Friday, March 07, 2014

Return of Pip


From March 7, 2013 (I thought I'd delay this 6 months a year because despite my confident air of the inevitability of the legacy's acceptance, you know, I didn't want to jinx anything with any kind of hubris or smugness) 

Pip Proud used to tell me (particularly when he was in his cups, which wasn’t that unoften) that his value would only be recognized when he was dead. I used to roll my eyes, partly because as much as I loved Pip and felt honoured to be a part of his life, I am never that interested in what drunk people say to me, and the more ardent it is the more stupid it is – you know how the drunk are.

But it’s so strange that two years after his sad demise (that sounds sarcastic but it is sad – extremely sad) his opinion is being proved true. It wasn’t long after his death that I noticed this: Garry Shead released a DVD of his 1960s films including the film De Da De Dum, about Pip, and the ABC nonironically, and without comment, used some of Pip’s music in a story about the DVD. Which is to say: no-one said, this is weird, this is nuts, anything went in the 60s (nor did they say, ‘this is Pip’), but it was just used like it was music, not the ravings of a mental invalid. More recently, though, more has happened. A Japanese record label is putting out a compilation LP of Pip’s 1960s work; I’m playing a minor part in the release, going to write some sleevenotes and so on. More bizarre: these English DJs are doing an Australian psychedelic mix, I dunno, something, and there are two of Pip’s songs included, alongside ‘The Real Thing’ and Marty Rhone and the Missing Links and the Masters' Apprentices (who Pip loved).

What would Pip say? I don’t know. He liked his new (1990s+) music more than his old music, while at the same time admitting his own inability to really gauge what was good and what wasn’t amongst the newer stuff or to remember a lot of the older stuff. He had little memory of the specifics of his 1960s work but obviously regarded it through the filter of an extraordinary sadness because he put himself ‘out there’ and got rejected by showbiz and the industry. Then he had a stroke and he didn’t really have many options to make music at all, except those amazing two tracks he recorded with Kes Band a few weeks before he died, which were almost like Pip rapping over a prerecorded backing. When those songs are released is when I think Pip will finally join the ranks of Amazing Artist. Listening to those songs, even if you didn’t know he was dying (and even if he was, to a significant degree, in denial of that fact - at least in his day-to-day conversation) you get a strong sense of a man grappling with impending doom. (Well, I could be wrong, because I can’t listen to those songs without knowing the context and remembering Pip recording in the palliative care facility). In any case it’s an interesting time for the P Proud legacy, and it’s only going to grow. 

Update 7/3/2014 OK the album still hasn't come out, but it's well on its way, and a single has been released. Pip would have been pleased that one side of the single is a more recent track. I'm just pleased that it's happening, slowly but surely. Also, there are going to be reissues of the two Phonogram albums on vinyl & a fabulous single of 2 x cover versions about to come out on Why Don't You Believe Me next month. It's all happening for Pip. 

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