Nutini Doin’

This mp3 cd compilation covers styles, countries, & generations. Filed under ’n’ for Paolo Nutini: These Streets/Caustic Love. The name suggests Italy but he hails from Ireland & is described as blue-eyed soul. His singles & lps have repeatedly topped the British charts in the 20teens. So this is also ‘modern’ pop. He has a good voice, writes well, sings well & the music is engineered perfectly. 

Skiffle star Lonnie Donegan goes back to the mid 50’s. I have 100 Original Tracks (all of them are not on this cd) His first big hit Rock Island Line & he had over 30 chart toppers after that. A prime influence on nearly every British group in the 60s including the Beatles, the Stones. The songs are fun, some border on music hall. Skiffle is a sort of rock-a-billy sound. The recordings are now public domaine which why the 100 cost me 5.99. 

Another retro sound, out of the USA, is surf rock as played by The Trashmen: Tube City (the Best Of). Best known for ‘Surfin’ Bird’ this a fun collection if their instrumentals – think a looser version of The Ventures with a sense of humour.

Peter Gabriel’s Security was his US market breakthrough. Up to it he was a sort of cult favourite after leaving Genesis. The sound is vaguely ominous & dark almost Goth. The songs are elegant, gloomy yet uplifting at the same time. I have the German version in another cd compilation. Both are worth having.

Velvet Underground: White Light White Heat bonus tracks. There was an extensive reissue of this a few years ago filled with out-takes, different takes & a set of live recordings. The live sound is okay with an almost endless version of Sister Ray.

The Toys: Complete Studio Recordings 1979-80. The Toys are a short-lived British power pop band about whom I know nothing. The songs are competent & fun.

Scott Matthew: Unlearned – includes ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ done as a tender folk-emo waltz. The video sold me on this take & the lp continues the mood of troubled romances, longing & hopes from a gay male point-of-view. Sweet & romantic – good mood music for a first date.

We’ve been to Ireland, Britain, USA & now our last stop on this mp3 cd is Africa with Michael Olatunji: the Nigerian percussionist. His African Drums includes ‘Shango’ & a rich assortment of traditional Nigerian & other tribal music. He broke into the USA market in the mid50’s & introduced world music to the world. A good starter for anyone exploring African music.

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Tchaikovsky

I was introduced to Tchaikovsky through Fantasia without knowing who I was being introduced to. When I bought my first real stereo: turntable, speakers, receiver – from Radio Shack – the first album I played on it was a recording of his first piano concerto. It was a wow moment. 

Since then my collection of his work has grown from box sets to cassettes & to cd box sets & mp3. buy Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian 1840 –1893) I have as stand-alones: Queen of Spades 3 cd, Nutcracker ballet, 1812 Overtures & other orchestral work, Complete Piano & orchestra 2cd, Complete String Quartets 2cd, Choral Work, Violin Concerto w: Beethoven: Violin Concerto 61.

On 3cds of mp3 I have the Complete Symphonies, Complete Solo Piano Music, Piano Concertos, Orchestral works: Capriccio Italien, Francesca da Rimini, Ballet Suites, Romeo & Juliet, Swan Lake, Nutcracker; Violin Concertos. Rounding out the cds are Dvorak: Four-Hand Piano; Prokofiev: The Buffoon ballet; Berloiz: Romeo & Juliet ballet; Stravinsky: Firebird.

Some duplicates but each version is a different interpretation. Melodic, lyrical, some radical at the time, romantic, over-the-top, melodramatic & sometimes saccharin & sentimental – what’s not to like? Some of the music barely contains his personal inner turmoil around his queerness – at time when it was a capital offence – actually in Russia I think it still is.

The ballet suites are a good introduction to his music. The whole ballets can be a bit much without dancers 🙂 The Queen of Spades opera is pleasant enough. His string quartets are sublime. If you want melodrama, melody & heartbreaking romance this is the composer for you.

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Recap September 2021

Stratford safety protocols

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following blog grew to 465! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA & Canada top the list is no surprise but India is back to third place while Sweden &  Bangladesh remain in the top 10 is a surprise. Hello Zimbabwe! 

