Wednesday, November 29, 2006
*Puts on hat and sits in the corner*
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I have already discussed Young Divas at length in my Paulini post but after listening to their debut album for the past week, I thought they deserved their own. Young Divas have done the impossible and put together an album that "out gays" Marcia's "Discotheque"! In fact, both albums share pretty much the same concept. Marcia's album is comprised of covers of disco classics from the 1970s, while Young Divas stick to 1980s pop music. And not just any old 80s material. This album is basically a collection of gay anthems and trash classics! The tracklist itself was enough to get my juices flowing and after listening to the album several times over the past week, I can say that I'm not disappointed!
There are a couple of tracks that have been done to death and really should have been left in peace - but who cares? Paulini and her backing singers breathe life into these classics and will hopefully bring a whole new audience to the likes of Donna Summer and Laura Brannigan. A couple of interpretations are unneccessary and fall flat but, on the whole, this album is gay pop heaven and about as much fun as you can have without being on drugs! I'm obviously not the only one who thinks so because the album beat out some serious competition to debut at #4 on the Australian Album Chart, while the second single from the album, "Happenin' All Over Again", climbs into the top 10.
Here is my track by track review:
What A Feeling: Irene Cara's classic gets yet another workout. I was expecting to be annoyed by this given my affection for all things Giorgio Moroder and Irene Cara. However, the layered vocals work a treat and this anthem can't help but make you dig out some leg warmers and dance around like a poofter. I love it - but it loses a point for the cheap keyboards. 9/10
This Time I Know It's For Real: Young Divas launched their career with this SAW cover and it manages to more than hold its own with Donna Summer's original and Kelly Llorenna's fabulous high energy re-make. The song hit number #2 and is still in the top 50. "This Time" is heavenly. Kudos to the producers for being smart enough to let Paulini do most of the singing. 10/10
Right About Now: Now this is the odd one out! A cover of a Mousse T dance hit from a few years ago. The Divas have turned this into an En Vogue inspired urban groove anthem. The song doesn't really fit that well with the others but it does come as a relief amongst all the cheese. I have a feeling this could be the next single as the girls sang it on the final of Australian Idol last Sunday night. It could be a grower but it's not my favourite. 7/10
Gloria: This is one of those songs that should never be messed with. Laura Brannigan's original would definitely make a list of my 20 favourite songs of all time. So, I was a more than a bit reluctant to listen to this. It is a butchery, but such a big, bright, gay hatchet job that I'm ashamed to say I LOVE it. I just hope Laura isn't spinning in her grave. 9/10
Happenin' All Over Again: The second single from the album takes on Lonnie Gordon's big hit. It's fun but hasn't grabbed me like their cover of "This Time I Know It's For Real". I would take Lonnie's version over this any day. That said, "Happenin' All Over Again" is still top shelf pop. 8/10
Searchin': This song has always amused me - pop music's most infamous lesbian singing about hunting down a man. Hazell Dean's original is a high camp classic and this version stays pretty true to the original but injects some much needed attitude. Such insipid trash - I ache for it! 8.5/10
Woman In Love: By far the strangest interpretation. While most of the cover versions "gay up" the originals to an even greater extent, Young Divas turn Barbra Streisand's classic into a slow groove R'n'B number. I'm not sure it works. In fact, it doesn't. Barbra's version shits all over this. 6/10
It's Raining Men: How many people have covered this song? It would have to make the list of the most covered songs of the past 20 years. I was dreading another version after that filthy Halliwell bitch (Geri - not Deirdre!) destroyed it for the Bridget Jones' Diary soundtrack. This version is much better than fat Geri's. In fact, it almost matches the heights of Deirdre Halliwell's "It's Raining Jizz"! The Weather Girls still take the crown but this is surprisingly excellent. 8/10
Let's Hear It For The Boy: I adore Deniece Williams and was fearing what the Divas would do with her 80s classic. I was relieved and delighted when I discovered that they had given the song a bubble gum pop makeover! This would make my shortlist for the next single. Deniece fans will probably pull their hair out in disgust but admit it - this is insanely fun! 9.5/10
She Works Hard For The Money: Another Donna Summer classic gets a Young Divas makeover and just like their cover of "This Time I Know It's For Real", this is an absolute winner. Another possible single, this is just about irresistable. 9.5/10
Say I'm Your No. 1: Yet another Stock Aitken Waterman cover, this time it's Princess's turn. "Say I'm Your Number One" is one of the classiest songs ever to come out of the hit factory and Young Divas do it proud. The slower pace comes as a bit of a relief after the onslaught of gay disco that comes before it. Paulini's lead vocals are sublime. 8.5/10
You'll Never Stop Me From Loving You: Yes, that ugly, red troll -Sonia- gets a Young Divas overhaul. The Divas shit all over that hideous beast. They seem to save their best for SAW covers and this is another superb track. A great way to end the album. 8/10
Overall Verdict: This is fuckin' gay and essential for all homosexualists. Order your copy at Chaos or Sanity.
