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Unbroken (Warner)

Your best mate and mine, Shannon Noll – oh let’s cut the formalities, it’s not Shannon Noll, it’s Nollsie, mate – can get some bad press.

And I don’t mean unfair things written about strip clubs, 3am altercations outside said strip clubs, and wearing a soul patch longer than is absolutely necessary even if it means there’s no doubt about identity if you’re trying to explain to some bouncer just who you are and why you should be allowed back in to what or may not be a strip club.

Here I’m talking about the smartarsery and smug pontificating by so-called music critics who wouldn’t know their ear from their elbow and would hear an album of nearly-Barnesy, slightly kinda-Kernaghan, wishing-it-were-Bon Jovi fare and let loose some big words and small-minded mockery.

So instead of more of that, here’s Nollsie himself to tell you about this album, lifted word for word from these songs. Trust me, these are straight from the horse’s mouth.

What songs am I talking about? “There’s a song you can hear playing in a country town, the anthem of the young and free that’s what I’m talking about.” Ah yes, that’s what he’s talking about.

Who is this man, you say? He’s “got a five star tattoo, brand new black ute I was built to drive … I’m not gonna hold back, foot up on the foldback, fist up in the air.”

That’s exciting, but what, I hear you ask, matters to him? “I want to live, I want to die, under the light of the great southern sky/I want to run, straight through the night, chasing the stars with a heart open wide.”

It’s a place we all know, where “wheels turn on an open road … dust rising from the broken ground”, girls in their summer dresses, who if they just see the good in this bloke, well, “together we could take this all the way”. But hey, everyone be careful about “the thunder like a heartbeat in the night”, things could get messy.

But he’s not that different to you and me. “Everybody’s got reasons something to believe in, yeah they’re like me.”

And what Nollsie believes in is a return to the way things used to be when men were men and women were men dressed up in their girlfriend’s frock for the beer and prawn night. And when bouncers were not making you leave the pub before the sun has cracked the sky.

“No nanny state to hold my hand,” not for him no way. Not when we “have our fists up in the air”. Again with the fist in the air? Yes, dammit mate, “good times not what it used to be, got noise restrictions and the fun police. Plastic cups, gotta suck it up again … time to take a stand, and give us back our B&S, Saturday nights in our Sunday’s best.”

A word to the wise oh fun police “you stop the fun we’ll start a riot”, those fists won’t stay in the air forever if you don’t give us back a B&S Ball the way they did it way back then.

Naturally, all this can drive a man to, if not to drink – after all, he’s already drinking – but thoughts like “let’s take it back to the way it was”. Back when “when we had the world at our feet, the summer sun in our eyes … we thought that we had it all figured out, we never had any doubt that together we’d touch the sky”.

Those were the days my friend. “We were young but so naïve …. we were invincible.” And who hasn’t felt invincible after the 15th Bundy-and-Coke?

Still, lest he be pigeonholed, Nollsie isn’t just about the 1am shots and raising hell. Hell, he’s not even just about the music. In fact ladies, you’ll know where you stand with him quickly: this is a romantic.

“I love the sound of all my favourite chords, Tom Petty records, Paul Kelly too. I love the feeling I get from singing along to Willie Nelson songs, even out of tune. I love pretty words and sweet melodies but darling there’s no better song, than you and me.”

Sweet eh? But wait, there’s more. He likes “Chevy Chase, Billy Murray, Ricky Gervais and Jimeon too”, likes his films with “Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise”, but there’s no doubt about it, “there’s no better movie, than you and me”.

I know what you’re thinking: if he’s soft of heart, can Nollsie fight against the weight of the fun police, the narcs and wowsers? Have we lost that ineffable character that made us what we bloody well are today? No, he says, don’t despair “it’s never too late to take the wheel and turn this thing around”.

What can we do Nollsie? Tell us. Show us.

“All that we need is beer and Bacardi …. I like to keep it simple, everybody know I treat my body like a temple, because my body loves to party.”

So true. So right. So Nollsie.

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