Most popular posts were Pandemic Poetry Project (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/16/pandemic-poetry-project/); Sunlight & Shadows (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/13/sunlight-and-shadows/). My particular favorite was Tales of Brave Trending (https://topoet.ca/2021/09/19/tales-of-brave-trending/).

My Tumblr is at 350 followers. 226 Twitter followers. Picture Perfect: 86 sections, about 126,000 words posted so far with approx 66,000 remaining to be edited then posted.

A surprisingly great watch has been American Horror Show: Double Feature. All the usual throat slashing & blood drinking but this time combined with a sharp, merciless look at creativity & the sacrifices made to be productive. In this case a drug that unlocks a writer’s, painter’s blocked inner potential. If you are brilliant & blocked you become genius, if you are mediocre & blocked you become a sort of stumbling grey person. Intense performances with Frances Conroy stunning & Macaulay Culkin excellent. 

Finally got around to seeing Parasite – a visually & philosophically stunning film. Figuratively & literally the plot moves through cultural levels to a fugal climax that is breathtaking. The rich house set is an amazing piece of modern architecture – one of those sets like the astounding deco apartments that show up is 30’s movies but only existed in movies. The plot made me think of Dante’s Inferno as it takes us literally through the rings of Hell. 

Also watched Valley of the Dolls, again 🙂 https://topoet.ca/2021/09/26/valley-of-the-bras/ 

nice tongue action

Finished reading Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928). McKay was part of the Harlem Renaissance & wrote several novels & books of poetry but his approach was ‘earthier’ & deemed not elevated enough to cast a favourable light on his race. The novel is a fun, fast slice of the night life, the work life, the love/sex life of the times by someone who lived those times.  His hero has a strong emotional bromance with another male character: Wiki tells us “McKay was bisexual; he pursued relationships with both men and women throughout his life. He never officially “came out” (nor did anyone else in his time) nor explicitly stated his sexual preference.” 

The highlight of the month was a day trip to Stratford to see Three Tall Women. https://topoet.ca/2021/10/01/ah-yes-i-remember-it-well/ 

The Tingler

as a boy

I couldn’t tell the truth

if my life depended on it

mot that I was a compulsive liar

or even lied that often

but under any sort of questioning

I was guilty

regardless of being innocent

Did you do that?

no – which was the truth

Go to your room

Until you are ready to tell the truth.

but

No buts. Now go you lying loser.

<>

to avoid that banishment

I’d have to tell a lie

but I was even a worse liar

thanks to some movie I saw

where some sort of centipede

would materialize

around the spine

when you were scared

lying scared me

as much as telling the truth

I would feel those

million sharp legs 

sinking into my back

my skin would tingle

The Tingler!

that’s what that movie was called

<>

a lie would kill me

it would crush my heart

burst out of my nose

brain spattering everywhere

insect legs would dig out from my eyes

<>

so I was afraid to lie

the punishment for telling the truth

was bad enough

not be be believed

not to be trusted was confusing

it was better to leave the room

let them think what they wanted

because the clearly truth 

made no fucking difference

<>

at that age

they made sure

I knew I was a lying loser

a useless dishonest kid

which I know now was a lie

and that’s the truth

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Nico’s Nirvana News

News & The Blues: Telling It Like It Is – this is a great of early blues recordings by the likes of Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy & more. It is an excellent introduction to the time, to the performers & the political, labour context, with songs like“WPA Blues” “Unemployment Stomp.” Original recordings that have been sonically improved. I borrowed the cd from the library & made a cassette copy but eventually replaced it with this stand-alone.

Nico (Christa Päffgen) almost stole the first Velvet Underground’s lp with her smokey insidious singing. Her Euro accent added a level of sophistication to her tracts that the others didn’t have. I have stand-alone of her first lp: Chelsea Girl with songs by John Cale, Lou Reed & Jackson Browne. I later discovered she & Browne were lovers at the time! I’m sure there’s a movie in that relationship. 

