Zippo distraction
Bill's column is still on the drawing board due to a slight problem with the alleged Zippo he bought in San Francisco. Well, it turned out not to be a Zippo after all, but a Taiwanese replica, and that has led to a revision of the image used in his world-famous Zippo clip accompanying the Zippo diity he's written in honour of the esteemed product.
  This columnist's contribution is pending - no excuse!
A voice from the past
16.4.04 - You could have knocked me over with a blackfeather the other week, when who should be on the other end of the phone but former Ariel drummer, Iain (Sparrow) McLennan! (Iain was with one of the latter incarnations of Ariel in the '70s and parted company with us a second time after a short sojourn on the skins with the revamped Mike and Bill Show in the mid-'90s).
The new Iain, now living in Mosman, seems to be a reformed and rejuvenated character, and while Bill and I have been pottering around producing fuck-nothing for absolutely years, he's finally produced the CD he's been threatening for so long! There are a couple of guest artists featured on it, including another former Ariel and Heaters' member, the reclusive Tony Slavich. Not only that, Iain's allegedly writing a book about his life with the working title of 'Don't Forget - You're Only The Drummer'. Damn right - but it'll be an interesting read anyway...
Now, if you're interested in having a listen to his CD, you should contact Iain by e-mail and order yourself a copy. Keep a box of Kleenex handy..
- a little dab'll do ya!




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Is that all there is?
Since I've started writing these, well, we'll call them columns, I've not encountered the writers' block syndrome, something that I'm very familiar with in my other so-called career as a musician/songwriter. Until now, that is. It seems I've not got a subject that I'm fired up enough about to grizzle about at length in print. So I guess it's time to tackle an issue that is becoming as familiar a background noise as the musicians' curse of tinitis - that is the nagging realisation that life is finite, that the better part of it's already gone, and that all one has to look forward to is the inevitable deterioration of bodily functions and the whole grim picture, commonly described as intimations of mortality.
(Speaking of writers' block, the good thing about the musical version is that even if the words dry up, you always have recourse to your instrument of choice, and you can noodle, even distractedly in front of the TV, and eventually something will pop up. As testament to that, I've got cassette tapes piling up round the place with nifty chord sequences and melodies just waiting to be rediscovered at some later date, presumably when I'm inspired and brimming with business, and moulded into something meaningful - or even meaningless and popular would suffice right now).
But, I digress. I think it was Ian McCausland's 60th that got me going this time round. Not so much the actual party mind you, although that was salutory enough, encountering long-unseen fellow-travellers and musicians in the dim light of the Yak Bar, (I don't even want to imagine what that might have been like in the cold light of day). As it turned out, circumstances dictated I left the party fairly early, but at the party someone had tipped me off that there was a program on SBS at 10.00 about the enigma that was Bruno Lawrence. (If that name means nothing to you, your most likely point of reference would be the ABC series Frontline - Bruno played Brian, the show's producer).
Anyway, I ended up watching the program in its entirety, (I've met quite a few people since who saw the show as well - it must have been a quiet night on TV), and Bruno's troubled life and its impact on the people who knew him, got me thinking. Well, what a contrast to party boy Ian McCausland for a start. Ian is a beautiful man - I think gentleman is an apt description - and I guess the kind of person back in the '70s you'd hope that the ideal of a hippie might grow into. A perceptive, talented draftsman/artist with a gentle sense of humour and, I imagine, a very short list of people who could possibly dislike him for any reason - with the possible exception of jealousy.
And then there's Bruno. The Bruno comet burned fiercely, across the southern firmament at least, and then, just as abruptly ceased to exist. Friends, family and colleagues forgave him his many excesses, because there was something of the human condition that Bruno was able to communicate to an audience that defied prediction and expert opinion. It was something spontaneous and self-revelatory that seemed to by-pass the irrelevancy of the camera and go straight to the soul, something sitting mysteriously between perplexed and quizzical on the unfashionable pate, and hurt and defiance in the big, unexpectedly deep brown eyes.
Some people might describe it as genius - in fact I'm not sure that some people didn't describe it as genius on the program - but the word genius is diminished by its overuse these days, and anyway, I don't think it's the right word in this case. And, in any case, that's not what I was getting at.
The point I'm trying to make here is that Bruno burned out early. It was like he chose to do that. I, on the other hand, have chosen to live less spectacularly, much less spectacularly in fact, but I still reckon l've got more to offer, that my best years are ahead of me etc., despite the worrying signs of impending infirmity. I even have the temerity to imagine that I'm doing some things better than I ever have, and that I will continue to do even more things better than I ever have before, or indeed some things I've never even done before.
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A note from the editor
17.4.04 - OK, so we're behind schedule. But, the good news is that the new CD is going pretty much to plan. We were to be doing the launch at the Corner Hotel on Sunday July 11th, but I don't feel comfortable at the Corner, so we're investigating other potential venues at the moment. You'll be the first to know, of course.
Gigs are still pretty thin on the ground at the moment, but we expect things to become slightly more hectic when the CD is out there. We're even thinking of going interstate (!), which we haven't done for a good while. (Those of you who are reading this in some foreign clime, feel free to write in your suggestions - I'm happy to report the Contact Us facility is working again and you are free to e-mail us your suggestions about where you'd like to see Spectrum play near you..)
If you haven't seen the website for a while, you'll notice some cosmetic changes, all aimed at making the experience easier and more fun. I enjoy hearing from you, so keep those cards and letters etc.

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Foffle Magazine features Top 200 Oz albums
16.4.04 -
The latest edition of the gloriously indulgent Foffle magazine, fanzine-style love-child of the seriously affected Ian Marks, features a fairly idiosynchratic list of the top 200 Aussie albums of all time, amongst which a couple of Spectrum and Ariel's albums nestle quite comfortably.
There's also a review of The Jellabad Mutant CD by Paul Culnane, which may well be a first review it's scored, (I've not seen another anywhere), and which I'll eventually add to the short list of Volcano and Rare Vision CD reviews on the website.
If you've not come across Foffle before, it's worth a read - you're bound to get a giggle or two. It claims to be directed at the 'discerning layabout', but you don't have to be either of those to enjoy it. This is Issue #19, so there are plenty of back issues to catch up on. If you're interested, check it out.
It's good to see our old friend Mike Brady getting a mention too - in fact, if it wasn't for Mike's timely intervention, this comparatively lavish edition of
Foffle might have struggled to make the streets (read about it on page 5 under the 'Foffle Goes Corporate' header).
Speaking of Mike,(and we all still think of him as 'Mike' despite his persisting with the 'Michael' Brady persona), not everybody knows that Bill and I have him to thank for getting us back onto the music scene where we belong. Get up there Mike Brady!

- read all about it!

Issue # 7