Category Archives: music

Reboot 04

No, stop, too soon. I don’t want the world to go back to normal again. The only anxiety I have is about the old way of being that’s now roaring too soon at us, snapping at our heels to jump back on the treadmill all over again. And actually, I’m not quite ready to be strapped into the bra just yet. Not ready to face those congested, manic, indignant roads; there’s a lot of aggro out there and lockdown has provided a much-needed respite from it. The experimental, home-shaved heads of various sons have not grown out sufficiently for the world to see, and marvel at, plus a household freed from the stresses of the daily commute has been a thing to behold.’

Nikki Gemmell ‘No Going Back’ Weekend Australian Magazine June13-14, 2020

The great unfettering is occurring as I type. It commenced over the June long weekend when Premier Gutwein unleashed the shackles and evidently we exploded out from the cities to shackdom, coastal resorts Tassie style and walking tracks through the virgin bush. As a result, the Westpac Rescue helicopter was hard at it, ferrying injured hikers up out of the wilderness to the new helipad at the Royal. The news also reported, tongue in cheek, that a quarter the population of Launceston had migrated to the seaside gem of the North-east, Bridport, for the three days. Don’t blame them myself. Why, even the said Premier was there in the town chillin’ out. From here on in I suspect it will be full steam ahead for many – racing to get back to pre-COVID19 lunacy. Is it fair to call it that – lunacy? Yep, many, including a favoured columnist in Nikki Gemmell, who will feature heavily in this scribing, and I liken it to that. Some thrive with life in the fast lane, but then, on the other hand, you have this:-

People are trying to cope by loving being in lockdown, by creating a cocoon of safety, a haven, to make the whole experience more tolerable … Ironically that can create problems later on because people can love their lockdown too much and become anxious about going outside.’ (‘No Going Back’ ibid)

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Love lockdown? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly been no chore, sharing it with my wonderful Leigh. But, you could say, we’re ready to spread our wings, although we’re not being bullish about it. We’ll take it gradually. Trips to the north are first cabs off the rank and that will start to occur as June morphs into July. It’ll be after that, sometime, that we will start to venture to the cinema and restaurants, but I am starting to crave a beer and a steak at one of our preferred counter meal venues. Cafes will be the go sooner than that.

But largely we’re still in lockdown and I’m woolly. I examined myself in the bathroom mirror this morning and crikey, so woolly. Admittedly there’s precious little hair on top, but around the sides my fluff is sprouting in perpendicular fashion and the neck hairs have reached my shoulders.

And I guess that’s quite the big one, isn’t it. Nobody outside of my family, with the possible exception of my dentist (yes, a gorgeous female too), gets so up close and personal with me as the two lovely ladies at Lorraine’s Coiffure in Claremont who attend to what’s left of my hair. I’ll soon have to take the bit between the teeth, make an appointment with Jane or Hannah, to get the deed done before people will start thinking I’m a throwback to Black Bobs. I’m a little anxious about it, but I don’t think I’ll freak out. For me, facing crowds is still a long way off but, yes, I’m coming out.

Giving Consent Here, in Ireland and the USofA

When it came, early in ‘Normal People’ (Stan), it was stunningly frank, brave, beautiful and tender. He looked after her, he really did, did Connell. He’s a school sporting hero with a brain. He is a complex character – intensely private with considerable hang-ups that impacted on any relationship he could have with the opposite gender. When they first met he tried to keep his love for Marianne hidden from view. She was considered ‘different’ by the in crowd. Marianne was delicate, feisty, fragile and an outsider. She was from an affluent background with a distant, strange mother and an arse of a brother. His deflowering of her and the subsequent sex scenes, liberally scattered throughout the episodes of this series, are as intensely intimate and revealing as anything you’ll have witnessed on the small screen. These no doubt aided in propelling ‘NP’ into the stratosphere in the ratings, here and overseas. It’s also very Irish. Its impact launched two largely unknowns in Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal into celebrities – why even the fellow’s gold chain, that he wears around his neck, has its own FB page. Throughout it is unflinchingly honest as the two squander chance after chance to build something permanent from their obvious obsession with the other. It’ll no doubt be marked by many as one of the year’s best.

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Contrast the care that Connell takes with his Marianne’s virginity to the way Nikki Gemmell loses hers, as she laid out to the reading public via the Oz in ‘Age of Consent’. Such a marked difference. For the columnist there was no tenderness involved – an experience she’d rather forget. Ms Gemmell reckons the scene from ‘Normal People’ should be compulsory viewing in sex education classes around the country, especially for our young men.

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Another series that provided some excellent viewing is the Reese Witherspoon driven ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ (Prime) where, as critic Karl Quinn describes it in a recent review, she plays the obsessive mother who is the adult version of ‘Legally Blonde’s’ Elle Woods. This, as well as ‘Normal People’, is based on a well regarded novel. Leigh, having read the source for this series, constantly remarked that the tele version little resembled the print, but that perhaps worked in my favour as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Witherspoon’s Elena has her ultra-perfect life upended when Mia (Kerry Washington) comes to town. The coloured woman is soon taken on as Elena’s ‘maid’, for want of a better, if not more appropriate, word. The stereotype is obvious, but Mia’s no shrinking violet. Her daughter, the impressive Pearl (Lexi Underwood), soon takes a shine to Elena’s youngest son, Moody (Gavin Lewis). They become close cross-racial mates. However, when Pearl considers who to lose her virginity to, she rejects him for his moronish jock of an elder brother, Trip (Jordan Elsass), on the grounds that he’d be more experienced. The doing of deed was, unfortunately, more akin to Nikki G’s story and of course he cannot be blamed for any shortcomings, can he? By the final episode, though, he realises, to an extent, his failings and a bond does develop between the two, much to the chagrin of Moody.

This is only one strand of a fine product that focuses far more on the relationship between Elena and Mia, with both having an impressive back catalogue of secrets which they’d hate to have revealed. The inevitable happens. It is a step down from ‘Normal People’, but still a worthy binge.

Karl and his List – Music for These Times

In years to come, we may look back on this time as ‘The Age of Lists’. Facing the prospect of months in isolation, people looked forward to what they might watch, read and listen to and backwards over their favourites. One of the more popular iterations has been the ‘10 albums that inspired you’ meme on Facebook.’ The Age Spectrum June 13, 2020

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Karl Quinn, in his piece ‘The Soundtrack to a Life’, realised that his selections* for the meme were not only just inspiration, but more. Being invited into the meme by lovely friends, here is my contribution. These are the soundtracks to my own life during the hiatus that COVID19 has incurred, in no particular order:-

Dylanesque – Bryan Ferry (2007) – I love both his Bobness and Ferry, so the combination of the two is irresistible.

Freya Ridings (2019) – In the early days of the pandemic’s visit I’d wake up edgy. This English songstress’ debut soothed.

Pay the Devil – Van Morrison (2006) – It was his 32nd studio album in which the Man goes country. He’s a constant.

I Still Do – Eric Clapton (2016) – any release from Ol’ Slowhand is to relish. This is the latest I’ve purchased so it’s the most frequent in my music machine.

Standard Songs for Average People – Mac Wiseman and John Prine (2007) – Mac passed last year and the bastard virus took John a couple of months ago. It remains a magic pairing.

Western Stars – Bruce Springsteen (2019) – He’s promised a new E Street, but until that this will just have to suffice – and boy, does it ever!

Come On Up to the House – Women Sing Waits (2019) – Tom’s unique rasp is replaced with honey as the best voices in Americana, and one Australian, do justice to his songs.

