Sunday, December 26, 2010

the plumber (silence is golden)



Life often has this mysterious way of imitating art.


allow me to explain..


Some six weeks ago I came across an Australian television film called The Plumber.  I encountered this TV play at work when I was asked to purchase a DVD copy of Peter Weir's 1974 cult-classic The Cars that ate Paris for our collection.  This DVD doubled with another of Weir's films, The Plumber, from 1978.  And being a major enthusiast of 70s Australiana I took home this double-feature almost immediately upon accessioning.


I didn't get to watch all of The Cars that ate Paris.  Although intriguing, I just wasn't in the mood for it although I plan to get back to this film in due course.  I skipped instead to the DVD's second feature, The Plumber, featuring Judy Morris as the stay-at-home academic and Ivar Kants as the plumber.


This rather odd drama almost defies classification, sitting somewhere as it does between psychological horror and wry, black comedy.  What is for certain is that I loved the film and took to it instantly, watching it twice-over in quick succession.   I gather from reading over the internet about The Plumber that it has attained a minor cult-status amongst film buffs internationally.  It's one of those films that tends to raise more questions than it answers, leaving the viewer to ponder the visuals, the script, to find the essence of what really was the plumber's game.  The answers remain an open verdict.


The plumber, Max (Ivar Kants), knocks on the door of anthropologist Jill Cowper (Judy Morris) who shares a top-floor apartment with her academic husband within a university campus.  The plumber invites himself in, insisting that the plumbing in the building is in bad condition and needs attention.  And so, the plumber comes in every day for the next fives days, subtly teasing and tormenting the anthropologist, and in the process destroying her bathroom.   Her husband, Brian (Robert Coleby), having invited important international dignitaries to showcase some of his pioneering work, is unable to connect to his wife's distress.  The same for her friend, Meg (Candy Raymond), who too lives in the block.


Enough evidence is gathered throughout the course of this short film to satisfy the viewer that Max is employed by the University as a plumber.  And we discover via an offhand comment by Brian that he's been the source of many complaints.  These facts do not determine Max's true qualifications or capabilities.  That he is a shyster of sorts is an open question, as is his background.  We figure that he is very class-conscious and come to the conclusion that he is picking on Jill Cowper in particular because she is a soft touch, very well-education, conservative by nature.  He intimidates Jill by telling her about his prison exploits, and further intimidates her the next day by menacing refuting her prison references to the previous day, seething at her for mentioning the word "prison" and that he's never been.  Jill's problem is further exacerbated by Meg or Brian's inability to gauge any strangeness in the plumber, even though he's gone so far as to destroy the bathroom.


You come to feel a background comic aspect to this film, very wry, very dry.  The bleak humour serves to engage the viewer as there are moments within this film that are indeed quite funny.  There's the scene where one of the visiting dignitaries wishing to use the bathroom and encounters strange glances from his hosts, to his own puzzled indignation, only to end up having the scaffolding fall on him in the bathroom. There's the scene where the plumber writes a song in the bathroom and performs it sitting on the toilet seat, adorned with his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and a hefty Dylan attitude. The plumber himself is vaguely comical presence throughout this film.  One tends to concede he's most probably a harmless shyster with an angry side that he demonstrates by using subtle torment on the privileged, cautious and conservative, academic Jill.


At the end of the film, as the bathroom is hastily repaired, only to explode terribly once more with water and sewerage gushing quickly through all holes, does Jill come up with a solution.  Faced with the prospect of having the plumber torment her for another week or ten days, she ruthlessly beats him at his own game, setting him up as a thief of her expensive watch that had been given to her by her husband.  The Papua New Guinean rituals of vibing the opponent into ceding that Jill had been studying were expertly, coldly, almost cruelly put into place by her.


The Plumber is a film that's stayed with me since.  And only after a few days after my second watching of the film, at the beginning of the December, reality mysteriously set in.


My own bathroom started to hiss.  Somewhere behind the shower wall.  On the other side of this wall is my kitchen.   The strata held its AGM only a few days prior to me noticing the hiss, so that was strange timing for me as well, I thought.  I emailed the committee members and strata manager, I emailed and asked friends and handy people.  As I didn't receive any definite prognosis I thought I'd leave it.  After all, it was likely to be some kind of air pressure or something, and all my systems seemed to be working fine.  As we approached last weekend, some two to three weeks into the hiss, I suspected that the sound became almost imperceptibly louder, but then I felt that I may have been imagining this.


Last Sunday, 19th Dec, I almost got caught in a sudden downpour on my way home.  Thankfully, my bus ride saw out the worst of it and by the time I alighted from my bus the rainstorm's intensity had abated, allowing me to stroll back to my apartment and remain reasonably dry.  Unfortunately my west-facing bedroom window had remained wide-open and much water had rained in through the fly-screen, but this was nothing that a few swipes and soaks of a rag couldn't clean up.


I noticed too that my bathroom had water collecting around the drain and my passing thought was that the rain must have come in through the bathroom window.  I left it at that and turned the other way.


Early next morning I awoke at 2:30am to visit the bathroom.  The water around the drain was still noticeable.  Suddenly I had this awful, fulsome intuition that the water in the bathroom was not rain water, but leak water.  I could not return to sleep for my mind was to-ing and fro-ing in a wager between the possibility of a leak and natural causes.  I got myself out of bed very early on the Monday and cleaned up the bathroom floor.  Water continued to gather.  When I'd wiped the floor through enough times to the point of certainty that all extraneous sources of leakage were accounted for, I put down my rags and went into work early.


That night another puddle had gathered around the bathroom drain, hmm.


Tuesday, 21 December.  Approaching the summer solstice or Northern winter solstice.   I'm out of bed early.  The puddle in the bathroom hadn't diminished.  I sensed a flush of warm water in the toilet but dismissed that for the moment.  My small kitchen, which is on the other side of the bathroom, was warm and a little damp on the ground.  At which, that moment, I spied the evidence: my washing-machine that is positioned directly under a bench in the kitchen had formed warm condensation on its rim.  I noticed that the hot water tank was making the 'on' noise, and would click as such every few minutes.  Alarm bells rang.  I called a plumber.  I switched off the hot water.  I walked up to my nearest shop that happens to be a hot-water service specialist.  They told me what I'd already just suspected, that I have a leaking hot water pipe within my walls.  I called my strata agent.  They got the plumbers in by midday.  They drilled away inside my walls and repaired the pipey leak.  The drilling was awful.  It took them four hours of solid work to find the fault and then replace that section of pipe.  I've kept that piece of pipe that caused the problem - the fracture in it is only a hairline one.   I was lucky that the hot water worked afterward as I was in danger of having burnt the element by having the hot water turned off without having turned off the electricity. The tilers will be coming in to repair the patch soon after the new year.  And the strata picks up the bill.  It appears the hissing noise I'd been living with for three weeks was a precursor to the actual leak that likely started to occur less than 48 hours of the plumbers arriving.  


There are no more leaks or puddles and no more hissing inside my walls.  The silence is truly golden.


And at that night, at the supermarket in Maroubra, I ran into my cousin who I hadn't seen in years.  He's a plumber.


Sometime during the 3rd grade, in 1978 when I was eight years old, and quite possibly during the very moment that the The Plumber was being filmed, we were all asked what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I said plum-ber, pronouncing the 'b' prominently.  All my little school-chums in that classroom broke into a big laugh and I had no idea what they were laughing about (my home education was always nil).   And now, 32 years later, I can look back over that time and think to myself, yeah, I fuckin' should've been...


I think over this.  The plumber film and my mini-obsession, the AGM, then the reality of a burst water pipe inside my walls (I've never known anyone who's had a burst water-pipe inside their apartment..) and then, the night of the big repair, bumping into my cousin who's a plumber.  What does it all mean??? ....


**********************************************************************************


(from www.dreamsmeaning.org):


PLUMBING

Spiritual Meaning:
We are beginning to become aware of the flow of spiritual energy within our lives, though this may be in the background.

Psychological / Emotional Perspective:
Emotional security is important to almost everybody, and mostly such feelings are hidden from view. When we are looking at plumbing we are actually looking into our subconscious to where we have stored information and emotion. We need to be able to access the subconscious in order to create clarity within our lives.

Everyday Material Aspects:
Dreaming about plumbing looks at the way we direct our emotions. It indicates how we make use of our emotions to bypass obstacles in order to create security for ourselves and to control the flow of emotions within. Another interpretation is that of the internal plumbing. Often, to dream of plumbing in this sense alerts us to something that is perhaps out of kilter with ourselves, with our bodies. A leaking steam pipe might suggest, for instance, a problem with hypertension. A pump might symbolize the heart. Obviously, such images should not be used as diagnostic tools in any way. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Neil Finn solo concert review...

Sweet news: I had my first article published in suite 101 yesterday.  Over time I hope to build up a revenue stream with it; supply more articles, make more money.  If it comes to making about a coffee's worth of coin per year I'll be happy enough.


Here is my article for suite 101, a review of Neil Finn's solo concert at the Seymour Centre in Sydney from a couple of weeks ago: click here


I'm not entirely happy with this article.  I feel it's too self-conscious, wooden even, constrained.  I'm hoping in time I'll learn to relax just like I do on this blog and be able to write a bit more casually.


I blew Neil an Italian-style opera-arrivederci kiss during the standing ovation.  Neil caught this and beamed in a flash as his eyes met mine momentarily.  I couldn't help but chuckle at this, to think that a year ago I wrote a decidedly salt'n'pepper article all to do with my mixed feelings about the man, why I loved him, why I hate him.  (link)  I haven't re-visited that article since, but I plan to re-read it after I finish this entry.  I do receive occasional comments for that entry, the last two of which were attempts to put the controversial bits back on me.  I've nothing to hide.  It was just an article.  What primarily interests me is how I've evolved so that I  seem to love all his work unconditionally now, whereby up to relatively recently I happened to find much of his work intensely annoying.


Take 'Love you till the day I die', for instance.  I used to detest that song; I found it to be a 3-minute quasi-funk vomit.  Well, I love it now.  And Neil being Neil, there's almost always a touch of genius in every song he creates.  The middle-eight section of 'Love you till the day I day' is a wonderfully inspired piece of music, great music.  Mozart would have given his praise to this.  Besides, this music dates very well, extremely well.


Needless to say I am a fan and have great respect for Neil Finn; the music and the man.  The solo concert was sublime, one of the most rewarding concerts I've ever attended.  And I'm glad I've evolved and grown enough to see the overriding good in the music and the man, and to have cast aside the negatives.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Songwriting Society: personal top 10 (2002)

Here's something I wrote eight years ago for the magazine.  It's a nice piece of writing so I'm uploading it here while I chisel my icy writersblock with a picksaw; on the brain is a Neil Finn concert review...but for now, a piece of, um, history!


   This report is based on my idea of a 'Top 10' song list for all those songs I've encountered in the Society over the past 4 years.  Since I'm going to pull back a little next year I thought it appropriate to draft my idea of a 'Top 10' song list covering my time in the Society up till now. The sort of thing 'Q' magazine publishes every 3 months.
   The list is subjective of course, and my opinion doesn't count for anything at all anyway.  What I will say though is that these songs represent excellent, and sometimes classic, examples of their respective genres, and as such, would be up there with any of the internationally renowned great albums.  While anyone who's been involved with the Society for a few years would be able to draft their own list, I'm sure the excellence of songwriting is unanimously agreed upon.  There are a lot of 'classic' songs out there.
   These 10 songs I all love and represent pretty much their impact on me as a listener, in order from 1-10 (it was quite difficult to decide on an order), rather than "likeability" as such.  The styles vary accordingly, 4 artists are male, 6 are female.  These songs may not necessarily be the artist's "best" song, but they do convey something universal and special to me.  I suppose it's a bit of a plug for those who made the list but really this exercise is meant to promote the Society and our Songwriting as a whole.  I could have easily have forged a Top 20 list and included 10 more artists but time and space disallow that.
   (Note: none of these songs are part of the current 2002 Top 10 Song Contest).

10. Christine
Writer: Vesna Malnar; performed by Ana Key and the Minority Group

'Christine' is a propulsive rock song that takes on the style of classic New Wave rock such as Siouxie and the Banshees and the very early Church.  The build up to each chorus is dramatic and powerful, yet subtle, and all is enhanced by the powerful drumming at just the right places.  The brilliant storyline and lyrics give the song an added depth and power.  The lyric "It's a movie show.." which ends each chorus becomes the rawly exciting fade out coda, lending to the song a sense of classic New Wave rock, which it is at its finest. 