Like many I was shocked & dismayed by the unexpected death of Kurt Cobain. I can’t say I was a fan but I did like Teen Spirit. I have stand-alones Nirvana’s Incesticide & Nevermind. Nevermind came first – bought on sale at HMV; Incesticide after his death – bought at nearby (now gone) 2nd hand record/cd/book store.

The pain in his voice is impossible to miss so his suicide wasn’t a surprise to me. The outpouring of grief went beyond gawking – people were genuinely hurt by his death. There is something about early death that instantly turns stars into legends so appraising their work is difficult. Not everything recorded by Janis, Jim Morrison, Hendrix, Prince is a work of genius but we can’t be critical of dead. As Blondie sang ‘die young stay pretty.’ 

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Valley of the Bras

After reading Stephen Rebello’s Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! I was keen to see the movie, again, & had planned watch it on my own on a rainy day but after seeing the excellent ‘Hitch’ which was based on Rebello’s ‘Alfred Hitchcock & the Making of Psycho’ my partner read ‘Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!’ also wanted to see it again. So we dug out the 2 disc ‘Special Edition’ – loaded with great extras. I had reread the novel earlier this year so I was eager to rewatch the film.

Where to start? The movie pales in comparison to the novel & I understand why fans were disappointed in the adaptation that removed 3/4 of the book. The characters are reduced to stick figures – gone is the fact they women live together for a time – in the film there isn’t one scene of the three of them together. Gone is Anne’s friendship with Helen Lawson – in fact Helen is almost excised from the script – Hayward’s performance jump starts the movie whenever she appears.

Don’t get me started the those songs – we get a glimpse of the Lawson’s Broadway show number ‘I’ll Plant My Own Tree’ & it is clear that no one involved in the film every saw, or was involved with a Broadway show. The song is clunky & staged with all the Broadway stage reality of a Busby Berkeley number but absolutely no sparkle. Hayward lip syncs it well enough. No Broadway set designer would ever ever use a mobile that covered the star’s face constantly.

Patty was not pleased to be dubbed & as result released the lp Patty Duke ‘Sings Songs from the Valley of the Dolls.. Yes, I have it thanks to iTunes & it fits perfectly with the music misfire of the movie. It did nothing to enhance her reputation as a singer 🙂 Nor did the film do much to enhance her reputation as an actress. In fact none of the cast’s career potential was increased by the film. Such is the harsh reality of life in the valley of the dolls.

I felt for Barbra Parkins when I saw those beige ‘office’ costumes when they matched the beige every wall she stood in front of. I laughed at the fab cosmetics commercial montage – a product supposed for any woman while she looks like an alien. But as she climbs the ladder to success her costumes do improve even as they remain impractical. 

Patty Duke bravely & brazenly barrels though Neely without taking a breath. Her few scenes with Hayward are rich – Duke noisily claws the scenery, Hayward demolishes it by simply putting on a scarf. Yes, this movie needed more Lawson. Sharon Tate is nearly invisible as her story line is gutted by the screenplay. 

How these actresses where treated by the industry is worse than how the characters they play are treated by the industry. I really think the guys who made Feud should consider this Making of Valleys as their next project. Oh yes my title ‘Valleys of the Bras.’ There is nothing lurid in the film but Parkins, Duke & Tate, at different points in the film, spend an inordinate amount of time emoting in bra & half-slip. 

Ready

it turns into a trade

this is what I want

this is what it’ll cost

is that the price I’m willing to pay

is the sacrifice worth the result

<>

why can’t I have it my way

is that too much to ask

I’m willing to compromise some

but when is enough enough

can I say no 

to losing more of myself 

to gain something I expect to get

by saying yes to

what I want to say no to

<>

can I say yes and no 

at the same time

how will you do

when I say yes I want what you offer

but not with the conditions you offer it with

do I want to give up

the comfort of abstractions

for the sake of superficiality of the concrete

if I’m ready for my close up

do I want to stand in front of the camera

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Nilsson Sparks Perth and the Frogs Beyond

Over a two cd mp3 collection if have Nilsson’s Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971) – reworking earlier material – “Without Her”; Nilsson Schmilsson (1971) “Without You” “Gotta Get Up”; Son of Schmilsson (1972) “You’re Breaking My Heart” “Joy”; A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night (1973) “Lazy Moon”. You might say I am a fan 🙂

