’t want to release any new material unless I felt it was at least the equal of, and preferably better than, the songs I had recorded all those years ago. I think No Intermission lives up to the standards I set myself – and I’m my harshest critic. I hope others believe so too.”
It’s doubtful any will disagree. No Intermission easily sustains the exceptional quality of his much-loved early work while richly reflecting his growth as a writer and is ample testimony to his enduring talent. And he’s one hell of a guitar player. The energetic first single from the album, Not Yet, finds him in tongue-in-cheek good humour, loudly declaring that he “ain’t ready to quit. Not Yet.” Many hope he never does.
Listen to Not Yet from No Intermission: