Wednesday, July 21, 2010

#205: Something Stupid (The Incest Song)

Promises had a career that lasted slightly less than The Knack, but, unlike The Knack, all of Promises are still alive and their music just isn’t as fondly remembered. You can all sing My Sharona, even if you don’t want to, but you’d be hard pressed to sing Baby It’s You. But at least The Knack wrote their own songs, each time someone hears Isn’t It Time by the Babys and thinks of a girl with huge norks, John Waite dies just a little bit more. But then each time someone hears Hungry Eyes and thinks of John Waite, Eric Carmen throws another dart into the wall and vice versa for Missing You.

It all comes around.

Promises exploded onto the television in the ‘70s via a great video clip that showcased the band. The lead singer/keyboard player, Benny, wore what appeared to be black leather hillbilly overalls, which he then gave to Willem Defoe – don’t believe me? You’ve never seen Streets of Fire? For shame! The guitarist, Bjorn – sorry, Jed (no, I’m not making that name up), well, he could have been Jimmy Page for anyone cared, because the attention was firmly focused on singer Leslie Knauer as she wore tight blue jeans, a tight, tucked in white shirt and braces. And if you ever watched Donnie ‘Bags Under The Eyes I’m Stoned’ Sutherland and Night Moves, you’d know that she had, in the words of the immortal Claude The Crow, an ‘impressive set of lungs’*. And indeed she did. So impressive that her braces started at the top of her shirt and ran down the sides, in a move that guaranteed that many an adolescent youth made a sticky mess of the sheets. Even Molly Meldrum appeared to be all a-bars when he played the clip, but that might have been the rough trade appeal of Benny more than Leslie’s assets. “What’s A Girl To Do” Leslie sang on the b-side of their only hit. A rhetorical question at best as several hundreds of thousands of males, and some females, had several suggestions.

But what interested me the most was that band was related. Not related like hillbilly or Tasmania related, but brothers and sister. Which made the song just a bit too creepy for words really. Why? Have a look at these lyrics, which are probably wrong in places, but hell, who cares?

(BENNY) You’re here with me now what you say you don’t want me anymore
You’re holding me now what you say you can’t see me no, no more
You whisper divine and cling tight onto me
I can’t take no more
Oh no
(LESLIE) Baby it’s you
Make me feel the way that I do
You know I can’t ever forget or stop you
Baby it’s you,
(BENNY) Running your fingers through my hair but saying you can no more
You kiss in my ear with a heart chilling breath that you can no more
Laying beside me with legs all around me
I can no more
Oh no
(LESLIE) Baby it’s you
Makes me do all the things that I do
You know I can’t ever get to stop you
Baby it’s you
Etc etc etc etc

‘Laying beside me with legs all around me’? I don’t know about you, but if I found my sister laying beside me with legs all around me I’d shoot myself, unless she was Elle McPherson, circa 1988 and I was adopted. Even with Leslie’s massive attributes I’d be more than slightly weirded out by that, and you have to wonder if the brothers didn’t spend a bit of their youth catching glimpses of their sister in her not so smalls. Not since Frank Sinatra sang a love song duet with his daughter Nancy has there ever been such a blatant song of incest. Even towards the end of the song, during the fade out, just when you think it can’t possibly get worse, it does. Have a listen and you’ll hear Benny plaintively wail, “Never forget you”. Brrrrrrr. This is a guy, singing a passionate love/lust song to his sister, and vice versa. They may have looked hillbilly, sounded hillbilly, but they were Canadian. Yes, the home of Bryan Adams, Terence & Phillip, Godzilla’s back and Scott the dick, spawned Promises.

That explains a bit. Actually it explains a lot.

Baby It’s You was huge in Australia, mainly due to Leslie’s huge, soft focused knockers bouncing up and down on the idiot box – we saw as much of those as we did Kiss in 1979 singing I Was Made For Loving You and Sure Know Something, and on radio it was just as prominent as say Girl’s Talk or The Devil Went Down To Georgia. Sadly that was about it for them. They were big in Germany, but then so was Attila the Hun, people piddling on each other after sex and Hitler, so I’d not use that as a barometer of success. But success they had – they were big in New Zealand – but so were Soul Factory but nobody has ever heard of them and they’ve dropped off the face of the earth completely it would appear. And they were big in South Africa, but so was apartheid, oppression and the wholesale slaughter of people.

Three albums!! Promises released three albums before they self-destructed in a move that Buddy Holly would have loved. As we all know, the single that Buddy had in the charts when he died was titled, “It Don’t Matter Anymore” and the last single by Promises was titled, “Let's Get Back Together”. “Let’s not and say we did,” the world yelled and that was that for them.

Since then the rumours have been rife. Leslie went into porn. You wish. Leslie was decapitated, no, that was Jayne Mansfield, a few years earlier, same sized tits but different head. Leslie married Benny. Possible…but what we do know is that Leslie went on to sing with one of those 1980s big teased hair, lingerie and leather wearing soft rock bands that can now be directly linked to global warming and the hole in the ozone layer. Once that died she formed a band called Kanary. Get it? Knauer. Kanary. Oh, the wit!! Anyway, they’re gone now and as they didn’t reform for the Countdown shows, unlike Patrick Hernadez, I doubt we’ll ever be bothered by them again. Thankfully.

But we still have that vision of Leslie bouncing around in the one place and stroking that microphone in such a suggestive manner that….back in a second.

*Claude’s actual comment. Oddly enough that wasn’t his best moment, that came when he told one of the Eagles that he was a boring old arsehole, only to get into an on-air verbal fight, culminating in said Eagle abusing Claude and telling him that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Claude’s famous retort, as heard live on air at just past 1am(ish) – “How smart are you fuckhead, you’ve just spent ten minutes abusing a hand puppet.” God we loved Claude The Crow. If he wasn’t abusing Eagles he was throwing used band-aids and viewers toe-nails into Shirl The Curl’s hair.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

#204: The Rise And Fall Of Fingle Bunt

Give the man his due, he may indeed be a fat, loudmouthed borderline bigot who specialises in calling little old ladies names these days, but back in the day he was trim and lean, and now you can understand why.

These rare documents are actual running sheets for two 1964 ‘Variety Shows’, one of which was hosted by Fat Francis. I love the first one posted, they got away with playing Yakkety Sax early on in the show, hopefully that resulted in a pile of people chasing buxom girls about the place and slapping any bald headed little old man rather vigorously on the head. Probably a good idea to get that crap out of the way early. No names on the running sheet leap out at me as being of any importance, but that’s what happens. You could easily grab any form of a concert sheet or gig guide from any point in time and sit there going, “Who the fuck was Brenton Roberts?” We can’t all be Exploding White Mice.

The second sheet is incredible. A 1964 5AD ‘Variety Show’, this one would have had Chubby Daks running around like the proverbial blue arsed insect. Starting at 7:50pm this show took in an amazing twenty six plus acts before Bob told everyone to put down and piss off into the night air. Some classic Adelaide acts are represented there, the Penny Rockets, the Mark Men, The Viscounts, the Clefs, the Del Airs, Chess Men, Tony Worsley, the Blue Jays and many more, hell, even the University Jazz Group, at that stage, would have had Mr South Australia himself on drums. No Yakkety Sax though, but you did get one of those God-Awful Shadows instrumentals. Someone should have broken Hank Marvin’s hands.

You can see towards the end of the night they were cutting songs out of the act left, right and centre. It must have been horrid to see your act go from three songs down to one, at best, and perhaps just down to standing on the stage singing God Save The Queen as a pack of bodgies went out beating on the widgies and skinheads. Still, there’d be worse ways to earn two shillings and eight pence.

I sometimes wonder if Fat realises that the same people he’s now making a living out of abusing were probably the same people that came to his gigs? I’d still love to interview him though, but his memory is probably shot to Swiss Cheese by now.

Twenty six acts? Amazing. These days that qualifies for official ‘Big Day Out’ status, with or without Metallica. Still, if I were on that bill I’d be tempted to come out and sing “Hellhound On My Trail,” “Ever Loving Man” or “You Need Love” just to gauge the reaction. What I also love about these sheets and the flyer for an earlier, 1963 gig, also hosted by Guts Almighty, is the fact that each show features the same acts, endlessly. Hell, I think the Penny Rockets are still gigging about the place, although they might get more than a pound per show. What it did mean is that if you had a liking for a certain band, or thought that your girlfriend was giving the bassist of The Clefs blowjobs, then you’d be easily able to catch up with them and cheer them on, or land a bottle to the side of the head, whatever your pleasure was.