Some of these I had as lp at the time, some were added later. He hit big with Everybody’s Talkin’ used in the film Midnight Cowboy. His songs run from ultra-romantic to hilariously bitter. His vocals on ‘Without You” are heartbreaking in a way Ed Sheeran can only dream about. Things apparently didn’t go well with her though, resulting in “You’re Breaking My Heart” – ‘so fuck you.’ On ‘Little Touch’ he does sublime work on classics while adding little touches of humour to them. A genius who got destroyed by booze, drugs & John Lennon.

‘Sparks’ Maels brothers group overflows with off kilter humour. Here I have Propaganda (1974) “Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her”; Indiscreet (1975) “Hospitality On Parade” “Tits.” Similar to the smart-ass 10 c.c. these guys are witty, musically gifted & relentless. The cover art on these is also amazing.

One of my mid60’s top-ten hit-parade loves was Crispian St. Peters’ ‘The Pied Piper’ the recorder was seductive & the engineering excellent. I may have had the 45 at the time. So a few years ago I tracked down his lps & here have The Pied Piper (1966) & Follow Me (1966). The 2nd has the radio mix  of “Pied Piper.” The earlier version is more sweetly folksy while the 2nd has more of a rock feel. His voice & other material is very Van Morrison Them period.

Alan Price made the Animals hit parade worthy & then departed the band. I have his lp with Georgie Fame and Alan Price: Together (1971); & the must have Oh Lucky Man soundtrack (1973). Fame is a British blues, r’n’b legend who never made it big in America; which is also true for Alan – except for the Lucky Man soundtrack. That lp was a must have thanks to the wild movie it is from. Price appears in the film – not seen it? Find it asap.

Barry McGuire: Anthology. If you are looking for a ‘lost’ Mamas & Papas lp his second is the one to find. Produced by John Philips & with all backing vocals by the M&P it is classic California flower power. The bulk of it is in this Anthology including the still relevant Eve of Destruction (by P.F. Sloan). After his initial pop splash he escaped rock evils into contemporary Christian music.

Another early 70’s must have Canada’s Perth County Conspiracy out of Stratford Ontario. I loved Does Not Exist (1970) & enjoyed Alive (1971). Sweet harmonies for a folk-rock commune when everybody wanted to love down on the farm & in a commune. Love songs, anti-war songs, amazing engineering. Free love overflows from these lps (now mp3s) though it was hetero love so the farms were safe for kids.

Not safe for kids was Jackie Shane: Live (1967) Jackie was a pioneer transgender performer who shook up the Toronto r.n.b scene. Think James Brown in drag (not be confused with Little Richard). Jackie became too popular & ended up deported back to the States. The music is solid soul with a fearless nod to queer lives. I have a collection of Jackie’s studios recording on another mp3 bonanza.

Finally is The Frogs: It’s Only Right & Natural (1989) gay garage band with cellos! Wildly funny, almost deconstructed pop with cellos! A clear influence on The Hidden Cameras. A track was posted on Tumblr & I had to have more. You want a slice of out queer music history this is for you.



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Afro-Classic Laws

I picked up Hubert Laws’  Afro-Classic (1970) at a used record store back in the day. I was attracted by the cover art – the cheetah (I think), then by the selection (Bach/Mozart) & finally by the producer: Don Sebesky. A few years later I added lp of Rite of Spring (1971) another all classical jazz. When I upgraded to mp3 I added Studio Trieste (1982) w Chet Baker (includes Swan Lake), & Land Of Passion (1979) easy listening a step above Kenny G.

Don Sebesky devoted himself primarily to arranging and conducting mashed up jazz/classical work for a cadre of prime jazz musicians such as Hubert Laws, Gabor Szabo, Wes Montgomery. His ‘Big Box’ contains the superb mash of Birds of Fire with Firebird. His work is tasteful & easy – nothing aggressive or even transgressive. His work on the Hubert Laws lps is sweet, Laws is an excellent musician in his own right & the two of them go together well. If you are unfamiliar try Rite of Spring.