9. Never Run Away
Writer: Ben Ackerman; performed by BeNNeTT, & Shadow

This is one of those rare, special love songs that truly convinces the listener that the singer (writer) is really in love.  The sheer commanding beauty of the melody, the fantastic chorus, and the unashamed lyrics are kept in balance by Ben's fervent - yet thoroughly natural - sense of nobility and an almost steely resolve.  Therefore, the song does nothing but convince the listener of the power of the singer's love, captured within the confine of a most commanding, striking and beautiful love song.  And one that all of us can relate to in our own experience. 

8. Control
Writer: Wendy Ford; performed by Wendy Ford & Whisker

A huge pop song with tremendous impact and power, 'Control' starts off with a relaxed groove reminiscent of Lou Reed's 'Walk on the Wild Side' and builds up step by step with delightful musical and lyrical turns.  The evocative lyrics of "Glebe markets Saturday afternoon.." take a surreal turn of phrase that bursts forth into the magnificent chorus, in a minor key.  Structurally & lyrically excellent with one of the best choruses you'll hear anywhere, 'Control' radiates a life of its own with a commanding sense of the sheer arresting power of great pop music.

7. I Know
Writer: Gavin Fitzgerald; performed by Velvet Road

A fusion of the musical style of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the sandshoe rock'n'roll grit of early Cold Chisel, 'I Know' stands up as a Classic blues-rock corker.  The hint of  soul-influence in the music lends to the song a heady magnificence with just the right elements of power, verve and heart-driven passion.  You can virtually smell the leaded petrol emanating off this track, and hear the skidmarks of the Holden Sandman spinning off dusty roads.  No doubt this is a track a band like Cold Chisel would have taken savage delight in "pounding to the boards" during their formative years at the Largs Pier Hotel, Adelaide, in the mid 70's.

6. Stay With Me
Writer & performer: Daya'mayii

This beauteous gem vaguely carries with it the sound and feel of Carole King's Tapestry album, yet 'Stay With Me' eclipses King's influence in that it possesses a sensitivity and poignancy that is matched by only very few.  An intimate song of reachingness, Daya'mayii wears her soul on her sleeve ("Stay with me / I'm kind of troubled...I'm a lost soul / but I find my path if you stay with me...") and matches her words with a gentle, beautiful and piercingly sensitive musical backdrop.  As sensitive and beautiful a song quite likely, as Nick Drake's 'Saturday Sun'.

5. Love Sweet Love
Writer & performer: Christian Laki

A searing song that celebrates the joy of love, it happily reflects an overt Beatles influence from say, their Magical Mystery period of late '67.  It almost seems like a cross between 'All you need is love' and 'I am the Walrus', albeit with a clearer perspective and production.  Lyrically clever and warm, the song really takes off in the middle eight where it reaches stellar heights.  One of the best middle eights you'll ever hear, and the dramatic move from the middle eight into the baritone guitar solo is just brilliant.  With all respect to the rich and famous, Noel Gallagher still has a long way to go before he reaches this level.

4. The Donut Shop
Writer & performer: Sarah Binnie

One of the most original songs you'll ever hear, and one of the most arresting too.  This was based on a simple guitar turn that is most akin to a slightly warped blues but the story and vocal melodies that ebbed and flowed were spellboundingly amazing, the heart on the sleeve thing captured in a song that resonated immediately with a vulnerable, yet true emotional sincerity.  Sarah hasn't been in the Society for a while and I only recall this song vaguely but Christ it had an impact, on a lot of people.

3. Talk Quietly
Writers: Megan Albany, Marc Mittag; performed by Skinful

This is scintillating, delicious pop that mirrors early 80's Brit Soul-pop most epitomised by artists such as Tracey Thorn, Everything but the Girl, and the early Style Council.  Superbly produced, arranged and crafted, 'Talk Quietly' lauds the value of a quiet, special friend.  This definitely gives the song its subtle emotive power, and housed with its warm, vibrant melodies and lyrics and standout chorus, make it a truly wonderful and special pop song.  A song that arouses the best that music can bring out, sheer bubbly happiness and joy!

2. By the Holy Water
Writer: Pennie Lennon; performed by My Hearts Dezire

An extraordinary song.  Pennie's piano and yearning chorus take on so much feel it's incredible.  Pennie is a true tone poet and the musical modulations, twists and turns throughout the song emphasise and evoke feels, moods and colours of all dimensions, to me, I hear a purple Hermann Hessian existentiality wafting through.  A real trip, in other words.  And it all comes together into a most dramatic five minute song that quite easily matches the genius of all the classical masters bar none.  The striking melodies, an incredible harmonic structure which works powerfully and so emotively mixed with an equally incredible lyric make this song a definitive piece of Genius.  No wonder the Church's Steve Kilbey was keen to produce Pennie's album Journeys.  'By the Holy Water' appears on My Hearts Dezire's Live at Karmic Hit Ep which although relatively unproduced (compared to her other albums) is nonetheless arguably her finest album.

1. Begin
Writers: Chris Carrapetta, Simon Laham; performed by Chris Carrapetta, Dreaming Tree

Pennie gets pipped at the post by a lad's song.  Well, I'm a lad, and Chris Carrapetta & Simon Laham have penned what is probably the most classic urban-country 20-something love song ever written.  Not so much a love song as one of anticipation of love ("...don't you know it's with you that I wanna Begin...").  Fusing the styles of Neil Young with the more contemporary Ryan Adams and solo Tim Rogers (U am I) to create that urban-country sound, Chris & Simon have quite possibly eclipsed the lot of them (well, let's not get hysterical, maybe leave Neil Young out of this one...).  It's very contemporary, vibrant, very inner-west Sydney sounding, and seems to mirror or champion a lower middle-class perspective.  It fuses classic simplicity with yearning yet upbeat melodies and universal sentiments, and, a totally effable singalong chorus.  The opening lyrics reflect longing, ("...there is no greater joy in this world / than the touch of my sweet lowdown tattooed girl...").  The girl is vividly portrayed throughout the verses, ("...tattooed ballerina girl...lives her life in a perfect ballerina's twirl...burns her hair and she don't care...paints her face like a mime in a circus fair...her painted face her burnt brown hair / brings me back to her from anywhere.")  The choruses are absolutely classic sing-a-long material that will get every punter singing along in pubs all over the nation and which is why it will be in Triple J's Top 100 when Chris bothers promoting it!  The chorus simply reflects the tug of angst where the relationship is just beginning, or just sort of, ("Spent all night on your living room floor / thought I saw it in you but I wasn't quite sure / we did a lot of laughing and we almost cried / and I looked in your face and in your eyes I died...).  The crunch and musical/lyrical majesty of youthful boyish heroism closes the chorus ("...oh baby I just want you to let me i-i-in / don't you know it's with you that I wanna Begin..").  The song; where performed, always generates a tremendous audience response - and calls for repeat performances!
   'Begin' is not necessarily Chris Carrapetta's finest song per se ("I'm over it" says Chris about 'Begin') but it is one of those "classic" songs that will go a long way if pushed and promoted, sort of like what 'Khe Sahn' did for Cold Chisel.  I'd suggest to Chris to re-record the song in his singing key and to find a good, suitable producer.  The rest will be Australian Indie Rock history!  This is one of those special songs that could easily make Triple J's Top 100 and be Number One with it. 

