“Death we expect, but all we get is life.”

Monday 18 July 2005

Perhaps finally, after 15 years of bitter argument, Pixies fans around the world can unite in agreement about which album they hate the most.

Harold Faltermeyer must be pissed off, or relieved, or something

Friday 3 June 2005

BBC Breakfast is currently talking about a Crazy Frog going to the top of the charts with what sounds like a remix of Axel F’s old hit…
Jamstar’s reworking of Axel F’s theme to detective show Miami Vice is widely tipped to become the first mobile ringtone to top the charts.
Get mono and polyphonic ringtones by Axel F. You can choose from a selection of Axel F’s greatest songs.
Axel F’s, “Crazy Frog”
I used it to point out that Axel F’s first well known track which was the theme music to Beverly Hills…
please please tell me we are not talking the same Axel F that did the song out of the beverly hills films?

“Today I had earplugs in, and the sound was wonderful!” Eurovision wrap, part 2

Monday 23 May 2005

The rest of Eurovision 2005: click here for part one. Quotes, including the fine example above from the Belgian contestant after rehearsal, are from the performers themselves, taken from the official website. Surprisingly, Belgium didn’t make it to the final.
Serbia & Montenegro
“We have spent the last six months preparing for this. It feels great to be here. Vote for us. We are the best!”

More drums! A boy band! With six boys. Being at war with all their neighbours throughout the nineties made them take their eye off the ball when it comes to churning out identikit pop music. Two sets of drums, big ugly brown tympani which one guy is left pounding away on up the back for most of the song. The surplus boy is evidently the autistic brother of one of the band members, or else the token Montenegran. This is appalling, but I can’t help admire their thriftiness in buying one suit each and then swapping around pants and jackets to look like they have a whole wardrobe of mix’n’match.
Denmark
“Everyone can be a singer. Obviously some people are better than others, but the main thing is to enjoy it – it doesn’t really matter if you make a good sound. It helps if you have a good bathroom though.”

Scarily enthusiastic redhead chap who looks like he’s either joined one of the more disturbing cults or is about to address an Amway convention; he has what can only be described as a shit-sucking smirk plastered over his gob from start to finish. Surprisingly, we’re told he wanted to teach music in a primary school but they wouldn’t let him. The mind boggles. For his backing group he has the world’s oldest boy band dressed like El Lissitsky’s idea of what gay cowboys look like. Hey, more black and red!
Sweden
“How can you sing about a town that you’ve never been to? So I went. But I didn’t see Céline Dion.”

A man dressed like George Michael dressed like Fonzie sings a song I cannot remember but seemed to think wasn’t too bad at the time, considering, while backed by the four surviving Solid Gold Dancers who are all members of the Kill Bill Fan Club. Of course everyone was hoping they’d whip out the samurai swords and do a number on him at the end but instead they handed him a stick, which he then leaned on because he was getting a bit fagged. Or they’d forgotten to bring out the oil drum he was going to hit it with. You may have noticed I’m not saying much about the songs themselves, because by this stage I was very much the worse for drink.
FormerYugoslavRepublicofMacedonia(ExceptinMtGambierCheckLocalGuides)
“Eurovision is very big in the former Yugoslavia. There is competition among the countries but they support each other. It’s not a conspiracy, though.”

Now this I remember. Australian readers: next summer all the bogan girls will be dressed like the chicks dancing around in this one. All the cheapo shops in London are pushing this flouncy peasanty print crap for summer. The other highlight in this one was the blokes in the background, especially the one on the right. Seriously, that was Senator Bob Brown up there. And he was showing all the dynamism and vivacity as we’ve come to expect from him. The guys are dressed like two bogans at Jooce on a Friday night, and dancing like it: chambray shirts and shuffling to and fro. While guy on the left is pumping his fist in the air Senator Bob lets his hand hang limply in mid air: he does so not want to be here! Some half-arsed and apologetic zorba-ing ensues. And of course there’s a guy banging on drums, some big ugly brown tympani they stole off the autistic Montenegran backstage. Seriously, they were exactly the same drums.
Ukraine
“People in Europe who don’t know Ukrainian still enjoying the song because it has a simple rhythm and melody. People enjoy its wholesome energy.”

