Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eurythmics - In The Garden (1981)

Eurythmics 1981 album 'In the Garden' is a fascinating and generally forgotten record. Recorded with Kraftwerk producer Conny Plank and featuring Blondie's Clem Burke and Holger Czukay (Can) ITG was the first record they recorded after the demise of The Tourists and before they had major commercial success. ITG failed to chart (which seems amazing given their later, and earlier, success) and it remains largely ignored to this day - although the 2005 CD re-issue may have helped to improve that situation.

ITG is new wave, no wave, psychedelic, experimental and totally pop, if pop comes from outer space (and it's good when it does). Themes include dreamy reverie (English Summer), Kraftwerkian love songs (Take Me To Your Heart), desperate housewives who behave like calculators (She's Invisible Now - the 10 to 1 countdown mixed with the sound of adding machines is brilliant), female body image (Caveman Head), and, that's just for starters. Annie sings in French on the bizarre and catchy 'Sing Sing' and most tracks are punctuated with all manner of sound effects, animal impersonations, trains, crickets and sirens. Vocals are processed, mixed up, mixed down, sound like they were recorded underwater, surrounded by cushions, or beamed in from another galaxy, or era, or mental state.

The album produced 2 singles - Never Gonna Cry Again and Belinda.

What Belinda is about is up for interpretation, but features Annie's offer to never leave or deceive the song's subject. It's again sonically amazing, like so much of the album, especially in the vocal treatment/harmonies and the mid-song refrain. Never Gonna Cry Again is memorable for Annie's restrained vocal performance, singing in a manner that makes the subject sound, to me anyway, completely numb as if immersed to immobility in thought, pain, or perhaps revenge. I prefer Annie singing in this way rather than the endlessly emotional way she usually sings these days. On ITG her voice acts more as an instrument and it's amazing.

'Your Time Will Come'  closes out the first (LP) side, with another catchy chorus and feeling of unease mixed with a jubilant chorus. It's quite a trick to pull off, but it works. There's also a psychedelic moment as Annie name checks the album's title in a spooky way that defies print description.

'All the Young People Of Today' which plods weirdly as it praises, fears, reveres, ridicules those included in the song title. One of the less successful tracks, but sticks with you after a few listens.

I have to return to 'Sing Sing' which never fails to please as Annie's playtime melody about "Touts les betes du la citee" and how they arrive by train, car, bicycle, work day by day, get tired, and go home. Amazing percussion, sound effects, tape manipulation and instrumentation round out this incredible track. 'Revenge' finishes the album - a hint at a theme they would revisit in 1986 with more ITG weirdness.

ITG is a great example of the sound of a band experimenting with an Everest of ideas. They wisely stop short of overloading the album though, as it could have been a complete mess. I've been finding new things in this album every time I hear it, and that is an awful lot of times. From here came Sweet Dreams and later, it must be said, a general move away from experimental pop towards a generally more commercial direction (which is where I become a little less excited about their music).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Essendon Record Fair

The smells, the crowds, the dust. Got to love a record fair. Spent little got a lot. Here's some of the highlights, or the ones I could find images of:

The Little Tony album has the back cover as well b/c it's great, the kids one from Poland looks like a nutty folk record. Linda George sings Shoobedoobedoodahday or something (it's good if unspellable) but what an awful album cover - sort of basic brown colour scheme - unlike Ramon Duval's which is worth framing. I also found a single by Noel Ferrier which makes up for again not finding the album by Abigail (there's one out there somewhere with my name on it). I can't find a scan of the Noel EP ("Unfurled") and the scanner's not working so you'll have to imagine (imagination is what we had before Google came along). Noel is draped in a Union jack, on a throne, with a trident and helmet and sings "All You Need Is Love". Gold.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dolly Mixture - Everything And More

This is exciting. A Dolly Mixture 3 CD box set of, as the title says, everything and more. CD 1 is the Demonstration tapes album (briefly released some time ago on Saint Etienne's Royal Mint label), CD 2 is all the singles, A & B sides, and CD 3 is the "...And More" - live tracks and rarities. And what about the great sleeve art?

I loved this band before I'd even heard a note of their music after reading about them in the NME or something, probably a less than complimentary article as seemed to usually be the way with their press, but I was keen and no bitter journalist was going to rain on this parade (you could apply the same to Talulah Gosh and Heavenly as well who I always thought were great despite the continuous press slagging they endured). Anyway, over the years I managed to acquire a vinyl copy of their "Baby It's You" single and the Demonstration Tapes double LP. I bought the latter in the Gaslight Records bargain bin for $4 and according to Bob Stanley's liner notes is now quite a collectible achieving 3 figure sums on Ebay. I wish I'd known that when I bought my copy nestled amongst around oh, 40 or so more copies for $4 each. I could have bought around oh, 40 or so more copies... and retired.