In short, here's the order:
1.  Begin
2.  By the Holy Water
3.  Talk Quietly
4.  The Donut Shop
5.  Love Sweet Love
6.  Stay With Me
7.  I Know
8.  Control
9.  Never Run Away
10. Christine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Paul Weller @ the Enmore Theatre & Metro

Paul Weller, live at the Metro, Sydney, Oct 2010
1986 was the year my love of a certain songwriter-musician flew into high gear.  I was 16 years old in May 1986 when my sister bought me Paolo Hewitt's The Jam: a beat concerto.  I was immediately captivated with this biography: the photos, the story, the easy-to-read though poetic and incisive style of writing, and ultimately, Paul Weller.  I became a huge Jam fan, totally obsessed, and in varying degrees I remain so to this day. Here was a man who seemed to grow up with similar experiences to I and who looked so good and wrote such magnificent songs, who had such power and force of expression, and an acutely good musical ear.  Paul Weller, along with John Lennon, was my man.


I never dreamt I would see Paul Weller perform live.  By 1986 the Jam were dead and the Style Council were moving into making album statements away from live performance; it had been the Council's tour of Australia in 1985 that awakened me to Weller's previous incarnation, the Jam, although I never regretted not seeing the Council live at the Hordern Pavilion in August of that year.   In 1986 it would have been inconceivable to think that Paul Weller, many years henceforth, would come full-circle and create music that was "Jam-like" during the latter part of the 90s, to move onto the world tour-circuit to perform songs from each and every era of his 33 year career.   But there he was, five metres in front of me at the Metro, the man from Woking whose music I've listened to and whose person I've read about so much throughout these past 25 years.


I saw Paul Weller for the first time at the Enmore Theatre in 2008 where he and his band were touring the masterful 22 Dreams album.   I was in such a euphoria that night.  I waited by the back lane that was flanked by bodyguards, just hoping for a chat with mister Woking-class hero, but gave up on that when reality set in and instead just walked up King Street in a euphoric daze.  Last Friday's gig at the Enmore wasn't quite as good; it was still brilliant, it's just that the overall mood wasn't quite as intimate as that first gig two years ago.  Some things like 'mood' you just can't really pinpoint; Weller played some sublime songs last Friday: 'You do something to me', 'Broken stones', and the finale 'A town called Malice' that blow the roof off the theatre.  Musical, songwriting, magnificence.


The gig at the Metro on Sunday night was much better.  Because of the mosh-pit we were able to get in quite close.  In fact, we were able to get in close by just strolling in ten minutes prior to the band coming on.  There's no way this would have been possible at a Weller gig of the early eighties, or even the mid-nineties for that matter.  But being 2010, in Sydney, and the on third night in a row for Weller in this particular strange town, it was just a matter of walking in casually.  Most of the audience were happy to stand up on the elevated areas.  We had to be near the front, and we were.


I was hardly in the mood for stepping out the door that day.  It was a dreary, cold Sunday.  There'd been a cold snap and it was wintery and blustery and the rain came down all day.  I noticed that band all looked at each other with knowing grins when Weller sang the line "...pissing down with rain on a boring old Sunday...".   Poor fellas.  They were likely expecting good old-fashioned Aussie warmth, the type you hear about in the mother country.  Wasn't happening I'm afraid.  Still, they had a "splendid" time according to Paul and the band appeared to enjoy themselves, throwing themselves totally into this great music.


The songs off 'Wake up the nation' encapsulate some of that 1966/67 Beatles/Pink Floyd energy within some short, tight songs, almost rekindling the ethos or energy of punk.  And yet the album sounds startlingly modern, like what 2010 is supposed to sound like.  2008's '22 Dreams' is loosier, folksier, and takes on a wider range of influences including mid-period Beach Boys and British 70s folk like Ronnie Lane.  Weller performed only one 'Style Council' song on both nights, 'Shout to the top'.  When you think about that canon of songs that belonged to the Style Council you just can't help but think of the colossal talent that is Paul Weller.  There is a style and flavour to Council songs that are all their own, and it's almost hard to believe that the man on stage flailing away unfaultingly on his guitar is the same man responsible for this eclectic, mostly lovely body of great music and songs that epitomised some of the best of 1980s popular music.


The biggest cheers on the nights were characteristically drawn from the performance of old Jam numbers.  'Strange Town' was loud, symphonic, and magnificent, the most.  'Pretty Green' and 'Start' from the Sound Affects album highlighted Weller's Beatles influences, keenly matched with his equally acute sense of lyric, structure, and craft.  'That's Entertainment' really gets the crowd going.  And surprise surprise, 'Art School' from 1977 flew down gloriously well with one of Weller's band taking the main vocal.  The song doesn't date live as one might think it would, and it still seems credible with an old geezer taking the lead vocal, albeit intermittently.   Then, 'A town called malice'.  A song that's most perfect in it's passion and delivery, it's great melody and sheer lyric brilliance.  This was the final song of Friday night's gig and it blew the roof off.  We all shared it.  Even Weller who wrote it can still feel it.  It's the universal song of the overt and underlying pressures of living in the modern world, the human condition.  In its poetic brilliance, powerful music, melody and drive, 'A Town called malice' probably stands as Weller's ultimate masterpiece and remains a classic example of great popular music.  Certainly one of the greatest songs ever written.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Swimming

I’ve gotten back into swimming.  I haven’t been out swimming for a long time; suffice to say that I took it up semi-seriously in 1989/90.  I was never a particularly good swimmer, I’m still not, and I came late to learn to swim for my childhood fear of the water.  This in itself is  unusual given that I grew up in the Eastern Suburbs where the swimming culture runs ramp in the collective blood of its residents.  Besides, I'm a Pisces.   I finally got the hang of swimming by age 11, albeit tentatively.  At then, at 19, I decided to get fit and do laps at UNSW pool.

