I have been reading Dean Wareham's book Black Postcards, a very readable piece of musical biography with no strong female characters. Thanks Shane for lending it to me on NYE.
I enjoyed Rage on Saturday night, with an episode of Rock Arena from late 1984, an episode of Countdown from I think 1988 or thereabouts (?) and inbetween an overlong documentary about Countdown from 1979. This was particularly interesting because it started with the Marc Hunterless Dragon doing ‘Love’s not Enough’ in the studio and later, a discussion of the updated group’s appeal (or lack of) by members of the Countdown Committee. Fabulous.
The Rock Arena was amazing for a number of things, all going to remind me of how much fun 1984 was. About half of the show was the Machinations live from the Chevron. I am 99.9% positive that I saw my old rock ’n’ roll (and otherwise) friend Sue Grigg in the audience. I am pretty damn sure it was her. She was wearing blue. Not atypical. That she liked the Machinations is not in any doubt: I have a few of her Machinations singles, which she was going to throw out and which I rescued, with her name written on them, in her handwriting no less. And anyway she wouldn’t deny it. It was a thrill to see her on TV. Within two years she was playing in Chad’s Tree.
The Countdown was OK, ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha (or is it a-Ha?) is still one of the greats, and the Kids in the Kitchen song was so hilariously awful it made me love them again, but when it came down to it I think the Machinations show took the cake. They actually had some really good songs, and that first album is very adventurous. When they became overly funky and shit, they got shit. There is no way to say this nicely but I feel the need to say it for some reason, that Fred Lonergan was an extremely unlikely looking frontperson. I wonder if his unlikely-lookingness (oh. I have found a way to say it nicely) cost them fame and fortune? As it transpired, he had a serious accident where he broke his neck or something and they band sold all their equipment and started up computer shops (the story goes). Someone should do a sociological, and anthropological, study of the bands from various private school catchment cohorts. Machinations were all north shore, erm, St Ignatius or something? Not an Iggy reference. Cockroaches/Wiggles, where were they from? More working class catholic boys I think. Now we’re talking about it, poor Rowland S Howard, the only member of the Birthday Party/BND who wasn’t from Caulfield Grammar, but I guess he got lumped in with that shit. That’s the other thing Rage did on Saturday night – played a massive amount of Birthday Party in honour of RSH. A lot of BP but insufficient Crime and the City Solution or RSH solo, and maybe there just wasn’t that much video of that stuff though really I would have so much preferred C&CS to that hoary old BP guff which was awfully exciting in 1980 and I still love Junkyard and the subsequent EPs but shit, RSH was much more than a Nick Cave adjunct – he was, well, better by far. A charming and interesting man, too, in my experience of him.
My one RSH reminiscence, which has little to do with RSH himself but perhaps says something about the ambient myth: at one of the final Birthday Party shows (when the band came back to Aust without Mick Harvey and Des Hefner filled in) I was in the foyer with my friend Michael and we were talking and then he said, sh, here comes the most beautiful man in rock ‘n’ roll. It was RSH of course.
Pip Proud is recording some vocals to music by Kes Band next Sunday. Pip has a song called 'Slimy Fighters' to which he wants a dance piece performed probably best described by the song’s title. Pip is doing alright, all things considered (throat cancer for which the tumours have apparently stabilised; stroke; alcoholism). You could argue these things were if not caused by each in succession (in reverse order to which I have listed them) then they aided and abetted. He is on a lot of drugs and his radio won’t tune properly but he can get a distant, fuzzy News Radio which he loves and for which I say, thanks ABC.
Music myself I am still greatly enjoying the Dacios album (probably along with royalchord my pick for 2009, though I may have forgotten a few others) and continuing to love Emerson Lake and Palmer, not least for my discovery that shows my own innate dumbness and slowness to catch on and willingness to believe whatever stupid flip assessment was put before me by others, that ELP are yet another prog rock band who are decidedly unpofaced, all things considered, and often fairly witty or at least amusing. I enjoy that. Actually, my dismissal of ELP did not come just from my willingness to accept punkers’ evaluation of them; I did unwittingly see their Pictures at an Exhibition film about thirty years ago at the Valhalla and it kind of sort of made me think, there has to be more to rock music than this pretentious bollocks. I don’t know if I missed something then, or what. I like the self-titled album and of course Tarkus. Actually I love Tarkus. Tarkus is hott.
Who has memories of the Chevron? Is there a facebook group?
The other thing that was on Rock Arena was, excitingly, not one but two videos feat. Noah Taylor - I'm Talking's 'Trust Me' and Beargarden's 'Finer Things'. If I remember rightly these were Noah's first two filmic experiences, yes, even preceding Doggo Goes to Jail.