Charcoal Lane 25th Anniversary – Archie Roach(2015) – Containing the original, plus interpretations of its tunes, including the iconic ‘Took the Children Away’, by some of our best. He’s a living national treasure.

Great Country Songbook – Troy Casser-Daley and Adam Harvey (2013) I spent a wonderful evening with my beautiful daughter listening to these two live sing up a storm. So many of their (and my) heroes have gone now. But fear not – Willie’s still around.

Tides of a Teardrop – Mandolin Orange (2019) – It’s a sweet, sweet collection of songs from the North Carolina married duo – one of my latest obsessions.

These all helped me through – and, all things considered, personally it hasn’t been too tough. I know for so many, here and overseas, that has not been the case. Hope they have had some music with them too.

Normal people trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1JQuWxt3cE

Nikki Gemmell ‘Age of Consent’ = https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/why-the-sex-in-normal-people-is-a-breath-of-fresh-air/news-story/7fa839ca1aafda662dbdda302abdb2d2

‘Little Fires Everywhere’ trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWGkX8ClhBI

Karl Quinn ‘Soundtrack to my Life’ article = https://www.smh.com.au/culture/music/the-soundtrack-to-a-life-my-top-10-albums-20200514-p54t14.html

* Karl’s list – Sladed? by Slade, Sound Affects by The Jam, Swingshift by Cold Chisel, Before Hollywood by The Go-Betweens, Doolittle by Pixies, The Stone Roses, Rubber Soul by The Beatles, 13 by Blur, Lemonade by Beyonce and Marquee Moon by Television.

De-stressing in the Time of CV 03

Dear Friends

The 7K Man – He appeared in the local paper and on FB spruiking his wares so we decided to pay Tyler Clark a visit. His spread is halfway between our spot by the river and Brighton. The sign is small, discreet – speedsters would miss it. The turn-off leads onto a dirt track and up to a hillside home. Tyler’s passion is a little further elevated behind. It overlooks a stunning view of our part of the world with the Derwent shimmering in the distance. The landscape was verdantly greening up after some recent rain.

Initially this former tradie was an avid collector of Australian whiskey – so he started harbouring dreams of his own distillery – and I assure you this is not going the way you may think, knowing my love of the juice of the peat (although someone is being aided in de-stressing as a result!)

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Purchasing a couple of shipping containers, he was soon on his way to achieve his dream. But at some stage during his story he took off on a different tangent, perhaps because of the flood of new Tasmanian enterprises in the art of making the glorious brown liquid. He turned his attention to a clearer one.

Now, neither Leigh nor I were partial to the stuff beforehand. His major offering was the last thing on our minds. That wasn’t the lure that attracted us out that fine morning. Because of the publicity, approaching our destination, we expected a car park full of other desperate punters as what he was offering couldn’t be found on any shelves around Hobs. As it was, parking facilities were minimal and we were the only customers. We were after his byproduct and we had the place to ourselves. He was offering hand sanitiser.

In any case, he was starting to struggle – he had plenty of the liquid, but as his containers came from China – well, you know the story there. But he still had a few jars worth we could decant, so we snapped them up. And Leigh decided to buy a small bottle of his main game – gin. ‘And it’s beautiful,’ says my lovely lady. ‘I always thought gin tasted of paint-stripper,’ but the berry infused concoction sure found a fan in her.

And Tyler is a lovely, thoughtful chap. When Leigh rang for a second helping – sanitiser as well as the tipple – she was told to keep an eye on Facebook. But the very next day he was on the blower to her. He had made some more. We went back poste haste and now Leigh is itching to try her latest blend based around citrus.

Tyler is planning to set up a proper shop in Moonah when the dust settles on all this. In that we wish him well. In the meantime, if gin’s your tonic to de-stress your way through these CV times, you could do worse, according to my lady, than to go to the 7K web-site and order some of his nectar – and the by-product, too, if it’s difficult to attain in your neck of the woods.

French Fluff – Much of what we watch, although some of the best offerings of the Golden Age of Television, are not particularly uplifting or designed to give us light entertainment. Scandi-noir, bleak British police procedurals and recently, the depressing, so depressing ‘Stateless’. The latter will not leave one smiling as it cuts pretty close to the bone. So what better antidote would there be to de-stress than a pretty mindless rom-com. Of course, these abound on our television platforms, but for something a tad different, in recent days I’ve opted for French escapism in ‘The Hook-up Plan’. This is the Paris of not so long ago and tells of indeed a plan, but one that goes so horribly wrong. Thirty-something Elsa (Zita Hanrot) is in the doldrums over her love life – or lack thereof. A beau has left her for another woman and she’s pining over that loss and worries that she’ll be left on the shelf. One of her besties decides that a very fine thing to do would be to hire a male escort (Marc Ruchmann) to pretend to fall in love with her over a couple of dates. That will fix her woes, surely. Of course Elsa predictably falls head over heels. Why not? The guy is a sweetie in the game for all the right reasons – and, guess what? He becomes smitten too. That wasn’t meant to happen. And when our heroine finds out, well, it’s not pretty or forgiving.

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It’s low maintenance viewing with a handsome cast. Season one finished with everything up in the air, so I’m looking forward, sometime soon, to settling into the next series to see how it all pans out.

As Tears Go By – The bastard virus has gotten hold of Marianne Faithful.

What a ‘Whoa!’ moment it was when I first heard ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ sometime in 1979. That voice – all rasp, a thousand cigarettes and a life badly lived. Could this really be the same person who trilled ‘As Tears Go By’, fifteen years prior, in a voice as pure as virgin snow? I quickly got hold of ‘Broken English’, which included, as well, her iconic version of ‘Working Class Hero’ and that shocking rant, ‘Why Ya Do It?’. Gawd, talk about a virgin no longer! I went on to add, to my collection, more albums of hers over the years, but nothing matched the impact of that incendiary release as the 70s came to an end.

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Sadly that other afflicted hero of mine didn’t make it through to the other side. John Prine succumbed to the virus on 7 April 2020. RIP.

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Weird English – Taking our minds off Marianne, JP and CV, Leigh and I have been de-stressing to ‘Hidden’, season two of which is showing on Stan. It’s a police whodunnit, quite gripping, where the cast flit between English and sub-titled Welsh at the drop of a leek. For me, Series 3 (with 4 recently approved) of ‘Babylon Berlin’ is underway on Netflix, as the Weimar Repblic is on its last legs with the spectre of Nazism well and truly on the horizon. Can hero Police Commissioner Gereon Rath solve the crime as the world spirals out of control in the vice and sin-ridden German capital, with his own personal demons still lingering? So far not as sexy as the first two seasons, but still an excellent way to shut our own spiralling world out.

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Let’s hope the demon of a virus doesn’t linger though. We’re a way to go, I’m sure, but keeping it all in perspective and keeping one’s head down we’ll soon be surging into time on of the first quarter – thanks Mr Gutwein – with hopefully our noses in front.

And we have toilet paper thanks to my daughter’s on-line capabilities and us hitting the sweet spot at the supermarket. Yay!

Steve

7K Distillery web-site = https://www.7kdistillery.com.au/welcome

Marianne Faithful’s website = http://www.mariannefaithfull.org.uk/

‘The Hook-up Plan’ trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1kdkjIjCb8

‘Hidden’ Season Two trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx-CEo6Fl7M

‘Babylon Berlin’ Season Three trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCbs4634t4E

De-stressing in the Time of CV 02

Dear Friends

Courage – Yes, I know, it’s another supermarket tale. The supermarket is about the only place we’re getting out to these days. It must have been so hard for someone so young to be confronted with something so huge, even beyond the experience of all who will read this missive, with all our decades. Yet she had the courage to rise above it.

