Friday 28 September 2012

Boardwalk Empire/25 Years Of Telly

Nelson Van Alden - Good Christian fellow
Just finished watching the 2nd season of Boardwalk Empire and I'm loving it. There are some great characters in there, some really good creeps. It got me thinking how slow crime used to take 90 years ago. The show is hardly as action packed as something like Breaking Bad and nor should it be. Today with mobile phones, computers, cctv and tracking devices crime happens within an instant as does the news of it but in The Boardwalk Empire days they may have had to wait weeks if not longer to pull off a crime or receive news of a crime or a cross. Some people may perceive Boardwalk Empire as slow but its pacing suits the era in which it is set perfectly.

Gillian Darmody-a good mum

Richard Harrow

While in Sydney I read a pretty good article, for a mainstream newspaper, in the Sydney Morning Herald on the best telly shows of the last 25 years and it was fairly spot on. Not the order of course that was ludicrous. Why do they have to rank such lists? Mad Men seems to be mostly appreciated due to its set design and wardrobe. Can't I just look at a picture book for such things or watch an episode of Bewitched? All my drama faves (most of these are comedy dramas I guess) were there though Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Twin Peaks, Blue Murder and Breaking Bad. Some of my favourite American sitcoms were listed too including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld and the cult comedy Arrested Development. I also must admit to enjoying reruns of Frasier in recent years, something I could never have imagined/been horrified by in my 20s. I am wondering where Northern Exposure is? What about 30 Rock?

Do you think I'm sexy?

Only one British comedy makes the list from the past 25 years - The Office, which of course is a fine choice. It had me thinking is this a Sydney thing being so focused on America? Would the list have been more anglophile if it were compiled by a Melbourne paper? Just a thought to entertain. Some of the greatest British tv comedies of all time are from the last 25 years namely Ab Fab, Knowing Me Knowing You, The Royale Family, The Fast Show, Reeves & Mortimer, The Mighty Boosh, I'm Alan Partridge, Little Britain, Father Ted (Irish I know), Ali G, Black Books, Spaced, Peep Show, Help and The Trip to mention just a few. The Australian (so called) comedy Frontline makes it in but you've got to wonder how well that would stand up to viewing today considering it's sibling The Hollowmen was unwatchable when it was aired recently.

The Royale Family
Is this the most loved British comedy from the last 25 years?
I've never seen The West Wing. Lost well that lost me somewhere between season 1 and 2, I just didn't care. The X files is for other people. I watched Buffy up until about the end of the 3rd season I think then she got that military sort of boyfriend then it was never the same. Anyone for Wilfred? What about Flight of The Conchords? Where's The Blue Planet??? No variety?? No Letterman?????...........

Thursday 27 September 2012

Sun Araw - The Inner Treaty

Bondi - Last Sunday. Spent most of this trip ill in the Hotel room
with a tummy bug! Great! Fantastic pic by The Mrs though!
When I got back and started to feel a little better this was waiting for me. This being the only glimmer of happy in my life in the last 4 days.

It's his slickest yet most stripped back recording so far. I have only listened to it twice but I have to say it has a Compass Point/Adrian Belew vibe, maybe an influence from his time spent in the Caribbean recently or just listening to Talking Heads/Lizzy Mercier Descloux records. A bit weird after 5 or 6 LPs where it's been hard to pinpoint the slippery Sun Araw that now I can say something like that. Is it the stripping of the hypnogogic fog that's revealing or is it just a new direction/coincidence?

*Blogger spellcheck offers an alternative spelling to hypnogogic - Spongecake!

Monday 17 September 2012

Swell Maps/Space Rock....

*It's a funny thing I've never heard those Rowland S Howard & Nikki Sudden Records. Well as you can tell I was big on the Birthday Party but I'm also a massive Swell Maps (Sudden's band formed with his bro Epic Soundtracks in the mid 70s) fan. Swell Maps have got to be the most underrated British Post Punk band. Their debut LP A Trip To Marineville would be in my all time top ten. The follow up Jane From Occupied Europe is also ace and International Rescue is one fine compilation. Maybe they were too broad in their musical output to be truly considered a post punk band, I guess a bit like the Homosexuals in that regard. Wasn't the whole point of post punk though to be fearless and travel your own experimental path. Funnily enough in the early 90s when most post punk was seen as passe they were still having some kind of impact, their records were still in print and they had an influence on the indie scene ie. Pavement et al. So I guess their influence was beyond mere post punk revivalists that came later loving/impersonating their Gang Of Fours and Joy Divisions. Swell Maps having a much broader influential scope. I should check out those Howard & Sudden records.

