Archive for the 'Gay' Category

09
Sep
12

You’re a winner, I’m a winner

New music from Pet Shop Boys is always cause for celebration, for me anyway. A new album has just touched down and no doubt I will write about that later. Today, I just wanted to highlight the rather special video for the album’s first single “Winner”.

“Winner” came out a month ago and with all the fuss surrounding the Olympic Games in London, it was assumed that the song was written to cash in on the games due to the title, single cover art and the anthemic quality of the song.

It turns out that the song was not written with the Olympics in mind. It was actually inspired by Take That during the double header concert tour featuring both Tale That and Pet Shop Boys. Neil and Chris wanted to see if they could write a mid-tempo anthemic ballad and the result was “Winner”. It was never intended that Pet Shop Boys would record and release it themselves. Neil has even admitted that he was thinking of the song as a possible entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. Listen for that key change during the song.

Andrew Dawson, the producer of the new Pet Shop Boys album “Elysium”, was the one who convinced Neil and Chris to record the song themselves. So they did.

Another track was always intended to be the first single but late in the day, the record company decided to release “Winner” instead, obviously thinking that it could be an Olympic tie-in.

I do like “Winner” a lot but having heard the rest of the album, I don’t think it was the strongest choice for a single and as it was, it didn’t sell particularly well. Maybe the record company always knew that anything released would be over-shadowed by all the Olympics hype so decided to release the stronger single later. Who knows.

Anyway, a video was recorded for “Winner” with a storyline closer to the meaning of the lyrics instead of some tacky, predictable Olympics montage. The lyrics are about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different, values that I respond to. And that’s what the video is about.

The story concerns a transgender woman, “Dirty Diana”,  joining a woman’s roller derby team. She is not particularly good at roller derby but that doesn’t matter. There are lots of scenes showing Diana being accepted. They obviously know what Diana is but don’t care. They accept her as one of their own and it is heartwarming to see how happy Diana is, finally being accepted and treated as one of the girls. I also like the fact that the video is shot as if it was an amateur documentary. It adds to the authenticity of the video.

I guess the video wasn’t going to help the single to sell more copies but that’s irrelevant. I love it anyway.

 

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10
Sep
11

Listening to a new album for the first time

Listening to a new album for the first time is always a special time for me. Personally, I usually to listen to it in private on repeat, shut away in my bedroom with the headphones on. Sometimes if I’m feeling really kinky, I’ll do it in the dark. 🙂  I will then keep playing the album over the next couple of weeks as I become familiar with the songs.

I have been eagerly awaiting the new album from Darren Hayes, “Secret Codes and Battleships”, due out on 21 October 2011. Strangely I was never particularly a fan of Savage Garden but I did and still do love Darren’s solo work. He has an amazing voice and a great pop sensibility pervades his work. Darren’s last album “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” is an absolute masterpiece and one of my favourite all-time albums.

Since my anticipation for “Secret Codes and Battleships” has been running high, I was intrigued when Darren’s official website announced special listening sessions for the album just for fans. I put my name down, not really expecting to get in, and promptly forgot about it. I never get picked for these things anyway.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email confirming my attendance at a listening session in a recording studio in inner Sydney. I must confess to being nervous before going. Although yes I am a fan of Darren’s music, I can’t compare to those obsessive fans who can reel off facts and who know every details about Darren’s life and career. I have never been that comfortable being that sort of fan about any artist to be honest although I have been in the past.

It was a beautiful sunny day three weeks ago when I turned up at the studio. I made sure that I got there an hour early and was fortunate enough to get into the courtyard area. I sat quietly with another fan even when most of the other people were ushered out to wait in the street. It does pay to be well-behaved at times.

By the time they were ready to let us in, we had to leave any bags and electronic devices with security. We were scanned with one of those portable security wands. I guess they had to make sure no unscrupulous person would record it. The confirmation email had advised that we had to be prepared to be patted down and I was ready for that but sadly no action for me on that front! The security guys were very friendly and apologetic about the security arrangements but no one seemed to mind.

There were about 100 fans and we all sat in the main orchestral room. Darren’s sister Tracey, who runs the fan club, spoke with us about the album and how Darren and his family were very appreciative of the fans’ support. Darren himself couldn’t be there but he had recorded a video introduction which was a nice touch. It was nice to have an artist who is genuinely supportive of and grateful to his fans. A rare thing these days.

And then it was time to listen to the album.

I musy say that this was a very unusual way to listen to an album for the first time. Well, for me anyway. I felt a sense of desperation, knowing that I was going to hear it only once and then having to wait two months to hear it on my terms. I was trying to recall every detail so the memory of it wouldn’t totally disappear. Of course, I wasn’t successful in that regard. It was all a distant memory by the time I got home.

