Shania Twain's Husband Swap - that don't impress me much

**this one’s got some naughty words, so beware**

It’s a strange thing, how, as you get older, you somehow learn to appreciate country music. Proper country music. The outlaw variety, with – as Frank Zappa said in the song ‘Truck Driver Divorce’ – ‘steel guitars crying all over it’… sung by proper country singers like Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. But pre-American Recordings with Rick Rubin Johnny Cash. Certainly not Shania Twain country.

Shania Twain first appeared on the scene when I was still working in a top 40 chart music store. Or rather, its Classics and Jazz department (ie ‘classical music’ and jazz, but calling it ‘classics’ meant it could be show tunes and middle-of-the-road older stuff as well…)

I couldn’t help but give her a nickname. That’s what we did with all artists. New Kids On The Block were New Kids With No Cocks. Val Doonican was Val Croonagain. The Doors were The Bores (were they ever!) Neil Young, as time went on, lived up to his nickname of Neil Old. The Rolling Stones were the Strolling Bones. Kate Ceberano And Her Jazz Sextet were Kate See-no-bra And Her Tit Sex Jizz. Bob Dylan was Baaaaaaahhhhhhb Dylaaaaaaaahhhhhn (but you had to do his voice when you said it). And Shania Twain was… well, you had to pronounce her first name like an Aussie country bloke saying ‘showing ya', so it was like ‘sho’in ya’. Her name was Sho’inya Twat.

That has no bearing on this news story, reported by The Daily Beast, about Shania Twain shacking up with Frédéric Thiébaud, the pair having consoled each other after Marie-Anne Thiébaud nicked Twain’s hubby, Robert Lange.

Spontaneous Admonition

Some time between the end of school and the end of a Bachelor of Arts degree, some friends got together to make a pretentious black and white short film in which my big hair and bushranger’s beard pretty much shared top billing with a chess piece.

During the ‘down’ time, we took to recreating the cover of the Beatles’ Twist & Shout EP – the photo in which the band are captured in the air. Rather than have the camera running while we all jumped at the same time, and then editing it, or (somehow) taking a still from it of us in mid air, we foolishly decided that the optimum way to proceed was for us to jump, with the cameraman trying to click the ‘record’ button at the precise moment we reached what would be the nearest thing to a ‘zenith’.

State-of-the-art camcorder technology of the early nineties, along with the limitations of the human reflex meant that, unlike the Beatles, we were never captured at our highest point in the air. Instead, in that split second between us reaching the highest point in our rise, and our landing on the ground again, we somehow detected that we were plummeting and that the red ‘record’ light was not yet illuminated on the camera.

Our method of dealing with this knowledge was, of course, to run at the cameraman screaming. By which time the little red light was illuminated, because he had started recording. Which made for great viewing, when you watched the ‘rushes’: what you see is a bunch of guys suddenly appearing from nowhere, running at you screaming that you’re a bloody idiot, or words to that effect.

Imagine if life was really like that: every time you got something wrong, people would appear out of nowhere and swear at you.

I have, of course, experienced the real-life version of this, in the form of unsolicited e-mail. Sent by somebody I’d never met, not even through a mutual friend, it consisted of a single word:


After days spent trying to work out what exactly it was that I’d done, and who I could possibly have done it to, I realised that it was most likely something I wrote about the Doors or INXS that had produced this unsolicited e-mail.

Turned out it was the latter.

(But I don’t really think I got it wrong, personally.)

An Excess (ANXS):
Too Many Leather-Trouser’d Lead Vocalists


No, the 21st Century Doors are not in need of a new replacement for Ian Astbury, former front-man of the Cult, currently filling in for the long-gone Lizard King Jim Morrison.

It turns out that INXS are on the hunt for a new lead vocalist. Again. You may recall that Jon Stevens (former front-man of Noiseworks), Terence Trent D’Arby and Jimmy Barnes have all had a go at being part of INXS.

