Thursday, March 31, 2005

The one that got away

I can't believe that Rockwiz snuck under the radar. I am heavily indebted to Jim and Josie for setting me straight.

Rockwiz is filmed at the Gershwin Room, one of the (and perhaps the) seediest band venues in all of Melbourne, if not the world; it opens with an outside shot of the Esplanade Hotel, a view I have taken in probably thousands of times, going for walks around St Kilda in a previous life; last week's show featured none other than Robert Forster, who is one of a small handful of personal Icons of Australian Music; in relation to one of the members of the house band, I worked with his brother many many years ago - he manned the sleepy Phillip Island branch office of the law firm I worked for then, wherefrom he was able to regularly knock off in the early afternoon to go surfing; another member of the house band was in the Models, whom I have seen play live more times than any other band; and two people I know were in the audience - Edgar I saw on camera twice, but my eyes weren't fast enough to spot Dave Brown, who was apparently on screen at the same time.

That's the next few Saturday nights stitched up, then.

A Life Full of Farewells

If, like me, you know deep in your heart that you should have taken the time to listen to Peter Walsh's band The Apartments, you can at least get a taste of what you have been missing over at La Blogotheque.

If, unlike me, you can read French, you won't need to bother your wife every two minutes with "What's this say?".

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Start Me Up

I listened to "Map of What Is Effortless", last year's album by Telefon Tel Aviv, several times at work (through crappy PC speakers, admittedly) without being particularly impressed beyond the opening instrumental and the previously mentioned "My Week Beats Your Year" (and now I know why I have been so taken by that song: the singer sounds just like Scarlett Johansson in "Lost In Translation" [sigh]). I put it on at home last night, after the kids had gone to sleep, and I played it at a suitably loud volume through the home stereo, and it has become an entirely different beast. And I am now so consumed by the last song, "At The Edge Of The World You Will Still Heal", that I can feel it taking over my entire body. I wouldn't exactly say I hate it when this happens, but I am always totally amazed and it is always so unexpected. Now I am scared to listen to it again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Argh! My in tray is overflowing.

ITEM! If, like me, you have always wanted to read Robert Hughes on R Crumb, well, now you can.

ITEM! So, Shane Warne has decided to live in England. I guess the long-distance dirty phone calls were getting too expensive.

ITEM! Over in the rest of weblog-world (witness, for example, Simon Reynolds and a loooong Dissensus thread, both links at right), feathers are being ruffled left right and centre as debate rages over the worth or otherwise of M.I.A. It seems that the Sri Lankan-born singer has become the poster child (willing or unwitting? the jury is out) for all kinds of cultural theory-type arguments, pro and con. It's nice to see healthy differences of opinion breaking out, as long as everyone can be friends after the smoke has cleared. Me? Well, when the hype machine starts humming, I usually take a few steps back and wait for some substance to appear. I like some of it, some of it leaves me shrugging my shoulders. Heck, if she wants to put pepper on her mango, that's fine by me. I find that ice cream makes for a much better combination.

ITEM! I recently commenced the daunting but essential task of reading through Marcello Carlin's Church of Me from day one. Strange thing is, it wasn't long before I stumbled on a quote from James Ellroy's "The Cold Six Thousand", which is my current bedtime reading. What would have been really spooky is if he had been quoting a passage I had just read or was just about to read. As it is, he may well have inadvertently given away a significant plot point. But some 500 pages of the tautest prose ever written (longest sentence so far: eight words; use of adjectives: non-existent) still ahead of me (it is probably the equivalent of a couple of thousand pages written by any other writer you can think of), it will likely be many months before I stumble upon the passage for myself, by which time I will have completely forgotten about it.

ITEM! Headed into the centre of Canberra on the weekend to spend a bit of overtime money before the kids steal it from me. I fully intended to buy the new M. Ward album, and perhaps the LCD Soundsystem disc. But I got ambushed by a number of essential pickups at Revolution (Scott Walker's "Boychild: 1967-1970", which I am a bit embarrassed about not already owning, especially given the name of this weblog; Steve Reich's "Drumming", in a 2-CD Deutsche Grammophon package; "The K&D Sessions"; and David Bowie's "Station To Station", which I have always rated as an essential album, thus making my prior disposal of the vinyl even more inexplicable). Then upstairs in the comic shop I "had" to buy Book Four of Alan Moore's "Promethea" series, even though I have some reservations about the somewhat academic tone of some of the discourse about magic(k), because it is obviously the current Moore project that he is taking seriously, unlike the myriad other Moore-related books that seem like he is tossing them off in his sleep (which obviously doesn't make them rubbish, but I'll leave it for others to actually read them). When he is working hard, nobody can twist the comics medium to their own ends as well as Moore can. (Compare and contrast Dennis Potter and television.) So M. Ward will have to await another day.

ITEM! In the New Yorker of 1 February 1958 (price: 25 cents) Whitney Bailliett gives a somewhat lukewarm reception to Miles Davis's "Miles Ahead: Miles Davis + 19". He likes the idea (breathing life into the moribund big-band concept) but is not entirely sold on the execution. His take is that it represents the last gasp of the "cool" school of jazz, which he sees as having run its course. Of course, he doesn't know what is coming next. It will be interesting to see his take on "Porgy and Bess" and, crucially, "Sketches of Spain". What Bailliett sees, through the eyes of 1958, as the end of one thing we know to have been the beginning of something else entirely. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere.

Stone God

On account of having climbed off my death bed and straight into a 15-day unbroken stretch at the office (I did get home to sleep) I kinda missed a few things happening in the world.