Mlle Fifi: This is like that song off that Beastie Boys album.
Me: Which one?
Mlle Fifi: The one that sucked.
Everyone’s been betting that Ukraine won’t try to win again because they can’t afford to host the contest two years running. They play up to the home crowd by bunging on the theme song of the Orange Revolution, complete with Attila the Stockbroker rapping over some beats and guitar. You feel slightly ashamed when you say that as nu-metal hip-hop goes it’s not bad for a bunch of Ukranians, but at least you don’t have to sit through it with an embarrassed, fixed grin like Prince William having to spend his birthday listening to the Poet Laureate attempting to freestyle. So, I’m conflicted: was it a worthy gesture combined with a cynical attempt to blow the contest, or did they really think the rest of Europe really does give slightly more than a rat’s arse about what happens in Kiev? Hey, it’s Green Jelly!
Germany
“Although I hurt myself a bit, I’ll keep on jumping around.”

Speaking of not being able to afford hosting next year, it helps to understand Germany’s entry by remembering that they’re already hosting the World Cup finals next year. Take the self-styled ‘rock chick’ from your local breed of Pop Idol, put her in a bikini, have her sing a song almost identical to 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” (which is itself almost identical to “Don’t Worry Be Happy”), then have her denote emotion through tuneless bellowing, and voila: no need to trouble yourself planning a Eurovison in your country until at least 2007!
Croatia
“He’s escaped from a mental hospital. They don’t even know that he’s here. We just keep giving him his medication.”

AAAAAAAAGGHHH RUN FOR THE HILLS, IT’S CHRIS DE BURGH!! He’s working the stage like Denis Walter on the Midday Show hoping to pull some hot granny action when they’re off-air. And because Eurovision is a fever dream from which I shall never wake, there is a mad drummer who does his own choreography: namely, at the end of the song he stands on his head. Because tonight he’s playing wingman to granny-pulling Chris De Burgh. Expect him and that Moldovan crone to be all over New Idea real soon.
Greece
“I think I’m a woman now; not a girl.”

Safe and strong, the sort of thing that steamrolls the competition at Eurovision. At least they actually hired a choreographer so they didn’t shamble around on stage at random like all the others; no Norman Gunston ‘expressive’ hand gestures here! (There were two singers who did the fingers-down-the-cheek move when they sang about crying. I forget who, but I pegging Albania and Israel.) Better still, they zorba like they mean it dammit, and they pull out two of the best Euro-batshit manoeuvres of the night: a Busby Berkeley-style aerial-view number ‘1’, and (in the best appropriation of Turkish entrants yet) the chick standing on a guy’s back while pulling some strings out of his arse and playing them like a cello. Best of all, she makes that last move look almost normal! The singer chick manages to look much hotter than she probably really is, and more or less keeps it together for the whole song, which is more than many of the acts have managed tonight. Winner: all that’s missing is the Bucks Fizz move.
Russia
“‘America’ just rhymes with ‘little Erica’, so it’s just a lyric.”

Complete with cheap wig and plastic mac with nothing underneath, one of Russia’s crackwhores is rescued from working the streets in Rotterdam and given a second chance at life. If she wins Eurovision glory for the mother country she will get back her passport and see the people-smuggler who tricked her into indentured servitude brought to justice. But there are many obstacles in her way: an inability to sing and a tuneless dirge of a song which, despite being one of the few tonight written in english by someone who actually speaks the language, consists mostly of the words “Nobody hurt no-one” droned over and over. If she can just sing a little louder maybe, just maybe she can triumph! Louder still now, and hold your hand up to your ear to make sure your wig doesn’t slip off when you tilt your head back for that high note…
Bosnia & Herzegovina
“My father owns a vineyard, and if we win my father will make a special wine for you all to enjoy when you come to Bosnia & Herzegovina next year!”

Fake Abba, mostly Waterloo (another Eurovision winner, are you starting to see a pattern here?) Everyone picks it as fake Abba. Newborn babies turn their heads towards the telly and sniff, “Hmmph, they’re doing fake Abba.” It’s so blatantly, shamelessly fake Abba soliciting your approval that no-one will want to vote for it; everyone’s just gonna bust out their old Abba records one more time. So no Bosnian plonk for you! I hate Abba. Never liked them. If you liked Abba at my school you were a girl.
Switzerland
‘Cool Vibes’ is a song about a tiger.

The canny Swiss have pulled a Fine Cotton and hired mercenary Estonians Vanilla Ninja in a naked attempt to harvest some votes from the plethora of newly-minted, busted-arse Baltic states. Vanilla Ninja are four hot-enough chicks, brave enough to wear white after last year’s snowblinding fiasco, who rock as hard as their name i.e. slightly. They’re a ‘rock’ act who doubtlessly list Redd Kross and Josie and the Pussycats as their big influences. Despite being a band none of them play drums, which on any other night would seem like a cop-out but tonight is a refreshing twist. So it’s a good thing.
Latvia
“We think some performances can be a bit ridiculous.”