Now INXS have decided to combine their inability to permanently replace the late Michael Hutchence with that vile contemporary television genre ‘reality TV’, in the BBC series Rock Star. Produced by the company responsible for (amongst other examples of televisual ‘crimes against humanity’, I’m sure) Survivor and The Apprentice , Rock Star will see the band auditioning hopefuls in five continents. The difference will be, unlike other reality TV shows, the viewing audience doesn’t get to pick the winner. That’s up to the band. Although, let’s face it, the audience will continue to pick the loser – in each instance, he’s the guy foolish enough to think it’s a worthwhile occupation, being a poor man’s poor man’s poor man’s Michael Hutchence.

Thus, this year’s Jon Stevens/Terence Trent D’Arby/Barnesy will get his proverbial fifteen minutes, recording an album (I bet you can’t wait to hear that one, either!) and touring with the band (I’m starting the queue outside the ticket office as soon as I hit the ‘send’ button!)

But what of the fourth- and fifth-rate Michael Hutchences, the ones who aren’t even good enough to front reality TV INXS? Surely they must receive some lurks and perks; even final round Big Brother evictees get to make shopping mall appearances, flounce around almost trendy nightclubs and do a spot of fundraising for Planet Ark and the like. Shouldn’t some of the better also-rans, the not-quite-as-crap contestants, have a moment in the sun? They could date Dannii Minogue for a couple of weeks (since only the winner could actually justify having a stab at Kylie), and maybe occasionally babysit Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom, Pixie and Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily for Sir Bob Geldof.

However, if there’s any justice, many years from now that special someone who actually does win the competition and fronts INXS for a time, will wrangle the right to tour with a pick-up band of random musicians under the name ‘INXS’, much as the Beach Boys, the Byrds and the Little River Band have been able to soldier on with a distinct lack of founding members, much to those founding members’ collective chagrin. Then Gary Garry Garrry Garrrry Beers, the Farriss quintuplets and Kirk Pen-Gin-Gan-Goolie will have to tour with a stupid tie-in name, like ‘Modest Sufficiency’, or some such.


While surfing the net to find background information, I chanced upon the ‘news’ section of the band’s own homepage. Therein is listed a eulogy for Ray Charles, bearing the subheading

Famed INXS collaborator dies at 73

Now listen up, folks: Ray Charles is famed for many things, but collaborating with INXS ain’t one of them.

The article actually begins by claiming that Ray Charles “virtually invented the genre known as ‘soul’” – which is true enough – but then claims that Charles, who “rarely involved himself with rock ’n’ roll”, did the monumental thing of “making an exception” in order to work with INXS on the track ‘Please (You Got That…)’ from the 1993 Full Moon Dirty Hearts album.

What’s that you say? Can’t remember how that particular ditty goes? I only can just remember the album, but I certainly don’t remember that song screaming up the charts either. Yet, that’s by-the-by, because in the first place, the early recordings that Ray Charles made that led to what we now call ‘soul’ were steps in the direction to what we also call rock ’n’ roll. The twelve-bar blues of ‘What’d I Say’ was, for it’s time, virtually ‘none more rock’! So this glorifying of INXS with the still-warm corpse of Ray Charles is merely dodgy rhetoric, and were I to employ dodgy rhetoric of my own, I’d class it as a kind of necrophilia, metophoric though it is. However, given that it is still just rhetoric, a more accurate reading of the collaboration would be to describe it thus:

‘The Atlantic label in America (to whom the band was signed, State-side) tried to earn INXS some vintage rock cred and therefore a wider audience by teaming them up with another artist in the roster who could have probably done with a bigger market share at the time.’

I mean, really.

Of course, when you keep reading, you realise the true intent of the article: not to commemorate the passing of a great musician, or to commemorate a great moment in musical collaboration, if indeed the collaboration between INXS and Charles could be deemed ‘great’; what it is, ultimately, is an advertisement for a forthcoming DVD:

An alluring video was made for the song, directed by Matt Mahurin, and can be found on the eagerly awaited I'm Only Looking/ The Best Of INXS DVD coming in July.