One of my first posts was dedicated to La Toya's debut album (see the November archive) and I thought it was about time that I got around to her second release, the utterly delicious "My Special Love". "My Special Love" was not as successful as "La Toya Jackson", which is a great shame because it is much better. With one major exception, "My Special Love" does not have any obvious singles or standout tracks. Instead, the album is consistently excellent from beginning to end. "My Special Love" should have been the album that launched Toy Toy into the pop stratosphere with her less talented brothers but, like just about everything else in La Toya's colourful life, things did not go to plan and the album bombed.
According to Toy's autobiography, her father and then manager, Joe, basically screwed everything up. He alienated contacts in the industry, interfered with the record company and decided on who Toy should work with. The mystery is how the fucking thing ended up being so good. The album begins with a cover of Billy Ocean's disco hit "Stay The Night", which was also the first and only single released from the album. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes with the whole project. "Stay The Night" is great fun but hardly distinctive enough to launch an album. The sad thing is they had any number of excellent songs to choose from.
"Fill You Up" is not one of the above mentioned excellent songs. "Fill You Up" follows the disco-lite formula of "Stay The Night" but lacks any sense of melody. It is by far the weakest song on the album, although "Fill You Up" is not awful by any means. The next song, "Giving You Up", is a fantastic collaboration with brother Randy. This is an insanely catchy pop tune that shows what Toy Toy can do when given good material. It also demonstrates Randy's rather formidable singing voice. "Giving You Up" is followed by the wonderful "Love Song", a track that many Toy fans name as their favourite from the album. "Love Song" is top shelf Toy! The funky brass backing combined with La Toya's attitude filled vocal delivery results in a truly toytastic pop moment.
"I Don't Want You To Go" is the album's requisite power ballad and La Toya launches into the song with her passionate high pitched vocals. I'm convinced Toy Toy hits notes in this song that have never been captured on record before or since. The song shows what La Toya's pipes are capable of! La Toya is assisted on the next song by her obese sister, Janet. Toy and Janet wrote "Camp Kuchi Kaiai" together and the song is about as ridiculous as the title suggests. Janet obviously used the experience to observe, some might say steal, La Toya's magical vocal delivery. Be warned, some of the notes hit on this song are so high that my dog hits its head against the wall in pain when I play it. I think it was probably Janet's last good song.
The penultimate song, "Summertime With You" is a warm and breezy song that is the perfect soundtrack to any sunny day. Toy has never sounded so relaxed and confident. That leads us to the last song on the album and the only song that stands head and shoulders above the others. In fact, I think "Special Love" might be my favourite La Toya song. Ever. The orchestral opening is an exquisite touch and makes the subtle disco beat that follows all the more unexpected. The music reminds me of a melancholic interpretation of John Paul Young's "Love Is In The Air". The result is something akin to a demented wedding waltz, only at a wedding where the groom is terminally ill or about to spend 25 years in prison. Ok, maybe I've listened to the song once too often, so make up your own mind.
This album was only released on CD in Japan and the pleasure of owning a copy will set you back anywhere up to $US 200. Jamie, internationally reknowned Toy fan, recently announced that an American company is considering a re-issue. Fingers crossed that it comes to fruition. In the meantime, search second hand record store's for a vinyl copy and enjoy my small selection from the album:
Monday, November 27, 2006
If you have been anywhere near a pop music blog in the last year, you will know all about Robyn. In fact, you might be suffering from acute Robyn over-saturation. I almost feel like I should apologise for outing myself as another Robyn-aholic but fuck it, there is a reason why everyone is falling over themselves to jump on the Robyn bandwagon. Put simply - the bitch is FIERCE! In a world of talentless trolls who get record deals by sucking cock (Listen up, Rachel Stevens and Lisa Scott-Lee!), Robyn is something of an outcast. She writes her own material, has more attitude than Courtney Love, embraces a hip-hop sound without looking like a complete imbecile and manages her own record company. And yet, to most of the world, Robyn is still that "Show Me Love" girl. Hopefully, that is all about to change with the international release of Robyn's latest album. Not that she's done herself any favours with the taster, her so-called "Rakamonie EP" - but I'll get to that later.
