30 June 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Let There Be Rock" (AC/DC) 1977

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

I have tickets to see AC/DC next year. Yes folks, I will be one of those black-clad bogans seeing these guys live.

And I guarantee you this: I too will be perpetrating the following atrocities in the name of rock:

  • Punching my fist in the air;
  • Goat’s head salutes;
  • Air guitaring; and
  • Headbanging

And maybe some slamming as well, although AC/DC have never really been a band that you can slam to.

OK. So to celebrate, I’m doing ‘Let There Be Rock’ this month.

Acca Dacca were never really a band that did anything other than meat and potatoes rock and/or roll. I can find very few bona fide rock epics in their vast back catalogue so it’s either this or ‘Night Prowler’. So I thought I’d go for the screaming obvious and do this one.

Let There Be Rock’ clocks in at 6:06. And you know, the album that it’s off (Let There Be Rock, of course) correctly shows a band hitting some sort of creative stride. In the case of this tune, however, the tune just takes off like a racing car and keeps going like it’s completely out of control.

Phil Rudd’s drums sound like a gorilla is pounding on them and lead vocalist, the late Bon Scott just sounds like he’s totally mental as he tells the tale of how ROCK!! came into being. But while Angus Young might be the face of AC/DC, here the focus is on the rock solid riffing of Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and bassist Mark Evans.

If there was any doubt (surely not) prior to this album that Malcolm Young is the engine room of this band, then this album, and this song in particular, put all speculation to rest.

The fact of the matter is this: AC/DC simply would not work without the riffs of Malcolm Young. You can remove Angus, because he’s essentially visual: The thing that everyone remembers about AC/DC songs if you're listening to them at home is the monolithic riffs of Malcolm. Even if some feel that they’re a bit samey.

Incidentally, have you ever seen people criticise AC/DC for this, and then it turns out that they’re fans of another “samey” act such as The Cure or The Church? I have. But this is their thing, their schtick. Their particular aural signature, if you like.

Malcolm Young’s riffs are iconic. End of story. They’re so iconic that The Cult had some sort of accident in the eighties and recorded an entire album where they thought they were AC/DC – Electric.

But don’t let me tell you. Check out
this video of the song in question. Bon Scott as the preacher man looks absolutely certifiable. Angus is dressed as a choirboy or something with a cardboard halo:

Let there be rock!

08 June 2009

Why The Chaser should not be called to account

It's amazing what gets the creative juices flowing again. I haven't really blogged seriously for quite some time. I haven't even looked closely at the blogs I like.

But this isn't about me. Well, maybe it is a little bit.

But you know, anger is an energy. And last week, I had it in spades.

Last week, Wednesday night on ABC1, the TV sketch comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything broadcast this little sketch:

I admit not to seeing it at the time. I'm not usually home on Wednesday nights, so I usually wait until Thursday night to watch the repeat on ABC2.

On Thursday, I suddenly noticed a flurry of Twitter posts calling for the heads of the Chaser boys. Investigating this further, talkback radio and the media were all over this sketch, calling it a variety of names, usually preceded by "sick".

I must admit, my curiosity was well and truly tweaked by the time that I got around to watching the repeat.

Once the episode had finished screening, I had one of those "Is that it?" moments, where I felt that I had missed something. And sure enough, I had.

The ABC and The Chaser had cut the frigging scene!!

That's right, folks. They had, not only cut it, but they had issued a statement on video apologising for it, and regretting any hurt that was caused. Not only that, I think that it was Julian Morrow who had indicated that they had called the real Make A Wish Foundation to apologise.

The ABC have since taken The Chaser's War on Everything off the air for two weeks.

But let's have a more critical view of this than what the mainstream media have done.

I'll just get this one out of the way quickly: Anyone who listens to talkback radio, NOVA or the Austereo networks deserve contempt. How is this related to this post? It's only related in passing, but I thought that I'd get this one out there. Indeed, I have given Ms Dikkii instructions that, should she catch me listening to talkback radio, she's to immediately have me taken out the back and shot.

Secondly, who made it this far who believes that the sketch was making fun of sick kids? If you answered "yes", you also deserve contempt. This sketch was actually making fun of frivolous charities like Make A Wish. I'll discuss them more in a few moments. Which begs the question: If The Chaser did call Make A Wish to apologise, precisely how insincere was the apology?

Thirdly, The Chaser's modus operandi (as suggested by the title of the TV show) is to make fun of everything and anything. This means that charities (I use that word only in its strictest legal sense) such as Make A Wish were ripe for targetting.

Fourthly, I have no evidence that talkback radio shock jocks actually looked at the sketch prior to going nuts about it. Just think about that for a while.

Fifthly, why the talkback radio shock jocks left Andrew Hansen's marvellous Billy Connolly impersonation untouched (from the same episode) is a mystery to me.

Finally, The Chaser have done far more controversial stuff than this in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Which begs the question: Now that cutting stuff is an option with these guys, exactly what is going to be cut next?

The Chaser boys are certainly not stupid. The fact that they've swallowed any pride that they might have and apologised is understandable, in light of the controversy that this sketch created.

But here's the thing: They should not have apologised. Nor should they have caved into ABC management over this. I have lost a great deal of respect for them over this and whilst I'm not greatly convinced that the apologies were sincere, the record will show that this is an apology that has been made. And it will be harder in the future for Morrow, Hansen, Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Chas Licciardello
and Dominic Knight (I'll leave Charles Firth out of this) to back down and claim that they were coerced into making this apology.

The sketch was squarely aimed at frivolous charities like Make A Wish. The Make A Wish Foundation are there to assist dying children by granting them a wish or two before they die. They make a big song and dance over flying terminal cancer patients to Disneyland or introducing them to Pink.

This might sound wonderful to you and some of you are probably asking, "Dikkii. Why not grant these dying kids a dying wish?"

I put it to you that the Make A Wish Foundation is diverting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars away from legitimate medical research. Indeed, their 2008 annual report makes the astounding claim that they:

...met all of its Wish granting obligations for 2008...

Obviously, what constitutes a "Wish granting obligation" is a grey area, as they also say on their application form that granting a particular wish is entirely up to the Make A Wish Foundation.

In 2008, they raised AUD 1.75 million. And while this is small compared to some charities, the question should be asked, couldn't this money have been better spent funding legitimate medical research?

In the pages of the annual report, wish recipients talk of meeting the Mythbusters or going to see Liverpool play.

Liverpool. Flying economy class from Melbourne to London's Heathrow airport currently costs about AUD $1,680 through Thai which I used Webjet to find for me. Add in spending, transportation, accomodation, tickets to the game and similar for a minder (presumably a parent) and you are looking at about AUD $10,000 all up. Probably more.

Wouldn't it be better if this amount of money was spent on legitimate medical research?

This blogger is more interested in stuff that the charity is rejecting. While we know that someone in 2008 according to their annual report got to go to Seattle to see the Boeing factory, what about the kid whose wish for a blowjob from Cameron Diaz was knocked back? This may sound extreme, but exactly what gets knocked back? What wishes don't they grant, and what is their internal wish granting criteria?

I would, therefore like to issue a wish of my own in the middle of all this: The Make A Wish Foundation should come clean about the quanta of denied wishes. That is, we should get details about exactly what is being declined, how many, and what is their internal wish granting criteria.

Taylor's closing words from the sketch were, "They're only going to die anyway." Charities like Make A Wish make us feel good about spending on the terminally ill, and not on research that might have prevented these kids being terminally ill in the first place. They must, therefore, be called to account and not The Chaser.