Two blond kids who didn’t get the memo that white suits are so 2004. They sit up on stools strumming their little guitars like that chick in Vanilla Ninja, desperately trying to imitate those two Danish blokes who won in 2000 with their anthem to Australian beach volleyball champs Kerry Pottharst and Natalie Cook, only with added teen appeal and without the tune. Because they’re the only Baltic country left in the comp they know they have a lock on the votes from the myriad of tinpot ex-soviets strewn around their borders, so they get cocky and do a dance routine they choreographed all by themselves. Namely, they stand up and walk towards the crowd, doing Norman Gunston-style hand gestures to go with the lyrics. This is a bad idea, if only because it shows that the Latvian on the left is really, really short. Like, that singing duo from Popstars Live last year, which you probably never watched.
France
“In France, we want every country to be made to sing in its native language. It makes it more interesting. Last year, we had 24 countries in a row singing in English, and so songs in French have no chance.”

A typically French attitude, that competition results can be legislated. This is a wonderfully nutzoid idea, considering that the UK is about the only country which could legitimately enter a song sung in English and they come near-last year after year. Besides, the Latvians could come out with their hands stuck in their armpits and make fart noises for three minutes and still nearly carry it off with 12 points each from every 20-acre backwater east of the Dnieper. If you really want a fighting chance of winning Eurovision, have a civil war so you break up into lots of little countries that all vote for each other, duh!
What the French really meant to say was, “We want every country to suck as hard as we do.” Which is: hard. This was the country that last year entered a midget in a white tuxedo timidly serenading a mime on stilts. I honestly doubt you can pin the failure of that one on language. And this year we had another fiasco: sleeveless chanteuse and backup boys giving us the San Remo moves in spades. The stage is awash with flashing armpits as everyone tries to make up their own dance moves on the spot without breaking up their clusterfuck. The song is atrocious and by the end the singer is going armpit-happy and is visibly struggling. It’s not because you sing in French that no-one ever votes for you, it’s because you make a deal out of refusing to sing in anything else, and want to tell everyone else what language to sing in. And because your music sucks.
The voting
Special mention must go to the Amazing Klitschko Brothers, special celebrity guests who lit up the stage with all the flair, panache, and media savvy of a couple of footballers brought onto the set of Hey Hey It’s Saturday in the 1970s. The sight of Ruslana attempting conversation with a Klitschko by unsuccessfully reading cue-cards spelled phonetically while holding a large golden horseshoe aloft was trainwreck television to live in the memory forever.
Of course everyone votes for their neighbours unless the neighbours are French. The only high points were the Ukranian announcer going the full Sandra Sully and having to start over the voting results twice – she must have been previously employed as a Russian electoral scrutineer or a sporting official – and the observation that the women from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria etc were all ferociously blonde, while the Swedes and Danes were proudly brunette.
The best thing is seeing the performers getting really excited about it, like Cyprus honestly can’t believe they got 12 points from Greece like they do every year. It’s like they actually think it’s because they were any good. They suffer a strong lack of insight, which I expect is a prerequisite for entering this thing anyway. Can I stop now?

She Bangs the Drums: Eurovision review (part 1)

Sunday 22 May 2005

Thanks to the Eurovision drinking game I was too hung over on Sunday to write anything meaningful about the event until now. Other, more complete analyses can be found here, here, here and here. For what it’s worth, the cloudy impressions of the night from the bunker were as follows. Quotes are from the performers themselves, taken from the official website.
Hungary
“Unfortunately, musical education in Hungary isn’t as important as it should be.”

They wear black and some red: I’m predicting we’ll see lots of dark colours after last year’s Night Of The Long White Suits. Let’s see, it’s a fake Turkish sounding song, with lots of banging on drums like the winning Ukranian song last year. In the middle they zorba around for a while and try to make it look a bit like Riverdance too. Tonight’s theme will be cultural appropriation, specifically of imitating recent winners. Are we seeing the end of the Eurovision we know and love, with batshit-insane ideas coming at us left right and centre? We might be entering an era of bland homogeneity: this song is neither good nor bad, in either a good way or a bad way, and I fear we have seen the future of Eurovision.
UK
“Obviously after ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ I was gutted”

Wow, red outfits and fake Turkish gyrating: there’s thinking outside the box! Three minutes later and Laplanders huddled round their candle-powered TV are thinking “Geez, that Holly Valance thing is so over!”
Malta
“The rehearsal went alright. We tested the stage and we tested the shoes and both were fine.”

