CD goes to Athens on steroids - and wins! See
Mike's Pith & Wind
for a typically specious discussion on drug cheats (Pictured
is a typical No Thinking brain - note there are no signs
of degeneration, even though this example is 58 years old).
well as the links at the top of the page, we've got..
to book Spectrum for that special function
in touch with us and make a comment or two
us your thoughts on the file-sharing conundrum
helpful links to Spectrum's favourite people
out Bill's Twang and Robbo's Blah on page 3
back-issues of the Bloody Newsletter and Stop Press
the very latest news and pics
- Vanilla Fudge
was cruising moodily through Borders on Sunday, feeling
more out of place than Homer Simpson with the profusion
of Beyoncés and the Brandys et al pouting
from every poster, when I came across a copy of the Vanilla
Fudge album. Some of you will be unfamiliar with Vanilla
Fudge, but I'm sure that some at least will remember them
as being the band that covered the Supremes You Keep
Me Hanging On back in the '60s. I keep on forgetting
to mention them as an influence when I'm routinely asked
that question, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to
set the record straight.
The Fudge were seminal in so many ways. Theirs was the first
album to chart without single success, YKMHO not being released
until a couple of years after the album. The album is composed
entirely of covers, yet all the songs are indelibly stamped
as Vanilla Fudge, and stand up as singular interpretations
- even the Beatles' Ticket To Ride and Eleanour
Rigby are given the Fudge makeover,
latter leavng the Zoot version sounding thin and,
Vanilla Fudge sound as if they recorded live, the
recording itself is refreshingly lo fi, with the over-the-top
campish vocals - and the way they were recorded -
probably the being the take-it-or-leave-it factor
for most tastes. Think Frank Zappa with the Turtles
and you'll get the picture.
The playing is accomplished and nonchalant, and the
arrangements suggest a classical background and are
delightfully high camp and melodramatic - ideal stadium
fodder in fact.
But I think
their treating the organ as the central instrument
probably gave Spectrum the incentive to pursue the
course it did. When I listen to Spectrum's early recordings
- especially some of the unreleased live recordings
which I've accumulated over the years - Lee Neale's
instrumental dominance is absolute. Mind you, Lee
was a very individual player, and it's doubtful that
he sounded like anybody or anybody sounded quite like
him, but if I was to nominate a band we most sounded
like in those days, it would be Vanilla Fudge. Vanilla
intending to watch the opening ceremony this time, but I was at
our manager’s place and the girls were watching, and eventually
I just had to see what was provoking all the ‘What the hell?’
comments from Dassi, Jenny’s 11 year old.
I enjoyed what I saw too, although I presume the body shorts were
in deference to the prurient US market. The Americans can’t
get over their fixation that nudity equates to sex quick enough
for me – in fact, I’m sure I will have well and truly
passed on before the obsessive pixilation of private parts has become
a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I think it’s even becoming
de rigueur on Aussie television broadcasts these days.
The Athens’ opening ceremony’s beautifully rendered
tableaux reminded us of the origins and history of the games, but
even a casual comparison of footage from the
in 1956 to any of the subsequent games would speak far more eloquently
of how the principles of the games have been subverted, mostly,
it has to be said, by the acceptance of professionalism and the
consequent phenomenon of the drug cheat.
The reaction of society to drug cheats, as reflected in the media,
is one of horror, and an affectation of surprise that anybody could
stoop so low to tilt the overwrought playing field. But, I suspect
that there’s also a gnawing feeling in even the most avid
sports’ followers, that the Games today are simply an accurate
reflection of modern society, with all its imperfections.
In 1956, quite a number of things were different about the society
in which we lived, and not just in Melbourne. Sport was important
to Australians then, but sport as the national culture was the province
of the ‘bloody commies’ in scary countries like East
Germany, who were beginning to experiment with performance enhancing
drugs to produce Hitler’s dream of a race of Aryan supermen
and women for their new masters in the Kremlin.
Not that anybody knew about that in 1956. Sport in those days was
for amateurs, and, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term,
an amateur was somebody who was nutty enough to do a lot of training
for his favourite sport in his or her spare time. Nobody paid them
for doing this. Sometimes they didn’t even get time off work
to perform at the Olympics. Can you believe it?
It was the bloody commies who changed everything. Their State-sponsored
athletes, with or without drugs, were undeniably professionals,
and they left their Capitalist-lackey amateur opposition floundering
in their wakes, in the process scoring valuable political points
in the Third World, where the West was also floundering.
