I feel a bit guilty about this: I re-used a costume party costume.

See, I was invited to an 80s Movie/Music/Pop-Culture party, and then a Dead Celebrities a couple of weeks later. Given time constraints and the likelihood of few party guests overlapping, I reasoned that I could knock off both with one costume. Someone who had been big in the 80s, but had since passed on.

I settled for Freddie Mercury.

After the 80s party, I felt a little guilty about it, particularly as I had since thought up another, almost-no-effort great 80s movie costume (which I won’t reveal now, lest that option become useful later).

Oh well, in any event, the 80s party was great, with birthday boy Andrew managing to get hold of a Back To The Future Delorean for the night. Wow.

And the Dead Celebrities party was great too… and very funny, since upon walking in I found co-host Tony was also dressed as Freddie.

He was late-80s Freddie. I was 1984ish Live Aid Freddie.

Fake Freddie Mercuries

And just so you can tell us apart from the real one:

The real Freddie Mercury

Pic sources: 1 / 2 / And my sister took the fake Freddies pic.

The Doctor catches V/Line

Spotted on Saturday after the Doctor Who/Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Symphonic Spectacular:
The Doctor spotted at Southern Cross Station

Reports from the UK suggest Doctor Who has prompted more people to wear bow ties. I don’t know if that’s rubbed off in Australia, but there were certainly more bow ties and fezzes than I’ve ever seen around Melbourne yesterday, both at the venue (the Plenary at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre) and on the way to and from there.

I was impressed that they sold out such a huge venue — twice. (As far as I can see, in the configuration we saw, the Plenary seats over five thousand people.)

And the fact that it was a balanced demographic (male and female, family groups and individuals — not just nerds) attending shows the programme reaches a much wider audience now than it did when I was growing up.

Indeed, at a barbecue on Saturday night, the laughter that I might have once faced when describing the event I’d been to was instead replaced by envy from some who’d tried and failed to get tickets.

Can I just say the event was excellent, by the way. Some great music, bringing memories from the past few years of the show flooding back, as well as some nods to the “classic” episodes of my youth. Host Mark Sheppard was good, and to my surprise, composer of all of the music (bar the theme tune) Murray Gold was also in attendance. Tony has a good write-up of the concert.

Dalek with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Daleks patrol


Happy Australia Day (and make sure you have a ticket)

Yarra Trams: Australia Day 2012

The words on the left are from I Am Australian, by Bruce Woodley:

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream, and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

Wikipedia says the song was written in 1987. I’m pretty sure either that year or the year after, we sung it at Speech Night at Melbourne High School. (Woodley, like his fellow seekers Athol Guy and Keith Potger, went to Melbourne High.)

Records, cassettes, CDs, iTunes

Back in 1995, I wrote as part of my History Of The World:

Beatlemania sweeps the world. Shortly afterwards, electronics companies devise a fifty year plan to get people to buy all their favourite music many times over, by introducing new recorded music technology every decade. This works until the 1990s, when, due to a tactical miscalculation, everyone is perfectly happy with their CDs.

I guess the joke’s on me.

Love the advert, by the way… but I’m resisting. My CDs, some going back to the late-80s, all still work (though I admit getting suckered into upgrading to the remastered Abbey Road a couple of years back).

Get well soon, Molly

Music industry legend Molly Meldrum has undergone surgery overnight to relieve swelling on his brain after he fell from the roof while putting up Christmas decorations at his Richmond home.

Bedside vigil as Meldrum fights for life

I reckon for most Australian Gen-Xers with an interest in music, Molly Meldrum is just someone who’s always been there, as host of Countdown, then later on Hey Hey.

As a kid I used to regularly watch Countdown on a Sunday afternoon, always keen to see what had made it into the top ten. I can’t claim I liked all the music, but was fascinated by the music videos and live performances.

I remember watching the psychedelic music video to Ashes To Ashes. (Released August 1980, so I must have been about 10.) My mum looked at the TV and made some remark along the lines of how strange it was. I recall getting all self-righteous and saying back “you wouldn’t understand” — as if I had some deep, knowing connection with it.

Despite for a while living a short distance from the ABC’s Ripponlea studios, I never actually went along to a recording of Countdown, though my sister did once. She came home with a freebie LP of Cyndi Lauper.

Molly popped up on the Queen documentary recently aired by the ABC, in archival footage, interviewing Freddie Mercury. I know he’s still active as well, so his influence is still felt in the music industry, and I’m sure many will be wishing him a full and speedy recovery.

Old man music

Happy Fathers Day.

As I recall it, there’s a scene in one episode of Frontline where Mike Moore is driving along listening happily to the radio, singing along to “We Built This City”. When the DJ comes on he derides it as “one for the oldies” and then throws to something newer, a heavy rock number which Mike thoroughly dislikes, leaving him shouting at the radio, demanding to know “Where’s the music??”

I was sitting in a cafe the other day where they play Mix FM when they had an 80s Flashback — 1927‘s “That’s When I Think Of You.”

To be honest I don’t know how much I like 1927′s other songs, but I really like this one — always have.

Mix FM went back to their usual fare, which made it pretty obvious that I am not the demographic that they are looking for.

There’s something I find very unappealing about the vocals in most of the songs — they seem to be produced to be deliberately distorted, and/or sounding like wailing, warbling, or seemingly out-of-tune (such as a cover-version of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” where all the vocal bits from the original sounded off-key).

It’s just my opinion of course. Someone must like it I suppose.

Tonight I’m going to see Pulp

…along with all the GenXers Common People.

Festival Hall tonight, and part of Marita’s birthday present. In the all-ages (alcohol-free) section, because that’s where the best seats were! Apparently that’s just how Festival Hall works; I wouldn’t expect a large number of youngsters attending for this old person music.

Looking forward to it immensely. If the buzz (well, okay, the bloke in the CD shop and the lady in the ticket office) is right, it should be a great show.

Update Saturday morning: After an incredibly long wait for dinner at a nearby pub, which meant we missed the entire support act, it was a great, great show from Pulp. Jarvis was in fine form, as was the crowd.

We surprised Marita by having Tony show up and sit next to us.

Daniel and Marita at Pulp

Pulp singing Common People

If you have the chance to see Pulp in concert, then do so. Highly recommended.Thumbs up!

Update Age review of the concert. The Vine review.

The Long And Winding Road

Call me slow, but I just figured out why I never used to be that keen on The Long And Winding Road but how recently I’ve come to like it — and even find it quite emotional.

It’s not just because I’m getting old.

It’s because for years all I had was the original version from Let It Be, and now I have the revised Let It Be — Naked version (as well as a similar version from Anthology 3).

What’s the difference? The originally released one, as much as any song on the album, has Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” thing happening, with loads of noise piled on top of the band… choir, harp, brass, orchestra, the full bit.

And it ruins it. Any emotion in Paul McCartney’s vocals is completely lost. It sounds like some dull cabaret jingle or something.

In fact I see now, this text on Wikipedia:

Paul McCartney in particular was always dissatisfied with the “Wall of Sound” production style of the Phil Spector remixes, especially for his song “The Long and Winding Road”, which he believed was ruined by the process.


Some songs need a certain rawness for the emotion to come out properly. The live version of WPA’s For A Short Time is another that springs to mind. Cover it up too much, and the performance loses its impact. (That song tugs at the heart strings for other reasons.)

If you’ve only heard the Spector version of Long And Winding Road, I highly recommend you check out the stripped-down one if you get the chance. (Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to be available on iTunes.)

Update: Ah, found it:

Someone else has uploaded the Spector version too.