The first ballad of the night, sung by the Maltese answer to Casey Donovan; and of course the ballad means we’re in for the first Dramatic Key Change of the night. For the DKC she gets excited enough to throw her arms out and slowly wobble from side to side. My god, she has seriously scary talons! Luckily, the ballad was more of an old-school Jennifer Rush dirge than the Celine Dion psychic torture.
Romania
“I must admit that we are very disappointed.”

A bi-curious lady wearing high heels for the first time in her life totters unsteadily around the shiny glass stage-floor with her Iron Curtain boob job almost falling out of her silver bodice. She is joined by the Carpathian touring production of Stomp banging on oil drums. The song descends into a tuneless mess, not helped by the struggling singer, who spends the last minute or so with her back to the audience pretending to bang on an oil drum. It’s hard to sound convincingly passionate when you’re standing next to a guy with hubcaps strapped to his feet.
Norway
“It’s been five days since we last played a gig. Normally we do two a day. We usually have enough explosive equipment for a couple of armies which we use to blow up the stage.” If they could invite any other country to join the Eurovision Song Contest, it would be Australia. “Then AC/DC could come over.”

Sheer genius: who’d have thought Norwegians had both a dead-on grip of pop culture and a sense of the ridiculous? Every guilty-pleasure rock cliche thrown piled on top of each other, it almost makes up for David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen. The best thing to happen to Eurovision since Alf Poier pogoing around yapping about bunny rabbits and his website in 2003. Should win, but probably won’t because rock never does so well at Eurovision. Much better than The Darkness. Of course there is a DKC, and don’t you want to pump your fist in the air and shout along?
Turkey
“It’s a Turkish drum and it’s my favourite instrument. I love all forms of percussion – it’s like a heartbeat.” She and her band gave a demonstration of their drumming.

We’re told this is the third Turkish Eurovision entry written by this guy and as They Might Be Giants once sang, he’s got two songs in him. Still, let’s have them banging drums too, that’ll make ‘em stand out from the crowd! The performers are left twirling around aimlessly in traditional-looking clothes singing “Rimi Limi Ley” or something over and over again ad nauseam, and by the end it sounds like even they’re getting jack of it. Anyone willing to bet there’ll be a single fake Turkish song next year?
Moldova
“She’s now a big star in Moldova,” said Roman. So what are Grandma Boonika’s favourite memories of Eurovision? “We don’t really watch television in our village,” she said.

More chicks banging drums, dammit! Is Sheila E. a superstar in Eastern Europe and if so, has she just died? For a change, this Eurochick is about 110 years old and spends most of the song happily sitting in a rocking chair to one side of the stage, like Yoko Ono on Top of the Pops. Given all the drumming going on tonight it’s a bit of a disappointment that she actually stands up at the end and pretends to start banging while looking very pleased with herself, like those Bulgarian singers in the 1980s around the time their fifteen minutes were up. Everyone agrees the band looks like the Red Hot Chili Peppers after a night of exquisitely expensive drugs, and for novelty value they will rob votes from Norway’s righteous rock cheese gods, but they will forever be referred to as That Band With The Granny.
Albania
“We thought it was important to sing in English because we want people to understand it.”

More @&*#$ drumming! At least it’s a bloke this time: he hops around in cricles tapping his drum, then every now and then he puts it down, jumps in the air, stops to catch his breath for a bit then picks up the drum and starts over. That’s his big dance routine. Is there a Eurovision rule that everyone has to do their own choreography? Everyone zorbas around unconvincingly for a bit in the middle, then goes back to waving their fake violins. This is the first song of the night to use scarves, which worked so well for Turkey in 2003. Here, they do not. Stretching out and spinning multicoloured scarves around the stage is impressive; wrapping yourself up in one at the end is not.
Cyprus
“I’m sure we’ll surprise a few people.”

First Ricky Martin wannabe of the night. And the first white outfits of the night. At first you think you’re safe, until you notice some oil drums sitting up the back of the set. But you reassure yourself it’s OK because there’s nothing they can hit them with. Then they produce these big white stick things from nowhere and suddenly it’s clobbering time again! No wonder this sounds like “She Bangs” run through Babelfish. And they fake-zorba for a while, just to add an extra layer of varnish to this turd. At least Eurovision can still present wildly uncoordinated backing dancers.
Spain
Son de Sol are three sisters: Lola, Espe and Sole. They think that Lola is the most responsible one.