Twenty unbelievably quick years on and here I am, back in the Uni pool with a seeming vengeance to swim like a warrior with a mission, and as often as I can.  I’ve been back to the pool sporadically during the intervening years but never to any pervading purpose or plan.  There was an awkward period of a few years when the acquatic centre was being totally refurbished, where everything except the pool itself underwent the renovators’ knives.  I kept instinctively away during this period, and for the most part, have avoided the pool up until a few weeks ago.

I was a student at UNSW in 1989 and 1990.  I’m no longer a student at UNSW but instead work across the road at the Dramatic Art Institution, and have been plying my trade there for three months shy of fifteen years!   And yet, even working across the road from the aquatic centre wasn’t enough to draw me back into swimming.  My decision to return to swimming was activated by my now-close living proximity to the pool, a leisurely twenty-minute stroll each way, and more one-pointedly, to further improve my diabetes control and general fitness.  I do believe my diabetes control and fitness is improving, and I’ll definitely know by the end of the month when I go for my next blood test.  

Indoor-pool swimming has its drawbacks.  I have been out to Bondi and Bronte pools over the years but, like indoor swimming, have never made it a definite habit.  I’ve eschewed swimming because it’s generally a pain in the ass to have to bother with change rooms, showers, drying off, dressing up, the scent of chlorine wafting from your skin no matter how much soap you smother over yourself.  But the benefits of swimming are immense, no more so than the all-round good feeling that stays with you for the remainder of the day after you leave the pool.   Swimming is on a par with clothes-washing.  You do your laps (wash), after which you retire to the sauna (dry) and you leave feeling clean and crisp all over.
I swim at least 1000 metres (1 kilometre) in the pool.  The pool is 50 metres long with a divide at 25 metres to separate the shallow end with the deep end.  So I invariably do at least 40 laps of freestyle at which I follow through with a few breaststroke and fast freestyle to finish up, partly also to make up for any laps I think I may have miscounted.

I don’t particularly enjoy swimming.  Indoor swimming is not exactly ‘fun’, but one doesn’t jump into the chlorine soup to have themselves a great time, or to necessarily enjoy it.  My reasons for swimming go beyond mere fitness.  One can have a much more rewarding time going for a lovely walk on a nice day amidst the sunlight and the trees and breathing in flowers’ scents, although swimming has the advantage of being an all-body workout that doesn’t pressurise the joints as walking can do.  And yet there’s more to it than that.   Swimming is a discipline.  A discipline that requires some degree of fortitude and personal objective to stick to the required laps in freestyle, to round off with a few breaststroke, to earn the prize which is a good 15-20 minutes in the sauna.   The sauna leaves the body feeling so sublimely good afterwards that I find I don’t sleep any better than those times I find myself immersed in an evening swim and sauna.

My swimming is an exercise in discipline and endurance.  At about 300 metres I’m usually puffed out and I’d prefer to just walk away from it all.  Besides, it can get very boring too.  I persist, however, at which I find myself getting my second wind at about 600 metres, to power through toward my goal of one kilometre, feeling those muscles in my arms and legs charging up, and my lung capacity seemingly doubled. 

It’s that almost Eastern sense of discipline that draws me into a round of swimming.   Swimming is very much a mind-body-spirit sport, and it aligns the physical, mental, and spiritual better than anything I know of, including meditation.   And there’s always the reward of a post-swim sauna to look forward to, which is why I swim my zen-kilometre to begin with.  Nothing feels better to the body than a long swim and sauna.  I plan to make this a long-term habit, and a consistent one at that, hoping to make it to the pool at least twice a week.  I’d love to go daily if I could, but time is unfortunately constrained. 

Nevertheless, I found something again that’s altering my life and for the better, it seems.  I have this longing to be clearer and healthier and swimming is the best way to stay clear, focused and healthy.  I feel cleaner in mind and body and my mind feels sharper, more focused.  I do hope that after all the effort I’m putting into this that my blood-sugar average drops for my late-October test.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

north south east & west (aka south of south)

South of South, Bare Island, La Perouse

Up until recently I hadn't taken notice of directional aspects, or positions.  I mean, I always knew about directions and their significance to heat and light; that north-facing equals premium sun, south-facing means no direct sunlight, east-facing welcomes the morning sun up to the midday hours, whilst west takes in the afternoon rays.  It's only because I've purchased my first bit of real-estate that I've come to obsess about directions and their significance to me.


My unit faces south-west.  Most of it faces south with a slight easterly slant, whilst one room - the bedroom - faces west with a slight southerly slant.  I must say, I like it, and am very glad I bought into a west-facer.  In my instance I find that the southerly aspect works well because I'm facing a white building that reflects its light into my apartment.  So for the most part I tend to take in a lot of light even though most of my windows are shielded from the sun.  In the summer months there'll be the duo bonus of staying cool while taking in a good degree of light.


I like south.  South is honest, cool, equable, and icily dispassionate as it casts a spell over its Antarctic, south-pole, purview.  South is like Saturn in the Southern Hemisphere, as North is the Northern Hemisphere's Saturn.  Saturn is a task-master, you have to earn your sunlight within.  There's no easy light cast on you.  You have to allow the light come to you, from within, because in the external world there's always the intimation that the sun is nearby, over your shoulder almost, yet never actually touching you directly the way that the northern sun will.


East is my least favourite direction.  I find that East provides much promise with its lashings of morning sun, but then leaves the afternoon dark and barren, with a feeling of closed-inness.  There's even less sun in the afternoon if you face east than if you face south as the south tends to be closer to the west's rays in the afternoon, even if these rays aren't directly facing.  If you're overlooking the sea, then fair enough, having a 24-hour sea-view is worth not having afternoon sunlight.  And if you prefer morning sun to afternoon sun then east-facing vistas are the answer.


I prefer afternoon sun.  I prefer west-facing.  I don't care how dark the place is in the morning, my preference is to see that sun set in the afternoon.  The feeling of facing west is one of end-of-day expanse.  The place feels bigger with a greater sense of space or dimension.  Easterly facing afternoons where the place gets all dark, I don't like.


Nevertheless I'd have to say the optimal aspect is north-east, with a slight westerly slant on the north-facing side.  North-east will take in morning sun and the afternoon westerly sun without the disadvantage of heating up the place too markedly.


South-west, my place's aspect, comes in second.  With south-west you take in the afternoon sun but the place is left feeling temperate, without the what could be relentless 'overdose' of sun you could take in if you take up a north-west aspect.