She was of such tender years. I doubt if she had even left her secondary years at school. Yet she was carrying on as best she could. All those lines of people she was expected to marshal through her check out. All the new rules she had to adhere to, especially ones as potentially confronting as the product limits. As well, many of the people she’d be shepherding by her till would be as anxious about the whole thing as she was.

Our first experience of New Norfolk Woolies had been positive, so, as the numbers climbed and the plans for complete staying at home seemed to be coming closer, my lovely Leigh and I decided to do a big shop to set us up for the coming week and a fair way beyond. And it continued to be a far more pleasant experience than our regular go-to grocery venues. All seemed fine at the checkout after we had completed our rounds. But then I asked her the question. ‘How has your day been?’ She tried to be brave. She tried to keep it in. I don’t know why she told me and I could tell she was struggling, trying to hold it together. The lower lip quivered, ‘I was abused earlier on. He had too much milk. I tried to explain it to him but all I got was abused.’

She gave me a weak smile and I told her how sorry I was that that had happened to her. She was rattled, but she put her head down and ushered our goods through her scanner. A little later she asked Leigh for help with the customer behind her who was breaking the rules about loading her goods onto the conveyor without being instructed it was her turn. Leigh handled that with her usual poise.

Courage? Well I think so. She was still standing after some dick had given her a mouthful, doing her job in a world gone crazy. She’s at the front line, too, in a time of trouble that even us old fogeys get a tad wobbly in. They seem a lovely, lovely bunch at the NN branch when supermarkets are rising in the general esteem. I’m sure, when her colleagues found out, they would’ve gotten around her and been as supportive to her as they are to their community. She’s clearly brave, that girl – perhaps out of her depth, but doing what she feels is expected of her. And no, there was no toilet paper that day either.

At the time of writing, to put it all into perspective with how well we are off here in comparison, sixty Italian doctors have died as a result of the coronavirus bug. You can never counter that with a positive, but millions of Chinese, on the other hand, are staring up at blue skies in wonder. The planet will recover, but there are some things that are emerging that should not be let go of again. Neither should we let go of all that which allows us to de-stress.

Curmudgeonly – Jack Dee. I first came across the 58 year old UK stand-up comedian in ‘Lead Balloon’, but I’d probably had encountered him, as well, beforehand on numerous British panel shows without him actually registering. He even has hosted one himself – ‘Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’. ‘Lead Balloon’ lasted for four seasons up until 2011. In it Dee played Rick Spleen, a comedy writer for television. The name says it all. On it he vented his spleen at every opportunity. He was forever glass half empty; sarcastic to a fault. His world was full of annoyance and he’s a cynic as he battles to write laughs, with his partner, for his shows. Jack Dee was, in fact, a co-writer himself for ‘Lead Balloon’, as well as for his latest series. For me LB is one of the very best examples of Brit comedy.

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His ‘Bad Move’ is not in the same league, but the half hour episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 on Stan are just what the doctor ordered to de-stress in a coronavirus world, particularly after the oft heavier fare we watch during our evenings. Steve (Dee) and Nicky Rawlings (Kerry Godliman – ‘Extras’) have moved away from the city to more bucolic surrounds, only to find life out in the sticks isn’t all it’s cut up to be. Their woebegone, tumble-down rural house is a nightmare. To make matters worse, on one side their neighbour is a crackpot rock god, whilst on the other is a new-age family with perfectly adorable kiddies. Steve gets on okay with the former, but barely tolerates the latter. It’s twee, it’s predictable, striving a bit too hard for laughs and Jack Dee just plays himself. But for someone who, like me. loves his persona, the series is gold; sugar on a stick.

Irreplaceable – the bastard virus has gotten hold of John Prine

The last check I did before scribing this, his wife reported that he is stable, after a much more dire prognosis a few days back. He’s a fighter, is Prine. He has battled cancer since 1998, but continues to perform when he can.

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Some time after 1973 my brother lent me a bunch of vinyl. At the time I was stuck on the BeeGees, Johnny Cash and Dean Martin (still love them, mind) – the wildest I got was knowledgeably declaring that the Kinks were far superior to both the Beatles and the Stones. Kim was more up to date – ‘with it’, having broader tastes by far. In the little collection he gave me I spotted an album cover with a good looking, denim-clad rooster spread out languorously over some roadster type automobile. When I got around to playing the tracks within that one, being ‘blown away’ didn’t come close. I changed my musical direction in one stroke. It lead me on to other people such as Eric Anderson, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Jerry Jeff Walker. I’d discovered, via Kim, Americana.

Sweet Revenge’ contained tunes like ‘Dear Abby’, ‘Christmas in Prison’, ‘Blue Umbrella’ and ‘Onomatopoeia’. It was Prine’s third album. I rushed out and purchased the previous two and have continued to collect him ever since. His voice is of the ‘love it’ or ‘loathe it’ type – you know which category I fall into – but it’s his songsmithery I love just as much. It’s what has made him a legend and multi-Grammy winner. ‘Sam Stone’, ‘Angel from Montgomery’, ‘Hello in There’, ‘Speed of the Sound of Loneliness’ and ‘Illegal Smile’ are just a few classics from his oeuvre.

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Prine was ‘discovered’ by Kristofferson and Kim ‘discovered’ him for me. My thanks go to both and I’ll be listening to him over and over in the days and weeks that lie ahead. Hang in there JP.

Sultry – As Helena in ‘Hache’ she shimmers and pouts her way out of dire and tricky situations in the Barcelona of the 1960s – and she sure took my mind off the woes of the world. I first came across Adriana Ugarte in the Pedro Almodóvar film of four years ago, ‘Julieta’. In it she played the younger version of the female protagonist in a movie by the great director based on the short stories of Alice Munro. She also featured stunningly in the sensually tropical colonial epic ‘Palm Trees in the Snow’, available for you to feast your eyes on with Netflix, as is ‘Hache’. In the latter, the thirty-five year old dominates the small screen as a former prostitute, falling on hard times, then seizing the day by attaching herself to a heroin addicted crime-boss operating out of a nightclub. She wins his trust and he brands her as one of his female associates. But she doesn’t kowtow to anyone – she quickly becomes a devious force to be reckoned with as she connives her way to where the money is. Try not to be too put out by the quite, for my taste, confronting sex scenes in Episode 1.They lead to a rip-roaring story with more substance than steam. And it has been commissioned for a second series as Hache, Helena’s nick-name, continues to bend with the wind till the frenetic climax of the final episode of the first season. If you can bear sub-titles this will bear you away from thoughts that are far harder to bear – see what I did there?

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Ghost Town – This week I fear I said goodbye to my city excursions for a while, most of my haunts being closed in any case. Whilst I was in there it was, well, deathly quiet. It seemed to me that all that was open were the two places I had to visit, a chemist and the post office. In reality I felt safer in there than any supermarket, although I must admit, even around the groceries, people seem to be getting the notion that this is serious.

We’ll wait it out, Leigh and I – careful, relatively content and positive that there’s always light amidst the gloom.

