Well, that’s it then. Winter is now well and truly over, and we spring into summer. Spring? Does it really exist in Sydney? It looks like summer; it feels like summer; school is out; and everyone seems to be on holiday. Life is good.
Well, relatively good. Our country is now headed up by PM Tony Abbott, so not too much to get excited about there. The only upside is that we are spared further banal election campaigning for a while. An election fought on 3 ridiculously exaggerated non-issues. Apparently we have never had it so bad in Australia; the country is being over-run by boat people; and the carbon tax (which no-one pays anyway) is bringing down the economy. It’s also of course completely unnecessary – as global warming is not really happening except in the imagination of greenies. Rupert Murdoch campaigned heavily against Labor to protect his media interests. Clive Palmer campaigned heavily against everyone to protect his mining interests. And as usual the Labor Government imploded, campaigning mostly against itself. Nothing too surprising there – and in the real world life continues pretty much as usual, or does it ….. today it’s a roasting 37 degrees out there – the hottest October day since records began.
Thank goodness for music then. Fat Freddy was back in town, with the Enmore heaving to 2 sold-out nights, as packed out as I have ever seen it. These masters of Dub, Reggae and Soul have finally cracked it in Australia. The Bondi Kiwis were out in force, but for sure there were plenty of locals there also. Great band, and good value entertainment, especially for a dub and reggae tragic such as myself. Named after my favourite comic book from the 70’s, Fat Freddy’s Cat (I still have a couple of the original copies, gathering dust), this is a big numbers band that really cooks. So much so on the night, that trombonist Joe Lindsay had stripped down to his undies well before the encores. Not a pretty sight! Vocalist Dallas Tamaira, better known as Joe Dukie, has that sublime soul sound dating back to the Motown era of Al Green and Smokey Robinson. Magic. Two stomping songs from their latest album Blackbird close this mix: Russia and the title track.
Jones Jnr were an excellent support act for Fat Freddy, and their song Without Me is included here. Smooth soul/hip-hop, with the local Thundamentals connection through DJ Morgs who hip-hops between the two.
At the Clovelly Starfish a few more first Monday of the month gigs have come and gone. A great variety of performers, and always highly entertaining. Our legendary M.C Jonathan Swartz sure knows how to pick them. Among the highlights, Justine Clarke featured strongly. Better known as a Playschool presenter and actor, Justine can really sing. Jazz influenced – husky, sexy, funny, and gregarious – this was one of the best shows this year for the locals.
Justine herself is a local from way back, although now living inter-state. Her acting career started at age 7, whilst attending Woollahra Primary. As it happens, we had that school bookmarked for our daughter Amye’s early education. We even bought a house in Edgecliff Road to be in the qualifying local catchment area. Or so we thought. It’s a very long road however, and the Bondi Junction end where we purchased turned out to be a block outside the boundary. As a result Mrs MacPherson at the Holy Cross Infants School opposite instead became the driving force behind Amye’s initial education. Next week it’s the start of HSC exams, and now Amye hopes to be a kiddies teacher herself. The cycle of life!
But back to Justine, not only is she multi-talented and sweet, she also knows how to pick an awesome cover song. For me the two standouts were:
2/ You Inspire Me by Nick Lowe – beautiful lyrics. In and out of this mix, but eventually replaced with the better-known Lowe number All Men Are Liars. How can you resist a song that rhymes Astley (Rick) with Ghastley. Ha!
Brendan Gallagher also made a memorable Starfish appearance, sans The Pinks this time around. Performing an entertaining and varied mix of tunes, of which Black Swan Song particularly caught my fancy. That’s a track from his debut solo album On Eve St. – which finally made it into the iTunes catalogue this year (7 years after release!). This month Brendo has released a highly acclaimed follow up album titled Wine Island. Favourite song from that, which no doubt will feature on my next mix, is The Good Baker’s Dream. Album launch this week.
