It’s been a while – work took over. The weeks leading up to 30 June are always busy, as we finally close off on one long-gone financial year and prep up for the next. It’s also been a time of change for our biggest clients the Wiggles as they move into a new era – restructuring and refocusing on the challenges going forward with new members. The Monthly mix is now Quarterly as a result.
There has been plenty of good music around. The healthy Aussie $ continued to attract the top overseas acts like bees to a honey pot. That could all change, as the currency conversions have recently turned around. Good times hopefully now beckon for local bands touring overseas – and just at the right time. That’s great news for our band clients about to tour North America, and for those shortly to receive June overseas royalties re music; songs; books; etc. It’s also great news for the local Music Industry, which in my opinion is on a creative high right now. Gotye are already huge overseas, and Tame Impala well on the way. Sia is writing for just about everyone. And Bliss n Eso straight into album chart at number 1 this week. Congratulations Jonathan, Max, and Tarik. Love, Peace & Unity. Life is good here in Australia. We are blessed.
On stage live in Sydney, we started with the Boss. What can you say about Bruce Springsteen? Even for a lapsed Rock fan like myself, this was the supreme live show. A long, uninterrupted, inspiring performance, featuring high-class musicians – the enthusiasm on stage creating huge excitement off. You can’t knock it. This was entertainment of the highest order, pure and simple. The audience was out of their seats rocking from the first song. Loved it!
Surprising how easy it was to fall back into that vibe, as I’m no longer such a big fan of rock as I used to be. Nina Simone and Nick Cave, along with a healthy dose of Jazz and the eccentricities of reggae guru Lee Scratch Perry are more my scene now. But I’ve been through two huge Rock Eras in my previous life, so definitely appreciate the genre at its best. Cue for a Baz flashback? Read on ..
Baz Rock Era 1 was way back in the late 60’s/early 70’s, working at the legendary Marquee Club in Wardour St, London. That was a night (door) and day (office) 24/7 gig for me. Five great years of continuous rock and blues, with many highlights. Led Zeppelin’s first gig. Jimi Hendrix. Eric Clapton. The Stones. The Who. Bowie. In short, the cream of British Rock regularly performing in their formative years at London’s iconic music venue at that time. Plus the Marquee organized the Reading Festival, and the Lyceum London all-nighters. Ten bands a week on average for five years. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Baz Rock Era 2 was the direct result of moving to Australia in 1980. By that time I had switched well across to the opposite end of the music spectrum, having spent six eventful years of close contact with shall we say more “alternative” music – working for Virgin Records in London. Starting with Mike Oldfield in 74 and finishing with the Sex Pistols.
The move down under to work for the Dirty Pool team was both a major life change, and a cultural shock. Working with the local pub rock legends of that time – Chisel; Angels; Icehouse; Divinyls; and long-time clients Mental As Anything. Many sweaty nights were had at Selinas. A great introduction to the Land of Oz – a new exciting country situated far, far away from Old Blighty; Maggie Thatcher; and the UK class system. No regrets at all.
Speaking of Oz Pub Rock, it was great to meet up with former Angels drummer Brent Eccles and his wife Helen at the Apra Awards in Melbourne this week. Also good to see Georgi Kay paying tribute to Chrissie Amphlett on stage with a powerful rendition of Boys In Town. Congratulations to all the Apra winners, especially Tame Impala for song of the year. From Lonerism – possibly my favourite album of the last 12 months. Mind you, they picked the wrong track in Feels Like … For me the stand-out song is definitely Be Above It. Very impressive.
Previous mention of Maggie Thatcher leads straight into the opening track of this month’s CD Mix – The Witch is Dead. Only in England could a more than 70 year old and shorter than 1 minute song be re-promoted to commemorate the death of a former PM – and then get to number 1 in the charts. That, despite the BBC refusing to play it. Tongue in cheek – maybe. Bad taste – definitely. The “Milk-Snatcher” has finally left the house. You had to be there.
Those former Virgin Records punk days also get a hit-up in this mix. John Lydon, the man formerly known as Rotten, made a welcome return down under recently with Public Image. Performing at the Enmore, Lydon continues to live out his own public image. This was a rare opportunity to see a master at work. “This is what you want …. This is what you get”. The Order of Death (track 13).