 Steve

Trailer for ‘Bad Move’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmRBwaPB0Dc

Trailer for ‘Hache’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I27cgz2p-Xo

For more on John Prine = https://www.johnprine.com/

De-stressing in a CV World 01

Dear Friends

It’s a little, perhaps even slight story amidst the tsunami that’s breaking over us, but it’s buoyed me in recent days. My beloved Leigh and I decided, for a change, to go upstream rather than down, for a few items we needed, some of which were beginning to become difficult to attain in the city. Whether its from blind fear or not-so-blind greed, this panic buying thing is a pain. We were largely successful in our aims at New Norfolk’s Woolies, a place that seemed less frenetic than it’s cousins closer in to the CBD. That, though, is not the point of this scribing. Whilst in there, out of curiosity I sauntered over to the area where the toilet paper should be housed when I spotted her. She was a largish girl, her face very flushed, heaving huge packets of Sorbent up onto said shelves. A colleague walked over to her, presumably her overseer, as she took a breath between hefts and I was close enough to overhear their brief conversation:-

He said, ‘I’ve called in Paul. He can do your shift for you tomorrow. You’re pushing it too hard girl. You need a break. Please take it.’

She said back, in a take no prisoners manner, ‘No. No way. This is my job. It needs doing properly and I’m doing it.’ Then she bent down and laboured another couple of dozen rolls up onto its proper place.

I’ve thought about her reaction to her boss’ desire to give her some time away. I reckon working her arse off is probably more than just doing her bit. My notion is that she is probably struggling to come to terms, like the rest of us, with what is happening to our planet. Working like a navvy is her way of trying to block it all out. Trying to cope with it all till we get to the other side. Thank heavens and thank you to the shelf-stackers. We plan to go back up to NN the next time we need to replenish. Maybe I’ll spot her again to discern how she’s doing.

Trump. Trump makes me angry. Always Trump. Then there’s the ineptitude and just plain dumbness of the NSW Department of Health, or whoever it was that, in cavalier fashion, allowed the Ruby Princess to disgorge its thousands of sitting ducks for the virus out onto the streets of Sydney and beyond. Our island is paying a heavy price for that stuff-up and that has made me quietly simmer. And I cannot adequately find the words for humans who mount organised raids on regional supermarkets. But I find if I focus on that girl who was busting a gut, just doing her bit, for whatever reason, I know there is another side. I must not let the anger get on top. It helps to push it aside. What else?

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There’s the stuff I love that I can bring to the fore to replace all of those routines I have already lost – but do not, thankfully, spend too much time lamenting. I can still soak cares away with my morning sudsy ablutions to get a day off to a calm commencement. Then comes my music. Katie and her Leigh organised some magic remote headphones so I’ve been losing myself in Missy Higgins, Clapton, the Boss’ ’Western Stars’ of late. As I pen this I am swooning to a glorious new album of Tom Waits’ covers, ‘Come Up to the House’ by some queens and princesses of Americana – Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Shelby Lynn, her sister Allison Moorer and others. Just delectable. Katie sourced it for me on-line. She’s a marvel.

When my own Leigh emerges to start her day she is all calmness and common sense. I know, once we are through this, I’ll cherish and adore her even more, if that’s possible. Eventually, during our days, we’ll get stuck into our latest picks from the plethora of attractive series/movies on our platforms. At the moment we’re hooked by ‘The Capture’ (ABCiView). That will take your mind off anything. We’re also enjoying ‘Secret City’ (Netflix) and ‘The Last Tycoon’ (Amazon Prime). I’m finding ‘The Test’, also on Prime, taking me from Sandpapergate to retaining the Ashes, simply enthralling. And sporting-wise, with the demise of the AFL season, at least I won’t have the angst of a close match involving the Hawks.

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But the best balm of all? Late last Sunday afternoon I had, in quick succession, calls from my daughter, Rich and my dear mother. She’s confined to barracks. She’s lived through the Depression, as well as a hot and cold war, so she’s no stranger to adversity. She just keeps on keeping on, surrounded and cushioned by a caring staff at Umina. It felt so good hearing from them; such a salve, those conversations. Family need to be close in these times.

We’ll find a way through all this, as that young Derwent Valley lass is doing. My best wishes to you all as you ride out the storm in your own ways. My missives will keep on coming, She up there beyond the silver lining willing. Know they, too, are soothing for me, helping me keep it in perspective; keeping the bigger, wilder thoughts away

Steve

More on ‘Come On Up To the House’ – https://www.folkradio.co.uk/2019/11/various-artists-come-on-up-to-the-house-women-sing-waits/

Trailer ‘The Capture’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSSmitzvmUU

Trailer ‘Secret City’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2R-DPhzfFY

Trailer ‘The Last Tycoon’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDz-hm3yS28

Trailer ‘The Test’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9g8exCgVP4

Blinded by the Boss

Forty Years ago I fell in love. Forty years ago, at some stage during 1980, I purchased ‘The River’. I was smitten then and I still am. The Boss, backed up by the full bombast of the E Street Band (Nils Lofgren, Steve Van Zandt and the late Clarence the Big Man Clemons are amongst the august band’s alumni) on that double album, won me. Then came the more subdued solo release ‘Nebraska’, which I also played to death, in 1982. Of course, two years later, everybody’s synapses were filled with the ear-worm that was ‘Dancing in the Dark’. Sales of ‘Born in the USA’, now on the indestructible CD format, went through the roof. For me it was an okay release but, compared to ‘The River’ and its follow-up, it was second tier for the Boss.

With CDs not introduced into Oz until 1982, my original ‘The River’ was on vinyl. Prior to it I had been aware of Springsteen – may have even purchased a couple of his earlier breakout albums. But it was the sumptuous double with tunes like ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘Independence Day’, ‘Point Blank’, ‘I Wanna Marry You’ and the eponymous title song that made me a fan for life.

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I can’t say I have all of Bruce’s output – just a goodly number are sitting in my rather jumbled CD shelving. I’ve been buying him since the 80s. ‘Human Touch’, ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ and ‘The Rising’ are also amongst my favourites. And stored away somewhere, I proudly possess his ‘Live/1975-85’ box-set on vinyl. Last year came ‘Western Stars’. Not everyone took to it – but I did. Under the influence of wife Patti Scialfa’s musical nous and as a tribute in part to the great Glen Campbell, he changed direction. The Boss moved away from the E Street sound and that of his other solo work to produce a collection of self-written songs that are full of lush, almost elegiac arrangements, also courtesy of Patti. It is a paean to the American West and in my view, it’s a beauty. But, in good news for the true believers, there is evidently another release chalked in for later this year with his signature backing band.

Yep, 2019 was a big year for our ageing hero who has reached the big 7-O, but obviously still going strong, as I hope to be approaching that milestone. At the commencement of last year he’d just finished an extended run of his one man show, ‘Springsteen on Broadway’. You can see what that was all about on Netflix. It’s a stage memoir of his life, with some acoustic songs thrown in, much like what Jimmy Barnes has done here in Oz. Well worth seeing. But, basically, last year was all about ‘Western Stars’ though, now with a cinematic documentary to accompany it. That ran in the multiplexes for only a short time, so hopefully it will also soon appear on a small screen platform.

In my admiration of Sprinsteen and his music, I can safely say, I am no Sarfraz Mansoor. BS has certainly rocked my life, but it didn’t come to dominate it, unlike with super-fan Sarfraz. He was 16 in 1987, leading a quiet so-so existence; son of a migrant family in grimy Luton, United Kingdom. One day he came across another fellow Paki, who was wearing both headphones and a rapt expression. Said fellow was jiggin’ his noggin to the Boss. Now Mansoor had heard of Springsteen, but associated his music with white bread old farts. Dads trying to be hip and with it. What could he possibly have to say to a young Pakistani youth going to school in a hardscrabble industrial town? Quite a bit it turns out, with Amolak trying to convince him of that from the get go. His new mate loaned him a few tapes which he inserted into his music machine that evening after school. And would you believe – the first ditty he listened to was ‘The River’. It blew him away into some sort of parallel universe. He was soon even more fanatical than the tape’s owner. That chance meeting began a lifelong infatuation. The Jersey Shore is not so removed from Luton, UK, after all.

