Thursday, January 18, 2018

Summer Gold: John St Peeters, 'You, You're the One'

John St Peeters is one of those guys: he sometimes (well, twice) tickled the charts’ arse, had his fans, kept his options open, still works, he’s only 61 FFS. Born Johnny Lo Piccolo, the child of Richmond greengrocers back when Richmond’s population was totally (well, it seemed that way) Mediterranean, he was an entertainer as a child performing mainly on accordion. I can imagine (I won’t say I’m imagining right, but I know you’re imagining what I’m imagining). He toured the world and made his mark, then as a handsome adult came back to Australia to be a different kind of star. He was sufficiently ubiquitous that one of TISM’s members took the name ‘Jon St Peenis’; TISM had bigger hits than John St Peeters, but less of a sustained career (but they were much, much MUCH funnier).

This song is a punch in the face, however you look at it. I prefer to imagine that it is purposefully written (and sung?) from the point of view of an unbelievable loser, the kind of person we would today describe as a ‘douche’.  The male gaze was never so preposterously limp and shitty. In a nutshell it says: You’ll fuck anything, you even fucked me, but I won’t hold it against you because your magic vagina (‘magina’) accidentally caused me to fall in love with you, now I will ‘show you things you’ve never seen’ (my dirty laundry, and I don’t mean metaphorically) and you are selected to be mine. Just wow! I hope someone called up Maureen Elkner to do the response song.

NB great sax solo at the end, and as a proud owner of Mattel synsonics drums since 1982, I have to say – excellent use of synsonics drums for the appropriate evocation of ‘the squirts’.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Summer Gold: The Three Degrees' 'Jump the Gun'

OK, this is ostensibly the 7" version but it is NOT what this song sounds like on Summer Gold. I mean, the version on Summer Gold is a different recording, absolutely, and it's not just 40-year-old-cassette-in-a-20-year-old-cassette-player -in-a-28-year-old-car different. I guess there's something I will have to figure out there. The 12" version sounds a lot more like the Summer Gold version though obviously not as long (discogs does say it is an 'edited version' - so, an edited version of the 12"? Some cut-up getting three minutes out of the 8-minute 12" version? It's certainly not just the first three minutes... OK, I don't care.)

The song is a Giorgio Moroder-Harold Faltemeyer gem, with all the guitar muscle the Village People thought they had on 'Sleazy' but totally didn't. It goes nowhere fast and has a lot of fun getting there. As do we, the listeners.

The Three Degrees have been putting out records as long as I've been alive, which is not that long a time really. They performed at Charles and Diana's wedding or something, I wonder if they did 'Jump the Gun'? I hope so, inasmuch as I give a flying fuck that people there had a good time. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Summer Gold: Village People, 'Sleazy'

And once again, muggins gets egg on his/her face when trying to predict the hit sound of late '79, but who could possibly blame muggins!? 'Y.M.C.A' had been a huge hit for the Village people (number one no less) in November '78, and 'In the Navy' only got to number 9 but that was mid-'79. 'Sleazy', eh? Well, why not. It's sure to go a long way.

It died a death (the Village People were actually only to have one more hit in Australia, with 'Can't Stop the Music' in June 1980; still, the success of that movie in this country, one of the territories where it was a surprise hit I gather, probably huge in Flanders, shows that the Village People still had currency at this time). Possibly one reason for the flagging interest was the departure of main guy Victor Willis, who left at the end of '79, but on the other hand, how many members of the Village People can you, or could you ever name? You're more likely to go 'um, Construction Worker, Indian, um, Salvation Army guy? Businessman? WAF? Traffic Cone?'

As it happens, 'Sleazy' was sung by Construction Worker, David 'Scar' Hodo, I think his only go at a single A-side (but I stand to be corrected and also to not give a loose root). The song is a double bummer, firstly because it is possibly the first time the facade cracks in terms of 'well, guys, we sing about being macho or in the navy or at the YMCA, but it's not just fun and games, we do these things with a sexual mindset' (not just that of course - a homosexual mindset). But perhaps worse than that, I'm not sure, it's hard to take on the mentality of 1979 pop fan/person in the street, it's about being sleazy but if you didn't know what 'sleazy' meant you'd have a bit of trouble figuring it out from the song.

Unless I'm the naive one and there is actually a definition of 'sleazy' which involves playing loud music and I mean REALLY LOUD.

Looking back you (I) have to assume that things like 'Sleazy' are the VP and their handlers trying to address criticisms of the disco scene as shallow and all about studio trickery (this song appears on a double album of live and studio material called Live and Sleazy) by showing that the Village People could do it onstage, loud and mean if need be. It wasn't a hit, in any case, and unlike many tracks on Summer Gold boy oh boy it really did not deserve to be one.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Summer Gold: Dollar's 'Who Were You With in the Moonlight'

Definitely one of the album's highlights in a sea of 'em. To go back to earlier documented interests, the song features 40 seconds of otherwise unconnected/unrevisited intro, in which DJ can bung in a very long discussion about stealing knickers off the line, sniffing them, wearing them, and the weather, then say something about mysterious oft-referred to, never evident, running joke cohost 'who were you with in the moonlight, Mrs Terrapin?' etc.

