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Monday, 10 March 2014

Bad Taste Inxs, But Thanks For The Memories.

I had occasion recently to venture through the Bass-time warp – you leave Tasmania in 1974 and arrive in Melbourne in 2014 – to the north island.
Being quite fond of Melbourne – and the 21st century - this is normally a bit of a treat. Unfortunately, we had chosen a new hotel ‘experience’ and discovered too late that it only offered Free-To-Air television – a steaming heap of maggot-ridden turd I hadn’t laid eyes for nigh on five years.
While Foxtel may boast multiple channels showing multiple versions of the truly execrable Come Dine With Me - the televisual equivalent of eating a bucket of fresh dog turds with a teaspoon - and inflict chuckle heads like Peter van Onselen on the unsuspecting news viewer, it still craps all over the pap that passes for FTA television in this country.
Although I recovered from my initial horror, my mood was not improved by the discovery that the best viewing option on our first night in town was a cheap, tasteless and tacky money-garnering exercise disguised as a docudrama about Oz rockers INXS.
Michael Hutchence was, in many ways, INXS. He is dead, has been for a while. But will his former band-mates let him R.I.P? Not on your nelly! Not while there's a quid to be made. He has quite clearly moved on. It was probably too much to expect a group of uber-rich grubs, so bereft of selves to be and lives to live that they not only stooped so low as to pick Terrence Trent-Darby to replace him, but willingly stooped lower to participate in a macabre INXS' Got Talent-style schemozzle to find a replacement, would do the same, but we live in hope.
At the time, its only positive effect on me was to reconsider the many benefits of SBS’ offering of the Turkish language news service, but it did set an INXS song on repeat in my head.
(Sadly, Don’t Change, the song in question – which along with Johnson’s Aeroplane, represented INXS’ finest moments – didn’t feature in the doco.)
That in turn launched me on a nostalgia-ride through the songs that marked my final school year – or thereabouts, what with memory tending to meld moments into a melange of light and sound.

While the Tom Sharpe-ian death of Hutchence grabbed the headlines, for me the death of Dave McCoomb  - the man responsible for The Triffids’ much under-rated Wide Open Road – was the greater loss.
So too, Dragon’s Marc Hunter. That band’s Rain never gets old.
I saw The Hoodoo Gurus at Curtin University, and managed to stay straight long enough to be hooked.
Unfortunately, half-way through their first set, the rictus grin was so immovable my mate locked me inside his Datsun 120Y. I was so wasted I couldn’t work out how to get out. It was my first and last foray into the world of mind-altering drugs – alcohol excepted, of course.
To be honest I was already hooked anyway, after hearing My Girl on the same night my girl told me she didn’t love me any more.
As it was, Hutchence, Hunter and McCoomb may have got off lightly – relatively speaking – compared to Sunnyboys frontman Jeremy Oxley. There probably aren’t many crueller ironies than for Alone With You to seemingly mark the Sunnyboys’ road to fortune at much the same time that Oxley was struck down with schizophrenia, signalling the start of a half a lifetime when he was hardly ever alone again.
The Church were suddenly the bright new things; so much so that in an Unguarded Moment I forked out good money – stolen from my older brother’s 50 cent-piece collection – to see them at the Perth Entertainment Centre. They were shit.

The non-Antipodean bands that caught my attention were The Clash and The Jam. London was calling, but while everybody else was clamouring for That’s Entertainment I was mesmerised by The Bitterest Pill I Had To Swallow
Joy Division were about the place, Madness’s ska-pop was one step beyond and only the very coolest were creaming their jeans over a little sleeper called Blister in The Sun.
Simple Minds’ finest moment, Glittering Prize, reminded us that final exams weren't far away and is another regular that gets a run now and again. And again.

I saw Cold Chisel at The Vegas in North Perth. Jimmy spent the entire night swigging from a vodka bottle. Me and a mate cornered him after and asked him if it really was vodka.
The Angels – quite possibly the most under-rated rock band in the history of the world - played The Charles and took us away to Marseilles, where we’d never have to see their fucking face again. Weddings, Parties, Anything were scorning the women – half their luck – but Away Away made that album. Meanwhile, Paul Kelly kept quietly churning out quality songs drowned out by US chart-topping pap, while discerning Melbourne pub-goers were finding they liked the sound of Hunters and Collectors.

The Frames were kings of the Perth pub scene. If memory serves – and it is less reliable than ever these days – they were belting out I’m Not Just Another Boy at the Herdy or the Floreat.

The Nookenbah in Innaloo was a must-do Sunday session. The only thing I can remember about the band that had the regular gig there was that it had a blonde lady and a brunette lady up front and they wore VERY short skirts.
Apart from the angels in short skirts, the best thing about the Nooky was that we would drive there in my sister’s Fiat Bambino. I would peel back the leather sunroof, stand on the back seat, don a PMG peaked cap and a pair of welding goggles and pretend I was Rommel atop a Mark lll Panther, looking for a parking spot in down-town Tobruk.
(The image was only slightly spoiled by the fact that the Bambino was painted bright yellow, with black eyelashes above the headlights.)

The school band, led by ‘Chook’ Kozradski, attracted capacity crowds when it covered Jailbreak.
They were desperate to do It’s A Long Way To The Shop If You Want A Sausage Roll but couldn’t find a piper.
You Shook Me All Night Long was ok, but it was never the same without Bon.
It says a lot that a fair percentage of the capacity crowds AC/DC attract when they play in Oz is in the 40+ age bracket. We were there when they were young and they for us.

But, best of all, was the least known and, no doubt, least talented. Keith MacDonald fronted Children’s Channel Seven by day, playing co-host to whichever lowly assistant could be found to wear the moth-eaten penguin suit and strumming the likes of Puff The Magic Dragon to a mob of unruly rugrats.
On the weekend, however, he cast off his Patsy Biscoe persona and let rip by Sunday night at the Cott or the OBH (at this remove, I can’t remember which).

I Wanna Be Just Like Indiana Jones, he sang. It was the seventh day. We rested, and it was good.

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