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Mansoor credits the Boss for expanding his horizons, dragging him out of his challenging environment into his present day life of journalism and broadcasting. His friendship with Amolak has endured with a now quite famous image of the two of them, taken in 1990, when the duo visited BS’s ‘My Hometown’, on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, New Jersey. So how did this photo of a pair of English Paki fans achieve a celebratory status?

In 2007 Sarfraz Mansoor released his memoir ‘Greetings from Bury Park’; Bury Park being a suburb of Luton. Sprinsteen officiandos will get the reference. And these days Sarfraz has more than one close buddy. Another is film director Gurinder Chadha, famous for ‘The Viceroy’s House’, ‘Bride and Prejudice’ and the iconic ‘Bend it Like Beckham’. She took SM to the London premier of a documentary, ‘The Promise’, made about the album ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’. Of course the great man just happened to be in attendance and as friends do, Gurinder introduced Sarfraz to him. By this stage the now well established Mansoor had been to over one hundred concerts of the New Jersey singer. It came out later that the Boss was actually starting to recognise him in his audience for he was always up near the front. He stood out with the big hair do he sported at the time. Once Ms Chadha mentioned his name to BS something totally unexpected happened. The performer’s eyes lit up and he said, ‘I’ve read your book and it’s amazing’. So the stage was set.

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Gurinder had always thought there was a film in her friend’s tale, but the difficulty of getting the rights to the singer’s musical catalogue would possibly be a bridge too far. And what would the movie version be without those songs that transformed a life? But, with the knowledge that the man was well aware of the written work of her pal, there was a bit of daylight. For a while she was sidetracked by other projects, but come Brexit and its possible curtailing of unlimited immigration to Britain, she began to feel the time may well be opportune. It could portray what it was like growing up in the UK during a period when life could also be pretty grim for a newcomer to the country if his/her skin colour was little dark. She started work on a screenplay. By 2017 the only issue that remained was the music. Mansoor managed to get an email personally to Bruce himself, bypassing his middle men and he found the Boss was quite okay with them using some of his songs. ‘Blinded by the Light’ came to our cinemas in 2019.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age, rite of passage saga up on the big screen. I suppose it helps being enamoured of the same music myself, but I suspect even a non-fan would be uplifted by this movie. And there, in the end credits, he or she would see that Jersey Shore snap of two bosom buddies celebrating the fact that they had made it to the Boss’ old stomping ground.

Apart from his fascination for the E Street’s major asset, Sarfraz always harboured a desire to actually live in the US, where he felt the grass would be greener and that the country would live up to its reputation for a place where anybody could make it. He was working towards that when the Twin Towers came down. After that, the UK, for all its issues, seemed the safer place to be. But he still visits the US regularly and there’s that lovely moment, featured in the movie, where a reference to the Boss smoothed his entry into the country at a time when any man of colour was regarded with some suspicion. The Boss opens doors.

From S Mansoor himself – ‘His songs reflected a working class experience that echoed mine. He sang about fathers and sons with an honesty and empathy that made me reflect on my relationship with my own father. He also articulated a generous version of American patriotism that suggested the US was an inclusive and welcoming place.’ It goes without saying that this image has been destroyed, in recent times, by you know who.

The world needs movies like ‘Blinded by the Light’ to counter the toxicity associated with Trump, Brexit and the rise, once again, of xenophobia. See it if you can. Love him or not, this ode to Springsteen is a ripper.

Trailer for ‘Blinded by the Light’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1YFA_J5JBU

When Amy Met Bryan

Dear Amy. You will be missed forever. All my love.’

She was a troubled rock star. And those troubles saw her join the greats of the 27 Club. Her woes beforehand are well documented and known to those who followed music in the noughties. A friend played me one of her albums back in the day – ‘Back to Black’ I think. It was obvious she was talented, but I didn’t rush out to buy it the next day.

He’s sold 75 million albums in a long career and I certainly shelled out for a couple of them. For me he was second tier – not up there in the stratosphere like Springsteen, Clapton or Morrison (Van), but down a notch with guys like Seger, Petty, Mellencamp and the Eagles. Nowadays, I suspect, to admit you’re a fan of his would be akin to saying you’re a Phil Collins devotee – but I’m old and have no qualms in saying I admire both of them. If others figure they’re naff, I don’t give a toss. And he’s still active in the music world despite now pushing beyond sixty. Why, he even played the AFL GF a few years back – and made a better fist of it than Meatloaf. But this is also one guy who has reinvented himself.

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Initially this scribbling was never to be about his music but that reinvention when he entered into the world of a highly professional photographer. And it was that, rather than musical collegiality, that led to what could be considered an unlikely relationship. So unlikely it triggered my curiosity and spun this piece off into another direction.

From the eighties on Bryan Adams was huge musically, but behind the scenes he was working on another passion. His interest in camera-snapping predates his advancement to the top of the charts worldwide. He photographed everything around him as a teenager in the seventies – local scenery, the concerts he attended, even his girlfriend in the bath. At around the same time he was cracking it musically he was honing his skills in this other artistic field and as his star waned entertaining the masses in vast arenas, he realised that he was getting pretty adept with this other string to his bow. So much so that he would never have to rely on the millions he was making from the royalties for ‘The Summer of ‘69’ and his other classic ditties. Of course, his name would gain him access to celebrities willing to pose before his lens – Morrissey staring moodily at his camera in a Rome hotel suite, Dustin Hoffman relaxing on a Malibu beach, Jagger strutting or Pink and Kate Moss happily prepared to pose topless for him. Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire have all lined up to commission him for images. Converse, Guess Jeans, Hugo Boss, Jaguar have employed him on print media campaigns. He founded the on-line fashion mag Zoo and has received prestigious gongs for his output. He has published a number of glossy books of his product such as ‘Exposed’ and ‘American Women’. And, just in case you’re thinking he’s a one trick pony, there’s also his poignant take of the damage war does on the bodies and minds of soldiers with his tome on those injured due to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s titled ‘Wounded’.

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There is nothing to suggest the musician/photographer’s connection with Amy Winehouse was anything more than friendship, with perhaps his perceived desire to see her live a better lifestyle thrown in. Adams had a taste for her music and obviously took a liking to her. He captured her unique beauty in several shoots from 2007 on, although it’s a bit of a mystery what drew them together and how close they actually were as mates. Although Adams has never married, he has had long term relationships and has kiddies with his current partner. He is also very reluctant to give too mach away about his connection to the departed singer. In 2008, peeved at being asked the question, he retorted, ‘I don’t even know, truthfully, how anyone knows I know her – other than the fact I photograph her. I don’t really talk about it. Because it’s her business. You know what I mean?’ Later on he had softened a tad. In another interview, when quizzed on the unlikeliness of it, he responded, ‘I think she trusted me. The photographs really show her having fun…I think I was closer to her than many people.’

