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Aussie artists
Welcome to Living in the Land of Oz

Howzat! Archive - June 24th 2015

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
"You're incredible," Nick Cave tells Mic Conway after Mic supports Grinderman. And Mic and his brother, Jim, have certainly led an incredible musical life. Unique is an overused word in showbiz, but the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band were unique. In the subversive '70s, when the counterculture dream was alive, they managed to have a hit single with My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes and a number four album with Wangaratta Wahine. Their twisted tale is told in a wonderful new book published by Melbourne Books. The only thing bland about the book is the title: Captain Matchbox & Beyond. Everything else is magical. It's beautifully designed with great photos, and the writing, by Catherine Fleming and John Tait (author of the indispensable Vanda & Young), is vibrant, with delightful dialogue, filled with gags and one-liners. "Look," says Mic, "we started out with nothing and we've still got most of it left." The story starts in East Malvern before taking some strange detours. Nick Cave sees the band at high school. AC/DC supports them. They do an ill-fated gig at Horsham High, when bass player Dave Flett calls the headmaster a cunt. They also do a disastrous gig with Slim Dusty. But they win over plenty of fans. Lou Reed asks for one of their records at a shop in Fremantle, and Jarvis Cocker's dad, Mac, raves after the band "rip Sunbury apart". Captain Matchbox tired of being called "wacky" and "zany", but they were glorious outsiders. "Mic chuckled when he heard Wangaratta Wahine through the radio while sweeping the floor at his part-time cleaning job. Is this success? he wondered." Their absurdist sound - a strange mix of vaudeville, blues and jug band - was always going to be too much for the mainstream. A recurring theme is the band's desperation to get to America. A tour is booked with John Lee Hooker, but then the bluesman has a stroke and Captain Matchbox are stranded in Australia. The Conway brothers continued making music, and Mic also became the voice of Wags the Dog in The Wiggles. "Nostalgia. Ain't what it used to be," he reflects. But this is the book the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band deserve. A work of art.


EGO & ILLNESS
Peter Inglis was an original member of both Captain Matchbox and Skyhooks, where he was replaced by Bob "Bongo" Starkie, who now does some Hooks songs with an outfit called Million Dollar Riff, featuring a fine young singer named Laura Davidson. Unfortunately, they've had to postpone gigs celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ego Is Not A Dirty Word because Laura was hospitalised last week. Get well soon!


A TOAST TO MOLLY
Countdown legend Ian "Molly" Meldrum appears in the video for Sex On Toast's new single, Oh Loretta! "That's odd, Ziggy," Molly remarks to his beloved dog, "I usually have Vegemite on my toast."


HOT LINE
"Happiness creates happiness" - Ben Lee, Happiness.


CHART WATCH
Brisbane's Conrad Sewell follows his sister to the top of the charts. They are the only Aussie acts in the Top 20. Indeed, there are just five homegrown hits in the national Top 40.

Start Again CONRAD SEWELL (number one)
You Don't Own Me GRACE (four)
Anchor EP BIRDS OF TOKYO (23)
The Buzz HERMITUDE (25)
Do You Remember JARRYD JAMES (38)

Alpine's second album arrives at 15.

Strange New Past SETH SENTRY (number five)
Dark Night Sweet Light HERMITUDE (14)
Yuck ALPINE (15, debut)
Songs To Make Up To TA-KU (17, debut)
Love Child Season 2 VARIOUS ARTISTS (18)
1000 Forms Of Fear SIA (19)
Empires HILLSONG UNITED (20)
The Singles SAVAGE GARDEN (23, debut)
Talk DANIEL JOHNS (27)
Sound Awake KARNIVOOL (32)
Asymmetry KARNIVOOL (35)
Walking Under Stars HILLTOP HOODS (37)
Dream Your Life Away VANCE JOY (39)


HOWZAT! PLAYLIST

I'm Sorry SUZANNAH ESPIE
Giving Up On Miracles BEN LEE
Oh Loretta! SEX ON TOAST
FIFO MARK SEYMOUR & THE UNDERTOW
Wangaratta Wahine CAPTAIN MATCHBOX WHOOPEE BAND

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