Just about every song in Robyn's back catalogue is floating around blogland, so I'm going to stick with some old tunes and a couple of remixes. With Robyn, it makes more sense to work backwards because her sound today is a million miles removed from her Max Martin classics in the 1990s. I should get the controvery out of the way. The "Rakamonie EP" is a pile of shit!
Yes, I went there! Let me explain before you send death threats! The songs themselves range from genius to mediocre but the concept behind the EP is seriously flawed. As I understand it, "Rakamonie" is meant to be a kind of taste test for the UK market before unleashing her brilliant self-titled album on the Poms. If that is the case, why not select a couple of tracks that actually demonstrate the content of her album, not a hodge podge of live tracks, B-sides and try hard rap bullshit? It is painfully obvious that Robyn is trying to market herself to the cool crowd. If she wants to impress the 5 journalists at NME who get off on live duets with Jenny fucking Wilson, then I'm happy for her. If she wanted to impress the people who might actually buy her album, she's missed the mark but a massive margin. If you are new to Robyn, buy the EP for the beautiful artwork, the track "Cobrastyle" (previously leaked as "Girliestyle" - why the name change?) and the amusing "Konichiwa Bitches". Forget the rest. "Be Mine" is possibly my favourite song of the past couple of years but that ballad interpretation is shit. The duet is crap and "Jack U Off" is dirty fun but hardly essential Robyn. If she doesn't watch it, Robyn will be sharing a park bench with Leila K in no time!
Ok, rant over! Now that I've got that off my chest, let's appreciate the masterpiece that is "Robyn". The year isn't over but this is leading my list for album of the year. I know it came out in 2005 but I was only lucky enough to get my hands on it this year. In fact, if it wasn't for the incredibly sexy Tommie from La Toya's Haven, I would have still been enjoying "Robyn Is Here" and wondering whatever happened to her. Thankfully, Tommie sent me some tracks and my jaw dropped in amazement at what was coming through the stereo. Track after track of flawlessly original pop music. I immediately went on a spending spree to get my hands on everything Robyn has ever released and haven't been disapointed by anything apart from "Rakamonie". What makes "Robyn" so unforgettable? The answer lies in the album's humour, brilliant production and killer melodies. Basically, "Robyn" is the kind of pop album that gets everything right - from the music, to the cover art, to the video clips and singles choices. I can't fault a single thing.
Check out the video clips of the singles from "Robyn". The first single, "Be Mine", is a pop gem of the highest order. The video is suitably fabulous, with Robyn taking on various personas from a rich bitch to a cleaning lady. I love how scary Robyn looks with her bald head and how adorable she is in her rubber gloves! My favourite video and possibly favourite song from "Robyn" is "Handle Me". This song shouldn't work at all. It's basically Robyn trying to be Eminem but with a killer hook and sweet chorus. I find "Handle Me" insanely catchy and the video is nothing less than genius. The styling is amazing, Robyn riding a bike in a red cocktail frock is my favourite music video moment of the year after Marcia & Deni making fools of themselves in "Stomp". The genius continued to flow with the video clip of "Crash and Burn Girl", which looks like it was made for $25 using someone's mobile phone. I love the porn-chic feel! I'm not sure if the other single, "Who's That Girl" has a video. I haven't found it on youtube. I can only imagine how unbelievably hot it is. Watch Robyn perform "Konichiwa Bitches" in front of a room of bored Swedish people. I love how she mixes in some Neneh Cherry and her apparent role model, Leila K.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
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!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
For starters, why do links go dead for no apparent reason? I know the links die a lonely death if there are not used in 2 weeks or contravene Z Share's terms of service but why have several links expired that were uploaded less than a week ago? Stranger still, I have uploaded several songs by the same artist on the same day and some have expired and others are alive and well. So I don't see how some have contravened the terms of service, while others are upstanding cyber citizens. What's going on, Z Share?
Please tell me if you know of a better file-sharing service. Youtube expires too quickly, Rapidshare is the spawn of Satan and Megaupload is a cumbersome nightmare. If anyone wants to hear a link that has expired, let me know and I'll re-post it.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
From her first appearance on Australian Idol, Paulini was my favourite. She might have come across as a boring-as-bat-shit bible basher with the fashion sense of a Fijian drag queen, but the girl could sing. Unfortunately, the pimply school girls and bored housewives (who constitute a large portion of the voters) were apparently more interested in Guy Sebastian's man boobs or too busy fantasising about Shannon Noll's goatee rubbing against their clits to worry about anything as trivial as stage craft and vocal talent. The final straw came when Paulini was told she was too fat to be a celebrity and was kicked off the following week. The rudeness!