South-east is my least favourite aspect.  These places are more susceptible to mould and mildew than all other aspects.  If you're a morning person and like to be up to raise all the curtains at 6am then you could get the place dry by midday if it's a warm sunny day.  But the problem with south-east is that it will be dark after midday, and stay that way until the sun goes down, so it's quite depressing in my view.

East is the master of promise, of the dawning of the light before its final departure halfway through the day.  The lesson of East is to keep the purity and promise of dawning light in those periods of darkness and interminability.  Carry the flame of light within always for the sun will always dawn again to bring its glorious reassurance.


North is the giver, the heaven, the ideal.  You face the sun all day.  But you can have too much of a good thing.  There are times when you need to find the "cool" of yourself, the south of yourself.   When you face north you are like the camel trying to go through the eye of the needle, life can be too easy.  Practically, too, there are times where you just wish to escape the presence of the sun, the instinctive natural impulse to find the "cool" of yourself, the south of yourself.


South is the constant purveyor of the purity of truth within.  At its ideal, south is icy, cold, white, and represents infinitesimal purity.  (Just as north does in the Northern Hemisphere).  South open us up to the dimensions within our being that are more true and real, beyond our daily surface projections.   We need to hold to the "south" of ourselves as we're craving the reassuring surface consciousness of north.  South is a wonderful teacher for us.


West is the frontier, giving us promise of further worlds and possibilities that linger in the air as the sun sinks over the horizon.  West is reassuring and revivifying in its late afternoon blossoms of sunlight, but can provoke greed and distraction in those who crave permanent "west" in their being.  I love facing the west.


Of course, all aspects merge into the one complete whole, for all directions take us back to point of where we started.  All is circular.  That's the miracle of life, again, representing oneness and connectedness in the universe.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

the bearded one

La Perouse, Sydney, August 2010
I grew a beard during the winter months.  I tend to allow my facial-fur grow out during those cooler, grayer months of the year.  I figure it's too much of a drag to run cold shaving gel over my face every morning when I'd much rather be asleep in bed.  It's not that I necessarily have to get up early every morning, it's more that the winter vibe is not really all that conducive to daily rituals of cold blades and water and gel.  Besides, the fuzzy beard keeps me warm.

The most interesting aspect of growing a beard is in witnessing other people's perceptions of me, of which I'm equally amazed, and appalled.  All of a sudden, as my beard becomes decisively furry and the whites become prominently pointed from my chin, I start to receive strange looks from people on the street.  As if my beard is a signal for some strange sort of attention.  There are a lot of sharp glances cast my way.  Sometimes there are subtle, though awful, leers that will stay in my memory a lifetime.  A leer that suggests something along the lines of "I'm greater than you, you are lesser than me..".   Worst of all are the old curmudgeon pricks who cackle, shake their heads, and look at me like I'm some kind of scum, or asswipe.  (I'm holding up a mirror to you, mate..)

There I was in Coles supermarket one Saturday morning dressed in grey jeans and a light-blue pullover, and wearing the beard that was, by now, nicely settled in.  Some tall, 60-year-old-plus turtle-headed, Yugoslav or East European-looking man, shakes his head at me as he walks past, cackling to himself hatefully whilst muttering curses and other such indeciperables, fixing me with an ugly stare all the while.  I held my gaze firmly at this creature, finally bringing up finger toward him, sideways.  The 'sideways' action mediates the affrontedness of an erect finger-salute; it's a way of telling someone to get the fuck away without the overt rudeness.  He turned away and his cackling subsided, though his face remained contorted like a bad crusty smell, and a psychic dark shadow flung over his hairless crown like a burka.

This incident prompted me to have a shave.  I was going to anyway, now that the days were getting longer and the feeling of spring was in the air.   I kept my sideburns.  Now I look like a Neil Young fan, or a Clash fan, or a Marxist, or some funky-filmy 70s dude.  No one's giving me strange sharp looks anymore, no-one's leering at me, and no-one is looking at me like I'm the scum of the Earth.

I should have been an actor.  I have a most adaptable face.  In turns I can look Italian, Irish or English, like a 60s dude, like a 70s dude, and even like an 80s dude (or used to, with my mullet).  And with my emerging beard I begin to look perhaps Jewish, or Islamic.  The white tufts of beard that point out from my chin begin to depict the looks of a certain anti-hero accused of inciting major terrorist acts on NYC in 2001.  Is this why people leer and sharp-stare and growl at me when I'm wearing a beard?  I'll never really know until I grow a beard again, next winter, and ask the silly prick on the spot why the fuck they're staring at me.  It'll be like Robert De Niro and Taxi Driver and a Black Beard all rolled into one.

People are fucked.  People are stupid.  I shall speak for myself here from a seemingly higher plateau of sanctity that I never judge people for their looks or their manner of dress, or facial hair.  Think about this: the nature of terrorism is such for its element of surprise.  As soon as you depict a certain creed or group of people as being "all terrorists", then you've lost the plot.  Because as sure as the fire in Hades some next-door neighbour you always deemed as harmless is going to do something extremely distressing to the community, and communities at large.   That's how it works.  But no, we seem to have a cultural enemy now.  This subtle and sometimes not-so subtle new-enemy vibe has permeated into our culture, ie, our westernised "way-of-life" since the beginning of this millennium.  And as I've discovered, it comes out in spades.  With my beard as my psychology-hypothesis attache, I am, inadvertently, a test guinea-pig for these stupid pricks who envelop themselves in hateful, cultural prejudices and project these seeming and randomly onto innocent people.

I was singled out at the airport when I returned from Cairns last year.  I was body-scanned for metals for a procedure I was assured was "random".  I told the lady waving this beam all over me to notice the ukulele I was carrying.  Ukuleles are the most peaceful things on Earth, I assured her.  She seemed pleasantly perplexed, but unmoved.

John Howard Griffin's Black like me is a great book.  Excerpts were read to us in high school by a very good English teacher (one of the very few good English teachers we had; one of two, actually).

And to all the leerers and cacklers and sharp-starers, here's the finger - Fuck you!  No I'm not planning to bomb your house you supremo el-fuckwit.  But someone else might be, and it may be the person or group of people you least expect to...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

room (suite) 101

Oh dear.  I've signed myself off to the other side.  Perhaps this is why I've maintained a blog, to come to this very moment where I can say I'll be batting for the other team...