**After watching that Hawkwind doco I obviously dug out the Space Ritual double live record which is one of the space rock peaks. One that never seems to make it to any lists is Warrior On The Edge Of Time which could be my fave Hawkwind record of all. Sonically it's not that far from Space Ritual -glorious deep, dark and mysterious space rock man with great bass and rhythm. It put me on a trip of acid/space/electronic rock classics Agitation Free's Malesch, Amon Duul II's Phallus Dei and Yeti, Lobby Loyde's Beyond Morgia, Tonto's Exploding Head Band's Zero Time, White Noise's An Electric StormCan's Unlimited Edition and further on and out.......

A grade space rock grooves

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Rowland S Howard - A Reprise

I watched that Documentary autoluminescent again last night and geez it's hard going towards the end. This is a doco about the life and times of Rowland S directed by Lynn-Maree Milburn & Richard Lowenstien. It contains some fantastic footage of the great man from the early days onwards. It's when it gets near the end and there are scenes of him in hospital and sad stories from his last days that really hit you with the sadness of his tragedy. He was starting to gain momentum with his career again. His Pop Crimes LP was critically acclaimed and a whole new younger audience was becoming aware of his magnificence. He had so much more to give and his regret was heartbreaking ie. not looking after himself at certain stages of his life.

He ended on a high note though and I hope he was proud. What a top record to go out on! Ha... just noticed 10 minutes ago that the FACT Webmagazine has his Teenage Snuff Film record in their best albums of the 90s, coming in at #20. So it takes an international website to recognise his excellence and the Aussie list maker wankers to overlook it. Typical. 

Sunday 9 September 2012

Teenage Snuff Film- Rowland S Howard

Glaring Omissions V

How could this LP be overlooked by both that 100 Australian Albums book and that Age list? It's unbelievable. Was there a better rock record from the '90's in Australia? I don't think so.

Rowland S came into my life somewhere around 1983/'84 when my older brother brought home Prayers On Fire by The Birthday Party from one of the commercial record shops in Mildura. Suffice to say this was no commercial record. My ears were definitely not attuned to such a cacophony. This was no INXS, Midnight Oil, The Models or even Hoodoo Gurus. That was where my head was at. I thought this LP was some kind of satanic music and it remained on the shelf for a year or two. Then someone borrowed it and in its absence I became fixated with it. Rage (an all night music show) probably got me into The Bad Seeds then The Birthday Party. I never got that record back despite many attempts. I had some z grade tape containing it and the self-titled Birthday Party LP though. Those Birthday Party records became legendary to me, well, up to and including Junkyard, anyway. I pretty much love all The Crime & City Solution records and the ones Rowland played on were fabulous, Just South Of Heaven & Room Of Lights (haven't dug those out for a while I must admit). Then there was the brilliant Marry Me film clip by These Immortal Souls on Rage followed by the underated minor classic Get Lost (Don't Lie) album. We used to think he was a bit funny because he never looked very well in any video he was in. He was fragile and looked like he would not be long for this world. Nobody ever looked so cool yet so ill at the same time. I love the way he stood when he played guitar. He was a unique and fascinating human specimen. Possibly the best white rock guitarist ever.

By the time I was living in Melbourne in 1991 I saw These Immortal Souls support Died Pretty. That was a bit arse about, I thought, but I guess Died Pretty had big major label support at the time. These Immortal Souls were good but not mind blowing, perhaps having a bad night. I don't really know what happened to him after that. There was an LP in '92 from These Immortal Souls which hardly got any airplay on Melbourne community radio. The times were a changin and he seemed to get left behind. I heard the only way he got to come back to Australia sometime in the mid '90's was because an Aussie metal band had a hit with a cover of Shivers an old Boys Next Door song he wrote and the royalties saved his life. It must have been around this time that I would often spot him, with much excitement, in the Acland St supermarket with potato salad in hand. I think it must have been around '96-'97 I saw him play a solo weeknight gig at The Public Bar in North Melbourne to about 7 people, 6 of whom didn't know who he was. It was looking like this legend was fading away and nobody cared.