Thankfully, the news wasn't all bad. Paulini used her Idol notoriety to score a record deal and hastily released her rather boring debut album, "One Determined Heart". The album and her debut single, a cover of "Angel Eyes", both made #1 on the ARIA chart. Watch the video for Angel Eyes here. The album was an all filler, no killer collection of ballads and mid-tempo rubbish. A further single was released, but the album quickly disappeared. Paulini's career appeared to be going nowhere very fast when she made a special guest appearance on "Home & Away" and released a Christmas album. Her career nadir followed shortly after, when she turned up as a contestant on Celebrity Overhaul and got into trouble for sneaking chocolate into the house and was berated for her poor attitude towards exercise. It was around this time that I really started to enjoy Paulini as a celebrity. She did have some kind of trashtastic edge, after all!
Paulini made her musical comeback this year with the song "Rough Day", which surprised everyone by being very good. Paulini had finally been given material worthy of her vocal ability. The song was popular on radio and Paulini promoted the song relentlessly, with promo performances in gay clubs and on breakfast television. Watch the video clip for "Rough Day" here. The follow up to "Rough Day" was better yet, "So Over You" shows Paulini in full urban diva mode and the hilariously cheap video shamelessly rips off Beyonce's "Crazy In Love". Sadly, the song just scraped into the top 50 despite being a favourite on music video channels. The failure of "So Over You" on the charts turned out to be a bad omen for Paulini's third album, "Superwoman", which was released in August and made #72.
I find it so incredibly depressing that talent free zones like Ciara and Cassie sell well in Australia, while someone local releases an album as hot as "Superwoman" and people run away in droves. "Superwoman" is a great R'n'B album from beginning to end. There is the sufficient quota of pop, a couple of hot ballads and some funky R'n'B beats thrown into the mix. You can buy this gem online from Sanity or Chaos.
Around the same time that Paulini released "Superwoman", she announced that she would be part of an ex-Idol girl group, to be called Young Divas. Despite the crap name, Young Divas' debut single (a cover of Donna Summer's 80s classic "This Time I Know It's For Real") turned out to be excellent and surprisingly successful, making #2 on the Singles Chart and staying in the top 10 for months. Watch the video here. Given the success of the single, it was no surprise when the record announced that the Young Divas would be staying together and releasing an album.
I imagine that Paulini is a bit torn over the band's success. It must be nice having hit singles again but it spells the end of her solo career for the time being. In fact, Sony has pulled the plug on the third single from "Superwoman". "I Believe" was scheduled to be released in September and despite Paulini filming a video clip and remixes being commissioned, the single remains unreleased. Watch a live performance of "I Believe" here.
Young Divas' second single was released last Monday and is another cover of a Stock Aiken Waterman classic, Lonnie Gordon's "Happenin' All Over Again". The track remains faithful to the original and is another slice of pop heaven in the gloomy world of Australian music. The single debuted on this week's Singles Chart at #12. You can buy the single from Chaos and watch the video here.
The girls are releasing their self-titled debut album next week, and the tracklist is so gay it hurts. The album appears to be made up exclusively of cover versions, ranging from The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" to Laura Brannigan's "Gloria". It looks like a lot of fun and I have already pre-ordered it but I wonder if singing gay classics with a bunch of ugly no-hopers is the best case scenario for Paulini's long term career. Whatever the answer to that may be, the album itself looks delicious. Order it online from Sanity or Chaos.
I should finish up by saying how pleasantly surprised I am by Paulini's dramatic personal life. Ok, she's no Lindsay Lohan, but she has made her fair share of gossip columns recently due to her relationship with her footballer boyfriend. Firstly, there were rumours that Paulini was being bashed (not funny at all), then rumours that Paulini got it on with one of his team-mates as payback (more amusing!) and now it seems they are back together. Only, her boyfriend looks like he's going to prison after driving without a license. How ghetto, I love it!
I've included some tracks for your listening pleasure. If you like what you hear, please buy the respective album!
You might also enjoy watching Paulini's national embarrassment when her microphone malfunctioned while singing "So Over You" live on breakfast television and a beautiful live rendition of Superwoman's title track. Watch a clip of Young Divas covering ABBA's Supertrooper and Paulini singing ABBA's Knowing Me, Knowing You with fellow Young Diva, Ricki-Lee, both from the recently televised "Abbamania".