But They were drawn to you like a moths to a flame

Nobody saw the tears in your silk n’lace

Or the scarred little kid behind your face

She’s an angel, but that’s all right’

Adams could not but help know of Amy’s demons – her battles with alcohol and drugs; her fractured personal life. ‘Amy wasn’t kind to herself,’ he’d later say. In 2007 he wrote ‘Flowers Gone Wild’, a song to purportedly warn her of where she could end up if she continued on without tempering her excesses. That same year he persuaded her to spend some Christmassy time with him in the West Indies sunshine at his digs on the island of Mustique. It was speculated that the invitation was extended as much to help her come clean as it was out of friendship.

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I’d be sitting in a villa and hear what sounds like a bird flying by, then I’d look out the window and it’s Amy, singing in falsetto, just playing around.’ It seems she was happy there. Adams took her scuba driving and tried to teach her how to drive – thus the image of her peering out from the window of hs Jeep. ‘The concept of braking wasn’t something that Amy could quite grasp.’

In 2010 the photographer shot Amy W for a spread in Harper’s Bazaar. The Canadian songster, a vegan for years, tried to get her to eat some of his variety of tucker. ‘I need protein Bryan.’ was her answer and she sent out a minion to seek some out, asking him/her to bring back a cucumber, as well, to ‘…to hit Bryan with.’

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An interviewer had also booked some time with her after she had completed her tasks for Adams. He observed her demeanour throughout and noted that she was very professional and confident to start with, but by the end, had become less obliging and just a tad fractious with the shoot. By the time she got to him she was ‘…distracted and vague. My most straight forward questions confuse her.’ When asked if she had any unfulfilled ambitions she airily responded, ‘Nope! If I died tomorrow I would be a happy girl.’ She didn’t last much longer.

At one stage in her career she informed NME Magazine that, ‘I’ve learned to appreciate simple things, like the beauty of nature. It’s taught me to face my fears…I’ve come to the realisation that life is short, so I want to make sure I live every minute of it.’

She passed, of alcoholic poisoning, in 2011. A posthumous album, ‘Amy Winehouse Lionness – Hidden Treasures’, was released later that year. It went straight to No.1. A Bryan Adams image of her graced the cover.

Dear Amy. You will be missed forever. All my love. RIP. Bryan Adams’

Bryam Adams Photography = http://bryanadamsphotography.com/

Fab and Pre-Fab

My goodness, was it really fifty years ago that I espied them on that magazine cover? The foursome were cavorting in striped Edwardian neck-to-knee bathers – or that’s how I remember it. It was on the cover of an edition of TV Week. Did I notice then the deliberate misspelling of the name? Did I make a make a mental note to watch out for them on our black and white tele? It should have been to listen out for them on my transistor radio. Did I buy the mag to read up on them? I doubt it, for I was still at school and pocket money was limited. After all, it was the first time they registered with me. It didn’t matter, in any case, for soon the world would be awash with them and their catchy musical product. They headed a revolution; headed the British Invasion. The Fab Four.

What came first? Was it ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ back in 1966, or their eponymous television show? Again I cannot recall, but excuse the French, even them I recognised the show was crap. But I watched it anyway for, at any moment, they might break out into a mimed rendition of one of their hits. Mimed? The rumour was they could hardly hold a note, let alone play their instruments. We know now that was a furphy for, individually, they were, or became, talented musicians. It is true, initially, they were bought together artificially – manufactured if you like. Prefabricated. The Pre-Fab Four.

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Of course they weren’t a patch on the British stars, but had the advantage of being on our small screens once a week while the show ran (1966 -1968). And, as with the Liverpool quartet, their music has survived.

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Yesterday I went with my lovely lady to the cinema to relive the songs of the Beatles; the songs the planet was in thrall of when I was a mere slip of a lad. The film – you know the title – was a tad cheesy, the lead a bit too gormless to really believe in, its ‘wrinkle in time’ plot a clever notion of which more should have been made. In short, it lacked the substance to be a classic. Himesh Patel wasn’t anywhere near, well, Beatlesque. Lily James, the sort of love interest, was gorgeous on screen as always – but falling for him??? Give me a break. Ed Sheeren put in an appearance as himself. Would he be the superstar he is today without the Merseyside’s gift to the world? I wonder. But it was the music; the lyrics that are now embedded in our synapses that a premise of the planet rediscovering the Beatles all over again is possible. The result of Danny Boyle’s direction did not have the magic of ‘18s’ ‘A Star is Born’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. ‘Wild Rose’, this year, in my opinion, leaves it for dead and ‘Rocketman’ was superior too. But I am glad I was there with Leigh yesterday because, for all of its flaws, it still had some of the magic that John, Paul, George and Ringo created way back when.

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And of the Pre-Fab Four – Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith – their legacy remains as well. After the band’s demise in 1971 Mike, who was my favourite, kicked on and had a few hits under his own steam. As with the Beatles, they have lost two members along the way, but Mickey and Mike are, as I write, touring Oz as the Monkees. Paul still sells out arenas these days with Ringo making occasional forays back to the drum kit. ‘I’m a Believer’ and ‘Daydream Believer’ are classics, but the Beatles produced umpteen. Edgier bands followed in the Beatles’ wake – the Stones of course, the Who, Hollies and the list goes on. I loved the Kinks – still do.

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Watch any YouTube of McCartney playing his hits today. Look at his audience – old farts like yours truly down to the Millennials – all singing along with equal rapture to the tunes the will survive until the wrinkle in time for real comes along that puts an end to it all.

Trailer to Yesterday = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry9honCV3qc

Columnist Barry Divola on the Monkees = https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/i-m-too-busy-singing-to-put-anybody-down-a-monkees-fan-stands-his-ground-20190611-p51wft.html

Remembering Hushx3

Bare-chested; leering, sneering and smirking at the boppers in the front rows, he was Bon Scott-lite. He could strut with the best of them and out lived them all – Bon, Freddie, Hutchence – and is now a granddad. Unlike those three, though, his flame passed quickly and these days he has a quiet existence in regional Victoria, developing board games and believe it or not, for an old rocker, running an embroidery business.

For a time he and his band were a mainstay on ‘Countdown’, also achieving some late recognition this millennium with revival tours. Linked with that iconic show, they reminded rock lovers of my age what we all were doing at six o’clock of a Sunday eve back in the day.

I was a young teacher then. You could be sure that, at any school social, his two signature hits, both covers, could be, along with ‘Nutbush’ and ‘The Time Warp’, assured of getting every kid in the room up and gyrating. ‘Boney Maroney’ and ‘Glad All Over’ rocked out of ‘Countdown’ as well and he even compered the show once or twice. He and the lads were the gaudiest glam-rock crew on the screen, but sadly they were mostly gimmick, little substance. They, though, intrigued me as his two guitarists were both of Asian appearance. One, Les Gock, went on to have a successful career producing in the music industry, as well as working in advertising. If you follow the NRL, he wrote the Canberra Raiders team song.

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But it was Keith Lamb who, as the smarmy vocalist, was the focus of the band Hush. Like many of the stars of the local industry during its formative years, his family were ten pound Poms, arriving in Oz in 1970. By mid decade he was riding high in the charts and Hush had the honour of appearing on the first Countdown of the colour era – and they certainly dressed for the occasion. For a while they toured the country frenetically, playing to audiences of a few dozen in country halls to thousands in the big city venues. Grinding out a playlist of sure things, they fired up the punters, getting them on their feet like my North Western Tassie youngsters. I wonder if they ever came our way? And of course, for a taste of the action these local versions of Slade produced, you can find them in all their now faded glory on YouTube. It brings back memories.