What's happened is that I saw a Facebook advert for suite101.com.  It's an open site for writers of non-fiction articles, with revenue-making possibilities.  You need to submit samples of your own work to qualify when applying to become part of their team.  I decided to give it a go, mainly to see if, indeed, I'd pass the test and be accepted as a writer.  Well, they accepted me.  And after deliberating through the terms and conditions I've decided to join up.  So that's it.  I'm now a writer for suite101.com.


I won't be able to post articles submitted to suite101 anywhere else until 12 months from the date of submission passes, at which the stipulation is that suite101 must be recognised as the original publishers of the work wherever the article appears.  


So that's it then.  I gotta think of something to write about!!!  Probably music stuff and music reviews.  Etc. I'll keep this blog as my own warped, surrealistic, episodical diary.  And anything that gets published on the suite I'll post here purely as a link back to the suite.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don Walker's 'Catfish' Unlimited Address (1989): retrospective album review


(This review is to be published in a local magazine, the Songsmith. I hope it attracts attention to the album. Cheers, r.)

When Cold Chisel disbanded in 1983, most of its members fashioned either solo careers or stints with other bands. It was only the band’s principal songwriter, keyboardist Don Walker, who retired from the scene completely. Walker was to spend those four or five years after Chisel’s demise travelling throughout Australia and Europe and taking care of other personal matters, in his own words, “detoxing” from the music industry. He finally came to back to music in 1988 to record a new album under the moniker Catfish. Chisel guitarist Ian Moss, producer/guitarist Peter Walker, harmonica player David Blight, and drummer Ricky Fataar were some of the album’s guest musicians. The album was titled Unlimited Address and was released in 1989.

It seems an absurdity that one of Australia’s most gifted songwriters, responsible for penning those anthems such as ‘Khe Sahn’ and ‘Cheap wine’ that are perpetually juke-boxed and drunk-sung throughout beer-barns nationwide, should write and record a solo masterpiece that remains seemingly overlooked to this very day. In Chisel it was Jimmy Barnes, and to a lesser though no less prominent extent Ian Moss, who gave voice to Walker’s songs. And it was Barnes who rode the wave of popularity throughout the eighties with a solo career and a string of albums that in no way came close to matching the brilliance and synergy of Cold Chisel. Although Walker was the principal songwriter in Cold Chisel and something of the bandleader, he himself kept a low profile within the band, sitting with his piano to the left of drummer Steve Prestwich in the backline. He sang backing vocals but was nowhere the singer in the way that Barnes or Moss were. And all of a sudden, in 1989, Don Walker appears with a new album and his customary intense, eagle-eyed portrait on its front cover. With his Bob Dylan 60s-style polka-dot shirt, black jacket and cigar, he looked every bit – to paraphrase the name of his current band – a suave fuck.

21 years on, Unlimited Address stands as an enduring masterpiece within the Australian popular music canon, sounding every bit as vital and contemporary as it did back in 1989. Incredibly, very few people seem to know of it. Contemporary reviews of Unlimited Address were universally laudatory and yet despite this, the album has not enjoyed the retrospective accolade (or sales) that other albums of the time have had bestowed to them. One such album that comes to mind is the Go-Betweens’ 16 Lovers Lane that shares a somewhat similar sound and flavour to Unlimited Address. Recorded in 1988, 16 Lovers Lane has since been proffered the full-retrospective treatment: the remastering, repackaging, extra tracks and a sunny synopsis. Unlimited Address on the other hand, the more powerful record of the two, is a comparative unknown.

Unlimited Address was produced by Peter Walker (no relation to Don Walker) who had previously produced Cold Chisel’s eponymously titled debut album in 1978. Theirs is a special chemistry where Peter Walker as producer intuitively understood Don Walker’s writing and its brilliance and durability. Peter Walker’s idea when embarking on the first Cold Chisel record was to showcase the range of Don Walker’s songwriting; he was to do similarly ten years later with Unlimited Address. Peter’s producing seems to galvanise Don’s songs in a way that makes them sound of a piece, and relevant to the times that they’re recorded. He is a perfect conduit to Don’s vision. There is a lovely purity or uniformity to both the debut Cold Chisel record and Unlimited Address that is not quite present on any other Chisel or Chisel-related album. Therefore, when listening to Cold Chisel and Unlimited Address, you hear not only Don Walker’s extraordinary songs, but you can’t help but be inadvertently taken back to the time and place at which they were captured. Both albums have remained durable and timeless, as all great art is. Whereas Cold Chisel’s debut album is firmly rooted in the Australia of the 1970s, Unlimited Address parallels the crazy, carnival atmosphere that was Sydney of the mid-to-late 1980s. Playwright David Williamson’s Don’s Party is to Cold Chisel’s debut album what Emerald City is to Unlimited Address.

Unlimited Address shares with 16 Lovers Lane that big, echoey, wall-of-sound production that’s most indicative of late-eighties rock, particularised most prominently by the drums in a very radio-friendly mix. Both albums, too, share in their sound and respective cohesiveness, a discernable sense of optimism and radiance that was felt in Sydney right up toward the latter end of the 1980s. Both albums are charged with inspiration and energy, remaining fresh-sounding and alive to this very day: the poppier 16 Lovers Lane deals alternatively with love and loss whilst the bluesier Unlimited Address showcases some of Walker’s finest, most emphatic writing. All of Walker’s familiar themes (and more) from the Chisel days are revisited in Unlimited Address; the injustices and absurdities of city life in all its warped and wild colours, refracted and filtered through the lens of an early hours night-owl that was Walker himself.

It’s those first three songs of Unlimited Address, ‘When you dance’, ‘Hiwire Girl’, and ‘The Early Hours’ that seem to capture the flavour, fervour and energy of times most readily. Kicking off with David Blight’s harmonica, ‘When you dance’ settles into a tight groove interspersed with the bluesy, almost modal, verses and Walker’s darkly wry observations of local nightlife. We, too, are introduced to Don Walker as lead vocalist on record for the first time, to which one’s first instinct is to compare Don’s voice to Barnes and Moss. Don’s voice appears weaker, even raspier, as he strains for some of the higher notes. Though for what Walker lacks in technique he makes up for with passion and the conviction of singing his own words, not unlike how Dylan sang during the mid-sixties. In fact, he sings great. Walker would eventually settle into a more of a country-style drawl as his career progressed that technically suited his range much better.