Friday, November 17, 2006
New Zealand might have nice mountains and a Prime Minister with a gay husband, but as far as music goes it can not lay claim to many 1980s pop icons. I guess there are those dull Finn brothers, but they never did much for me. Jenny Morris had one smashing album, "Body & Soul", but everything went downhill from there. That leaves us with Dave "Slice Of Heaven" Dobbyn and this lady, the brilliant Sharon O'Neill. Sharon O'Neill was the queen of Kiwi pop for the first half of the 1980s, releasing pop gem after pop gem. Ms O'Neill is best known in Australia for "Maxine", which I always interpreted as a response song to "Roxanne" by The Police, but all of her albums from the early 1980s are crammed full of pop gems. My favourite Sharon anthem is "Losing You", a killer track that oscillates between a full blown power ballad and upbeat pop-rock.
Unfortunately, a "disagreement" with her record company pretty much ended Sharon's career as a hitmaking force. Sharon did come back with two excellent albums but could never quite regain the momentum she had lost. Her last album was released in 1990 and apart from the occasional concert, Sharon has been pretty much missing in action. That is, until recently when she started touring Australia with fellow fabulous 80s has-been, Leo Sayer! I couldn't resist that double bill and was blown away by Sharon's performance. This woman needs to launch a comeback and show dreary cunts like Missy Higgins that the term "female singer/songwriter" does exclusively involve hiding behind an instrument and groaning about having your period.
If you enjoy what you hear try to find any one of the following albums: "Sharon O'Neill", "Words", "Maybe" and "Foreign Affairs". Sharon's later albums include "Danced In The Fire" and "Edge Of Winter". A number of Sharon's recordings are almost impossible to find (I've been trying to get my hands on her "Smash Palace" soundtrack for years) but her first few albums turn up regularly on Australian Ebay. At the very least, you should find one of her many compilation albums.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I want Bob Downe inside me! Ok, well maybe not - but I would like to touch his rock hard, helmet hair and rest my weary head on the shoulder pad of his polyester leisure suit. Bob Downe, otherwise known as Australian comedian Mark Trevorrow, is nothing short of a phenomenon. After starting as an act in a comedy routine, Bob Downe has gone on to have his own television show, commentate on the Sydney Mardi Gras parade for channel 10, tour extensively with several live shows and most fabulously, release two greatest hits albums and a live jazz album.
It's hard to describe the Bob Downe experience. If you can imagine an even more flamboyant Peter Allen singing lounge songs on acid, then you would be pretty close. The thing I really admire about Bob is the variety in his work. His musical output ranges from covers of Giorgio Moroder dance classics to swinging jazz standards. The only constant is Bob's dedication to all things camp and gay. From the immaculately groomed wig on his head to the white leather loafers on his feet, Bob Downe is a flashback to the flaming homosexuals of the 1970s. I simply can't get enough of Bob Downe. He has been pretty quiet since his last tour, the cleverly titled I BOB (picture below), so I have my fingers crossed that he is scheming up a fabulous comeback. The world needs more Bob Downe and less Justin Timberlake. Fact.
Like the equally amazing Kelly Llorenna, Bob Downe kicked off his recording career with a "Greatest Hits" compilation. The only difference is that Bob had never even released a single! The album is exclusively made up of cover versions and includes two duets with Gina Riley, better known as Kim from "Kath & Kim", who appears under the pseudonym of Coralee Hollow. Bob's "Greatest Hits" also includes two other fabulous duet partners - celebrity drag queen, Vanessa Wagner, and gay comedian, Julian Clary. He joins the latter on an hysterical cover of the French classic "Je t'aime", the full enjoyment of which really depends on your knowledge of the original.
Bob's second recording is the live jazz album, "Jazzy!". "Jazzy!" is a funny record but it also works as a legitimate jazz recording. It was recorded with a full band and several guest performers, including the brilliant Pastel Vespa. "Jazzy!" even received an ARIA nomination, albeit for "Best Comedy Album". Rude! There is even a lengthy monologue about Bob's adventures in London, during which he rants about Dannii Minogue. He can't fool me, I know they secretly love each other!
Things went quiet for a few years until Bob returned with "Huge Hits", which is a bit deceiving as there are only 6 Bob Downe "hits" on there. The rest of the album is a compilation of songs by other artists from the 1970s and early 1980s. Initially somewhat disappointed, "Huge Hits" has become a firm favourite. Not only does Bob write about each song selected, the songs are uniformly fantastic. If I were going to make my own compilation of songs from that era, it would look very similar to Bob's, only with more Olivia Newton-John and Millie Jackson.
"Huge Hits" also saw the release of Bob's first and only single, an amazing cover of "I Will Survive", which was also available on Bob's previous "Greatest Hits".