If the Dolly's recorded output history is anything to go by this treasure might not be around long so if you're inclined I suggest you place an order asap. I got mine from Rough trade UK but it's also available through the Dolly Mixture website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

TV Quiz

Do you snack while watching TV?

Yes, if hungry.

What is your favourite TV show?
Of all time - The Twilight Zone. Currently - Being Human, True Blood, United States of Tara, Doctor Who.

What TV show makes you run to change channels?
Sport. Hey Hey It's Saturday.

How do you view your TV guide: online, on-screen, newspaper, magazine, other?
The Age Green Guide, FOXTEL mag and web guide (which has remote booking for the iQ - superb),, TV tonight blog. Yes that's right - TV addict.

Have you ever been surveyed for your TV-viewing habits or do you know anyone who has been?
I wish.

Do you watch TV news and/or current affairs regularly?

Do you watch any TV “soaps”? (Truth please, even if it is embarrassing.)
Not the DOOL variety. I like dramas like Skins, Hung and comedy-dramas like Ugly Betty. I've been enjoying my DVD of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman which is a '70s soap-ish show (but so much more). I find soaps too slow generally. Twin Peaks?

What other series shows do you try not to miss?
The ones I've mentioned and The Dish, Chelsea Lately, The Playlist, Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List, Doctor Who, many more...

Any previous series or shows you really liked?
So many. Just scratching the surface with what comes to mind - Daria, Dr Katz: Professional Therapist, UFO, Night Stalker, dinnerladies, Jam & Jerusalem, Nighty Night, Jason King and and and...

Do you have pay TV or are the digital channels enough?
Got to have FOXTEL. I get it free which is a bonus but I would pay for it.

Do you only watch certain TV shows online?
I don't watch anything online except youtube.

Do you regularly use services like ABC catch-up or other online replays?

Do you ever pay any attention to the adverts?
If they are funny. I certainly did in Japan. Japanese ads are fantastic, and most are only 10 seconds long. They love a jingle and the visuals are so POP.

Do you multi-task while watching TV & if so what else are you doing?
Depends how interested I am in the show, Sometimes read or draw. Crosswords.

Is there a TV show that makes you laugh out loud?
The Dish (Style Network) and My Life On the D-List.

Have you ever said no to a social invitation to stay at home and watch TV? (Truth again please.) Mind telling us what the show was?
No, I have recording facilities. However what are these "social invitation"s of which you speak?

Do you record TV shows & if so why and how (VCR, DVD recorder, TIVO, laptop, etc.)?
FOXTEL iQ. Like a fiend.

Least favourite TV personality/actor/character?
Anyone beige. Many are bores they have on the commericial channels. As in life I prefer the misfits.

Most popular TV personalities/actors/character?
Anyone interesting.

Have you ever seen anything really memorable on TV (not news/events – made for TV drama, etc.)?
There was show I saw as a kid, a ghost show. British, 1970s and I could never remember what it was called until I recently saw it mentioned by Ian Hodgson of Moon Wiring Club. It's simply called Shadows and my memory of it was that is was atmospheric and spooky (in the days when it was ok to scare kids. I miss that). It's not out on DVD as yet but I hope it will be so I can relive it. A lot of the TV I watched as a kid is memorable to me - horror shows, Tomorrow People, Doctor Who, Krofft TV shows, Irwin Allen shows, Monkey, Tales Of the Unexpected etc... Of recent years I found the episode of Six Feet Under (series 4) where David Fisher is abducted by an insane man to be one of the most powerful pieces of TV I've seen. Having said that I wouldn't want to see it again. Twin Peaks was indelibly memorable.

Do you prefer TV series or stand-alone shows?
I like both. Although sometimes a special can leave you wanting more and a series can leave you wanting less.

Is there a specific show you find yourself recommending over and over?
I drive people mad with my recommendations. Current shows - True Blood, Psychoville, United States of Tara, The Hotel Inspector, Tim & Eric's Awesome Show. Great Job! and more... on DVD - Oh! Mikey, The League of Gentelmen, Jam & Jerusalem, lots more...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

All Hail The King!

