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Howzat! Archive - March 24th 2010

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WE'LL HOLD YOU IN OUR HEART
Every Skipping Girl Vinegar gig is special. But some are more special than others. Last Thursday, the band launched their new single, One Long Week, at the East Brunswick Club. The opening act was to be young folk pop band Snowy Belfast. It would have been the biggest gig in the band's short career. Sadly, it never happened because Snowy Belfast's singer, James Cross, was tragically killed in a road accident the day before the gig. He was just 22. Skipping Girl Vinegar dedicated The Passing - the final song on their debut album, Sift The Noise - to James. Singer Mark Lang wrote the song for his grandparents, but the words were a moving tribute to James. "You've come to heaven's rest," Mark sang, "the first of our kin to pass we'll hold you in our heart." Mark talked earlier in the gig about how he was trying to live "in the moment". His spiel was interrupted by a message being left on his mobile phone - from One Long Week co-producer Nick Huggins, saying: "So sad to miss your show tonight, I'm thinking of you all." Mark's sister, bass player Sare Lang, laughed when he stopped the song to check the message. "Get in the moment, brother!" It was a very funny moment in a night of genuine emotion. Mark also announced the engagement of SGV violin player Kelly Lane. And when he dedicated the night's final song to James, he reflected, "Now, this is a moment."


IT'S A LONG WAY TO THE BOOKSHOP
The new book House Of Hits by Jane Albert ($50, Hardie Grant) is both a delight and a disappointment. It's a book that only an "insider" could have written, but this is also its downside. It promises to tell "the great untold story of Australia's first family of music", Alberts - home of AC/DC, The Easybeats, Vanda and Young and John Paul Young, and former home of The Angels and Rose Tattoo. It should be a rollicking read, but, not surprisingly, Jane - a member of the Alberts clan - doesn't dig much dirt. Still, an Alberts book is better than no book at all. There are some nice anecdotes about Ted Mulry, JPY (how he was discovered by Simon Napier-Bell, who would go on to co-manage Wham), and William Shakespeare (the stage name for John Cave. "I might as well call myself bloody William Shakespeare," he told George Young, who wanted him to adopt a stage name. "That's it!" George replied). Of course, the contemporary Alberts story is all about AC/DC (a band that didn't turn a profit until their eighth album, Back In Black). Jane doesn't really critically examine why the label has failed to have a genuine hit in the past two decades (with the book ignoring '90s signings such as Daniel Amalm and Aleesha Rome), though she does quote the label's former A&R manager Chris Gilbey: "The company had huge success with AC/DC, but it didn't build the business that it could have. It could have been a giant in Australia, and perhaps the world, too."


GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME
An early tip for this year's ARIA Hall of Fame - The Church. The guys are celebrating their 30th anniversary, so their time has come. Expect to see some special anniversary shows. And Steve Kilbey is the singer on the new GB3 album, Damage/Controlled, which will be out soon.


A JOLLY GOOD IDEA
City of Yarra Socialist Party councillor Stephen Jolly has leapt into the liquor licensing laws debate. "The government's new liquor laws and its claims to be cracking down on violence have more to do with chasing votes in the outer suburbs than with reality," Councillor Jolly says in a newsletter sent to all Yarra homes. "I will be doing all I can to get more Council support for music and the arts in Yarra. The first step will be to get the Fitzroy Town Hall opened up as a venue."


HOW MANY HITS CAN WE TAKE BEFORE WE ALL FALL DOWN?
Howzat!'s good friend Pat made a good point recently: "In 20 years from now what will be the 'classic rock' on radio?" We thought of that question when Vega converted to Classic Rock. It's an interesting name, because it means that the station can never change its format. Vega should have been a great station. It should have been a music lover's station. It should have "owned" all those classic acts that are still making thrilling, contemporary music, such as James Reyne, Joe Camilleri, Stephen Cummings, Ross Wilson and Renee Geyer. Instead, it became what former announcer Tony Squires called "a spectacularly dumb rock-music jukebox". Now, it's calling itself "the only radio station in Melbourne playing non-stop classic rock". Is this very different to what Gold is doing? Classic Rock has a relatively adventurous playlist - we tuned in the other day to hear INXS' The Swing, a song that is rarely played on radio - but does Melbourne really need two major commercial stations playing only golden oldies?


CHART WATCH
Just three homegrown hits in the national Top 40.

On A Mission GABRIELLA CILMI (number 27)
Sweet Disposition THE TEMPER TRAP (30)
Black Box STAN WALKER (34)

The new Airbourne album arrives at number 19. And the Facebook campaign to get Perry Keyes' brilliant new album, Johnny Ray's Downtown, to the top of the charts is unfortunately not a big success - the album arrives at 148.

No Guts. No Glory AIRBOURNE (number 19, debut)
Conditions THE TEMPER TRAP (20)
Black Ice AC/DC (23)
A Book Like This ANGUS & JULIA STONE (26)
Before Too Long: Triple J's Tribute To Paul Kelly VARIOUS (27)
Wrapped Up Good THE McCLYMONTS (31)


HOWZAT! PLAYLIST
Bobby The Burning Dog PERRY KEYES
Today PRINCESS ONE POINT FIVE
Find Me A Way Back Into Your Heart LAZY SUSAN
Beneath The Satellites BRITISH INDIA
One Long Week SKIPPING GIRL VINEGAR

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