Almanac Music: On the patio with old friends, listening to Ripper 76

 

 

Is there much better than a simple lunch on the patio with old friends, and a retro record player?

 

Claire and I went to Kapunda High with Stephen who’s lived by the river in Brisbane for decades. He and his wife Eleni were in town having visited family and Kangaroo Island.

 

With an unforced and graceful joy our conversation moved across our extensive history.

 

Over at the record player I cue up Side 2 of mid- 1970’s compilation Whopper which is glitter-ball, flared-pants glee. It’s irresistible while Side 1 is mostly turgid country ballads. We all giggle at both the name and wild-haired evocations of Disco Tex and his Sex-O-Lettes and their hit, ‘Get Dancin’.

 

But this is mere entrée for we then play Ripper 76. Everyone has a story about Ripper 76. It’s the finest compilation album in the catalogue of compilation albums.

 

Eleni tells us how as a young girl she won a copy in a Brisbane radio station phone-in and this persists as immeasurably superior to winning an icy cold can of Coke from a Black Thunder. She talks of the excitement of her mum driving her into the city to collect her vinyl.

 

*

 

Our focus shifted to the global marriage of music and geography. Stephen spoke. “I had ‘Autobahn’ by Kraftwerk ready to go as soon as we hit the autobahn. Next thing a BMW went past us like we were standing still. Must have been doing 200k.”

 

I then offered. “When I was in California in 1992, we hired a convertible and driving around Santa Monica, heard The Doors’ ‘LA Woman.’ The sun was shining, and it was such a moment.”

 

Stephen continued the American theme. “As Eleni and I drove into Nevada we played, ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and now, whenever I hear that song I’m immediately back there. We’ve done similar things in the Black Forest and New York.”

 

Claire asked a question. “Can you do this in Australia?”

 

My first memory was instant. “Walking through Treasury Gardens to the MCG I was listening to Triple R and Paul Kelly’s ‘Leaps and Bounds’ came on just as the stadium swam into view. It was early in the footy season so the “clock on the silo” said more than eleven degrees but it was still fantastic.”

 

Our lively topic concluded in Europe when I mentioned Claire and I driving across Sweden and hearing the radio announcer say something like, “Just nu är det riktigt kallt här på landsbygden i Sverige och jag hoppas att du har tätt upp Volvos rutor för det kan komma snö. Hur som helst, det var Billy Joel.”

 

As lovers of both song and travel what wonderful, remindful privilege we shared. How amazing to enjoy those synchronised soundtracks?

 

People, place, and musical portraiture.

 

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Stephen and I also reminisce on collecting albums together as teenagers. We didn’t buy ones we knew like 10, 9, 8 by Midnight Oil for these were already in circulation but instead sought records that represented new, slightly dangerous terrain.

 

With Layla and Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominoes and a Yardbirds double album (on transparent vinyl) we edged into the world of blues. However, we also bought the Animal House soundtrack featuring ‘Shout!’ by Otis Day and the Knights, from surely one of the finest toga party scenes in modern cinematography. Before we were adults (clearly) many of us saw this film dozens of times.

 

As adolescents we also frequently mocked Astral Weeks by Van Morrison and then one night in someone’s wintry loungeroom as we finally listened to it properly, we came slowly to a realisation. Van’s jazz, blues, folk mysticism was brilliant. This was a humbling moment and I think we were all too embarrassed to confess. For many of us this album’s remained an intriguing, lovable companion.

 

Back on the summery patio I eased myself out of my chair and put on The Best of the Bee Gees- Volume 1 and pondering my wife and our dear old friends I thought of the divergent yet entangled paths we’d taken since leaving Kapunda.

 

Much had changed, and in some delightful, fundamental ways, nothing had.

 

 

 

Read more from Mickey Randall Here.

 

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About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. You mocked Astral Weeks? Frequently? Even as adolescents? Good stuff, Mickey, always finding the sweet spot between reflection, nostalgia and humour.

  2. Thanks Vin. Guilty as charged! We knew the Moondance and Wavelength albums and enjoyed their accessibility but Astral Weeks just needed time like so much art. I rate it highly. “Sweet Thing” is a great love song.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Your Ripper 76 obsession is almost as deep as my Glenn Bishop one.

    https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/ripper-76/

    Both for good reasons Mickey.

  4. Thanks Swish. Bought the eldest (and I) a retro record player for Christmas and been listening to albums that haven’t experienced a stylus for decades. Mind you, there’s a few that won’t- Denis Walter, I’m looking at you (sorry, Mum)! The track selection and sequencing on Ripper 76 is art of the highest form.

  5. Enjoyed this very much, Mickey.

    I had “Teaser 75(?)” – the cover was very similar

  6. Thanks Smokie. I’ve long been an enthusiast for Ripper 76 but side 2 of Whopper is sensational. The first six are huge fun and this is exaggerated on vinyl. Gee, Disco Tex goes well. Having friends over tonight so the compilation albums will again be front and centre (not quadrophonic).

    Get Dancin’ Disco-Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes
    Shame Shame Shame Shirley & Company
    The Hustle Van McCoy
    Up In A Puff Of Smoke Polly Brown
    Jive Talkin’ Bee Gees
    Reach Out, I’ll Be There Gloria Gaynor

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