I am impressed that such documents still exist these days, and I have to keep digging through the little archive that I’ve got going and post some more crap one of these days. Oh, and Peter Millen, drop me a line matey, and I’ll get some good scans and/or photocopies to you.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

#203: Rattle My Zulu

I love the Greasy Pop label, always have, always will. My main regret is that the bulk of it just isn’t out there on CD yet, let alone digital, so my iPod is bereft of those wondrous sounds of Adelaide. And, frankly, that’s what Greasy Pop was, and still is – the sound of Adelaide, past, present and future.

To be sure there are some Greasy Pop releases out there – most notable amongst them being the Dago’s Pizza Box, but my copy of that got nicked a few years back, so a trip down to Big Star might be in order. I had a pile of singles and E.P.s here at one stage, but, again, they went ‘missing’. I’m not looking at anyone, but I don’t speak to one of my ex girlfriends, and she has an incredible record collection. Work that one out. I was happy, this weekend, to find the Burnside Ballroom flexi disc in a collection of singles that included some Johnny O’Keefe and Charlie Ventura Quartet. That’s right, amongst the She’s My Baby and Basin Street Blues lurked a little plastic flexi single with the Screaming Believers and the Dagos. Brilliant! It’s the first salvo in a long, protracted battle that will only end when I say I’ve had enough.

Now Doug Thomas will pipe up and say, “So bloody what? I’ve got twenty of those bastards left.” Good one ya Doug. Love the guy. He never did any wrong by me, indeed he was always friendly, happy to offer advice and always good to have a band pop by for a gig and a chat. If anyone had problems with him I’ve always suspected that they’d have problems with anyone really.

I’m lucky, in a way, as one of my close pals is slowly, but surely putting all of his Greasy Pop material onto CDs which he then sends to the band members, Doug Thomas and a few other interested, and like-minded, people. I have three so far and can’t wait to visit him again and see what the next lot will consist of. He’s not selling them, neither am I, so don’t bother asking, but it was good to take a long drive and introduce the other half to the joyfull sounds of Liz Dealy and the Twenty Second Sect, The Primevils, the Acid Drops and the Screaming Believers for her fist time. That and the war stories that the music brought to the fore. And frankly I’m glad that the music, in this case, is still as vibrant and healthy as I remember it. Too often you have a sound in your head, but the reality falls somewhat short, in this case the opposite is the case, the sounds in my head are nowhere near as clear, powerful and bright as the reality.

Now to find someone prepared to track some F.A.B. Colour me silly, but Happy People is one of the finest slabs of pure power pop to ever emerge from Adelaide, and yes, I’ve already done a digital transfer of my old single, scratches and all, and it’s on high rotation on the iPod, as it should be.

Bring back Greasy Pop, hell, bring back ALL of that lost Adelaide ‘80s and ‘90s music.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

#202: Ebony And Ivory

Oh Honey, Will You Lub Dis Coon? By Lindsay Lennox

I’se waiting neaf your winder just to tell you
Honey dear
Dat for lub ob you my
Honey, Oh my heart full ob fear
But now de moon am shin-nin’ and dere’s no one nigh to hear
Oh Honey, will you lub dis coon?
Oh my heart has felt like breakin’
When I’ve seen your smile so sweet
Tho’ you neber once hab smiled on me but on dat nigger Pete
Still I hopefully now come to lay my heart dear at your feet
O Honey, will you lub dis coon?
O Honey Honey, tell me or my heart break soon
O Honey, Honey, Honey will you lub dis coon?
Oh my heart am beating fast, for your answer sweet at last,
Oh Honey, will you lub dis coon?
If you will lub me, Honey, I will true and faithful be
I will ne’er forget de vow I make
You are so dear to me
Oh say you wont refuse de ring I’se brought tonight for thee
Oh! Honey, will you lub dis coon?
For no coon will prouder be dan me if you will be my wife
I will lub thee and I’ll shield thee
Oh my Honey from my all strife,
But if you should answer “No” den I shall care no more for life
Oh! Honey, will you lub dis coon?
Honey, Hony, Honey will you lub dis coon?
O Honey, Honey tell me or my heart break soon
O Honey, Honey, Honey, will you lub dis coon?
Oh my heart am beating fast
For your answer sweet at last,
Oh! Honey, will you lub dis coon?