Since "Huge Hits" Bob Downe has focused on TV and theatre. Seeing Bob live is an unforgettable experience, anyone interested in catching a glimpse of Bob in action can order volumes 1 and 2 of his television show here.
If you like what you hear, Australian Ebay is flooded with Bob's "Huge Hits", while "Jazzy!" was recently re-released and is available at Sanity. Bob's "Greatest Hits" is out of print and harder to find but still turn up occasionally on Ebay.
If Toy's "Sexbox" gets your juices flowing, hunt down "No Relations", which includes "Sexbox", the Grammy nominated "Reggae Nights" and La Toya's leather queen anthem "Submission". "No Relations" can be found pretty easily on Ebay and I think Amazon might still have a few copies in stock.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Deirdre's catalogue of "hits" is worth checking out just for the song titles alone! Some of my favourite titles include:
* Somethin' Kinda Eeeew (Spurtin' On Ma Toot Toot!)
* Manboobs (I Hate You So Much Right Now)
* Who Do I Have To Screw
* It's Raining Sperm
After being exposing myself to the Deirdre experience, I just had to share the joy with (get counselling from) my friends at La Toya's Haven. Miss Halliwell went down a treat and has become something of a cult phenomenon with Toy fans. To our great surprise and appreciation, Deirdre's man slave, Eddy, showed up at Haven to say hello and, as a result, Deirdre has most graciously agreed to cover La Toya's 1990s classic Sexbox. To say I'm excited to hear the result is the understatement of the decade! However, Deirdre will have her work cut out for her to drag this song any further into the gutter - with Sexbox already recounting the touching tale of a virginal young lady who picks up a stud at the disco and goes home to open up her "front door" for the very first time!
OK, back to Deirdre! There is more to this modern day Mozart than catchy song titles and sultry album covers. Deirdre is one of the few people in Blogland that actually has a social conscience and there is no issue that Deirdre will not rant about - thus making Deirdre's Myspace Blog essential reading! Deirdre also has an MP3 posting blog, CheesyPop Music, which I am incredibly jealous of. The music is fantastic and the layout and design are great too. Unlike this page, it doesn't look like it was put together by an inebriated, gay toddler. Deirdre also appears to have some rather amazing DJ skills, if her edited version of The Twin's "Here Cum The Girls" is any indication. I think the edit is brilliant, remixes that drag on for ten minutes drive me crazy. I also love the dirty German lyrics about vaginas!
To drive home the fact that she is the Oprah Winfrey of the internet, Deirdre also has an Ebay store and some rather fabulous artwork on her website. I particularly like this:
I'm sure you will agree that there is genius at work here! You can hear some of Deirdre's tunes at Deirdre's official website and there is also a constant rotation of glorious music playing at her fabulous Myspace site. As soon as I find out where I can pre-order Deirdre's latest opus, I'll post a link. Until then, hurry over to her site and brace yourself for you the onslaught of fabulousness.
The reporter then shows a clip of footage said to be the Dannii version of Streetfighter, which begins with Eric Bana playing Jean-Claude's role and Julia Morris playing Dannii. Eric spots a group of thugs with weapons and tries to hold Dannii back. Dannii pushes Eric aside and scares off the thugs by singing "This Is It" and doing the song's famous dance routine. The highlight for me (I'm easily amused) is when Dannii turns around and frightens the thugs away with her huge butt. It's puerile and not as funny as the send up of "Love & Kisses" (changed to "Famous Sister" - with the fabulous lyrics "And Kylie is so happy, 'cause she sounds good next to me! All you need is a famous sister, a famous sister for me!") on "Fast Forward".
Isn't it funny to think that Eric Bana began his glittering career performing in Dannii Minogue spoofs! Eric's career is not the only thing that has improved with time. He went from:
. Series 1 and 2 are already available.
Sorry that you have to click on the links to see the pics but I think they must be too big for my blog. I tried uploading them on the main page but they just don't work. You can pre-order "Full Frontal Series 3" soon at Sanity
Monday, November 13, 2006
It would kind of pointless for me to write an hysterically overwrought review of Kylie's "Showgirl Homecoming" without first placing the event in some kind of context. I feel like I have always known Kylie. With the exception of her fabulous sister, I can't say that about any other celebrity or performer. "Neighbours" was my after school TV show of choice and Charlene was obviously my favourite character. Mostly due to the fact that she wore men's overalls, yet still managed to have an immaculate perm. Charlene was also one tough bitch, arriving in Ramsey Street and breaking into Madge's house! Yes, I remember Kylie's first episode on the show.
