Holy Grail by Hunters & Collectors

Melbourne’s Hunters & Collectors started as an arty new-wave band, but ‘Holy Grail’, released in 1992, is slice of Australian pub rock. There’s plenty to critique; it’s based around the straightforward I – IV – VI – V chord progression, most famously utilised by Boston’s ‘More Than A Feeling’, while Mark Seymour’s lyrics are often a series of unrelated cliches strung together (“We were full of beans/But we were dying like flies”).

But it’s the details in the arrangement that make ‘Holy Grail’ work. The rhythm guitar part livens up the familiar chord sequence, the keyboard part adds a memorable motif, and the horns add body. As well as a horn section, the band’s official membership also includes their live sound engineer.

While it’s been co-opted as an Australian football anthem, the song’s lyrics are actually about Napoleon’s failed conquest of Russia in 1812, paralleling the band’s unsuccessful attempts to find success in America.

Holy Grail Lyrics

Woke up this morning, 
from the strangest dream 
I was in the biggest army, 
The world has ever seen 
We were marching as one, 
on the road to the Holy Grail

Started out, 
Seeking fortune and glory 
It’s a short song, but it’s a 
Hell of a story, when you 
Spend your lifetime trying to get 
Your hands on the Holy Grail

Bud have you heard of the Great Crusade? 
We ran into millions, and nobody got paid 
Yeah, we razed four corners of the globe, 
For the Holy Grail.

All the locals scattered, 
They were hiding in the snow 
We were so far from home, 
So how were we to know, 
There’d be nothing left to plunder 
When we stumbled on the Holy Grail?

We were foolish beings 
But we were dying like flies 
And those big black birds, 
they were circling in the sky, 
And you know what they say, yeah, 
Nobody deserves to die.

Oh I, 
I’ve been searching for an easy way 
to escape the cold light of day 
I’ve been high, and I’ve been low 
But I’ve got nowhere else to go 
There’s nowhere else to go

I followed orders 
God knows where I’d be 
But I woke up alone, 
all my wounds were clean 
I’m still here 
I’m still a fool for the Holy Grail 
Oh yeah, 
I’m a fool for the Holy Grail


Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


Leave a Reply

More from Aphoristic Album Reviews

Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

Yes Album Reviews

With their dazzling instrumental chops, lengthy songs, and lush harmonies, Yes perhaps defined 1970s progressive rock better than any other band, despite illustrious competitors like King Crimson and Genesis. At their peak, Jon Anderson’s high pitched vocals delivered unintelligible pseudo-religious lyrics, while Chris Squire’s rumbling bass and harmony vocals anchored the […]
The Stone Roses Album Reviews

The Stone Roses were formed in Manchester in 1983, around singer Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire. Drummer and backing vocalist Reni (Alan Wren) signed up in 1984, while Mani (Gary Mounfield) joined in 1987 on bass. Despite a scant discography, the band are loved. Their 1989 debut album was […]
The Front Lawn Album Reviews

Growing up in Auckland’s North Shore, Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair wished to defer their careers when they returned from their Overseas Experiences. McGlashan had already drummed for the Auckland post-punk trio, Blam Blam Blam, penning the music for ‘There Is No Depression In New Zealand’. Sinclair’s background is in […]
Matthew Sweet Album Reviews

1990s power-pop star Matthew Sweet was born in Nebraska – also the home of Josh Rouse, Conor Oberst, Randy Meisner, and JoJo Siwa. After finishing school he moved south to Athens, Georgia, to attend college and join the alt-rock scene. Athens had already spawned notable alt-rock bands The B-52s and […]
Talk Talk Spirit of Eden
Best Album by Year

Recently, a reader suggested that I list my favourite albums by year. So here you are – I’ve mostly only listed albums I’ve already reviewed on this site. I don’t know some years very well – I’m dubious about including veteran artists in a couple of 1990s slots, and I […]
The Raincoats Album Reviews

Introduction The punk and new wave movements lowered the barriers to entry to a musical career, promising a more egalitarian future. Yet with the occasional exception, like Debbie Harry, The Go-Gos, and Tina Weymouth, guitar-based music remained a largely male domain in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Raincoats […]

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections:

Tom Waits Heart of Saturday Night
10 Best Tom Waits Songs

California’s Tom Waits is effectively the patron saint of this website. My Waits album ranking was the first post from this site to become popular, and it’s still one of its most-visited posts. With recently accounted reissues of Waits’ peak albums, it feels like a good time to make a […]
The 1975: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

The members of The 1975 met at Wilmslow High School in their teens, playing at gigs organised by a local council worker. They started as a punk band, with Matt Healy, the son of two prominent actors, on drums. With the addition of George Daniel, Healy moved to lead vocals, […]
10 Best Talking Heads Songs

Talking Heads emerged from the mid-1970s CBGB scene, along with Blondie, The Ramones, and Television. Neurotic frontman David Byrne formed the band with drummer Chris Frantz. When the new band was unable to find a bass player, Frantz’s girlfriend Tina Weymouth learned to play by listening to Suzi Quatro records. […]
10 Best Echo & the Bunnymen Songs

Liverpool’s second-most famous band, Echo & the Bunnymen arrived in the post-punk era; they released their debut single in 1979. Their early career mirrors U2‘s – both released their first four albums between 1980 and 1984. Both were enjoying mainstream success in the UK by 1984 – Echo & the […]
Transatlantic: Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

The progressive rock supergroup Transatlantic played the last concert of their Absolute Universe tour in July 2022. The group have hinted that it might be their final tour, so it’s possible that their studio catalogue might remain as the five albums they’ve recorded between 2000 and 2021. It was such […]
10 Best Joni Mitchell Songs after 1980

Joni Mitchell peaked in the 1970s with a terrific sequence of albums, particularly from 1971’s Blue to 1976’s Hejira. But she also released six studio albums in the 1980s and 1990s. None of these compositions would force their way into my favourite 10 Joni Mitchell songs; her songs are longer […]
%d bloggers like this: