Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#249: The Effect You Have On Me

I’ve always been fascinated to discover the exact moment when creative people jump the shark. I’ve often wondered when did Pat Benatar, for example, stop being a vital force in music and start being a nostalgic act and, after careful consideration and listening, I think I’ve found the exact point in time. Don’t get me wrong, I like Pat Benatar. For one she released a series of damned fine pop singles, some of which still hold up today and she can get drunken people singing at parties with ease. For another thing, unlike a lot of her contemporaries, Pat could actually sing. Don’t believe me? Just listen to her rendition of Please Come Home For Christmas, her out-take version of Crying where she leaves Linda Ronstadt and Don McLeon for dead and gives both Roy Orbison and kd lang a serious run for their money or the absolutely beautiful Tell Me Why. In each of those songs she hits notes with an ease that’d make an opera singer smile. And she was cute. Like most people who went to high school in the 1980s we had a Pat Benatar look alike. I can’t remember her name, but I adored her from affair and she had a tendency to wear torn fishnets over blue off the shoulder tops (yes, I can recall fashion in detail – trust me, I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to clothing) and the usual ‘80s fashions that made me a young me, and indeed me now, swoon. Mah, Ah do believe Ah’ve gaht an attack of tha vahpours!

Back to where I was. Pat started off with a massive bang. Hit Me With Your Best Shot. She took a couple of risky chances by covering Kate Bush – actually she did a bloody good version of Wuthering Heights – you could understand the words for one - but the heavy use of guitars kind of diluted the overall effect. She decided to start her image by adopting the same haircut as Nina Hagen.  So what?  it didn't hurt Nina, blue balls and all.  It didn’t matter that Rachel Sweet turned in a sultrier version of Shadows Of The Night, Pat made it her own by sheer virtue of popularity and aggression. From that moment on it seemed that Pat wasn’t off the airwaves or the telly. We all giggled at her attempts to wave her not-as-impressive-as-the-bird-from-Promises-nay-nays in the video for Love Is A Battlefield, and while you might chuckle at that song now, you should actually hear the recently released demo version; it leaves the released version for dust with some of the most interesting synth and guitar work that she never released (or indeed did release). But for ever decent, nay, let’s be frank here, great, song that Pat Benatar released, from the haunting We Belong, the magnificent Invincible and the mighty All Fired Up, there were dodgy tunes, such as Love Is A Stranger and Hell Is For Children (so dodgy that Paul Stanley would later steal it for I Still Love You). Those dodgy tunes would see her undoing, but the one that always sticks with me as her own personal Fonzie moment would have to be The Ooh Ooh Song.

The Ooh Ooh Song. An utter piece of crap that even Pat Wilson, Pat Travers and Patrick Hernandez would have rejected. Well, maybe not Hernandez. Shit, even Rick Astley, Jason Donovan and Mel & Kim would have said no to it. It starts well enough with some interesting guitar noises, but rapidly veers into the world of pap and crap and remains there. Even Eddie Van Halen couldn’t have saved it with a solo. And it was a single. Beats me what her management were thinking at the time. It doesn’t fit Pat Benatar in the slightest, it sounds like a bad Linda Ronstadt out-take, and if Benatar herself chose to sing it and release it, and still does sing it, then she ruined her own career. Sad really, but The Ooh Ooh Song not only saw Pat jump the proverbial shark, but when she did a Spanish version – La Cancion Ooh Ooh, she turned around and came back for another run, only to fall into the water to be eaten. Eeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

It’s a crime really as Pat Benatar looked the part and clearly had the vocal talent. Her choreography could have used a Toni Basil, or at least someone to say, “If you ain’t got ‘em, don’t shake ‘em,” but we can forgive that. She’s still out there though, touring away, singing her songs and good on her for doing that. The irony is that she and Rachel Sweet would have thrived in this day and age of American Idols and other manufactured pop songs. Rachel had the voice, looks and sheer talent, and Pat had all of that plus she looked like she’d beat the living shit out of you if you looked at her twice. Pink, a tough gal? Please! Pat would have stubbed her out like a discarded Winnie Blue. Kelly Clarkson can sing? Yeah, right, on her best day she’ll never hit the notes that Pat can hit when she has a cold and Pat could splatter her onto a wall with the same ease that I used to squash pies onto Mr Cocks* windscreen. You don’t believe me, then check it out for yourself. It’s criminal, but some of Pat Benatar’s best stuff came in the 1990s and beyond, when she stopped being an MTV creation and started to be a pure singer. Somebody’s Baby should have been a worlwide hit, and if it’d been promoted better, well who knows what might have happened? Even the shameless re-write of All Fired Up, titled Everybody Lay Down is a virtual template for all of the wailing wanna be divas of today, only better. Come back Pat, hit the charts again and show those plastic titty girls what a real singer with attitude sounds and looks like. And if that girl from Year 12 wants to send me an email…well….

*Deputy Headmaster at my High School in the 1980s. Big hairy fellow, with a bald head. Really. Cock by name, cock by nature.

Any excuse to use Rachel Sweet photos...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#248: Smut

You see some strange things these days, but, other than the anti-wanking gloves that exist in the Melbourne prison museum, I've never seen anything quite as odd as this anti-wanking machine, which was patented way back in 1903, when the sheer thought of touching your own bits other than to hold it when the beer came out was heresy and enough to send you to hell.  I mean, in the Victorian era, nobody touched their chopper, not even the wife.  The male version of a chastity belt? Read those instructions carefully and if anyone out there can actually make one of these, then I wanna know.

The concept is simple - you put it on and when you feel the urge, your main man will go down the chute and hit the spikes.  Plus you can't actually touch your bishop, so you can't start bashing it.  From the looks of things it came in one size only - shut the fuck up and get it on you dirty bastard!  I know some politicians, media 'personalities' (hello Kochie, you freaking ambulance leaper you) and a few others that are in desperate need of one of these things, not the least these dickheads to the right, who probably single handedly invented global warming with those heads. 

A true Saturday night special.

And speaking of wankers...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#247: Nothin' But You

It's always sad when someone passes away before their time, unless they're someone like Hitler or Churchill, and the recent deaths of Harvey James and especially Steve Prestwich have left a huge hole in Australian music that might never be filled.  Even Nick The Bastard, who'd rather ram a red hot knitting needle into his ears than listen to Cold Chisel admits that the news of Prestwich's passing was indeed sad.  What this means is that there are less and less left that made the music of my upbringing.  From the members of Rose Tattoo, through to Dragon, Skyhooks, Mi-Sex, Sherbet, (who I hated, sorry Harvey), AC/DC, Split Enz/Crowded House, the Ted Mulry Gang, Australian Crawl and now Cold Chisel - people are still here, but the bands that I grew up with are gone in their original format.  Christ, even William Shakespeare popped his clogs not that long ago, not that many people noticed, the poor bastard.

With Chisel when all the members were alive we knew that deep down they'd reform, and indeed they did last year, and suitably their penultimate gig was in a club playing to a few hundred people.  Brilliant!  Members of the bands remain, but once someone so integral to the sound and image leaves the band loses something - just look at AC/DC.  They went from being one of the most rawkus, almost punk bands to being just another heavy metal band, and in the mid to late '80s, not a very good one at that.  The AC/DC that tours today isn't the AC/DC of yesterday, same as Dragon, although I can't imagine the latter without Marc Hunter anymore than I can tolerate the former without the mighty Bon Scott.

Alas Steve Prestwich, you're now gone.  Cold Chisel threw you out once and replaced you with Ray Arnott, but I don't think that'll happen this time around, although I fully expect at least one more gig, if only to pay tribute to a man who's ferocious drumming drove that band as hard as they went.  Steve was one of those rare beasts, an Elizabeth boy made good.  Now Jimmy Barnes can breathe a bit easier, although once he goes a pounding will be waiting for him in the afterlife, along with a hug from an old pal...just like old times.

I'm not sure where these photos came from.  I was told that they were from the Last Stand show in Adelaide, but I strongly suspect that they were from a previous show, as it doesn't look like Steve, but I'm happy to be corrected one way or the other.  The press release is genuine though.  It's hard to comprehend that thirty one years ago East was released...time certainly flies.



Saturday, January 08, 2011

#245: Breakfast At Stephanie's

I love the Hoodoo Gurus.  Ever since Dave Faulkner conned a shirt out of me at a party in Melbourne in the mid 1980s I've had great admiration for them.  It doesn't hurt their cause that they are responsible for some of the best power pop to come from Australia in the past 30 years - I've always maintained that if you put I Want You Back on at a party and nobody gets up to dance or drunkenly sing along then call an ambulance because everyone is either dead or unconscious.  The Gurus are just that - gurus of the highest order.

Once we had hair...
I have no idea where I got this magazine from or when, but I suspect that it was given to me when I worked in the electronic media as a part time tea towel.  Since then I've had it in boxes and only just found it the other day when I cleared out the carport and threw away several dozen boxes of crap, keeping the cream - and before anyone wants to whine about me throwing stuff out, sure, if you want  Peter Andre press release then I'll be happy to tell you what skip in which to find it.  I'll keep stuff like this, along with the other press kits and bio sheets that I think are worthy of holding on to - including that Saints set-list that Nick The Bastard gave me back in the late '80s, that I also recently found, between a magazine signed by the Gallagher Brothers and a Cold Chisel bio sheet for Circus Animals and an INXS tour poster from the X tour, along with a pile of other tour posters from the '70s through to now.  It's amazing what you can find when you begin to open boxes and look into them.

Along with this magazine I also found a cassette which contains an early 1990s gig by the Gurus at the Bridgeway.  Taken from the soundboard it features Dave doing what he does best - trading shirts with people in the crowd in order to get something he wanted - a pattern most certainly was developing by then.  For the record, the shirt he got from me was an awful paisley green long sleeved business shirt, complete with a Coles price tag on it from the early '70s.  I found it in an op shop in Malvern and was wearing it to a 'Come As A Bum' party.  It made an impression.

In the meantime, for all of those people who like these things as much as I do, enjoy this slice of life from the Hoodoo Gurus.  The odds are good that you've not seen this before, and the odds are better that you won't see another one in a hurry.  After you've read this fine, and free, magazine (in glorious 300dpi), do the right thing and buy a copy of the Guru's latest release.  Unlike a lot of their peers they're still out there, gigging away and releasing quality albums and you can't fault that.  And also unlike Richard Stubbs, the Hoodoos don't hang about in front of their own CD section in record stores, they rely on the majesty of the music to sell it.* Anyway, back to the Hoodoo Gurus - don't be cheap - buy 'em now!


Ugly, unfunny and possibly a man
* Why anyone would buy anything by Richard Stubbs is beyond me.  And yes Richard, that was me that night, so long ago, in that record store on Burke Street at 8pm.  You were standing, nay, posing because a girl was walking by, in front of a display advertising whatever the hell it was that had your ugly head on it.  I was the person who said, rather loudly, "Hey, isn't that the unfunny ugly bastard that used to be someone?" to my mate, who looked over and near pissed himself laughing as you turned bright red and pretended to look at an Iron Maiden CD which you were holding upside-down.  The biggest laugh was the sign in front of the shit you were flogging that said you were a 'comedian'.  I never knew that...and I'm sure that your status as a 'comedian' with 'biting wit' is news to an entire nation, but keep turning up to those corporate gigs - you'll soon be the Australian version of Jimmy Carr, if you're not already.