And they have the audacity to give the advertorial the title Ray Charles R.I.P.

Closing The Perception Of Doors


The contention that, in 1984, the Doors had “sold more records than they had during the entire time they were together” (see “It Was Twenty Years Ago Next Year”) could be incorrect. It may well be the case that in 1984 the Doors in fact sold more records than they did in all of the years up to 1984 combined. Even so, the ‘collector’s edition’ single released in 1985 – ‘Road House Blues’ coupled with ‘Wild Child’ (essentially, two lesser tracks, derived from an ouvre of lesser tracks) – failed to dent the charts in Australia. One thing’s for certain: by the end of the 80s, it was a truism that you knew it was time to leave the party when everyone started singing along to Doors records. And when they started singing along to Led Zeppelin, you knew you should have left while they were still singing along to the Doors.

If only it could have ended there.

The 1980s interest in the band culminated with the film The Doors (1991), another trawl through the late 60s by director Oliver Stone. For this outing, Stone cast in the role of lead vocalist Jim Morrison the actor Val Kilmer. As Morrison himself sang in ‘Riders on the Storm’, “An actor on a loan/A dog without a bone…”

If only it could have ended there.

Two original members of the Doors, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger, are currently touring as “21st Century Doors”, much to the distress of original drummer John Densmore. Severe tinnitus prevents Densmore from joining his former bandmates on stage to play rock ’n’ roll and so he has been replaced by Stewart Copeland, former tub-thumper for the Police, who has in turn been replaced by Ty Dennis.

Whaddaya mean ya never heard of Ty Dennis? He was the drummer in “modern, edgy-arty, quirky” Hollywood band Fire Bug, who boast “intense female vocal delivery” (because you just can’t get enough of the ‘intense female vocal delivery’ subgenre in rock ’n’ roll!) as well as drumming in one of the numerous line-ups of the also-fronted-by-a-female band, the Hollywood New WaveMotels. (‘Fire Bug’? ‘Motels’? ‘Police’? Can you see a theme developing here?) At least Ty will fit in with the Hollywood/LA mindset that originally helped inform the Doors.




However, what mostly distresses Densmore is that the band is being fronted by Ian Astbury, of the Cult. Densmore claims that when he, Manzarek and Krieger soldiered on (with a couple of drearily lacklustre albums) after Morrison passed away in the bath in July 71 (or did he? Perhaps he did re-surface in Africa under the anagrammatic pseudonym Mr Mojo Risin’ – as he'd always threatened he would) they agreed that only the three of them in partnership could continue to use the name ‘The Doors’.

What qualifications does Ian Astbury have that enable him to deputise for Jim Morrison, anyway? Apart from the ability to spout bad poetry and wear leather trousers, of course. It’s a pity that Michael Hutchence passed away; he also happened to fit the criteria. Indeed, if the INXS track ‘Mediate’ is anything to go by (from Kick, 1987) Hutchence could even have made the bad poetry rhyme, something that seemed beyond Jim Morrison’s capability. Perhaps when Astbury’s finished hanging out with The 21st Century Doors, he can put in an appearance with INXS. That’s after he’s also finished being in the reunion line up for the MC5; he appears to be taking turns to provide lead vocals with David Vanian, the longest-lasting founding member (and therefore keeper of the flame) of The Damned.I’ll let comedian Denis Leary have the last word on both the life of Jim Morrison and the wretched biopic he inspired. “I can sum it up for you in five seconds,” says Leary, on his album No Cure for Cancer (1993). “‘I’m drunk. I’m nobody. I’m drunk. I’m famous. I’m drunk. I’m dead.’ There’s the whole movie, okay?! ‘Big Fat Dead Guy In A Bath Tub’; there’s your title for you!”