King Aroo Volume 1

This is marvellous, Jack Kent's clever comic strip King Aroo compiled into a huge volume. Apparently there's a second volume on the way too! I'm trying the Amazon affiliates thingo for the first time for this post. I believe I could make literally cents on click throughs! Click away Panoramiacs, click away!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cafe Rodney

A few images from Rodney Greenblat's Cafe Rodney which used to exist in Harajuku, Japan. Sadly no longer there.

Julia Guther

If you've seen any releases on Morr Music you'll be familiar with the work of German artist Julia Guther. This is her website for a gallery of her beautiful minimal work.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Moon Wiring Club - The Wire Interview links

These are the clips referenced in the Moon Wiring Club interview in the latest edition of The Wire. Ian Hodgson (MWC) says you (aesthetically) mix these videos up and you have a MWC track.

Robin Of Sherwood titles (music by Clannad)

Theme to Whicker's World (by Graham DeWilde)

Solistice by Brian Bennett

The opening theme to Ace of Wands

The theme to the '80s children's TV show The Book Tower

Music for the SNES game Castlevania 4

"Ring Of Ice" by Jennifer Rush

An episode of "Automan" featuring Laura Branigan

To hear/see the results of this - Youtube Moon Wiring Club videos.

Monday, January 25, 2010

RAGE Retro

I love this time of year, not for the hot weather, no I don't even want to think about that thanks, but for the Saturday night delight that is RAGE Retro, or "Goes retro" or whatever they call it. The old stuff. Countdown, Rock Arena, Flashez and other bits and pieces they choose to throw in.

This week had a whole Flashez episode and a Flashez interview with Air Supply, but sadly not the episode my name was said in. Yes, I was part of this program, albeit a tiny part. I entered their general giveaway competition and my boat came in the day the Silver Studs were on the show. I won albums by The Silver Studs (can't remember the title but it had "Dance With the Dolly with The Hole In Her Stocking" on it), Paul Simon ("Still Crazy After All These Years"), Skyhooks ("Straight In a Gay World"), another one I've forgotten, an autographed Ray Burgess 7" single of "Hot Cookie" ("...I wanna do some home economics with you..." Saucy) and sundry stickers that I wish I still had but they proudly adorned my school folder that year and have since become landfill. AND I got to hear my name on TV which is super-jazzy when you're 10. I no longer have any of the albums I won. Most were given away, and the autographed Silver Studs album I gave to Debbie Nettlingham who possibly still has it in her seaside palace of pop cultural wonder. I thought I still had the Ray Burgess single, but alas, that too seems to have gone. Sorry Ray. No home economics for us.

Anyway, RAGE retro, this week also featured an angry young Ignatius Jones using Countdown to vent his spleen about commercial music and then going on to perform his single 'Whispering Your Name' which isn't terribly innovative really. A bit like the poor cousin to the excellent "Like A Ghost" single he released. Anyway, the Countdown-made clip had Iggy pretending to be a 9-5'er - oh how deliciously droll . You sardonic minx you, and two Gothic gals looking suitably bored with his office-goings on. Or they were actually bored. It's hard to tell. They mustered enough enthusiasm to mime the backing vocals though. My favourite but was Molly's mock-shock in Humdrum when he joked about Iggy's subversive nature "I hope he doesn't swear at me." Touche Mr Meldrum.

There were also two Jimmy & the Boys clips afterward. The Countdown-made 'They Won't Let My Girlfriend Talk To Me' which was quite brilliant (the song, not the clip so much - was it written by Neil Finn? I think so. David, you'll know) and a live performance miming to 'Products Of Your Mind' where Ignatius did that slightly disturbing ankles-behind-the-head thing. Well, everyone needs a party trick.

But, but, but, the best was yet to come with the clip to 'I Eat Cannibals' by Toto Coelo. If you were wondering if there was a prototype Spice Girls, this was it. Lacey, Sheena and three others (I think I'm doing well to remember name for 2 of them) in multi-coloured plastic bag dresses (alright, if we must - bin liners) dancing up a storm and delivering a shameless barrage of puns about food and eating - although it rates much lower on the pun-o-meter than the follow up 'Dracula's Tango' - that one is OTT. Anyway - it's fab. This was written by Barry 'Dancing On A Saturday Night' Blue. They had great chorry too, especially the bit where the Baby Spice one does a half-split. Incredible. I recently heard this song in Ben Sherman so I guess Toto Coelo are back on the boil. Or at least a gentle simmer.

Anyway - Rage Retro. One more week to go I think. Do yourself a favour.