Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Extremely Fabulous Marcia Hines

Stop your groaning, bitches! Marcia Hines IS fabulous - she just hides it well behind that annoying fucking 'earth mother' persona on Australian Idol. Marcia is basically the equivalent of Paula Abdul on American Idol, a vacuous waste of space who has something nice to say about everyone and is moved to tears by even the most tone deaf contestant. Then there are her multitude of annoying catch phrases that I think she picked up from some Spike Lee movie in the 1980s. Everyone is "da bomb" and anyone who manages to almost sing in key is greeted with "that's what I'm talkin' about, girlfriend!" - someone desperately needs to tell Marcia that black slang has moved on!

OK, so I've got the requisite Marcia bitching out of the way. Now let me explain why you need to get correct and open your heart to all things Marcia. As I'm sure most of you know, Marcia Hines was the original queen of Australian pop. That is pretty astounding when you think that Marcia arrived in Australia as a 16 year old to sing in the musical "Hair", got knocked up with superstar daughter Deni, continued performing in "Hair" until someone found a naked, pregnant teenager a little too uncouth, then simply decided to stay and make her mark. I respect anyone tenacious enough to survive as a single, teenage mother in a foreign country but the fact that she not only survived but thrived and went on to Australia's biggest female pop star of the 1970s is nothing short of amazing.

One of Marcia's Three "Queen Of Pop" crowns

If you're not familiar with Marcia's 1970s gems, then hurry up and buy one of the many compilations floating around (I recommend the one below).

Chances are, you will recognise more songs than you think. Mixed in with Marcia's own classics such as her signature song "You", are covers of soul classics and a more than her fair share of showtunes! Watch Marcia sing Until Your Love Broke Through in 1976 or better yet, enjoy Marcia's stunning performance of You on Countdown in 1977. I love this clip, Marcia looks stunning in her red dress and her dancing was always ahead of it's time! What an extraordinarily beautiful woman.

Fans of 70s Marcia and tragic showtune loving poofs (like me!) should get wet at the prospect of hearing Marcia sing "What I Did For Love" from "A Chorus Line". If musicals are not your go, you should probably give this a miss. If you have exquisite taste and love a good, old fashioned showtune listen to "What I Did For Love".

Moving into the early 1980s, Marcia embraced a more modern pop sound and cranked out hit after hit. In my mind, Marcia reached the zenith of her early career with the 80s classic, "Your Love Still Brings Me To My Knees". This song is one of my all time favourites. If "Your Love" doesn't make you want to groove around the lounge room, exit this page immediately because you are a loser and no longer welcome on my blog! Watch Marcia's exquisite and rather amusing Countdown performance from 1981. What on earth is she wearing? The 80s were so unkind. Do you think she regrets leaving the house in MC Hammer pants, with a black feather duster as an accessory? The song is still inspiring drag queens to this very day. Check out some Townsville ladies workin' it in an amazing drag interpretation of Your Love!

As with any true diva, Marcia's career went to shit in the mid-80s and she was disregarded as a relic from an earlier time. Marcia spent most of the decade playing to senior citizens in RSL clubs. In one interview, Marcia stated that she played an entire set to an empty room. I don't get it - surely if NO ONE was there, she could have just had a cocktail at the bar? Anyway, I digress. My point is that Marcia is a trooper. Things started to pick up for Marcia when her illustrious daughter Dohnyale (otherwise known as Deni) scored a series of top 10 hits as the lead singer of The Rockmelons. Deni went solo and became a star, which gave Marcia the inspiration to lose 30 kilos, get treatment for diabetes and stage the first of many comebacks with the hugely underrated album "Right Here And Now".

Surely the fact that Marcia expelled goddess Deni from her juicy loins should be reason enough to worship her but if you still need more convincing allow me to share an anecdote from the late 90s when this blogger had gay training wheels and was beginning to explore the dance party scene:

Picture it - Sydney, late 1990s, "Frisky" dance party. Yours truly is busily working it on the dancefloor to Cher's "Believe" when a sea of drugged-up gay boys parts to reveal a beautiful black woman crawling along the dancefloor on hands and knees, followed by a gaggle of hysterical queens screaming "Marcia Hines is in the K-hole!".

I'm sure Marcia probably just dropped a contact lense (*back-peddles furiously*) but I decided then and there that this woman was someone deserving serious attention. At that stage Marcia was embarking on her second comeback attempt with the album "Time Of Our Lives". Unlike the soul sound of "Right Here And Now", "Time Of Our Lives" was aimed squarely at the gays. The album was not a massive success but it established Marcia as a "local star" on Sydney's gay scene and she was a regular at gay dance parties and discos for a couple of years. I once had the chance to chat with her for five minutes while waiting in line for the bathroom at a disco. Classy.

After the lack of success that greeted "Time Of Our Lives" despite the fact that it was brilliant and they released about 6 singles (including a cover of "What A Feeling"), Marcia disappeared again until Australian Idol and then rapidly embarked on yet another comeback with her new high profile. The results were immediate and "Hinesight" reached #12 on the Albums chart. This year, Marcia moved up a notch in my book by revisiting the gay diva vibe of "Time Of Our Lives" with her magnificent album of disco cover versions "Discotheque".

"Discotheque" debuted at #6 on the Albums chart and remains in the top 25 two months later. The album has gone gold and looks like being Marcia's biggest seller in about 30 years. I have raved about this album on Toy's Forum and shared some tracks, which generally received a favourable response. Here are some of the other songs for your listening pleasure. If you like what you hear please support Marcia's trashy career and buy the album from Sanity or Chaos. You could also try Australian Ebay for a cheaper copy.

The CD/DVD version is highly recommended for the hilarious sight of Marcia and Deni recording their amazing duet "Stomp". Poor Deni desperately tries to steal Marcia's thunder but is roundly ignored by everyone in the studio. Poor thing! "Stomp" is being released as a single and I for one, can not wait. The tracklisting looks amazing and the video is my favourite Australian clip of the year. How cheap can you get? Marcia and Deni "driving" a car against the worst blue screen in the history of digital technology! Gold! Watch Australia's second most fabulous family after the Minogues perform live on Rove. Buy the single from Chaos

Back to Marcia's disco album. It could be the most desperate plea for a gay audience since Sheena Easton's "Fabulous" and just like that record, "Discotheque" is utterly amazing. I hope you this post allows you to look past the Australian Idol facade and embrace the diva goddess that is Marcia!

Oh, I couldn't resist this - watch Marcia sing a duet with Russell Crowe at the AFI Awards - I think Russell is checking Marcia out! As if he even stands a chance!

Talking of duets, if anyone has transferred the tracks from this duet album with Jon English onto CD, I would LOVE to hear it!

1 comment:

Miss Halliwell said...

Marcia looks like a trucker in drag...But that voice is so fantastic!