Diesel (the performance name of Mark Lizotte) may have been born stateside, but us Australian’s call him one of our own. He is for all intents and purposes an Aussie; one of our greatest. I must acknowledge, however, that despite being very familiar with his work, I haven’t owned any of his records. Yes, you read that correctly. Perhaps it was that he was everywhere, constantly on the radio and television, that I didn’t feel the need to collect his albums. Regardless, as I listen to Singled Out, a compilation more so than an album, I’m finding myself singing along, knowing every beat, and reflecting on how these songs sound against their original counterparts.
Singled Out isn’t your standard compilation, hence why I’ve classed this review as an album review. It is, in fact, an unplugged release with intermingled live tracks from Diesel’s 2004 tour schedule. On paper, that is perhaps a little perplexing as one may wonder how the variation between live and studio reinterpretations impact the flow of the album. Well, it quite frankly doesn’t. The mixing and mastering, as well as the recording of the performances, is superb and therefore ensures the live elements, while present, aren’t overly distractive, resulting in a seamless flow of spectacular music.
Released only on CD, Singled Out was also re-issued as Greatest Hits Acoustic with a godawful cover. The original cover was perfect and I honestly have no idea why the record label thought it was a good idea to change it. Okay, so perhaps they wanted to boost sales. I get that. But at least put something relating to Diesel on the cover. It is so nondescript that it borders on the mundane and wouldn’t be welcome in any music collection if it weren’t for the exceptional music contained within. Thankfully, when it comes to streaming, Apple Music has the original artwork. Let’s hope that someone at label deleted or burned the alternate 2012 artwork. If they haven’t, and if they’re reading this, do the Australian Music Industry a favour and make sure that the reissued cover never, ever, sees the light of day again.
Don’t Need Love was the first single from Johnny Diesel And The Injectors (yes, Johnny Diesel is Diesel) and Don’t Need Love is simply a killer tune. The original is brilliant, released in 1988 and achieving top 10 chart success in Australia and New Zealand, but there is something very special about this acoustic rendition that just sounds right. Even if you adore the pop/rock styling of the original, I dare say you’ll be blown away by this rendition. It’s bloody brilliant!
She Won’t Need Words is absolutely beautiful.
Everybody’s Talkin’ is a cover of the classic Fred Neil song and while it has been covered by a who’s who of the music industry, Diesel pays homage to the original, all the covers that have come before it, while also ensuring that his interpretation is original and well suited to his musical style. It’s a great song and a really good cover.
Would I Want You has a sensation country twang that I simply adore. It’s one of the best songs on the album and all I can suggest is that you turn the lights down, the volume up, and allow yourself to be consumed by this instrumental masterpiece.
Tip Of My Tongue was another top 10 hit and I swear every Aussie knows the lyrics to this song. Released originally on Diesel’s debut solo album, Hepfidelity, in 1992 it would go on to become a trademark song and one can understand why as the hook is sensational and the rhythm simply connects perfectly with the soul. As should be clear by now, most of Diesel’s music had an acoustic undertone to begin with so the shift from straight rock to an unplugged sound isn’t a fundamental shift ensuring that Tip Of My Tongue, and all the songs on Singled Out simply feel right.
One More Time is a great song, but I feel the mix is slightly off with this particular recording as Diesel’s vocal is a little concealed in the mix. There’s also a little too much audience interaction present in the mix and while it’s good to hear the fans enjoying the performance, it does impact the recording and I feel that the song would have been significantly stronger without this element. Nevertheless, it is what it is and it’s still a great song but I much prefer the original album release. There is, however, another acoustic version of the album that was issued in 1993 on Diesel’s The Lobbyist. I like that version better and if you compare it to the interpretation on Singled Out, you’ll notice the earlier acoustic recording has a much better mix.
Soul Revival is a great song and this rendition is superb; much better than the original in my opinion.
15 Feet Of Snow is an amazing song and while similar in tempo to Tip Of My Tongue, Diesel takes this acoustic rendition to another level of brilliance. I love the original studio release, but the transition to an acoustic song is remarkable as is Diesel’s vocal presentation. Absolutely amazing and thoroughly captivating.
Come Around is a great song, perhaps nothing to write home about, but great nonetheless.
All Come Together is one of my favourite Diesel songs and this unplugged edition is utterly brilliant.
Darling Of The Universe is a solid song, but if there is a B-side to be found on this release, it is Darling Of The Universe.
Come To Me is a fantastic song, but I can’t help but feel that there is a little too much ‘fancy’ guitar playing on this acoustic edition that subsequently takes away from the vocal performance. Yes, the original is multilayered, hence requiring ‘fancy’ acoustical elements, but perhaps it was simply one song that didn’t translate well to the unplugged nature of this album.
Faith And Gasoline is so good. Such a beautiful song. I love it! It’s a shame that the song closes out rather suddenly. Subsequently, I’d have to say that I prefer the original studio recording available on Hear as the ending isn’t quite as abrupt, allowing me to savour the song before the next song begins.
Cry In Shame is arguably Diesel’s most well-known song, released under the Johnny Diesel And The Injectors moniker. Of course, it’s also Diesel’s most confusing vocal for those of us who enjoy karaoke. Seriously, listen to the song and sing along, then try not to sing crying shame, but cry in shame. It’s a challenge! Nevertheless, it is absolutely brilliant and a perfect choice for the closing song on this release as it encourages me to listen to the album again and delve deeper into Diesel’s extensive catalogue.
Overall, Singled Out is one exceptional release that really showcases just how talented Diesel is when the musicality is stripped back to its bare essentials. It’s quite remarkable to reflect on just how many exceptional songs Diesel has released throughout his career and while he has recorded new music continuously since this release, there is little doubt that this compilation represents some of his very best works. It really is worthy of every music lover’s collection; just make sure you pick up a copy with the original artwork.