Kylie instantly clicked with me, mostly because I felt sorry for her being stuck in Dannii's shadow. Stop laughing, it's true! Back in the day, Dannii was THE preferred Minogue and probably the coolest teenager on the planet. I used to watch in amazement as Dannii rocked "Young Talent Time" week in/week out with her scintillating Madonna covers and gravity defying teased fringe. Everything changed one day in the late 1980s when, to the amazement of just about everyone, Kylie appeared in the top 10 with "The Locomotion". I bought the song with my pocket money the next day and have purchased every release since.
I can't logically explain the overwhelming sense of affection I feel towards Kylie, apart from saying that she was the soundtrack to my childhood and adolescence. I think I can tie in just about any event in my life with a Kylie song or album. I got bashed at a school camp for wearing an "Enjoy Yourself" t-shirt, the first time I went to a concert without adult supervision was Kylie's "Rhythm Of Love" extravaganza at the Entertainment Centre and my first Mardi Gras in the mid 1990s had Kylie as the special guest performer. I guess, Kylie also played a big role in my coming out. In the mid 90s Kylie was considered to be about as cool as Nicki Webster. And like that demonic redhead, Kylie's fans seemed to be exclusively gay or female. Saying you were into Kylie was as good as publically declaring that you were into cock!
Then there are the funny Kylie memories, like attending the lauch party for "Did It Again" on Oxford Street, which sounded impressive but turned out to be four trannies doing the dance routine from the video in the middle Hum Records. Back in the day, Kylie was positively underground! I remember going to line up for tickets to "Intimate & Live", the tour that accompanied "Impossible Princess" in Australia, with my friend Chris. Such was the state of Kylie's career at the time that we didn't bother arriving until an hour before Ticketek opened, assuming we would be the only tragic queens there. To our amazement, we turned into Elizabeth Street and were greeted by a line of fans that stretched down several blocks.
Kylie has not only accompanied me through the years but also across several continents! When I was living in Germany, I was lucky enough to see a Kylie show in Hamburg just as her international career was taking off again. Kylie played her upcoming single "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" to a rather indifferent audience. That version was more guitar based than the synth drenched cut that would become a classic and sounded rather ordinary at the time. In 2000, I visited with a friend who was doing a university exchange in Georgetown and to our surprise, we stumbled into "Kylie night" at a Washington gay bar on my first night in the city.
Enough of my boring life story, the point of this post is the Kylie concert experience and I have, somewhat impressively, managed to completely ignore it. I feel guilty to say that I was underwhelmed by the past couple of tours - but fuck it, I was! I admired the artistry and style of the "Fever" tour, which I saw several times when I returned to Australia. My only gripe was the overwhelming need to be ironic and clever. Some of Kylie's natural charm went AWOL. My favourite moment of 2005 was going to see "Showgirl", again in Hamburg, with my friend Barbara. Despite some great moments, I felt that the show was missing something. Indicative of what was to come, we noticed Kylie crying between songs towards the end of the concert. We all assumed she was simply overcome with emotion. In retrospect, I think Kylie had been feeling like shit for some time and really had to push through those last few European dates. Hence, the workman-like performance.
We all know what came next, with the Australian leg of "Showgirl" being postponed for well over a year. The first few weeks of Kylie's illness were awful and it was strange to feel so concerned about someone you don't even know. I didn't record myself singing "Wind Beneath My Wings" acapella and send it to Kylie (like some mental Delta fans - who I really should name and shame - did for their hideous icon) but she was on my mind. I followed the treatment, diagnosis, poured over the pictures, tuned into her first interview, turned a blind eye to that horrible children's book and recently, as reported, bathed in "Darling". When the tour was announced, it felt like something had come full circle.
Last night's concert had a strange symmetry to it in a number of ways. I went with Chris, my "Intimate & Live" friend, and the concert was staged at the Entertainment Centre, the same place I saw Kylie's "Rhythm Of Love" tour back in the early 1990s. However, times had definitely changed. This time around my friends weren't concerned about buying booze with fake ID but with concealing vials of G and smuggling in their crack pipes (yes, I mix with a classy crowd!). Most of the audience was still out from the night before - and still out of it! With loud snorting sounds coming from every cubicle in the bathroom, sweaty guys clinging to water bottles and dancing manically to ballads, the evening was beginning to feel more like a dance party than a concert.
