robert brokenmouth - The I-94 Bar
The only problem with avant garde music is that you need to be in the mood to absorb it. Or on really strong prescription drugs.
Do you know anyone who’s listened to “Metal Machine Music” all the way through and hasn’t been scheduled under the NSW Mental Health Act, or who doesn’t think that much of John Cage’s output should be kept in one?
Taste really is in the ear of the beer holder. So strap yourself in with a cold six pack or two nearby for the rough ride that is the debut of Smallpox Confidential, a mysterious noise combo from Adelaide fronted by Robert Brokenmouth.
Well. It's that time of year.
The time of year when all right-thinking folk set out the Santa traps on Christmas eve, hoping for a big, juicy Santa (and not the scrawny weasel we caught last year, jesus, no meat on him at all) and the traditional charcoal spit-roast Santa in the back yard with all your mates and beer a-flowing. Done just right, the flesh falls right off the fucker's bones and melts in the mouth.
Preferably with apple and cinnamon sauce, but maybe that's just me.
Truth is that, while I heard a lot of wonderful music this year, I really don't feel up to delivering a Top Ten. Sure, there are some which leap out, but I didn't really listen that widely, I don't think. And I hardly went out. All were reviewed, look 'em out if you don't believe me.
I mean, look:
Gigs to remember:
The Animals and FriendsThe Animals and Friends
Gang of Four
The Gig of Glory (which I didn't review, but was the same line-up as the Banned from the Fed gig, but with the immortal Sean Tilmouth bringing up Fear and Loathing to international status, and the proper line-up of the Filthy Gypsies - ditto international status)
Cradle of Filth
The Drama Dolls
The Barman sent me a message asking some folks to tell us all about our 2020 top tens.
Apart from new recordings from the likes of Hugo Race, Velatine and Michael Plater, and the other few I've written about during the year, I've not been listening to a lot of music. Read a lot (including the three books I've reviewed here - the best three music books I've read this year), including a few Stephen King, Clark Ashton Smith, John Wyndham and a few books on plagues past and present.
But really. 2020, huh? What a trip. So many dead. Wept more than a few times myself - but hey, my life's a doddle by comparison to the misery of so many.
But hey! First, we got to see an utterly evil President of the United States trainwreck, taint (and generally fist-fuck with studded gloves) any world-wide respect the USA ever had. I don't use the term 'evil' lightly.
Apart from being genuinely narcissistic and wilfully ignorant, Papa Ubu took great delight in splitting the country into a condition very close to civil war, while being utterly unmoved by the hundreds of thousands who got ill, and the thousands who have died, of which he is a goodly part to blame. If you wrote a modern take on Pere Ubu, Trump would be your starting point.
Is community radio the new face of music consumption for people who care about music? ROBERT BROKENMOUTH thinks so in this appraisal of the format, with a special focus on Adelaide station 3D Radio and its Mike Drive program.
Napster, eh? Who remembers those sites? Where - wow - you didn’t have to pay for your music (if the site had it). Assorted court cases and many decades later we are stuck with several sad truths.
The first, and most obvious, is that "file sharing" and "streaming", "burning" and "ripping" are as ordinary an activity as picking the newspaper off the lawn used to be.
The difference is that theft is now so common that it’s not comprehended as either theft, or wrong.
Almost everyone I know seems to be mourning people they loved who passed on this year. Some staved off the inevitable until later in their lives, for which I am only one of many very grateful folk. Other people are coping as best they can.
For many of us 2018 was a very mixed year. In many places great swathes of love came out, so the struggle was peppered with brilliant, unforgettable events, music, films and a few books.
Normally I just do some sort of Top Ten for the I-94 Bar, but this year has been memorable for far too many of the wrong reasons, which has annoyed me quite a bit, and I'm an old shit, so cue meme of Granpa Simpson shaking his fist at a cloud.
But let's start with Australia, the country which can't count on stable government, can't spot a recessionary bubble billowing up like a volcano, and increasingly puts local news first because that is, apparently, what we're really interested in.
So. The Barman (he of the stained apron and soggy socks) has suggested to me that I provide a Top 10 for 2017.
He doesn’t say of what, unfortunately, so I am greatly tempted to relate (in considerable detail) each of my Top 10 Excretions this year, including two in which I barely made it to the potty on time.
However, this is a family website, and we mustn’t say words like "shit’ or even "shitweasel".
I’ll have to write them instead.
Adelaide-based writer, editor, and sometime-musician Robert Brokenmouth took the time, during lockdown — well, lockdown for us non-South Australians, at least — to reflect on his literary and musical trajectory. It’s a curious bundle of projects and interests that Brokenmouth juggles — the war buff and the punk music-buff occupy the same territory (no military pun intended) without apparent contradiction.
Brokenmouth’s published achievements include his chronicling of Melbourne’s punk scene in the 1996 book “Nick Cave: The Birthday Party and Other Epic Adventures” as well as editing‘fictionalised’military histories such as Australian WWII navigator Ray Ollis’s 101 Nightsand air gunner John Bede Cusack’s “They Hosed Them Out”.
For Brokenmouth, war and punk have one thing in common, perhaps: both are opportunities for adventure, in very different shapes and forms, but adventure nevertheless.
With COVID-19 limiting opportunities to meet for an interview, Robert kindly responded to my questions via email — and though you might not getting him talking so prolifically in real life, it’s clear that when he puts pen to paper, or finger-pads to keyboard, he’s got a lot to say, and a rollicking history all his own.
I’ve pulled out some choice tidbits from Robert’s life and career to give you a sense of the Boys’Own, Boys Next Door fan.
"Yeah, I don't care if you throw all the ice in the world. You're payin' 5 bucks and I'm makin' 10,000 baby, so screw ya!"
It won't won't cost you five bucks, actually, and it probably won't remotely resemble "Metallic KO" but do we have your attention yet?
Acclaimed Adelaide writer/filmmaker/journalist/musician/I-94 Bar reviewer Robert Brokenmouth will be doing a very special reading from his latest work "101 Nights" at the Lyrebird Lounge in Melbourne on Saturday, February 4, accompanied by Michael Plater and Nick Spaulding.
Also performing will be Duet (Harry Howard, Edwina Preston and Craig Williamson), Michael Plater, and Cabin Inn.