Three mad chicks from a TV spinoff of an Almodovar movie gyrate around singing their bosoms out. This unshakeably reminds me of the Globos and I keep expecting to see Bob Downe prance onstage shaking maracas. Or banging a drum. Instead their bouncer ambles up and grunts a few lines, then wanders around cluelessly for the rest of the song. It was all OK but not enough oomph to go off the way it should have. The best I can say is that despite wearing sleeveless dresses there was no San Remo moment.
Israel
“I have to admit, I am impressed with the professional behaviour of the director and the crew because they were really straight.”

This is the traditional boring-as-shit song they stick somewhere in the middle so you can go stock up on more booze. Apparently she was the runner up on last year’s Jewish Pop Idol, so no surprise it’s underwhelming. I’ll go out on a limb and guess there was a DKC.
I need another drink…

Le Royaume-Uni: Nul Points

Monday 16 May 2005

One of the things I was looking forward to on the plane to London was that I could finally watch the Eurovision Song Contest the way God intended it: with Terry Wogan snarking over the top and futilely barracking for the UK. More to the point, the show would not be nearly ruined by some idiot at SBS interrupting with lame jokes, fake wogs and drag queens in some ill-starred attempt to add “local content”. It was all more or less worth passing up the chance to hear the MSO play Feldman’s Coptic Light.
Now I hear from The Supermercado Project that SBS has (once again) repented for its affront to European culture and is showing the BBC broadcast straight! I go halfway round the world to avoid that idiot they had blabbing over the top of everything last time – all for nothing!
The Eurovision forum on SBS’s website is mostly taken up with discussion about the TV feed*, with the majority expressing relief that no-one from SBS will be involved.
Supermercado has excellent wraps of the superb 2003 event, and the decidedly average 2004 contest. Let’s hope this year is another corker of international atrociousness.
At short notice I’ve pulled a few people together into the Bunker for Saturday night’s Eurovision Drinking Game:

Phase One: The Performances

The Key Change. Whenever the singers dramatically change key during the final chorus. Additional drink for every successive key change in the same song.
The Buck’s Fizz. Whenever a performer sheds a piece of clothing. Finish your drink if the clothing loss is obviously unintentional.
Is That English? Whenever someone notices that the singers have switched from their native language into English in an attempt to win more votes. Two drinks if they try to dodge the language issue by *intentionally* singing gibberish.
The San Remo. Any occurence of visible armpits and/or pointing.
The Fine Cotton. Any appearance by mercenary singers flown in to represent a foreign country. Two drinks if they’re Irish.
The Tatu. Finish your drink if the audience boos (on telly, not in the living room.)
Don’t Mention The War. Each time the German entrant sings something about everyone being happy.
Phase Two: The Voting
The Wardrobe Change. If the female host is wearing a different frock after the songs have finished. Two drinks if the male host has changed his suit.
The Hurry-Up. Every time the hosts have to talk over the announcer from each voting country to ask “Can we have your votes please?” (i.e. shut the fuck up already). Finish your drink if the announcer tries to deliver a personal message to a relative watching at home in Murmansk.
The Gimme. When Greece gives twelve points to Cyprus.
The Old Europe. When the UK gets null points from France.
The New Europe. When the Baltic states all vote for each other.
The Sympathy Vote. When anything sung in French gets a point and/or the last country without any points finally gets off the mark. A special toast to any country left with zero points at the end.
The Sandra Sully. Each time an announcer fucks up the voting results. Finish your drink if they get so confused they have to start over.
The Master of Suspense. Any time an announcer realises that the pause for suspense only works if they announce the twelve points and then the country that has won them, not the other way around. (This may not happen.)
The “Viktor, You Very Unattractive Fellow.” Two drinks if the hosts speak in rhyme and/or pretend to flirt with each other. Finish your drink if the flirting is serious.
The wildcards
The first person who asks why Israel is in it, or why Italy isn’t, finishes their drink.
A toast to the first person who expresses dismay when they realise how long the voting is going to take.
A toast to the person who gets so drunk you have to secretly call a cab and persuade them they ordered it when it arrives.
* UPDATE: SBS has taken the forum down, even though there’s still a link to it on their Eurovision page. They still have last year’s forum, which is almost entirely filled with dozens of posts protesting against SBS adding their own useless talent, amongst hundreds of posts by bickering Greeks and Macedonians. Guys, it’s a web page, not a soccer match.