And on that internet platform you’ll also find another Aussie legend from almost a decade before, fronting ‘Somebody’s Image’. Just look at him – so baby-faced compared to the grizzled bluesman that he is, today, in the third incarnation of Russell Morris’ career. In those early years the band was taken under their wings by modern times’ national treasures Brian Cadd and Molly Meldrum; Cadd, playing in prominent band ‘The Groop’ and Molly, working for ‘Go-Set’ magazine. The latter lauded them in his columns, enabling them to garner a recording contract. Mr Meldrum famously later produced ‘The Real Thing’ and other hits for Russell during his second coming. I remember his earlier outfit performing their solitary chart success on national tele. They peaked too late for ‘The Go Show’, so it must have been on that Saturday morning institution, Ross De Wylie’s ‘Uptight’.

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Now originally this piece was going to be solely about an earlier musical hero of mine who, like Hush and Somebody’s Image, only had the briefest instant of fame in the spotlight, this time in the US. Recently I connected his link to Mr Morris’s first hit. This guy’s name was Joe South and he wrote said song – it’s name, ‘Hush’.

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I had his Greatest Hits album, together with, I suspect, other releases by him. In reality he only had the one chart topper under his own steam, but maybe you’ll recall some of the other ditties he was responsible for, apart from ‘Hush’. Remember ‘Rose Garden’. It was a monster for Lynn Anderson. ‘Down in the Boondocks’ went global for Billy Joe Royal. Many, many, including Elvis, recorded ‘Walk a Mile in My Shoes’. Brook Benton charted with ‘Don’t it Want to Make You Want to Go Home’. The greats of the time all recorded Joe South songs – Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton, James Taylor and dozens more. ‘Hush’ was also Deep Purple’s first charting song in America.

Now, cast your mind back to Tommy Roe’s single ‘Sheila’ if you can. It was South’s guitar you can hear on that, as well as on many of the tracks on His Bobness’ ‘Blonde on Blonde’. Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence’ album also showcased his plucking. South was some guitar picker and that is how he got his start in the music business – as a studio sideman. And his solo hit? ‘The Games People Play’. With that he was popular on the touring circuit for a while, but it didn’t last. He could write for others, but nothing else connected with the public for himself. He did have the voice – I loved it. So what happened? He had come close, so close with that Grammy-winning hit, and then he faded away.

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Turns out his brother Tommy’s suicide in 1971 hit him for six. Tommy was his constant companion and a member of his backing band. Joe became clinically depressed as a result, so he did what countless others did back in that era when the black dog came calling – turned to grog and pills. South started not turning up for gigs; many performances were shambolic. He was eventually spurned by promoters. For a while he escaped to Hawaii to try and bat away his woes. Eventually a good woman came into his life and got him going. He started writing songs again and made the occasional public appearance, but his time had passed. With his back catalogue and the royalties it produced he didn’t need to push himself. Joe passed in 2012, outliving his wife Jan by a decade or more. His only offspring, Craig, in turn recently produced a son, whom he named Joseph in memory. Nice touch.

I no longer have that Joe South vinyl album. Who knew those relics would make such a come back. The grooves on it would have been pretty worn out in any case. It was frequently on my turntable back in the 70s, but

Oh, the Games people play now

Every night and every day now

Never meaning what they say

Never saying what they mean

is as true today as it ever was. Hush.

Hush on Countdown = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izNjVAOnbdQ

Somebody’s image – ‘Hush’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HukWnEnigY

Joe South performing ‘The Games People Play’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WJmg9xCukM

Sex, Chip and Briefly Hugh

Remember ‘About a Boy’? I do, both the book (Nick Hornby) and the 2002 movie. It was the film that stuck most, which is no reflection on the prominent author’s wordsmithery. It was so well done with Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz and Nicholas Hoult. I recall it, though, mainly because it was the first time many of us realised that Hugh Grant could act; could show some emotion on the cinema screen. Prior to this title he was typecast as the ladies’ man pretty boy. In the offering he plays Will Freeman, initially a layabout fop with no fulcrum to his life, except his father’s royalties to fritter away – and there’s the nub. Will’s dad wrote a Christmas song – an earworm of a ditty that connected enough to become a yuletide classic. Son Will therefore will never have to lift a finger to earn a living – his father’s song being a gift that keeps on giving. Those familiar with the story know that it’s a lad coming into his life that changes all that. But the point of the exercise is that it takes only one song to hit and one is set for life.

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Now consider these two tunes that have stood the test of time ‘Angel of the Morning’ and ‘Wild Thing’. Two very disparate offerings, but nonetheless monumental hits. Keep them in mind. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to them. But now the sex bit.

With that – well, I’m sorry to disappoint. If you’re looking for a massive actual dose of it and nudity, you won’t find it here – despite the opening scene. That being said, ‘Sex Education’ is almost totally about the subject, watched by countless others on the Netflix domain. You may be a tad offended by it, but it does take an honest look at youthful coming to grips (sorry) with masturbation, penis-fear and anxiety about the act itself. Asa Butterfield plays Otis who, in the digital age, is trying desperately to lose his virginity. He’s not assisted in this by the fact that his mother – a very comely, confused and wanton Gillian Anderson – is a sex therapist. So the boy knows one or two things, but little more, about the mechanics and can exhibit a common sense approach to the mental aspects. He’s manipulated by wild child Maeve (a bravura performance by Emma Mackey) into becoming, guess what? Yes, his school’s very own on campus sex fix it man, despite his lack of actually ever actively participating in the process to its culmination. Still, she espouses his expertise in all its facets. If this all sounds marginally naff, just give it a go – and like its legion of fans you may also find yourself enchanted by its good writing, positive vibe and warm examination of the human condition. I loved it – and it bought me to Chip, with the assistance of my beautiful writerly daughter Kate.

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Over one of our regular city brunches she asked if I had ever heard of Chip Taylor. I replied in the affirmative that I had, but only in the vaguest way. When I in turn inquired what her interest was, she told me she had picked up on one of his songs on the soundtrack to ‘Sex Education’, emphasising how much it appealed to her. Back home I duly YouTubed it and yep, it was a ripper. But we’ll go there later. Let’s concentrate on the singer/songwriter for a while.

Now here’s a list:-

Wild Thing’ – a hit for the Troggs, Jimi Hendrix, the Runaways and the Muppets.

Angel of the Morning’ – a hit for Merrilee Rush, Juice Newton and Chrissy Hynde.

I Can Make it With You’ – a hit for Jackie de Shannon.

Try, Just a Little Bit Harder’ – a hit for Janis Joplin

Enough to live on for several lifetimes, I’d say.

Now, add into the mix that Chip is also the brother of Jon Voight so therefore is the uncle of Angelina Jolie.

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The man was born James Wesley Voight in Yonkers, New York in 1940. Originally he wanted to become a professional golfer, but teed off instead with ‘Wild Thing’, so it was goodbye to the golfing greens. He really wanted his own singing career in music and although he had some minor success, becoming a rock god eluded him and he turned to professional gambling. With his weathered voice he has now found his niche and a cult following (as well as a Norwegian Grammy nomination) on his return to the stage, back in the 90s. As for his ‘Sex Education’ contribution, here I feel I must state that I am not usually a fan of a certain word on the airwaves and in music – but it just seems, well, appropriate for once. It certainly caught Katie’s ear and my attention, did ‘Fuck All the Perfect People’. With its exposure on a high rating series, it has purchased for Taylor another signature song, this time one for his second coming.

To be or not to be
To free or not to free
To crawl or not to crawl
Fuck all those perfect people!

To sleep or not to sleep
To creep or not to creep
And some can’t remember, what others recall
Fuck all those perfect people!

