Sunday, May 01, 2011
#262: Pretty Vacant
You have to admire David 'Daisy' Day and Bob 'Fatty' Francis for speaking up in the above video and thus proving why punk rock was needed in Adelaide back in 1977. From Day's 'I have no personal opinion, I just play what I'm told to," and his name dropping of Daryl Braithwaite and Little River Band through to Fatty getting all worked up over the various names of bands, it was apparent then and even more so now upon viewing this clip, that a change was needed. Thankfully we got one, and not before time. If someone had pointed out that Johnny Rotten was actually singing, "We're so pretty, oh so pretty, pretty va-cunt!" in the chorus then Day would have shat his liver out on the spot.
These days Day would tell you that he championed all bands, the truth is somewhat different. Day just played what was put in front of him and on weekends went off to his Blue Light Discos where he'd play the likes of, well, Sherbet and Little River Band, and hope that someone either brought their older sister along or looked over the age of 16. As for Fatty, well, music for him stopped in 1969 when The Beatles split, but then he's never made any attempt to prove otherwise. I can admire that, I just find it amazing that Bob could get to that level of anger without once calling someone a bloody wanker, a silly old bitch or telling everyone to piss off. Time hasn't tempered ole Fat, if anything it's made him more gumpy than ever. God help the world if he lives to be 100.
Daisy will tell you how he always championed Adelaide bands like The Angels and Cold Chisel, mind you I don't recall hearing either of them on 5KA back in the day. For that station, being outrageous was playing a song such as Russell Morris's The Real Thing - a great tune and a personal favourite, but when you consider what else was out there at the time...and there was no way that 5KA, or Daisy, were ever going to play anything that even hinted of rock and indeed also roll. Even The Masters Apprentices Turn Up Your Radio wasn't played, let alone Billy Thorpe, and forget the Coloured Balls. With Cold Chisel all you'd be likely to hear was Khe Sanh and then, later, Choir Girl and My Baby. Safe music. No Merry Go-Round. No Goodbye Astrid Goodbye. Definitely no live version of Wild Thing. And the Angels didn't fare any better.
Commercial radio dictates what should and shouldn't be popular, and it determines what should be played. You could be forgiven for thinking that this seems at odds with the target audience, but when you consider, for the stations, that the target audience is pre and young teens at night and working people during the day, well it's not that far off the mark. During the day people want background noise, familiar songs, repetitive, day after day. During the early evenings kids just want to sing along with whatever is in the charts. Commercial radio will never deviate from that formula, it's what makes them money. Pure and simple. If it charts then they'll play it, but it won't chart if they don't play it. Want to test that? During a request show, phone them up and ask for something totally off the wall - if they're playing Usher ask for Cherry Bomb by the Runaways. You'd have more luck getting a politician to tell the truth. Commercial radio is faceless with interchangeable 'personalities', who only have to have deep voices for men, or slightly sexy voices for women. People don't need to actually know anything, indeed for commercial radio it's a bonus to be ignorant because then you'll do as you're told, spit out the words on the scripts, play the ads and tell everyone how great Pink is and how Britney Spears is better than the Beatles. The roads leading to commercial radio are littered with the discarded bodies of those who came before, and once a person's use-by date expires, well, goodbye sunshine, do fuck off and don't let the door hit ya where the Lord split ya. Don't believe me? Ok, have a think back to the people you used to listen to on the radio, the DJs. How many of them are still there?
That's right. None. Some might have gone over to talk radio or work in a country station playing '80s songs, telling people about a local Dog In A Ute contest and announcing the results of sheep sales, but most are signing on for the dole these days or loitering in shopping centers hoping that someone will recognise them and try to speak to them. "Hey, aren't you Steve Curtis? My mum used to have a crush on you!" I bet Steve gets that a lot, although it must be painful hearing that from 40 year olds. "Fuck man, you sound like John Dean!" "I am John Dean." "Ooooo, sorry man." Poor old John Vincent, reduced to doing ads for Paramount Brown and then dropping dead, after which radio celebrated him, a good decade after he was sacked and put out to pasture, despite him wanting to, and being able to, work. "Hey, Greg Clark! I once nearly took your head off with Alan O'Days Skinny Girls at a school disco!" "Ken Dicken! You wanker!" Is Neil Humphreys still alive? Steve Witham? Ugly Phil? Anyone??
With that kind of attitude, the attitude of "New Wave, whatever that is," it's not that difficult to understand why bands such as The Boys Next Door, The Saints. Radio Birdman, the News or the Hitmen would ever get near a radio. It took Slightly Agitated Anderson, now a Liberal Party stooge and Tony Abbott's bitch, to dump all of Rose Tattoo and release a series of safe songs before that band would be played. JAB, Teenage Radio Stars, X-Ray-Z, New Christs, Hitmen, Exploding White Mice - the list is endless. T.IS.M.? Jesus God! No!! And why? What was the difference between Australia and the rest of the world? Nothing. Watch that clip and you'll see why punk rock was essential, why it was always going to happen, and why it was suppressed at the time - because of people like David Day and Bob Francis, and those around them. They never understood, they probably still don't, about the evolution of music. If they'd been in charge when Johnny O'Keefe had come along they'd have denounced him while playing Dean Martin, Pat Boone and Frank Sinatra. I might not like all music, indeed some stuff I can't even listen to, but I don't deny anyone the right to hear it. Justin Bieber might make my ears bleed, same with all of the current pop music, as does almost all of the screaming men who seem to need to gargle and clear their throats, and the wailing women, but people enjoy it, so what the hell? Go for it. I'm happy with my iPod.