I was able to hold on to my general impressions of the album which of course were very positive. This is a more pop friendly album and a lot more accessible than the last one. It has a lot more tighter sound. I think it’s got the potential to be huge. The two songs that stayed with me the longest were the next singles – “Bloodstained Heart” (now out on Australian iTunes) and “Black Out The Sun” (the rest of the world).

We only got to hear the album once. After the last song, Tracey just announced that was it. I wanted to scream out to play it again but thought that wouldn’t be a good idea. There was a brief chat about favourite songs and then it was time to go. I made sure I thanked Tracey for the opportunity. She joked about how cruel it was to only play it once and then make us wait. I had to agree but at the same time I was very appreciative of being able to hear the album.

Thinking about it afterwards, I think it will still be like listening to it for the first time when I finally get the album except the anticipation and the experience overall will be enhanced by having had this sneak peek. At least I know that I won’t be disappointed.

I have also just found out that there is going to be a special edition with seven bonus tracks and a collector’s edition with twelve bonus tracks so there will be the equivalent of a whole album of extra stuff that will be totally new. Exciting or what? 🙂

An epic clip has been unleashed for “Black Out The Sun”. Darren is currently filming a clip for “Bloodstained Heart” but in the meantime there is a lyric video. Both these songs are different shades of brilliant with “Bloodstained Heart” pipping the post as my favourite. I can’t stop playing them.

And to round it out, here is the video for the first single from the album, “Talk, Talk, Talk”.

21
Jun
11

Day Five – Pet Shop Boys – Actually

There had to be one from my favourite group and I can’t believe that it has been so long since I played the Pet Shop Boys’ second album “Actually”. Along with their debut “Please”, these albums were a major part of my personal soundtrack during my coming out years.

“Actually” had some stunning singles which most people would be familiar with – “It’s A Sin”, “What Have I Done To Deserve This”, “Heart” and “Rent”. But this album had much more than a string of hit singles. Check out classics like “Shopping”, “One More Chance”, “Hit Music” and “Kings Cross”.

One thing I will always be grateful for was my introduction to the greatest singer of all time, Dusty Springfield. Her duet with the Boys was a real eye and ear opener.

Here are the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield performing “What Have I Done To Deserve This” at the 1988 Brit Awards. I wish they could have performed it live but that wasn’t the done thing on TV back then. Still it’s fun to see Dusty having a ball on stage.

“Rent” was surely an homage to rent boys. This is a 2006 live concert clip of the song.

And here is “Kings Cross” as performed in 1994.

Finally, here is a good live vserion of “Shopping”.

16
Apr
10

New Scissor Sisters album out in June

The new Scissor Sisters album is out in June and it certainly has an eye catching cover.

As much as one would love to imagine that the perfectly formed buttocks belong to frontman Jake Shears, they actually belong to dancer Peter Reed. The photo was taken by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1979 or around that vintage. If you want to know what he actually looks like, here he is in another Mapplethorpe shot.

Peter Reed

The album is called “Night Work” and is out on 25 June in Australia. The first single is “Fire With Fire” and will be out on 20 June.

Tracklist:

  1. Night Work
  2. Whole New Way
  3. Fire With Fire
  4. Any Which Way
  5. Harder You Get
  6. Running Out
  7. Something Like This
  8. Skin This Cat
  9. Skin Tight
  10. Sex and Violence
  11. Night Life
  12. Invisible Light

The group have previewed the track “Invisible Light” which features Sir Ian McKellan. Fabulous.

Needless to say, this album is on my must-buy list.

16
Apr
10

She loves blood and honey…

A trip down memory lane. I remember Donnie Sutherland (or was it Steve Curtis) playing “Blood And Honey” by Amanda Lear on Australian TV in the 70s and I just so fell in love with it that I rushed out and bought the single, the 12″ single and the album. I used to play it over and over, especially the 12″ version. I don’t think it was a hit in Australia, a bit too Euro disco for Australian tastes possibly. Amanda’s vocals with that steady disco beat was just irresistible.

I wish I could find the promo clip from back then but until I do, this TV performance will have to do.

Fantastic song.

And I won’t get into the debate as to whether Amanda was born a woman or a man. It really doesn’t matter. 😉

11
Apr
10

White Heat – Dusty Springfield

When most people think “classic album” and “Dusty Springfield”, it’s usually “Dusty In Memphis” that comes to mind and rightfully so. But Dusty was not a one-album wonder as such outings as “Everything’s Comin’ Up Dusty”, “Cameo” and even “Reputation” prove.

And then there’s “White Heat”, the 1982 album that divides Dusty’s fan base (although most agree that the cover art pictured above is quite magnificent).