Then there was this performance on ABCTV's Studio 22 which I managed to tape in 1999. He was back big time. Mick Harvey on drums and Brian Hooper on bass. Rowland was resplendent in pink shirt and the band was totally cookin. I would come home from work after being at the pub and watch this over and over again. I loved it, must have watched it at least 75 times, I reckon. Dead Radio, Exit Everything, She Cried (the old Shangri-La's tune He Cried with a switcheroo), White Wedding (yep the Billy Idol Tune) and if memory serves a version of Shivers. I never bought the record, Teenage Snuff Film, until someone, namely my cat, taped over it with golf. Anyway that made me get the album and, fuck me, there were even better tracks on there. Breakdown, I Burnt Your Clothes, Silver Chain, Sleep Alone, Undone, Autoluminescent etc. This was his most focused and consistent record ever and it was fucking brilliant. No duds here. This was a Lazarus like comeback and The record of his career. Well he said he was "bigger than Jesus Christ" and he was to me and he should have been to mainstream Australia and throughout the world. As he also said in Autoluminescent:
 "I'm White Heat! I'm White Hot Again!"
And he was vocally, lyrically and on the axe. There were pop songs, dirges, doomed loved songs and songs that were hatefully cathartic. Trash/Pop culture references like guns, Coca Cola, Cigarettes, dog nods, stolen cars, Black Holes and blood were scattered throughout. Not forgetting Hell, Jesus Christ, valium, murder, romance, self loathing, being wasted, crime, poor health, sadness, devices, hate/lust, suicide and misanthropy. On the lighter side there was hope, bragging, space travel, sarcasm and love/hate relationships. Discerning what was fiction and what wasn't was half the fun of listening to this record. A fairly sparse approach musically, some fabulous string arrangements, his best ever vocal performances and blistering guitar work all added up to the best Australian rock LP of the '90's. So for me that means he was present on the best Australian rock LP of the '80's, Prayers On Fire by the Birthday Party, and the '90's. Legend, no?

Then it was another 10 years we had to wait for his follow up LP Pop Crimes, which would be his last LP before his death and which time will show to be almost as great as this miraculous effort!

or should that be rest in guitar racket from hell?

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Hawkwind/'s all connected right?

What can I say?
Stumbled upon this last night on the Youtubes  Hawkwind doco ! Dodgy old VHS tape made it even better I reckon. Heaps of stuff I didn't know, pretty bloody good. What a trip they had- Drugs, guns, grenades, naked dancers, roller skates, mental illness, links with terrorism, a million ex members, regular sackings, sabotaging their own career and everything else in between. Didn't one of the Chrome guys join them once?, there was no mention of that. Just to mention everyone who went through the band would have taken up half the film. Who knew Samantha Fox guested with them once?! Ofcourse it made me dig out some Ye Olde Hawkwind to put on my ipod. How has Lemmy, who was in good spirits in the film, not got lung cancer? He's chain smoking in every interview I've ever seen him do. I guess he's up there with Keef in that regard. They're so hard. Apart from my Roxy Music fest I've also been diggin' this mixtape Slave To The Rave from Woebot. Which is an old school Rave mix and it's awesome. I missed this one a while back so it was a good find. Good gear up there with his others Brick Door Mix, Ambient Jungle Mix and Dr Wo Mix. Check Woebot at Soundcloud for these. I guess I got to that from listening to some New Skool Rave or is that nu skool rave or is it new old skool? I'm confused! ie. Skrillex's Bangarang EP, which has got some great stuff on there, almost as good as that Rustie LP from last year (midlife crisis or just awesome bangin' tunes?). I couldn't care less if this is cool or whatever. I like it! I guess I got to that by listening to this other Old Skool Mix 91 from Dara-blog to the old skool, this could be the best old school mix I've ever heard, ( that one) which is a fuckn' mental mix of Rave Trax from well 1991. I think the times we are in now culturally are perhaps akin the the Australian Aborigine concept of time, which if memory serves translates to something like 'everything is happening now.' IE. past, present and future are all happening at once! (feel free to let me know if I have that wrong)

This sounds awesome
on my ipod

Slave To The Rave
Woebot Mix

Monday 3 September 2012

Roxy Music

Any reason to mention Roxy Music is a good reason. Their debut LP is 40 years old. Here's a recent article over at The Guardian by Simon Reynolds. I don't think I can add anything really that I haven't already. I like that Eno supports what I said about that first record being insane. Phil Manzanera supports this view as well saying "The whole of that first album sounds so weird. It's such a mish-mash of stuff."

The Bob
from Roxy Music could I resist?!
Vic Reeves & Co doing Virginia Plain!

but they blew my mind
from For Your Pleasure

Later Greatness!
Same Old Scene