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Howzat! Archive - December 22nd 2010

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Angry Anderson campaigned for the Liberals. Lionel Richie sang at the Grand Final. James Freud took his own life. The Nylex Clock stayed in the dark. Gabriella Cilmi made an ill-advised dance record. And the ARIA Awards were called "the worst ever". Yep, plenty of bad things happened in 2010. Indeed, the year started with a disaster, with the Tote closing. But this cataclysmic event galvanised Melbourne music fans, showing why this city is the nation's rock capital. More than 20,000 people hit the streets for the SLAM rally ("Save Live Australian Music"), with the message, "We Tote & We Vote". Music Victoria, with CEO Patrick Donovan, leapt into action, and the Tote re-opened in June. The wonderfully indifferent and idiosyncratic Stephen Cummings blogged about the series of events: "The demonstrations, the righteous anger the hot topic on the social sites and newspapers was that a pub was closing down. The original discussion about licensing laws legislation was lost in hysteria and nostalgia. It all became about the Tote and the rally more like a promotion for RocKwiz than licensing legislation. Gigs should start earlier. The Tote was a pub. The Tote is re-opening. Pubs open and shut every week." Of course, there's still work to be done. Today's music fan needs to be vigilant. The year finished with the Birmingham Hotel ceasing live music and the election of the Liberal Party. We live in interesting times.

He's the human jukebox, capable of playing any song. In 2010, his main band celebrated its sweet 16th anniversary and recorded a new album, and he was part of the RocKwiz tour. And on Valentine's Day, his brother Justin organised a surprise 40th birthday at the Workers Club, with a guest-list including Paul Kelly, Ron Peno, Davey Lane, Peter Luscombe, Charles Jenkins, Rebecca Barnard, Dom Mariani, Andre Warhurst, Sherry Rich, James Power, Dave Faulkner, Paul Thomas and Bill McDonald. As the stunned guest of honour appeared, he said: "My flabber is gasted." Ash Naylor is Howzat!'s Artist Of The Year.

You'd have to be crazy or crazily passionate to start a record label in these troubled times. Ashley Sambrooks and Andrew Keese are possibly both. At their website, they declare: "Any new independent venture is limited by the lack of substantial financial backing but what the label lacks in finances, it more than makes up for in the passion, intelligence and dedication of its owners and the quality of its roster. It is, after all, about the music." And they gave us some great music in 2010, with new releases from Amaya Laucirica, Tobias Cummings, Andrew Keese & The Associates, and Lindsay Phillips. Departed Sounds arrived in 2010 and it's Howzat!'s Label Of The Year. And a big shout-out to the ever-reliable Popboomerang Records, and new Sydney-based label Other Tongues, who gave us great new albums from You Am I, 78 Saab and Chris Pickering.

"I pine for simpler times when we had the world at our feet and we were invincible," wrote James Freud in his 2007 book, I Am The Voice Left From Rehab. The book ends with James stating, "We all have the ability to survive the unimaginable and then to prosper and go forward." Sadly, James' alcoholic demons returned in 2010, and in what should have been a great week - following Models' induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame - he took his own life. He was just 51. We also said goodbye to Ben Mullins of the Atlas Strings and The Benedicts, '70s glam pop star William Shakespeare, legendary roadie Pat Pickett, inaugural ARIA Hall of Famer Dame Joan Sutherland, and Ruby Hunter, who died of a heart attack in February. A member of the stolen generation, Ruby once wrote: "I know I'm supposed to be traumatised by it all, but why should I be traumatised when I look at my life? People who think about these things too much traumatise themselves. I just look back and think, 'Gee, what a long walk.'" Also departing in 2010: Powderfinger and Epicure. And The Badloves broke up - again. Vega disappeared, becoming Classic Rock. And easy listening station 3MP was replaced by the little-heard talk station MTR. Its last song was Sherbet's Howzat, which was also its first song, in 1976.

It was a stellar year for local music books, with probably more titles released in 2010 than any other year. Paul Kelly led the way with his terrific tome How To Make Gravy. John O'Donnell, Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson got plenty of attention with The 100 Best Australian Albums, which ranked Midnight Oil's Diesel and Dust at number one. Promoter Michael Chugg was entertaining and informative with the honest Hey, You In The Black T-Shirt. Jane Albert gave us an insider's look at the Alberts family in House of Hits, and John Tait delivered the comprehensive Vanda & Young - Inside Australia's Hit Factory. Jeff Apter told the story of the Finn Brothers in Together Alone. Glenn Wheatley took us behind bars in Facing The Music. Narelle Gee sat us on the Rage couch in Real Wild Child. Mushroom Publishing released a book of sheet music and anecdotes, The Mushroom Music Songbook. Murray Engleheart told the tale of Billy Thorpe, Rose Tattoo, X and The Angels in Blood, Sweat & Beers. David Johnston comprehensively covered the Australian pop scene from 1964 to 1969 in The Music Goes Round My Head. Brisbane's version of Inpress, Time Off, released a compilation of articles called Off The Record. And we got autobiographies from Rick Springfield, Brian Cadd and Dannii Minogue.

AC/DC won their first Grammy and remained our highest-earning music act, according to BRW, with estimated earnings of $131 million Men At Work were ordered to pay five per cent of their Down Under royalties (dating back to 2002) to Larrikin, after a judge ruled they had ripped off Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree for the Down Under flute riff The ACMA decided that digital radio would have no local quotas for at least the next three years The Dingoes, The Paradise Motel and Cordrazine came back, and Nick Barker and the Reptiles played at the Community Cup, where the Megahertz won in a thriller Shock was sold Chrissy Amphlett revealed she was battling breast cancer Archie Roach had a stroke INXS released a new album, Original Sin, featuring versions of their classic hits with different singers. It entered the charts at 65, but manager Chris Murphy declared: "I'm confident within the next three to five years INXS will be back in stadiums" And the big award winners: Angus & Julia Stone won five ARIAs, including Album of the Year, Lisa Mitchell won the AMP, Cloud Control took the trophy for Best Album at the Independent Music Awards, and Tame Impala won Triple J's J Award for album of the year.

*Next week: The 2010 wrap continues with Howzat!'s albums of the year and a look at the year on the charts.

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