Back when I was in the early stages of being a Dusty fan in the late 80s, I was desperately trying to collect all the music she had ever released. Judge G had given me a biography that included a detailed discography from which I had drawn up a list that I carried with me everywhere, crossing off songs/albums as I found them.

The one album that was proving elusive was “White Heat”, her supposedly disco album released on the Casablanca label (home to Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Village People and many other disco acts). The idea of a Dusty disco album was especially appealing to this little gay boy so I just had to have the album. It was hard to find since it was only ever released in North America and there were never that many copies in the first place.

The Judge and I did a big world trip in 1993 and I traipsed around second hand record stores with my trusty list, managing to find “Cameo”, “Sometimes Like Butterflies” (both 7″ and 12″), the Richard Carpenter album with his Dusty song and many other goodies – except for “White Heat” despite looking in record shops across Europe and the US.

One of our last stops was in LA and we had been on the Paramount studio tour. Not far from the studio was a record shop called Record Hunter or Record Locator or something like that. We went in and were amazed at shelves upon shelves of LPs as far as you could see. It was all quite daunting so we asked the guy behind the counter. He just went up to a shelf and pulled out a copy (one of several). I almost passed out since I had more or less given up by this stage so to find not one but several in the one place was all a bit too much. The Judge was worried that I was going to go all gaga, making the guy up the price. But I kept it together surprisingly well even when he said it was only $20 (I would have gladly paid much more). I didn’t let out a girly scream until after we had left the store. Hows that for self control?

The album rapidly became one of my favourites, made even more special by how I had come by it. I was exceptionally proud of this jewel in my collection.

Of course, it’s not really a disco album. The only out-and-out disco song is the single and opening track “Donnez-Moi”, described by Dusty herself as “sort of funky ABBA”. This could have been huge on dance floors if only it got a proper distribution and promotion. There is also a disco influence in mid-tempo numbers like “I Don’t Think We Could Ever Be Friends” (co-written by Sting), “Don’t Call It Love” (also recorded by Kim Carnes and Dolly Parton) and “Gotta Get Used To You”.

Dusty also dabbles in rock. “Blind Sheep” (with a lyrical contribution from Dusty) is one of Dusty’s more bizarre song choices but it really works.  “I Am Curious” is also rock. Being Dusty, there are also some stirring ballads to be found.

Dusty recorded a stirring version of the Elvis Costello song “Just A Memory” and is one of my favourite tracks. For some reason, it was decided to call the song “Losing You”, strange because she had already had a hit single in the 60s with the same name.

Another gem is the song that closes the album, “Soft Core” although that phrase is nowhere to be found in the lyrics. It is an intimate, cabaret-style number which is beautifully sung. The song was co-written by Carole Pope (as was “I Am Curious”), Dusty’s one time lover. I can’t help but feel that Carole was a big influence on Dusty at the time and encouraged her to be more herself and more daring at the same time. The result was an eclectic album, more synth pop than disco. There is even a vocoder effect on Dusty’s vocals at times, long before that became fashionable.

“White Heat” is well worth checking out. It was finally released on CD in 2002 and is available on iTunes. It’s time that this album got the recognition that it deserves.

Here is a special clip of Dusty performing “Soft Core” live. Dusty made a guest appearance at Rough Trade’s farewell concert in 1986. Rough Trade was Carole Pope’s band and it’s Carole who introduces Dusty at the beginning of the clip.

19
Mar
10

Iceland’s Eurovision Entry

Iceland have done it again with another great song for Eurovision 2010. Hera Björk with “Je Ne Sais Quoi”. She has a fantastic voice and the song has a great beat. I’m sure it will do well.

After Sweden, I have always taken an interest in Iceland. For a small country (with a total population less than that of Canberra), there is quite a bit of musical talent.

Iceland’s best effort in Eurovision came with a second place in 1999. “All Out Of Luck” by Selma. I was living in Sweden at the time and gave my vote to Selma. I loved it so much, I bought both her albums. The official clip is quite camp too.

Selma came back in 2005 with “If I Had Your Love” but in a strange twist it didn’t even make it past the semi finals. I still can’t work that one out. It was a huge upset at the time.

Silvia Night was Iceland’s highly controversial entry in 2006. I thought she was a hoot and I liked her song “Congratulations”.

Speaking of controversial, Paul Oscar was fabulous but possibly just a little too gay for Eurovision in 1997. How anyone can be too gay for Eurovision is beyond me. Like Selma, he is an artist I have continued to follow.

I’ll finish off with 2008’s disco stomper “This Is My Life” by Euroband. The official video is very camp. Persevere with it- Euroband do appear in it. 🙂




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