As usual this mix includes only recently downloaded songs that have taken my fancy for one reason or another. They are not all new songs or new acts – far from it. The Television track dates back to the 70’s. I “discovered” Ruth Brown recently, to add a new (old) name to the Soul Sisters mix of Aretha, Etta; Nina; and Amy Winehouse. Her song , I Don’t Know, first released in 1959, featured for 2 months, but got replaced by Karin Park in the final cut. However it still lingers on, so (currently) back in the next mix. A couple of tracks from this years Depeche Mode album, Delta Machine, were in; out; in again; out again. Nick Lowe has been around for as long as I have. And the O’Doherty brothers, Chris and Pete, released possibly their best Dog Trumpet album so far.
Dog Trumpet pay homage to Ray Davies, and The Kinks, in the track included. Good choice guys. This song of melancholy has absolutely renewed my interest in Ray. Saw his stage show some years back. Legend. You can listen to just about every song the Kinks ever released on their album Picture Book. Then check out Ray releases post Kinks. This is English and London Rock at its most parochial – a theme later taken up by XTC, Blur, and even Lily Allen.
The Television track materialized as a direct result of this blog. Their manager, John Telfer, read the blog; put 2 and 2 together; and contacted me to check whether I was the guy he used to work with at Virgin Records in the 70’s. That was before he went off to manage Joe Jackson, and find fame and fortune in that most precarious but potentially highly rewarding of professions. Followed by Everything but the Girl, and no doubt others along the way. I’ll find out more when John and the Band visit Australia next month.
Of course we also feature some newly purchased Jazz tracks here. The Modern Congress is a Tim Rollinson project. Tim being a founder of long-time clients Directions In Groove (DIG), and a leading guitarist; composer; and producer in the growing local Oz jazz community. I received the word from Tim about this project sometime ago, but didn’t really connect until recently – when searching for more Tina Harrod tracks to add. As a Nina Simone tragic, there is no finer Jazz/Soul singer in Australia than Tina Harrod – when she is on-song. And the track featured here (Wash My Soul) is a doozy. But wait, there’s more.
Much of the contemporary Jazz I’ve been listening to in recent years is from Norway; Sweden; Poland; Australia – and other exotic locations far away from home base USA. But of course there is still a multitude of good US Jazz around and Free Style (2004) by saxophonist Donald Harrison from central HQ New Orleans is a prime example. Stumbled upon this by chance on one of my regular Jazz reccy’s. This is a funky Jazz track that really rocks. Billy Cobham on drums.
What else? Well, Franz Ferdinand kicks off the mix with Right Action – the first track from their new album released in August. Jangly guitars, and good pop, guaranteed to shake out the cobwebs. And playing at a venue near you shortly. Not much happening on the White Stripes front these days, but I love this solo number Missing Pieces from Jack White. Caro Emerald is pure fun. Mayer Hawthorne, a Clarke Kent look-alike, is another recent discovery for me – white Soul. And I’ve been listening to Karin Park on the recommendation of friends in the UK – she is a Swedish singer-songwriter living in London. Bjork with beats. London dance band, Rudimental, also played at the Enmore last month – missed the show, but love their songs especially this track Spoons.
Finally on the local front we feature Kieran Ryan from Melbourne. I don’t know why, but this song Red-Eyed Birds just sounds so familiar? Also from Melbourne we include I’m Into You by Chet Faker, purveyor of Australian electronic soul and on the verge of Gotye/Flume overseas success.
Finally, I stumbled upon an impassioned “I am extremely concerned for You” 1,000 word open letter on Sinead O’Connor’s website. This was aimed directly at Miley Cyrus, and seems to have really stirred up feelings about and amongst women (and some men) in the music business. Sinead is a woman definitely not afraid to speak her mind. Miley was not amused. The O’Connor website is now up to open letter number 4. Miley has 15 million followers (whatever that means), and death threats have been made to Lorde for taking over the number one chart spot from her. As Sinead is touring the US next month, I’m thinking she might need to beef up security. Annie Lennox and Amanda Palmer are weighing in. How did I get on to this? Unbelievably I was simply checking out why Chet Faker had taken on that name, and suddenly “click” – I was swept up in a major debate about feminism past; present; and future. Of course the name change, from Nick Murphy, was in homage to jazz crooner Chet Baker. And men continue to control most of the top jobs in the music business – even as the “business” falls apart .
Click here to view the full Winter 2013 Mix.
Barry Moore: October 2013