Silver Ray were an Australian instrumental group, first coming to the recognition of the public in 2001, with their debut record This Is Silver Ray. Sadly, their fame was short-lived, and although they released further records, it was clear that Australia already had their hands full with The Necks, and Dirty Three when it came to instrumental groups.
Around the same time as their penultimate third album, Silver Ray’s Cam Butler stepped out into the spotlight, deciding to go solo to produce music that wasn’t a good fit for the rest of the group.
Between 2013 and 2014, I spent a lot of time going to music stores and raiding their clearance sections. Thankfully my local JB Hi-Fi would have plenty in stock, though it depend where I would go as to the discount I would get. The Elizabeth store averaged prices of $2-5, as did the Tea Tree Plaza store. The Adelaide one had very little in stock, and the Gepps Cross one had a rather skewed idea of what a ‘clearance section’ is. The South Road store, ironically the furthest away, had the best section, with an average of $0.99 CDs. Of course, let’s not get into the fact that what I spent in petrol to get there negated the eventual savings. I’m not an economist. Well I studied it, but failed. Go figure.
One night, at about 8:30pm, I was at the South Road store, cleaning out their clearance section, when I came across Cam Butler’s Healing Feelings. His second record, I knew the name from my interest in Silver Ray. Figuring a dollar was worth the gamble, I bought the CD, and listened to it on the drive home. What I received was an ethereal experience of instrumental rock. Sure, there were no hits on this record, and it wasn’t going to get any real radio airplay (especially not seven years after the fact), but to me, it was a brilliant piece of work that deserved more recognition.
The album’s opening track, ‘This Ain’t No Easy Ride’, took me by surprise with it’s melodic attributes, and its ability to remain fresh all throughout the track. Many instrumental artists find themselves sticking to a variation on a theme, and it becomes tedious, instead choosing to save any further ideas or inspiration for further songs and albums. Not Cam Butler though, he decided to put into each song as much as he could, rewarding the listener with every play they gave the track, and accompanying album.
While the rest of Butler’s oeuvre is completely recommended by me, I can’t help but recommend ‘This Ain’t No Easy Ride’ as a perfect starting point for the uninitiated listener.