So, here we are with the professional Olympic Games. Instead of
tackling the hard issue, and keeping the Games amateur, the West
folded, and now we’re reaping the whirlwind.
Hypocrisy, bless its rotten, cheating heart, is at the root of this
moral equivocation we now confront. To be utterly facile, caffeine
is verboten in the Olympics – but how would society
function without a morning cup of tea or coffee?
Bob Marley, universally revered as a musician, pop philosopher and
the father of reggae, saw his direct line to God in consuming massive
amounts of the ‘herb’. Does this make him a ‘bad’
man? Should we ban reggae music?
Some very famous 18th and 19th century poets and writers, (Keats
and Coleridge), and even politicians, (William Wilberforce), partook
of opiates – does this make them drug cheats?
And so on. There’s a dilemma here all right. But the argument
has to be balanced and reasonable, otherwise we descend to the level
of the fundamentalist terrorists, and risk throwing out the baby
- the one with the enormous pectorals - along with the (Evian) bathwater.
catch the latest goss!
Yeah, drug cheats. I remember them. They were the guys who sold
you a quarter, and it was two grams light, or had lots of seeds
and sticks in it, or they sold you a load of crap, while telling
you it was dyno-mite. Then there's the sad cheats - the
guys who ended up in hospital with a doctor leaning over them.saying,
'Stop now or die!' (Some did, some didn't). Let's not forget
the cheats who use legal drugs i.e. alcohol, prescription
drugs etc. who manage to do their daily thing and mask
their cheating so we can't see it, while leading seemingly normal
lives. How many caffeine fiends do you know? And then there's smoking,
of which I am still guilty. I'm down to the occasional cigarette,
and still trying to whittle them out all together. Haven't had one
this week - and counting. So, who's a drug cheat.? Probably just
about all of us, at sometime or other. So, let's make tomorrow a
NO CHEATING DAY. Good luck to you - and good luck to me!
The PJ Proby Show!
So the old married couple (that’s Lisa and I, Mr. and Mrs.
Robbo) had a night out at the Crown Showroom at the scarey Casino
complex recently. I must admit it was the most hassle free time
I’ve had there. Parking was easy and because it was mid week
the walk through the complex to the venue was a lot more relaxed
and the Doorman at the Showroom had our comp tickets on him. Brilliant!
Thanks to Wally Bishop (tour mgr and all round nice guy) for the
tickets. THANKS WALLY!
The show was titled “Sixties Gold” and featured Cotton,
Keays and Morris, P.J.Proby and Gerry and the Pacemakers. I had
found out about this show through my friend Stewart MacFarlane,
a very passionate P.J fan. It was thanks to my brother Jack that
I’m a P.J fan, as it was his record collection that influenced
me as a teen (also Stones, Easybeats, Animals…etc). THANKS
We caught the last six songs of Cotton, Keays and Morris, and it
looked like there
|was a vibe on stage, but the
blanket mix killed that out front. The highlight for me was during
Turn up your Radio when Jim Keays grabbed for his microphone
after a solo and dropped it with a big bang before he could get
his line in. He then apologised to the soundman and continued his
vocal. Meanwhile Russell Morris was in stitches, hiding under his
hat and trying to keep it together for the rest of the song. FUNNY
It seemed as though P.J was the big draw card and crowd fave for
this gig. Apparently it’s been 40 years since he’s toured
Australia and for this one his backing band was The Pacemakers with
an added female back up vocalist. The band came on first, started
up and then there was the announcement,” Ladies and Gentlemen.
P.J.Proby” and after a little wait P.J hit the stage. He’s
bigger, slower and grayer than we all remembered him but he still
has that big, rich voice (most of the time) and a strong presence
on stage. After the first song he told us all in his big Texan accent
that there would be a little bit of time in-between songs as he
caught his breath and I must tell you I’ve never heard wheezing
like that through a mike before. PRETTY SCARY!
He had a stool set up in front of the drum riser and after almost
every song he went back to it, wiping his brow, having a drink of
water, then reading his set list to see what was next, all done
with a wonderfully eccentric sense of humour. He complained about
the lights in his eyes and not being able to see his fans, he worked
the stage and the band (getting a little spark from the cabaret
backing) and treated us all to some Elvis like Vegas moves. There
were shouts from the crowd to split his pants.
Included in his set were his hits Hold me, Maria, Somewhere
and Niki Hoeke (a song about marijuana using New Orleans
lingo) and he finished with a stirring version of American Trilogy
(although he.. read