And then Kylie finally appeared on stage like a beautiful doll in her ridiculous head dress and the outrageous comments that only bitchy queens can muster ("What's this show called again, love?", random voices: "The Oncology Tour, doll", "Kylie's Greatest Tit Show, girl") gave way to excitement, affection and ultimately respect. "Showgirl Homecoming" is an overwhelming visual feast and a vast improvement over the original concert. It's fun, irreverent, artistic, clever and ambitious without ever trying too hard. Kylie doesn't get lost in the sets, costumes or clever references. This show is all about her personality and vision. Kylie has finally let her guard down and gives her fans the "ultimate Kylie" experience.
Here is a slightly edited version of an inebriated review I posted last night at Toy's Haven when I stumbled home (there is an off-topic, it's not all La Toya!):
"Showgirl Homecoming" takes the "Showgirl" experience to a whole new level. The opening act is still slightly dodgy due to that annoyingly stilted version of "Better The Devil You Know" that marred the first concert but the rest of the show is absolute heaven. Here is a very quick recap because I'm drunk, tired and have to be at work in about 4 hours. My highlights:
- Hearing the new song, "White Diamond", which Kylie wrote with the Scissor Sisters. Think "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" meets "Comfortably Numb". The chorus is gorgeous and goes something like "I'm your white diamond and I'll burn for you". Don't quote me on it though, because I'm not exactly sober. Jake could also be heard on the backing tape, so I assume the song has been recorded. It needs to be released ASAP because it smells like a hit.
- The Andy Warhol inspired "factory" sequence was amazing. I don't think many people will get the Warhol reference (favourite crowd comment - "Someone's stolen Delta's wig from the ARIAs!") but it doesn't matter. The 90s rave party setting was a joy. This segment also included, to my complete and utter amazement and delight, clips from "Do You Dare?" and "Keep on Pumpin' It"! The song with the best fan reaction was "Shocked".
- The bizarre Indian puppet dance segment with Kylie dressed as a genie, dancing with men in white robes was stylish, classy and evocative. Kylie included a lot of songs from "Impossible Princess" in this segment, including a brilliant rendition of "Cowboy Style". "Too Far" got the biggest crowd response, which was most pleasing because I thought no one would remember it. Indie Kylie lives on!
- The gay porn segment - ie "Red Blooded Woman" - has been gayed up to an even greater extent (I didn't think it was possible either!). The dancers still have their shower and work out but this time there are massive screens with men in underpants twisting around in boxes and the gayest exercise routines I have ever seen! The semi-naked men doing push-ups on each other seemed to go down well with the kids and straight couples and got all the gay boys hot and bothered. It really was like gay porn to a Kylie soundtrack... now there's an idea!
- The first half of the show ended with a special appearance by Bono, who sang "Kids" with Kylie. The response was so intense, I thought the building would collapse. This was also memorable due to the old queens in front of us saying - "God, Jason Donovan's got fat"! I think the whole Robbie Williams phenomenon has entirely passed them by (half their luck!). Here's a clip of the duet for your viewing pleasure!
- The second half began with her cover of Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". I've always maintained that this song should only ever have been performed by Ms Garland. I found Kylie's rendition painful in the last concert because it was an "I'm so clever with my gay references" moment as opposed to a heartfelt interpretation. This time around I believed every word and the song was incredibly touching.
- A big shock was the Madonna tribute in the segment which appears to be influenced by Kander & Ebb musicals. Kylie sings the rap in "Vogue" and does the dance routine. The tribute was brief but sweet and fits in well with the rest of the concert. The best reaction in this section of the concert was for "Dreams", which sounded positively otherworldly. I loved the prevalence of "Impossible Princess" numbers.
- "Hand On Your Heart" was an upbeat dance number this time around, not that irony laden, dub remix crap that Kylie did in "Showgirl" last time. It was probably my favourite moment UNTIL Kylie sang "Turn It Into Love"! I almost cried. It has to be one of my favourite Kylie songs and it was great to hear it live. I have to pull out "Kylie" and give that song a spin.
- The encore involved an AMAZING rendition of "Light Years", which was a much appreciated addition. The whole "thank you for flying KM air" was gorgeous! "Light Years" appears to have taken the spot of "Your Disco Needs You" which is fine by me. The only other missing songs that I picked out were "Please Stay" and "In Denial". Apart from those mentioned above, other additions include clips from "Finer Feelings" and "I Guess I Like It Like That".
In conclusion, "Showgirl" was much improved and extremely fabulous. I bet the Kylie/Bono duet appears on youtube within seconds because about 10,000 people were recording it on their phones. I'm devastated I left my camera at home but I'll take some shots at the next show. The concert was as close to perfect as I've seen - the only way it could have been improved would be with a La Toya duet or at least a cover of Sexbox. I'm tired and emotional - good night!