Hiwire Girl’ was the album’s first single. It starts off with a conga intro and a shady, almost atonal and somewhat chromatic chordal pattern that’s livened up by Blight’s harmonica and those eighties drums and punchy double bass-lines, resolving as they do into one of the most delightful songs that Don Walker has ever written. The song’s many musical twists, tonality changes and dynamic shifts are expertly crafted into an essentially hummable, memorable, inspired tune. On Unlimited Address, ‘Hiwire Girl’ is the song that probably comes closest to capturing the spirit of “Emerald City” of the late 1980s.

The Early Hours’ continues in the spirit of the opening two songs. An emphatic, howling blues with more than faint echoes of the Doors, ‘The Early Hours’ eschews much of Walker’s usual lyrical prolixity and is driven instead by its sheer musical joy and immediacy. The track’s overriding optimism and power shine through in Walker’s singing, in both the main phrases and in the delightful changes to the chorus/bridge sections.

The middle three songs of Unlimited Address are all quite extraordinary, equating to some of Don Walker’s very best work. ‘Subway’ commences with slashing D minor chords with the bass carrying the melody. Don’s melody in the verse mirrors that of ‘My Funny Valentine’ although the subject matter is vastly different. Writing about the homeless, Walker’s writing is at its very best: observant, sharp, bristling powerfully with imagination and poetic inspiration. These attributes are mirrored in the soundtrack of ‘Subway’ where Walker modulates up a key with almost every consecutive verse, climaxing with the powerful last verse that’s augmented with electric guitar to emphasise the chord-changes, and with Walker’s dry, cutting observations of the “majority”: “We learn to raise a little smoke then disappear, leaving subtle lies to hang below the ear like a pearl, these masquerades could never burn your powdered hands, now it ain’t so easy here in the subway of the world”.

One night in Soviet Russia’ is a slower, quieter track in waltz time that’s guided gently along by percussive brushes. The song swings along hauntingly, almost sinisterly, with a melody and harmonic progression redolent of East European folk music. A fine story that’s based on Walker’s travels throughout the Soviet Union in the mid-eighties, the song swells with a passion and intoxicating melody that take the listener to a freezing Siberian night-time scenario. The East European musical influence, on reflection, can be heard subtly in some of the other songs, like ‘Hiwire Girl’. ‘One night in Soviet Russia’ is a compelling, evocative narrative that matched with the song’s dramatic, inspired melody and harmonic progression, is one of Don Walker’s quietly assured masterpieces.

My Backyard’ is something of an equivalent to Bob Dylan’s ‘Desolation Row’ and is perhaps the centrepiece track off the album. According to Walker, the song took a long time to finish. It had to be pared down and stripped back lyrically to fit into its final six minutes. Much of the song was written in Eastern Europe during the mid-eighties, and the song’s bracketed subtitle is “the moon over Manilla”. Despite this, ‘My Backyard’ takes on a discernable ‘Sydney’ feel about it. Many of the lyrics paint the picture of late nights in Kings Cross, a subject that Chisel fans know all too well via the many fine songs that Walker had written about the district. There is something too of an inner-west feel about the song; when you think of places like Annandale and Chippendale in the late eighties you can’t help but be reminded of bohemianism, a touch of the decrepit, all mixed in with a great feeling of creativity and vibrancy.

As with ‘Subway’, ‘My Backyard’ is one of Don Walker’s finest sets of lyrics. The lyrics, when read as a whole, read as a contemporary urban poem where the alarming chaos and emptiness of city life and its herd-like citizens is reflected back to the writer and his woman-friend who are engaged in an uncomfortable, fractured interaction, both of whom are standing on the balcony looking out over “my backyard”. The woman, herself, remains elusive and fascinating, the sort of character you’d visit in an anxiety-dream. Walker’s writing is vivid and exceptional; setting his words to punchy music that’s reflective of the tone and flavour of the story. The chordal/musical changes hit at just the right moments to create and build quite sensational musical tensions that mirror and reinforce the power of Walker’s lyric. My Backyard’ is possibly Walker’s finest exposition of street-life, blending sharp poetic realism with an inspired and powerful narrative that makes this song one of the very best of its genre.

Pre-war blues’ cools the mood instantly with its jazzy, elegant sway. This is a jazz-blues based piece about the immediate post-war period and the return-home of the American soldiers, written with Walker’s characteristic poetic narrative and deft touch. The middle section of the song bursts through into a beautiful bout of melody with the words, “…high in the old Roman town the children of old American fortunes drown their luck, choosing their favourite Broadway tunes, and pre-war blues…”.

Station’ is a punchy Doors-influenced blues, indicative of the direction Walker would take with the second Catfish album, Ruby. Walker had pointed out in an interview that the line “…a man with velocity’s a man alive…” was inspired by his Physics/Mathematics past; Don Walker did an honours degree in Physics before embarking on the road with Cold Chisel in the mid-70s.

The album’s closing title-track is the album’s one song that explicitly spreads it subject matter beyond urban confines. In that, it vaguely reflects Cold Chisel’s early bluesy style and those early Chisel songs such as ‘On the Road’. Unlimited Address’ was written during Walker’s sojourn around Australia after Chisel’s break-up in 1983 and features both the great music and the sharp lyricism that’s a constant throughout the entire album: “…down by the docks the casino plays the Asians and everybody else, they’re waking up to how they’re take-home pay is gonna leave them hanging off the shelf…”. The song ends succinctly with the lyric “…yes I dream, dream, dream each day of my wide unlimited address…” as the final harmonica wail swells down. It’s a fine ending that offers up a feeling of openness and opportunity amidst the sense of closure that befits the song’s status as the album’s closing track.

Don Walker was to record an excellent second album with Catfish in 1991, Ruby, which honed into more of a roots-y country-blues direction. His solo albums since have become even drier, more roots-based, like a drought-stricken, red-earthed Nick Cave. His narratives and stories remain as compelling as ever. In 2009 he released a fine book (his first), Shots, that is an evocatively composed, stream-of-consciousness autobiography. He now tours occasionally with his band the Suave Fucks and somehow fits the time in for sporadic Chisel reunions. But it’s this, his first solo album, which contains some of Don Walker’s best work in a career that’s spanned over three decades. Unlimited Address has everything going for it; it depicts wholeheartedly the exuberance of the era and is brimming with Walker’s masterful musicality, lyricism, craftsmanship, melody, and songwriting. The only pity is that with the passing of time, the album remains relatively unknown. Don, however, to his credit, remains every bit the suave fuck he’s always been, making music and writing books in his own low-key, inimitable fashion.


Al-Anon

enjoying a bevvy Awakening to the ‘good’ in our lives and to the fulfilling sense of gratitude which follows often comes to us via ...