Walt Dickerson: Impressions of Lawrence of Arabia  (1963) Jarre’s music by vibraphonist Dickerson was an lp I picked up 2nd hand & enjoyed. I knew the film music but had didn’t know Dickerson at all. An engaging & interesting exploration of the music I’ve always enjoyed. Nothing aggressive but more than mere instrumental background music.

Also on this cd are some more challenging works by John Abercrombie Quartet (1980) on the ECM label. This a simmering shimmering set with amazing guitar work by Abercrombie. Inventive without becoming overly aggressive. If you want to step up the challenging there is Jan Garbarek’s Esoteric Circle (1969) Norwegian tenor sax Gararek is joined by the amazing Terje Rypdal on guitar. Gararek work here is more jazzy than soaring – his sound is distinctive & I’d recommend anything by him. Rypdal is amazing too & even creates his own guitars. Sonic tapestries that are slightly discomforting in a good way.

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Bardot’s Bayou Enfer

I used to visited Montreal frequently during the late 80’s to attend a bi-lingual lgbtq recovery round-up. I started to collect French pop to improve my French. I saw a video in a noisy cafe,  couldn’t hear it but the images were enough for me to track down the band – Niagara. I found a cassette of Encore un denier baiser (1986), & over the years added Quel enfer! (1988), Religion (1990). All of which I have now have in an mp3 collection. 

The duo Muriel Moreno & Daniel Chenevez started synth-pop but progressed a more hard-edge guitar sound. Similar to The Eurythmics, but a less serious approach & with a more retro sound as well. I found Religion cd at a yard sale one year, in a jewel case but without liner note or cover. Energetic, fun & no help in improving my French 🙂

It was in Montreal I discovered that Brigitte Bardot had a pop career. A light, sweet voice. On. the mo3 collection I have Brigitte Bardot Sings (1963) (which includes La Madrague), Brigitte Bardot Show 67 (1968) (which includes Harley Davidson, Gang Gang). She worked often with Serge Gainsbourg. Nicely produced with elements of rock, disco & bossa nova. 

I have the complete Jacques Brel. In this compilation I’ve included his Mijn vlakke land (1962) that has him signing in Dutch, French & Flemish. Where is the biopic of this amazing, influential musician? Maybe his life wasn’t as dramatic as Piaf?

Rounding out this French collection is Zachary Richard (American) but living in Canada (I think) Bayou Des Mysteres(1976), Travailler c’est trop dur (2002 anthologie). I bought the lp of Bayou in Montreal  & eventually replaced it with this mo3 download. I added Travailler more recently. He has a warm bass, similar to Tony Joe White. His music is seductive mix of Cajun and Zydeco. Although he has recorded in English his career has been notably Francophone & his list of Canadian awards is endless. Improving my French is not one of his achievements though 🙂

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August 2021 Recap

Over the past month my TOpoet.ca following stands at 464 ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That USA tops the list is no surprise but that Bangladesh moves up to 3rd spot & that Bahrain is in the top 10 is a surprise. China! Ireland! sill up there. Ola Spain. Most popular post was The Beaches (https://topoet.ca/2021/08/12/the-beaches-august-2021/  ). My personal fav is Summer Striptease https://topoet.ca/2021/08/23/summer-striptease/ .

My Tumblr is at 332 followers. Twitter at 229 followers. Picture Perfect: 82 sections, about 112,000 words posted so far with approx 72,000 to be edited then posted. Returning to the Rules For Monks on Wednesdays for this month – October will see a return of scary poems on Haunted Wednesdays. 

Finally watched Rocketman & loved it. The film is a visual, sonic & emotional delight. Surreal & yet true to life. I liked the way the narrative flowed from music to reality to surreal so smoothly while inviting me in to the addictive mess his life had become. Taron Egerton did his own singing (unlike the Freddie Mercury bio in which the lead won the Oscar for best lip-syncing). Like many recovery stories this one is too much about the glamour & glitter of the downfall with the recovery dealt with in a minute. Highly recommended.

