Almanac Music: Ripper 76 to Patsy Biscoe to The Fonz

 

 

I bought my new turntable a house-warming gift yesterday.

 

Lenny’s Records on Henley Beach Road is near my work and poking through the racks, I contemplated  and Living in the Seventies by Skyhooks before deciding on Bob Dylan’s tour de force, Blood on the Tracks. Nothing says welcome like an iconic album.

 

Living (mostly) alone decades previously in a farmhouse south of Wudinna, this CD was a Sunday evening ritual. With its warm songs of love and looming heartbreak, Dylan was excellent company, and offered much to ponder every rich listening.

 

On wintry nights I’d get the fireplace a-roarin’ and his wit and poetry were cantankerous comfort as the acoustic guitar and Minnesotan twang sprung about my big, empty home.

 

‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’ remains an uplifting song about impending hurt and there’s gleeful despair in the verse

 

I’ll look for you in old Honolulu

San Francisco, Ashtabula

Yer gonna have to leave me now I know

But I’ll see you in the sky above

In the tall grass in the ones I love

Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

 

Given the name’s lyricism, I’d like to visit Ashtabula, Ohio.

 

*

 

On Thursday evening with old Kimba friends Bazz and Annie we enjoyed the world’s greatest compilation album which, of course, is Ripper 76. Among its curios is the theme song from everybody’s favourite show, Happy Days.

 

Over Coopers and pepperoni pizza, we spoke of this, and I mentioned how The Fonz (Henry Winkler to others) is touring Adelaide next year to promote his biography and Claire will be the Auslan interpreter. How great is this? The other day I asked, ‘Happy Days began when we were about ten. Did you ever imagine you’d work with The Fonz?’ I hope she asks who’s his preferred Tuscadero: Leather or Pinky?

 

*

 

Having met Paul McCartney, the English singer Noel Gallagher from Oasis was asked how he felt and replied, ‘Macca’s a legend. It were fooking great. I mean my favourite band is Wings.’ Wednesday afternoon I popped on the triple live album, Wings Across America and as always, loved side four’s closing track, ‘Listen to What the Man Said.’

 

Soldier boy kisses girl

Leaves behind a tragic world

But he won’t mind, he’s in love

And he says love is fine

 

It’s emblematic of McCartney’s enticing optimism and talent for a likable melody. However, Tom Scott’s soprano saxophone solo is the happy highlight, and I appreciated it soaring out across our summery garden.

 

My new turntable and I were getting on superbly.

 

*

 

I was reassured to read that Neil Diamond was in my top five Spotify artists for 2023 along with Karen Carpenter heir apparent Weyes Blood, Lana Del Ray, The Beatles, and Belle and Sebastian. This is largely founded on Hot August Night being our Friday evening ritual (imposed by me). It’s a splendid, intensely familiar way to farewell the week and muster in the weekend.

 

So last night on the patio with Christmas lights twinkling and candles flickering I dropped the needle on side three (it’s good to mix it up) and its exquisite ‘Play Me’ with

 

You are the sun, I am the moon

You are the words, I am the tune

Play me

 

Of course, on the second verse Diamond sings, ‘Songs you sang to me/Songs you brang to me.’ Brang? Yet again, Claire and I had the conversation during which we agreed passionately that English is a cruel language and yes, the past tense of bring should plainly be brang.

 

*

 

Late Sunday in Tanunda for a music festival, Claire and I had a brief chat with Here’s Humphrey star, retired naturopath and former deputy mayor of the Barossa, Patsy Biscoe.

 

It certainly was a memorable week in music.

 

To read more by Mickey Randall click here.

 

 

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About Mickey Randall

Now whip it into shape/ Shape it up, get straight/ Go forward, move ahead/ Try to detect it, it's not too late/ To whip it, whip it good

Comments

  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Excellent choice Mickey!

  2. Blood on the Tracks. Just superb. Dylan at his peak, I reckon. Although Desire is pretty damn fine.

    Re Hot August Night: my dad bought this on its release and played it on repeat. Needless to say, I am very very familiar with it!!