The things you find in job lots.  I was kind of amazed to find this sheet music in the middle of a lot of Elvis, Johnny Cash and Bee Gees recently, and a Greasy Pop flexi-disc.  Work that one out.  I wonder if Lindsay Lennox wrote this fine example of hate before or after he wrote his messages of peace?  Maybe not.

I've long been aware of such racist songs from America's past, but it still amazes me, especially when you see fat cretins like Glenn Beck and that loud fat moron O'Reilly claiming that Australia is racist...but then, again, perhaps not.  All I can hope is that I'll find the response sheet music, "Oh Honey, Will You Chop The Nuts Off That Ignorant, Pin Dicked, White Supremacist, Hood Wearing Fuckhead?"

And, not that I need to tell my pals this, but you know that I don't subscribe to this kind of race hating shit, it's rank and should never have happened.  But as the KKK are still active, along with various cowardly Neo-Nazis, it's never a bad idea to remember the past and how bad it got.  That's the only way we can move forward to a better, brighter, future when everyone realises that there is no racism, just hate, because we're all ONE race, the human race.

It's as easy as that really.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

#201: Mystery Title

Who were Soul Factory? If you know the answer to that then you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din. Until these documents fell into my lap I had no idea that this bend ever existed, and frankly I’m still nowhere near knowing who they were or what they really sounded like. The only information I can track down is contained in these three clippings, that the band contained members from other, better known bands and acts such as George Harrison, Billy Preston, Little Richard, Tower Of Power and others, and that they were big in New Zealand, supposedly. Beats me.

Formed in 1974, according to the clippings they didn’t play ‘namby-pamby disco’, they played ‘hot funk’. Yes, Virginia, there is a distinction between the two, but I’ll leave that for you to work out. What amazes me about this band was that they managed to land a contract with Lion/Nathan Brewery in New Zealand to play a six month stint in the north island, before moving down to the south island. From there they looked to cross the Tasman and land a residency in Australia, consisting of at least six months. The letter shown here, from manager/drummer Ed Horton, indicates a desire for the band to have a permanent residency, offers amounts of that they’re prepared to accept and shows willingness for the band to play 2 hours a night, six nights a week. That’s some heavy work.

Even more interesting is that the band’s proper name, according to the letter, is actually Sound Factory, not Soul Factory. The agent, in New Zealand, changed the name, frankly for the better as far as I’m concerned. Oh, and they liked Mother Goose, for what that was worth. They probably thought that Mother Goose were the New Zealand equivalent of the Village People.

Now I’m trying to work out the quotes here. It appears that the band were willing to work for $3,500 per week, if they had to do the work themselves, which I presume means bookings etc etc, or $1,800 per week if the promoter here did all of the leg work. Not sure which one was accepted, but as can be seen from the third, and final, clipping, they did manage to get a six week residency at the Pooraka Hotel at some point in time, but as the clipping isn’t dated it’s hard to work out when – I’m guessing at some point in either late 1977 or 1978. Despite the protestations of the name change they still managed to play here as Soul Factory, not Sound Factory.

After they played here they appear to have fallen off the face of the world. Google their name, you’ll find nothing. I can’t find a single reference to them anywhere, or the individual band members, which really does surprise me as you’d think that they’d have gone onto other things. Even bands who never had a hit single, or did anything – such as Neal Sadistic – have a mention somewhere. Not Soul/Sound Factory. Nothing. Nada. Nary a mention anywhere. I have no idea what they sounded like, or indeed what they looked like, other than these grainy images. I wonder what kind of a stage presence they had, but then there’s no videos around to show me.

Such a shame that you can find audio and video for the likes of Craig McLaughlin, but a band that clearly worked as hard as Soul Factory did are now forgotten to time. If anyone knows anything about them then leave a comment – did you see them? Hear them? ARE them? C’mon, bring it on!  Until then, here's a photo of Mother Goose.

The catch phrase, 'An experience you won't forget' is kind of ironic, because it appears that everyone has...RIGHT ON BABY!