“If you went to the Pixies this year, you are the enemy.” Oh, and Nick Hornby’s a cunt.

Friday 1 April 2005

Above quote from Jane Dark’s Sugarhigh discussing the latest plague of reunion tours, found while digging up her thoughtful disquisiton on Nick Horby’s oeuvre linked to in the previous post:
Okay, I think we can all agree that Mr. Hornby is rather hopeless at talking about an art form with which he couldn’t keep pace, even as it toddled ahead in a rather leisurely fashion. But Hornby’s books have also always sucked (and this is no new news. Here’s a passage from a review of his second novel: “Hornby invokes the two great streams of middle-class sentimentality: the Afterschool Special and The New Yorker story.”) Moreover, they have always sucked in exactly the same way: wan, dudely homogeneity, almost fatally low on elan vital, hybrid vigor, cultural difference, self-recognition, immediacy and intensity, but high on stunted aggression, a blindered sense of superiority and convenient, flattering identification.
The books no less than the music writing race toward the endgame of the lost, melanc- and alco-holic boor, the ugly white guy whom culture has passed by, but who still manages to feel smug and lash out at everyone who fails to replicate his values. The sentiment is awful; the prose is no better than in his music writing. I’d propose that if the Hornby-bashers recognized the stakes of fiction to be as high as those of music, they wouldn’t forgive the books quite so easily.

The Heat of the Moment is All that You Need

Thursday 31 March 2005

I have a record player in working order. As a consequence, friends unload their old, unwanted vinyl onto me – in copious quantitites – assuaging their guilt over chucking their once-beloved Bros LP on the pretence that it is now going to ‘a good home’. I’m too soft a touch to say no to them, so it all gets shelved away regardless of quality.
It is a poorly-kept secret that nerdboys like me typically regard their record collections as extensions of their (for want of a better word) personality, and just as men are conditioned to repress their emotions, so do they conceal or expunge records which they deem unflattering or embarrassing. Sorry if all this has been said before in High Fidelity or something, a book-movie tie-in from which I have been spared thus far, and to which I do not wish to expose myself on the grounds that Nick Hornby is – and I’m drifting off my intended topic here so I’ll boil things down a bit – a cunt.
Years of making myself an empty vessel into which the musical tastes of others may be poured has enabled me to disassociate from the more dubious platters on display: ex-girlfriend’s Cat Stevens albums? Mine! Somebody’s housemate’s friend’s Shelleyan Orphan debut? Welcome aboard! Dire Straits? Actually, they’re mine but my dad nicked the ‘good’ ones, which shdv’e wised me up earlier. The collection is now large enough to have reached critical mass, which means that a copy of Rumours spontaneously appears one day without explanation.
The little gem of this motley assortment of orphans is a 7-inch single my friend Kaz found in a Bendigo op-shop.

There’s no record company named on the record label, or even a copyright notice anywhere on the record or sleeve. The back cover, however, has a small notice in the corner saying it was manufactured and distrubuted by EMI. The catalogue number, JD 2602, suggests Julie Dawn put out the record herself, and that it’s not her first. It was recorded in Canberra in 1990, after CDs had begun their inexorable takeover of the pop market.
It’s a double-A side single, where you can hear your choice of Julie Dawn’s tentative, wonky voice singing her self-penned anthem in either English or poorly-enunciated German. The German translation is literal, with no attempt to rhyme or scan, and seems to be unidiomatic (does “die Welt am deine Füße” really mean the same as “the world at your feet” in German?) The sleeve notes give special thanks to the Austrian Club of Canberra, so you’d think they’d know their German.
All my efforts to find out anything at all about Julie Dawn and her record have drawn a blank. I did find something about Peter Coleman and Marcus Holden, who produced and played on this record, on a website about Canberran musicians. Here’s a pic of them on the left, playing in their band The Slick Neatos back in 1978.

I’ve become obsessed with this little record, playing it over and over. It poses so many questions to me. Who are these people? Where are they now? Why does this record exist? Was it cashing in on a large Austrian community in Canberra? Why was someone in Canberra inspired to make a record about Austria? What is an Austrian Flame? According to Google it’s either a lamp, a type of wood finish or a Warcraft clan. Is the photo of Julie Dawn on the cover superimposed on the background, or was she photographed in front of one of those wallpaper murals you used to see in dentists’ waiting rooms*?
As a special service, for one week only at the Boring Like A Drill Hit Parade, you can hear for yourself this magnificent tune in your choice of language.
(MP3 files, 2.9 MB each)
* Closer inspection suggests it’s the former, unless she’s resting her arms on thin air or she’s 800 metres tall. One step closer to enlightenment.

