Music (Stereo Stories): Sarah Blasko’s Flame Trees

To read Mickey Randall’s piece on Sarah Blasko’s Flame Tress CLICK HERE

This story is published at which was launched last week. Check it out.

About Mickey Randall

The Sportswriter, Revolver, Lebowski. Met the girl when we were thirteen. Married her last year.


  1. Wonderful Micky. There is an anthemic quality to the rise and fall of the melody. Not a national anthem which is always triumphal, but a personal anthem of our memories, hopes and fears. The Sarah Blasko and choir version in the wonderful ‘Little Fish’ gave it that vulnerability that Jimmy’s defiance doesn’t totally grab.
    I remember being haunted by Flame Trees when I was going through a bad patch, and wondering at the glory and stupidity of life, and whether things could be put back together.
    Don Walker’s wistful lyrics capture a mood as much as tell a story. His latest album Hully Gully is a must have. I see that he is a Brisbane Broncos fan.
    On a day when Paul Kelly will be keenly following the fate of his Norwood Redlegs, it is good to know that rugby league has made a similar contribution to Australian culture.

  2. Thanks Peter. For me it is among Chisel’s and Blasko’s finest moments. Just as in Paul Kelly’s How To Make Gravy, there’s a majesty and aching connection in the everyday, the anonymity. I’ve always preferred stories about the little people.

    As a Glenelg supporter I’ll be barracking for Norwood in today’s bastardised SANFL grand final.

  3. I have just turned on the bastardised WAFL grand final. As a Swan Districts supporter I have no leanings. East Perth are more than half fringe Eagles, so I have a soft spot for some of the players. But I have contempt for what the AFL clubs (including my own) have done to the state comps.
    Carn Subi.

  4. Nice piece Mickey. Interesting version – I guess you have to try something different when you cover such a classic. For me , it’s pretty hard to top the Chisel version – one of the great moments of Australian music. The melody which I believe was composed by Prestwich is just beautiful (he also wrote ‘Forever Young’ and ‘When the War is Over’ – so not a bad record for a drummer who only wrote a few songs). I agree with Peter that Don Walker’s lyrics are wistful, haunting, nostalgic. I love Paul Kelly but I never understand when people say he is our greatest songwriter. Don Walker is our greatest songwriter by the length of the Nullabor Plain.

  5. *Note, that should read ‘Forever Now’ (this Dylan obsession has brainwashed me!).

  6. Mickey

    I’m sorry but I really can’t stand the Blasko version. I love a lot of the covers on “Standing on the outside” such as the Living End version of Rising Sun, but just can’t come at the Blasko cover. For me it just doesn’t work. Seems too pained and over wrought.

    I enjoyed many of the Finn covers on She/He will have her way, as the female voice adds a lot to the interprestations of many Crowded House (and some Split Enz) songs) but I find myself skipping over the Blasko one when it comes on

    Love the article but sorry to disagree


  7. Dennis Gedling says

    Football and Music now. All getting very Nick Hornby. Good stuff. When’s the Zampatti Almanac AKA Football/Soccer Almanac coming.

  8. DBalassone and Sean- Thanks for your comments. It was the first song I heard on Australian soil for well over two years, so it made a deep and emotional impact. The personal context is key. I’d always loved the original and here I was returning, fresh from London, and here was this fresh, reinvented version of a classic song. It spoke of my past but was also new and immediate.

    I had never heard Sarah Blasko before, and while she hasn’t a powerful Aretha style voice it is distinctly local. Living in the UK, we’d sometimes stream Australian radio, mostly Roy and HG, but beyond Kylie, there wasn’t much Australian music to be found on London radio like XFM. I can’t overstate the joy I felt at being home and being welcomed by Triple J. It felt like being hugged.

    I think it is probably true that we punch above our weight on the sporting arena, but not so musically. For every AC/DC there’s a dozen Powderfingers, who don’t really cut it overseas- not that this is a metric for quality. Global success can mean little, but it does mean that, at least a decade ago, we can be cut off from home if overseas.

    Prestwich had a rich if brief run of form, didn’t he? Sadly missed.

    Stuff and Nonsense by Missy Higgins is my favourite cover on She Will Have Her Way; just beautiful.

    Dennis- Although I’d be rubbish at it, I’d still love to work at “Championship Vinyl.”


  9. Dennis Gedling says

    I’m not a fan of Missy Higgins but her rendition of the Slim Dusty track ‘The Biggest Disappointment.’ on her new album of covers (ever the sign that someone is now struggling for sales) is fantastic.

  10. Dennis- yet again we see how personal and subjective music is. I listened to Missy and Dan Sultan’s cover of the Slim Dusty song and found it paint-by-numbers.

    As far as female Australian singers goes, I reckon Katy Steele (sister of Luke Steele) has a magnificent, engaging voice, but I haven’t heard boo from her in years. Little Birdy’s Hairdo is a great vocal performance.

  11. I heard Sarah Blasko sing Flame Trees at the Queenscliff Music Festival about ten years ago and, as the song began, thought, “Gee, she’s game.” By song’s end I thought, “Give me that any day over Jimmy Barnes’ singing.”
    Dennis: the Almanac goes Nick Hornby. He’s in good company!
    Mickey, looking forward to your next music story.

  12. Mickey, have a listen to Suzannah Espie, (Git, The Junes, The Cartridge Family, solo) for one of Australia’s best female singers. Well, best singers actually. Also, a young country star on the rise, Ruby Boots.


  13. Thanks Vin. I just considering which song- it’s not easy to select.

    Thanks Rick. Some good tips. And isn’t Ruby Boots a great name for a country singer?

  14. I was hoping to marry Sarah Blasko one day, so she could sing to me for the rest of my life…
    She is an exceptional singer. I’m sure she could teach the angels to sing.
    Flame Trees is one of Cold Chisel’s finest.
    Blasko doesn’t make the song her own, but that wasn’t her intention.
    She can’t do anything but sing, and it is a damn fine effort.

  15. Thanks Matt. There’s certainly a highly attractive quality to her voice. Like Beth Orton as well, both demonstrate that a voice doesn’t have to possess power and volume to work. Vulnerability and loss work too.

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