The song sounds so modern, and yet alien as all get out. There are a few ideas put forward: you were with someone in the moonlight; you deny that I (singer) have any right to know/any right to you; you are (or the experience was) 'making me so sad'. I think that's about it. As I mentioned a few days ago, what really freaks me out is how happy Dollar look as they sing this awful, horrible story to each other. Thereza Bazar might well feel a little out of place in this, essentially a David Van Day solo outing, although she had her moments in other times and places so fair's fair.

This record was top ten in the UK but didn't get a sniff in Australia, despite the fact that it was released on the notably exciting* Acrobat label and also, apparently, as a picture disc!

Dollar seem so often to be relegated to a footnote in other stories, for instance, the story of Trevor Horn's ascension and the employment of Horn to work with ABC on Lexicon of Love. Well that is important but I want a copy of The Dollar Album please. This matters.

* Not notably exciting at all, sorry.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Summer Gold: Telex's 'Twist A San Tropez'

You can read about Telex in their wikipedia entry. Belgium has done so much!!!

I can see how one might imagine Telex to be the poor man's Kraftwerk or perhaps the poor man's Flying Lizards if it comes to that. The song is a cover of a 1961 track by the French group Les Chats Sauvages, written by Andre Salvet, Guy Lafitte and Martial Solal, who weren't in the band and I don't know who they were/are. I remember this record from when I was 14/15 and I remember finding the video in particular to be absolutely dazzling:

It was funny and preposterous in equal measure and I loved (love) that. Listening to it in the car I note also there is a percussion sound which bounces around the stereo spectrum in a highly amusing manner. Well done, everybody.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Summer Gold: Marcia Hines 'Dance You Fool, Dance'

I wish this was on youtube but it was such a non-hit it's disappeared without a trace. It's probably one of her best records, and that is saying something.

It's a track from Hines' fourth album, the execrably titled Ooh Child, one which - according to Karen Dewey's Diva: the Life of Marcia Hines - brought to a head the terrible tussle between Hines and her producer/ record label owner, Robie Porter. Dewey says Porter 'found two black backing singers in the US called Terry and Monalisa, the latter of which was capable of sounding exactly like Marcia.' Dewey quotes Tony Hogarth, the managing director of the label Wizard, as saying that Porter's extensive use of these backing singers (of whom more later in this series! Thrills) was to 'increase his power and lower Marcia's by saying, "I can re-create your sound without you"'. Dewey notes that the back cover of Ooh Child features a picture of 'Monalisa and Terry in the foreground and Marcia in the background.' (pp. 151-2).

Following the Ooh Child debacle Hines and her manager Peter Rix entered litigation with Porter and Wizard and Dewey doesn't really go into detail so who knows. The main thing for us to console ourselves with is that 'Dance You Fool, Dance' is immense and I will find a way to upload it. Just you wait

Friday, January 12, 2018

Summer Gold: Midnight Oil, 'Cold Cold Change'

An absolute outlier on this collection, 'Cold Cold Change' was not a hit (actually, that makes it less unusual in context) and it sticks out like dog's balls. Midnight Oil were a big enough name by 1979 that there might have been reasonable expectation that they'd hit the charts with this record, but they didn't. Of course it's a complete classic, though.

As mentioned, my copy of Summer Gold is a cassette, and while I don't know precisely what the mastering requirements were for a cassette as opposed to vinyl (obviously, packing a whole lot of songs onto a side of a vinyl record made them quieter - but audio quality wasn't the point of course - either on vinyl or cassette, which were known to be inferior sound quality) there is some weird shit going down when this song comes on - it sounds quieter than everything else, and the opening seconds which should by rights be a cataclysm sound like a bedroom demo and not in a good way. It's also, I'm pretty sure, edited curiously: not only does it fade out on the Summer Gold version but I have a feeling that there is about 15 seconds of instrumental section removed before the stop-start 'No!' part. Whether this is the 7" single edit, or a special edit for Summer Gold, I don't know.

This is the greatest period of Midnight Oil in my opinion (the first, self-titled, album,* Head Injuries album and the Bird Noises EP). Maybe not the greatest? But my favourite. I wonder if the band was more annoyed by the editing of the song or being jumbled together with a bunch of disco tracks (Peter Garrett reputedly lit a bonfire of disco records somewhere in Sydney's western suburbs around this time). Ha, ha, ha, sucked in. Corporate cock. ETC

*I have spent the last few days listening repeatedly to this album, which I found my cassette copy of recently. It's a treat, and forty years old this year! 'Surfing with a Spoon' is a particularly remarkable piece of work because, call me naive, I think it does effectively evoke an ocean feel. They must have felt pretty smug about that, but for all I know - it's not a genre that's engaged me a huge amount - this marks them as adherents or the latest iteration of that surf rock scene of the early 70s. 'Surfing with a Spoon' has excellent cheesy organ reminiscent to me of ELP, and some fab dynamics. I don't know why this album gets such a bad rap, it's got it all (admittedly the song about being arrested at 'the demonstration' is a bit too Skyhooksy).