Small Man Syndrome

Monday 28 February 2005

Jesus, if it’s not Peter Phelps it’s Johnny Farnham thrashing about in his tiny, inflatable wading pool of insular celebrity in the misbegotten belief that you can endear yourself to the world by acting like an egomaniacal tool.
A week ago the prime minister of New Zealand suggested that an ageing pop singer warbling “Sadie the Cleaning Lady” (or even “Pressure Down”) might not be the most appropriate way to commemorate the slaughter of ANZACs at Gallipoli this year. Not only did Johnny F. take it personally, but he’s still whingeing about it:

I won’t say she is a real dog. I wouldn’t say that about my mother-in-law … and she is.

Charming bloke; fragile sense of self-worth. I suppose we shd be grateful he didn’t call her a dopey, hairy-backed sheila. Or at least grateful if we weren’t at his gig on the weekend, judging by the playlist (posted after the article above). “Hold On I’m Coming”? “It’s A Long Way To The Top”? Brrrr!
Now to show how topical and up-to-date I am here’s a photie of Michael Moore or somebody from last year’s Oscar ceremony.

My apologies to anyone who may have read the title and was worried I was going to post something about the Fred Durst sex tape.

Got it live if ya want it! Hello? Hello?

Wednesday 23 February 2005

Experimental + interstate music: With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, it often takes religion presents…
Ewe bleats harshly after lamb / Grows the seed and blows the mead
Thusday [sic] 24th Feb 8pm – 12am
impromptu lons – hi god people – barrage – meatwave – scraps – grey skulls -night crash – das butcher – rory brown / dennis rappoport – old timey dj -an unknown film – plus guests from queensland
Sweatshop Warehouse, 140 Barkly St (off Sydney Rd.) Brunswick
(near the Brotherhood of St Lawrence)
Donation for entry (money please)
This is in Melbourne, don’t go to your nearest Brunswick expecting to find it if you are in another city. I don’t write this stuff myself, it’s all dictated by higher beings.
I’m plugging this because I’m playing that night as a “guest” (even though I’m not from Queensland – brr!). Expect to find me lurking in the background messing with some bits of balky electronic gear with one hand, nursing a beer with the other and clumsily propositioning girls.

Excuse me, is this the queue to kick the corpse of rock and roll one more time?

Tuesday 22 February 2005

It must be dead because an ageing manchild complains that even air guitar isn’t as cool as it once was, even in that stanky pen of rockpigdom, Hawthorn:
One conclusion was inescapable: the imaginary guitar is in grave danger of vanishing into thin air. As I see it, it’s part of a long and insidious plot to take rock’s power out of the hands of the common man and woman and towards the whims of corporatised music fashion. My own story is perhaps typical…
Next week: a scorching exposé of how they’ve changed the formula of Fanta. It’s so sickly sweet these days, what they hell were they thinking?

News that would be truly astonishing in an alternate universe

Thursday 17 February 2005

But as Australians often find when they travel, some Aussie icons – like Vegemite, the Iced VoVo and the battered sav – don’t hold the same sentimental attraction outside these borders. Now it turns out that the fame of John Farnham, also known as “The Voice”, hasn’t even reached as far as Wellington.

Incidentally, if you google for “Helen Clark” and “John Farnham” you get results that are more informative than the New Zealand prime minister’s jaw-dropping revelation that she’s never heard of Australia’s richest leagues club singer:
… Among the 1000 or so guests was New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark.”. … saw an ad for the “Greatest One Hit Wonders” that featured John Farnham’s “You’re the …
… SOUNDSCAPE PJ Harvey, John Farnham … It must only be a matter of time before Helen Clark and Paul Swain make it compulsory for the Government to install hidden …
… hairy dwarf from The Lord of the Rings), New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark (ditto the … I don’t want to sound like a snob but John Farnham’s Your the Voice? …
… DELTA Goodrem has done it again, surpassing John Farnham’s record for the longest …NEW Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was frisked for explosives by security …
… Prime Minister Helen Clark says cannabis … John Farnham’s record label is giving thes11.org web site until 5pm Thursday the 24th of August to remove a …
… Most Spectacular Musical Event Described by Prime Minister Helen Clark as an … In-Earmonitoring engineer) and John Henderson (John Farnham’s monitor engineer …
… of red last night didn’t help and being dragged to a John Farnham concert neither. …Does Helen Clark have furry toes to go with her pointy ears and bad teeth? …
… Yeni Zelanda Başbakanı Helen Clark, ulusal radyo kanalına yaptığı açıklamada …Kidman’dan sonra listede şarkıcı John Farnham, AC/DC grubunun eski …
UPDATE: Best Prime Ministerial Press Statement Ever. NZ Government spokesman Ian Kennedy said “I’m authorised to say New Zealand’s Prime Minister has never heard of Johnny Farnham”.

