23 December 2009

The Idiot Box

LCD, LED, plasma & pixels, scan rate, HD and 16:9... chances are this jargon actually makes sense to you. Inside most peoples' homes lurks a glossy black attention-sucking monster, whose powers for good are usually subsumed by its propensity for evil. That stuff makes for some good musical fodder, so let's chow down and chew.
I've raved before about the Australian punk scene of the late '70s into the '80s, so I won't climb up on that soapbox again... BUT if you want ONE comp that sums up the scene nicely, Do the Pop! is the one to get. I love that it includes not only the era's big songs, but also obscure gems that fans of the scene will really enjoy. The very best find for me was learning of singer Dave Faulkner's pre-Hoodoo Gurus band the Victims... and their contribution is killer, maybe the best track on the entire comp. If you hear a snippet of a dj at the end, you can tell I originally got this from the mighty Swami!
Television Addict by the Victims, from Do the Pop!: The Australian Garage Rock Sound 1976-1987 (Do the Pop, 2002)
How do you pick a cover over an original by Iggy Pop? Not lightly, but if the cover band is Radio Birdman you're in good shape (I like Siouxsie's take on "The Passenger" too, I should add). Birdman is another example of Aussie first-wave punk, and probably the most influential of all. Here they take Mr. Osterberg's tender composition and speed up the sludge to a snarl.
T.V. Eye by Radio Birdman, from Under the Ashes (Trafalgar/WEA, 1988)
Repo Man was a weird-ass movie from the early '80s, and it spawned a kick-ass soundtrack. This is second-wave punk here, of the LA variety. While that scene wasn't quite up to the standard of the first wave, it still churned out some classics. Almost everything on Repo Man falls into the classic file. On "TV Party", a young Rollins rages about the box, shouting out era-specific TV hits like Hill Street Blues and Dynasty. And it's just my theory, but I think the Rollins burp that begins the song is a tribute to the croaked "Look!" that begins Iggy's (and Birdman's) "T.V. Eye".
TV Party by Black Flag, from Repo Man Original Soundtrack (MCA, 1984)
The bonus track manages to stick to this post's theme while at the same time departing from it entirely... gotta love when that happens. Marquee Moon is an album I got my hands on much too late, but I've been making up for it with constant airplay since. "Venus" has nothing at all to do with TV, but it IS by Television... BONUS!
Venus by Television, from Marquee Moon (Elektra, 1977)