Such as the death of exotica king Martin Denny. I have a healthy, non-obsessive number of Denny records (including one, sans cover, almost too warped to play, but which contains the most bizarre version of "Macarthur Park" you could ever imagine), mostly bought cheaply in the golden days before Bruce Milne went around all of the Melbourne op shops and second hand record stores picking them up for two dollars and sticking them up on the wall at the now-defunct Au Go Go Records for upwards of $60 a pop.

I can hear the fake bird calls cascading down from beyond the pearly gates now.

Here is his version of "Caravan", because you can't have too many versions of "Caravan". It's taken from a Rhino Records compilation from 1990 called "Exotica: The Best of Martin Denny". Enjoy.

[Editor's Note, 5.10pm: 1. The reference above to Bruce Milne perhaps seems uncharacteristically negative in tone. It was intended only as a good-natured jibe and would hopefully be accepted as such. Au Go Go Records was in almost every respect an exemplary record store, especially the rarities/second-hand section upstairs, which has been the final resting place of many of my hard-earned dollars. It is also the shop from which I bought "The African Man's Tomato" by the Cannanes, which dates the starting point of my Second Golden Age (which came to an end when the world chose Nirvana over Beat Happening, a travesty for which the world should never be forgiven).

2. The above link is now working.]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Back To Nature

Notwithstanding that our house is five minutes away from Australia's national Parliament House - less as the crow flies, not that any crows would want to fly that way, galahs more likely - we also have, practically outside our back door, a large slab of actual Australian bush (we had an echidna at the foot of our letterbox the day we moved in). I like to maintain a veneer of fitness by taking a walk up there every now and then. I did so on Saturday, when a bloody big kangaroo loomed ahead of me on the walking track, looking straight at me and seemingly not in the mood to get out of my way. So I turned around and went home. I went out again yesterday morning, when a very large black poodle (half as tall as me, almost) that was on a leash ran over to me and bit a large hole clean out of the shorts I was wearing. It happened so fast I had no time to be scared (that came afterwards). The owner of the dog didn't respond in any of the ways I would have liked. No apology. No checking if I was okay. They say that pets are like their masters. Let's stick with the guinea pigs.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Screen Dreams

A friend has lent us a four-DVD box set of Miyazaki films. That's a good friend to have.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Sufferer's Time

There is something in this piece by Marcello Carlin that resonates very profoundly with me. I think it is this passage:

"Up in remote Lanarkshire, as yet unfamiliar with Handsworth or Brixton, it seemed to me like a record from the outermost space, a reggae version of Stockhausen's Stimmung, all chopped up syllables and stopped polyglots, and I loved it."

Substitute South Gippsland for Lanarkshire, and ignore for a moment the reference to Stockhausen, and it could be me. Not in 1974, mind, but 1978, listening for the first time, perhaps, to the Sunday evening reggae show on Sydney's 2JJ, accessible by radio hundreds of miles to the south only as the cool night air sent the signal down our way, sporadically, fading in and out in the way only AM radio can, so that your chances of catching the back-announcement of the songs just played were fairly slim. Which, I guess, added to the mystery. What was this thing called "dub"? And why did I really, genuinely feel this music in a way that I didn't feel other music, even music that I was totally absorbed by? (And why do I still feel the same way?)

Such a response, to what (judging by the reactions I have had in the past from casual listeners) is not the most readily accessible of musics, is perhaps easier to understand in someone like Carlin, who seems to have been brought up in a kind of alternate-world ideal household, where jazz in its more lofty forms was the order of the day, along with the likes of the aforementioned Stockhausen. In my own case, my parents' feeble record collection ran to "30 Smash Hits of the War Years", Strauss waltzes, and the Seekers, spiced up a bit by regular World Record Club selections from the likes of V Balsara and His Singing Sitars (still one of my favourite records: listen to them butcher the Beatles and weep - or howl). So, whence comes the dub that courses through my body? Is there a hint of illegitimate Jamaican blood in here somewhere? (I did have two transfusions at birth. Aha - has anybody ever done a study on this?)

On the other hand, I could always cease the amateur self-psychoanalysis, relax, and put on Keith Hudson's "Pick A Dub" (Blood and Fire reissue - hey, my personal 1974 revolved around The Sweet and Suzi Quatro, with Skyhooks looming just around the corner; I wouldn't have recognised a dub plate if someone served my dinner on it).

Monday, March 07, 2005

What else can you do?

There are days when the only thing that will help is "The Fox In The Snow" by Belle and Sebastian.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

This goes with that (again)

The fifth song on side one of “The Spanish Album” by the Sandpipers (no year given; post-1966 is all I can say, but most likely not far “post”), which I picked up at the most recent Canberra YMCA garage sale (along with several others in what I consider a good vinyl haul - about which, undoubtedly, more later), is a song called “Cancion de Amor”, or “Wanderlove”, written by Mason Williams, whose own version appears, according to IMDb, in the movie “The Kid Stays In The Picture”. Can’t say I know the original, or any of the numerous other versions of this song (Esther & Abi Ofarim, anyone?).

But what I can say is that, at the point when the Sandpipers get to the three-note descending sequence at the end of each verse, my brain can’t help but segue into the chorus of Nick Cave’s “The Weeping Song”: naturally, we are far from alleging anything untoward; it is a very fine turn of musical phrase, which sits well in both songs. And astute readers will recall that “The Good Son”, the Nick Cave album on which “The Weeping Song” appears, was recorded in Sao Paolo, so perhaps the similarity is less surprising than it initially seemed.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


We are probably going to start putting up the occasional mp3 on this page. I suppose that means we might be blogging from jail. It's a risk we have to take.