Filler by Proxy XI: Your Band Sucks

Thursday 17 February 2005

Dr David Thorpe at Something Awful does a beautiful job describing the joy I find in listening to crap music.
As far as I’m concerned, claiming to like a song ironically is a cop-out. Whether you’re spinning “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect with the intent to smile wryly or with the intent to actually zoom-a-zoom-zoom and a boom boom, it matters not; you’re still spinning “Rump Shaker.”

Amen to that, and exactly why I’m listening to “The Al Wood Orchestra plays the Hits of Rod Stewart” while typing this and grinning like an idiot. You can’t like something ironically any more than like it sarcastically.

Also, this succicntly explains my irony-free, ever-expanding collection of crappy old LPs:
Why is it that a snob like me will joyfully listen to crap from the past while violently eschewing crap from the present? Let’s put it this way: the war against shit like Maroon 5 is still claiming lives. However, the war against Bobby Brown was won over a decade ago… in ten or fifteen years, the songs you hate today will probably be hilarious instead of annoying.
You’ll be driving your kid to school in your hoverbubble with the radio tuned to “00’s Retro Breakfast,” and a smile will creep across your face as Hoobastank’s “The Reason” comes up. “I remember this song,” you’ll tell your pasty and unpopular son. “This song used to be crap!” And you’ll love every minute of it.

Filler by Proxy X: The Ten Greatest Songs To Listen To While Making Sweet Love If You’re A Premature Ejaculator

Thursday 10 February 2005

This invaluable public service provided courtesy of TMFTML. To which I would add The Smiths’ “William, It Was Really Nothing”, Black Flag’s “Fix Me”, and Yoko Ono’s “Toilet Piece/Unknown”. Please note that, like Pele in his TV ads for Viagra, I used the word “would” in the previous sentence.

Nightmares in demography

Wednesday 9 February 2005

Having gone off on that brief frolic about Sorabji the other day, and while thinking about middle-aged guys fretting in public about who listens to classical music, I remembered a recent review by David Hurwitz at Classics Today about a CD of music by Havergal Brian. Brian was a self-taught composer from a working-class background who was never fully recognised by his peers, let alone an audience, during his lifetime but has since attracted a small but (overly?) enthusiastic following. It was some of these fans Hurwitz encountered when queuing at the cash register fifteen years ago, waiting to buy the first CD release of Brian’s monumental “Gothic” Symphony:
Standing in line before me was the New York chapter of the Havergal Brian Society. There were about 10 of them, average age about 70, men with bald scalps and lanky shoulder-length white hair hanging limply in the latest Benjamin Franklin style. All wore thick glasses, and a few had conditions that I thought had been cured by the turn of the last century: goiters, a harelip or two, and various poxes and skin diseases. None had credit cards, or a majority of their teeth, but most had, to put in kindly, olfactorily obvious personal hygiene issues.

He left the shop and bought it by mail-order. If you’re interested, you can get it for about 18 bucks at JB or “you can order on line and never be seen with it in public.”

Trailer: Who Killed Classical Music Again?

Sunday 6 February 2005

Coming up this week. BLAD dives willy-nilly into the issue exercising minds all over western civilisation: the fate of classical music. A genre which has died almost as many deaths over the last five hundred years as hip-hop has in the last five. There will be tears, recriminations, baseless pontificating, and a sigh of relief.
To tide you over, Kyle Gann plays coroner…
Nobody here had anything to do with classical music getting waxed. It was a suicide… Tried to starve itself to death. A tiny, self-imposed diet of the same German and Russian food over and over. Cholesterol in the high 600s. Didn’t want to grow. Refused to eat anything new. Kept trying to pretend the 20th century never happened. Severe personality disorder. It never established any roots here anyway — still obsessed with the old country, and acted so hoity-toity to cover up its insecurity. Suicide was the only way it could save face.