  3. Thanks Col and Smokie. I was reading the other day how the popular view is that this is Dylan’s breakup album, but this is a narrow reading and it’s so much more than this. I agree and along with Desire it’s highly cinematic for me and has rare narrative qualities.

    Am currently listening to Blood on the Tracks as done a few years’ ago in its entirety by Ryan Adams. Rather than note-for-note recreations, he’s wisely reinterpreting each song and while I’m undecided, the power and beauty of the lyrics is shining through.

  4. Mickey, while I am a supporter of artists doing covers, I am very much in the camp of “please do NOT do an entire album track-by-track”.

    I am reminded of the American band Camper van Beethoven, who did a track-by-track cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”. (I love the “Tusk” album, by the way). One of the band members had the arrogance to claim that CvB had “improved” on the original!! The hubris.

  5. Thanks Smokie. I confess that I can’t recall hearing too many albums which recreate a much-loved original. The Ryan Adams album might be the first. I just listened to the Jeff Buckley version of ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ and I think it’s done in good faith. What a vocalist and guitarist he was, and he goes some way to capturing the grief of Dylan’s song.

    That’s a brave/ ridiculous call on Tusk.

  6. Barry Nicholls says

    I hope you put your writing collection into a book one day Mickey.
    I’d buy it.
    Great piece.
    BMN

  7. Thanks very much Barry. Hugely appreciated. Just on the patio with a coffee listening to Supertramp on vinyl and looking forward to the cricket. Hope you’re well.

  8. Karl Dubravs says

    Hey Mickey
    Love your choice of Dylan’s BOTT. It is my favourite album of all time.
    My slightly elder sister was a massive collector of K-Tel top hit albums & even had the high tech ‘record selecter’ device. While I might have preferred to listen to Iron Butterfly or Black Sabbath in the late 60’s/early 70’s, it was also nice to catch up with the latest radio hits via my sisters ‘Explosive Hits’/Dynamic Hits/Electrifying Hits/Superbad/Ripper collection.
    On Dylan cover albums – Mary Lee Corvette does a ‘not too bad’ cover of the entire BOTT album; I found Ryan’s cover album a bit hard to take.
    And you should be aware the Dylan released the alternate takes of BOTT in 2018 called: ‘The Bootleg Series Vol 14: More Blood, More Tracks’ Given the very high esteem I hold the original album it took me a while to be brave enough to give the alternate versions a listen – happily, I was not disappointed and they nicely added another level of appreciation to the various tracks.
    Cheers, Karl

  9. I read this earlier in the week and thought “ditto”. Why are you living my life – with the bad bits taken out? You probably cheated in class.

  10. Karl- The K-Tel record selector is a key childhood artefact for me. Not the actual item as we didn’t own one but rather the idea behind it. It seemed to promise much and would revolutionise our LP-playing lives. What an aspirational device it was! I bet any surviving are worth a tidy sum. Thanks for the tip on the alternate takes version of that Dylan album. I’m onto it.

    As always, thanks PB for shining a light!

  11. Explosives Hits 74 was my first LP mickey followed by Ripper 75. Love this story and meeting Patsy…Wow! Such a legend. Can’t go past BOTT. Great read Mickey as always. Cheers

  12. Thanks Ian. I remember Explosive Hits 74 well. ‘Billy Don’t Be a Hero’ and the oddly haunting, ‘I Am Pegasus’ stood out for me. I can’t actually recall my first LP but am sure my first cassette was LRB’s Greatest Hits (It’s a Long Way There) and I still have it in a box in the spare room!

  13. Luke Reynolds says

    Is there a more iconic trio than Coopers, pepperoni pizza and Ripper ’76?

    How does the sound of a new turntable compare to an older one?

    Great read as usual Mickey.

  14. Nothing says Christmas like those three! New turntable is excellent Luke. Hooked up to my old amp and speakers and goes very well thanks. About to get it going while I cook dinner! Merry Christmas to you.

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