The Witch is Dead almost didn’t make number 1. There was a lot of pressure to hold it back no matter what, because of the “political implications”. That’s happened before of course. As an ex-Virgin man, how can I forget God Save the Queen. The biggest single seller in HM Jubilee Year of 1977, but held back from that top spot by Govt inspired chart “fixing”. It happens.
This is getting a little political. The big question – Can music change the world? Free Nelson Mandela by The Specials definitely helped that to happen. John Lennon’s Imagine and the Beatles All You Need Is Love sent powerful messages around the Globe in the 60’s. Marvin Gaye. Morrissey. Nina Simone. Billy Bragg. Marley. Dylan. Midnight Oil. All have had something to say. More recently, Bliss n Eso; The Hilltops; and Urthboy have shown a healthy desire to speak out on issues that concern them and their audience. There is still some considerable way to go before we reach the level of the 60’s demos and protest songs, or later the Clash, but slowly getting there. A War & Peace Mix beckons.
The Boss himself is not included on this CD. American Land almost made it – yet another of his classic Irish Anthems, which make the difference for me. Sadly it didn’t really synch with the other tracks featured. However I have included a recently discovered Neneh Cherry version of Dream Baby Dream. This may be sacrilege to some of my friends for whom that song epitomizes Bruce, but it’s an interesting and definitely alternative version of those immortal lyrics recorded and written first by New York punk pioneers Suicide (Alan Vega).
Plenty of Jazz at 505 Club and also at Starfish (Clovelly). I was particularly impressed with Lauren Lucille, a young Jazz singer from Brisbane, who brought her Nina Simone tribute show to 505. Clearly a risk-taker, because there is no substitute for the all-time Queen of Soul, Jazz, and Blues. And a white honkey from Queensland – get real? But credit where credit is due. This lady has guts, and confidence well beyond her years. Great show. A beautiful song included here from Lauren’s own CD (sounding nothing like Nina). At the Starfish, the locals really appreciate the hard work that Jonathan Zwartz puts in each month. He always comes up with interesting and entertaining acts on that first Monday. Henry’s Nightlife, a cool number from his own recent album features – track 3.
I’m continuing to discover “new” Nina Simone songs surprisingly. Not so easy when you have over 200 classics already in your Music Library, but with a voice like that, there are always remixes coming out. The version of “See-Line Woman” included here comes from a Cinematic Orchestra album of their own favourite songs – part of the Late Night Tales series. It’s well worth checking out the whole album – the Nick Drake track Three Hours is also lifted from it.
What else do we have? Well, not one but two Frank Ocean songs. I love his Orange CD. He sounds like the modern-day Marvin Gaye to me. Can’t get much better than that. Hard to get to see him perform though – tickets for upcoming show sold out in two minutes! Lana’s haunting song from Great Gatsby is another commercial inclusion – still good despite being plugged to death in the movie. At the opposite end of the spectrum, which is where I normally hang out these days, finally I have sneaked in a Lee Scratch Perry track. Well, kind of, as Golden Clouds is really an Orb song – a reworking of their better-known track Little Fluffy Clouds. Their dreamy spacey music fits well with the eccentric babblings of the legendary king of reggae and dub, who features heavily on the album: The Observer in the Star House. The gates have opened for the very merry Perry, and more Scratch songs will surely follow.
The rest of the tracks provide a smorgasbord of alternative sounds. Brendan Perry – the male half of Dead Can Dance is featured with a beautiful song Medusa. Tricky has a new album out – his best for years. And I have long been a fan of The Flaming Lips, but surprisingly only recently discovered Grandaddy, who are very much of that same ilk. So You’ll Aim Toward The Sky is just about as inspiring as the title suggests.
The closing track Adagio for Saxophone is lifted from a recent live album Concert in Athens, conducted by the Greek pianist and composer Eleni Karaindrou, and featuring the master of sax Jan Garbarek. Beautiful music and an amazing production for a live recording. Check out the entire album if you like this.
Finally, to liven things up a little, I’ve included yet another dance song featuring Gurrumul, plus a taster from the Bliss n Eso release this week. More BNE next time, plus Fat Freddy for sure – after their shows.
Click here to view the full Autumn 2013 Mix.