Another great watch was ‘Ma Vie en rose’ 1997 – a sweet, remarkable movie about gender identity. A young child – supposedly 7 – decides they are a boy-girl & experiences & survives cultural resistance & forced gender norms & transphobia. Excellent writing, unforced humour, great performances. Highly recommended for all ages.

read: Germinal is part of the Les Rougon-Macquart a collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by Emile Zola. This was, I think, the fourteenth in the series. It is brilliant. I’ve read two other ‘versions’ of it – each English translation is a rewrite of the original & retells it through the eyes of the translator. Zola is a French Dickens, only, unlike Dickens, his stories are grittier, darker & more directly sexual. If you don’t know Zola start with Terese Raquin. I have an Amazon Kindle collection of the complete novels & am about half-way through them all – I only have 150 hours of reading to finish them 🙂 Zola is one of my prime fiction influences.

Read ‘Farewell to the Sea’ the third novel in Reinaldo Arenas’ Pentagonia: a five novel “secret history” of Cuba. I’m re-reading all my Arenas, he’s another of my prime fiction influences. Farewell deconstructs the novel with free-wheeling interior monologues, ranted poetry, shifting p.o.v. in his no-holds-barred attack on Cuban justice, politics &queer sexuality. Funny, mythic & compelling. A mid-century masterpiece. 

It has been a good month with no major events as things slowly open up after the long pandemic shutdown. Waiting for what form this vaccine passport will take. Will I have to give the wait person access to my OHIP info to order a meal? Probably works only for smart phones.  Wondering how the need to prove covid status will effect things – rapid test costs $40 at Shoppers – so tickets for events that ask for that status will now cost $40 more. Friends looking for new jobs and/or apartments now searching the obituaries. Not so brave not so new world.

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The Barbarians and Other Critters

This is the last of the five cd retro collection. The Barbarians, out of Cape Cod- one-hit wonder garage band from 1965 Their song ‘Are You A Boy or Are You A Girl’ gets its own Wiki page. The album of the same name is mainly fun covers of things like Mr. Tamborine Man. Uncomplicated rock music full of energy & hope. I remember this song & was one of those guys who was taunted on the street with that very phrase. A question I also asked myself growing up queer with no support or even guidance. I survived & remain a gay cismale. 

The Critters (New Jersey). Younger Girl (1966) – Mr Dieingly Sad. Similar to the Association – sweet soft folk-rock harmonies with some original tune & covers. One-hit wonders your mother would like. Songs of innocent young love. A few covers including nice take on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Younger Girl. Today Younger Girl sounds a little creepy/pedo to me.

The Cyrkle: Red Rubber Ball 1966 (Pennsylvania) – includes Cloudy, Turn Down Day – similar to The Critters but with more of a rock edge, harmonies not as sweet or soft. I remember them from top 40 radio at the time as their big hit was cowritten by Paul Simon. They toured with the Beatles tanks to sharing Brian Epstine as manager. 

The Leaves (San Fernando Valley): All The Good That’s Happening (1966). A more bluesy version of The Crykle, edging into flower power but still safe too. They show up in the movie The Cool Ones! The Soul Survivors (Philadelphia): When The Whistle Blows I remember their Expressway To Your Heart from 1967 & those expressway sound effects. The the rest of the lp is sweet, soulful sort of funky & fun. My first taste of the Philly sound & the non-flower power world of pop.

For the rest of this compilation we leave the USA for some old country travel. These were all internet discoveries over the last decades – music I never would have heard on the east coast back in the day. Q65, out of the Netherlands, Revolution (1966). A tight bluesy band in the Paul Butterfield mold. Some traditional blues like Bring It On Home & original material too. From Switzerland comes The Shiver: Walpurgis 1969 – Hammond organ, “acid rock” – think Procol Harum not Deep Purple. Progrock originals & some great covers: i.e. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood 

The Twilights (Australia): Once Upon A Twilight (1968) is regarded one of the best Australian pop albums of the era. Who knew? Well recorded, tightly written & performed Aussie pop that doesn’t sound like the BeeGees 🙂 More or less a down under version of The Critters, in fact, with an international push they could have been as big as The Critters.

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