Sleepy eyes, waltzing through
No I’m not talking about you!

To stand or not to stand
To plan or not to plan
To store or not to store
Fuck all those perfect people!

To drink or not to drink
To think or not to think
Some choose to dismember, you’re rising your thoughts
And fuck all those perfect people!

Sleepy eyes, waltzing through
No I, I’m talking about you!

To sing or not to sing
To swing or not to swing
(Hell) He fills up the silence like a choke on the wall
Fuck all those perfect people!

To pray or not to pray
To sway or not to sway
Jesus died for something – or nothing at all.
Fuck all those perfect people!

Sleepy eyes, waltzing through
No I, I’m talking about you!

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Check it out on-line – his performance of it – or, even better, treat yourself to ‘Sex Education’. A gem of a series produces a cross reference to a gem of a performer with a gem of a tune

Listen to the above tune here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt9GBafFzjE

Trailer for ‘Sex Education’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o308rJlWKUc

Frank, Iris and Paul

Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone
Let’s pretend that we’re together, all alone
I’ll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low
And you can tell your friend there with you he’ll have to go

The singer from Down Under had wowed the audience that evening at the Liverpool Empire, treating them to his string of UK hits. His finale was meant to be the Number 1 song that made his reputation, but when the applause died down he had a brief word with his backing band and announced there was another tune he wanted to croon. It was a Jim Reeves classic. As he reached the last line of the chorus, the singer stepped to the edge of the stage and pointed down into the front stalls to a young man, holding the hand of a lass who was slunk down into her seat as far as she could possibly go, as if she wished to disappear.

Well she was just seventeen
You know what I mean
And the way she looked
Was way beyond compare
So how could I dance with another,
Oh, when I saw her standing there

For a while George Harrison was unlucky in love. Most of us know the tale of how his wife, Patti Boyd, was stolen from him by another rock god, Eric Clapton. But a decade earlier George also lost out in love to a muso even closer to home.

Iris Caldwell was born in 1945 into a working class Liverpudlian family. The only advantage she had over thousands like her was attractiveness, vivacity and an elder brother who possessed some musical talent. Alan, her sibling, had taken the stage name Rory Storm and put together a back-up group, the Hurricanes. They had some success in the early sixties. Their drummer was a young fella by the name of Richard Starkey, although most called him Ringo. One evening another lad came calling to the Caldwell home, hoping to entice Rory to allow him to join the band due to his guitar skills. He failed in that aim, but gained the affection of his sister instead. In fact, George Harrison gave Iris her first romantic kiss. The relationship never advanced much more than that, but they were together for several years. George was to retain a soft spot for her for years to come.

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Their lives came together again when she was seventeen – he a member of a band trying to make headway in the burgeoning Liverpool scene. By this time Iris was an established dancer and was booked to demonstrate a new sensation, the Twist, at a New Brighton dance hall. Providing the music for her, on this occasion, was a live band, the up and coming Beatles. George wasn’t quick enough off the mark this time around. In fact, it was his fellow band mate, Paul McCartney, who asked her out on a date – to see them perform at an upcoming engagement for a television show. Paul was already smitten even before that occurred and had quickly written a song stating so, commencing with her age.

In the end their relationship lasted a couple of years, George seething with jealousy. It was during this period that Paul produced tickets to the Empire to see the hottest singer in the land – but there was something Paul had no idea about when it came to his Iris.

Paul-McCartney

Overnight radio often delivers up gems to further investigate during the waking hours. A Rod Quinn interview with 81 year old Frank Ifield was one such. He told the tale which set in motion the notion for this piece. And many of you of a certain age, no doubt, had already worked out that he was the Aussie vocalist up there up on stage that night at the Empire pointing the finger The thing was that he too was in a relationship with the comely Iris.

In Paul she had a young bloke who still hadn’t really made a name for himself – whereas she had in the world of dance. So when she met Ifield, both performing in pantomime, that great British tradition, in, of all places, Stockton on Tees (in ‘Dick Whittington’), she felt she was onto someone who was more her equal. He had a string of hits to his name – ‘I Remember You’, ‘She Taught Me To How to Yodel’, ‘The Wayward Wind’ and ‘Confessin’. He was soon to be the biggest name in the land, but it is ironic, in light of this story, it would not be long before his style of music would be submerged forever by the brash pop coming out of Liverpool with one PMcC to the fore. But that was in the future. Then Paul’s idea of a night out was a pint in the pub followed by fish‘n’chips. The Australian beau, on the other hand, had sophistication down pat. With him she could dress up in her best glad rags for he took her to all the flash places to down expensive tucker, accompanied by Mateus Rosé – the height of sophistication. She had a strong idea that Paul was playing around. That didn’t overly concern her as long as she could do the same. Paul, it seems, had different ideas, as did Frank.

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When the truth came out that evening at the Liverpool music hall, Frank was obviously not impressed, so their liaison was terminated. One night Paul and Ringo, driving back from a show, ran over a dog. When Iris found out that the duo thought it was all a bit of a joke, she let rip and that was the almost end of Paul. At various stages George thought he might be in with a chance of getting together again with her, but Paul always wormed his way back into her good books and such was the case on this occasion. George was due to call on her, but she couldn’t resist the temptation to see her other love interest perform. Knowing Paul was tight with his money, they would be in the cheap seats in any case. Wrong. Paul lashed out and that was that. But she and the Beatle, whose popularity was growing, didn’t last long after that. Some time, later on from severing ties, Iris’ mum received a call from Paul saying that he had written a song for her daughter. Could she ensure that Iris watched its first performance on the tele? She duly passed on the message and Iris did as asked.

Why she had to go, I don’t know
She wouldn’t say
I said something wrong
Now I long for yesterday

Paul could keep a grudge too. One day Frank noticed Paul, in a group of people, coming toward him at some music venue or other. When the Beatle spotted the hitster he yelled something to the fact he had intentions of terminating the Australian’s life. His mates restrained him, but what if? Rock’n’roll history could had been changed forever.

At one time, just as the Beatles were on the cusp of fame, they were booked to support Ifield. They were booed off stage – for being too loud! All that was about to change.

Frank had hits in the US too. On a trip there to support sales his label asked him to record an album. He didn’t have enough new material to support that. Capitol requested twelve songs, he only had eight. The project was shelved – or so he thought. After his return to the UK his manager informed him that he had had a new ‘copulation’ – he meant compilation – record released in the US, his eight tracks plus four from a new band about to make their mark – you guessed it. Beatles again. Frank thought his manager’s slip extremely funny considering his relationship with Iris. That release, if you can find a copy, is now worth a princely sum.

At the highest point of his career the Aussie songster was asked by the Palace to appear in a Royal Command Performance with the Queen Mum in attendance. As it was being televised, Frank was ordered not to yodel as it was thought too old-fashioned and his career would be ruined, despite having hits with his prowess at the art. Frank was in a quandary when her Royal Highness sent him a note saying yodelling was exactly what she expected from him during his time on stage. What was a poor man to do? He yodelled!

In 1969 Iris met another muso, also a lead singer in a band. He went by the name of Shane Fenton. They married and later on Shane changed his stage moniker – to Alvin Stardust.

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And here’s a little touch of nostalgia just to finish it all off. During their time together, after a long day playing guitar and singing his lungs out trying to get his band established, Paul would often visit Iris’ home afterwards. He got on very well with her mother (later to meet a very sad end) and she helped him relax. What could be more soothing than rolling up your trouser legs and getting your girlfriend’s mother to gently brush your leg hairs? True. Would I lie to you?