Can you wind about Jeff Duff at the Canberra National Press Club “Rock Legends” gig 2 May 2013 6:30 pm?
A keen review of the event – May 2 just passed – is here: Canberra Jazz blog. For example, Pozza says that a certain someone (Duffo) “sings with a Soulful voice, oozing vibrato, reaching into falsetto, spelling songs with a performer’s presence but also an interpreter’s sympathy. … This was masterful, mature rock from some of the best.”
Can you wind about Jeff Duff at the Canberra National Press Club “Rock Legends” gig 2 May 2013 6:30 pm?
Jeff Duff made several appearances, including as compere, on Countdown, Australia’s fanatically watched weekly pop music show on ABC-TV in the 1970s and 1980s. These early shows have long since been wiped away; Fraser’s Liberal Government razor gang cut-backs having encouraged the national broadcaster to reuse their tapes. Still, while pulling together a retrospective of the show for the present-day Rage music video program, “John” at the ABC dug out footage of the National Music Awards for 1975. When that show originally aired, a kind of trailer of snippets of earlier Countdown episodes was shown, and it’s in this short sequence that we can still see a couple seconds of Jeff Duff on Countdown. The complete trailer, as re-shown on Rage, is on youtube here: 42 seconds long, and Duff appears in two segments – at about 3 seconds and then 17 seconds into it. The whole thing includes, apart from Duff, in Kush, Johnny Farnham, Skyhooks, AC/DC, Sherbert and Daddy Cool.
For a better look over this stuff, the Institute’s Vid Division has worked over the trailer, splicing off these 2 seconds of Duff, sticking them together, first at its original speed, and then slowed down by halves a few times, just to soak it all up; with some of Kush’s “I’m Your Football” dubbed over it. Duff is shown in acrobatic flight, upon a trapeze. Crossing absurdity with sass, he’s crowned himself with a fool’s coxcomb and flapper’s cap – topped off with a propeller (his own papier-mâché handiwork?). Altogether, he really put the new spectacle of colour TV to work in a cabaret performance that was surely unique for the show, and on Australian TV; all especially artful coming from a Geelong bloke still in his teens.
(Ignore the “Skyhooks” subtitle here as this trailer originally appeared at the start of a live performance by Skyhooks of “Horror Movie” on the Awards night, as replayed on Rage.)
(No player showing? See the clip at youtube here.)
But that’s not all! There is also a still from this performance published in the 1979 “Countdown Annual”:
The complete annual – including a galaxy of stars of the day (Renee Geyer, David Bowie …) – can be downloaded from here.
As for Duff’s compering, Ian MacFarlane’s booklet accompanying the Kush Nah Tellus … CD offers a quote from Duff:
Each time we did it I got more and more bizarre. I remember I got to compere Countdown and Molly Meldrum made me dress up as a sausage. I compered the show as Super Sausage.
Well, no sausage here, and, as given in some inter-song patter recently by Duff, we know that the producers finally tired of his leotards (as in his 1974 showing on the Paul Hogan Show) and got him fitted out with that still snappy and snug red suit of his (see the banner, above). They treated him well: According to MacFarlane, it was the single “I’m Your Football” that first got Duff onto the show in 1975; bravely, as the song was banned from radio owing to a few double entendres (e.g., “I’m your sausage, eat me” – ouch!) among its quirky lyrics. OK for the Carry On Gang but not rock-n-jazz artists!
Duff was also on Countdown on 6 Dec 1974 to perform “Easy Street” when in Kush (Episode 1.5), when Jim Keays, Skyhooks and Helen Reddy were also on the bill. Another appearance was on 7 December 1975 when he performed the “Banana Song”, also off the Nah Tellus … album. Marcia Hines, Sherbert and Skyhooks were among the others who performed on that show (guest list here). Some circa 1975 material survives, as catalogued at countdownmemories.com, but the Duff/Kush appearances aren’t listed among them. So this 2 second shimmer and a still seem to be all there is to document Duff’s Countdown gigs. Still, with the Dead Sea Scrolls in mind, we might yet hope that some more complete clips of Duff’s amazing appearances on Countdown are lazing away in the vaults of the ABC, or someone’s recordings of the show …
For a total blast of 70s Duff TV performance, here’s Duff doing his “Give me back me brain” and “Duff record” (off his Beggars Banquet Duffo album) on German TV pop music show Rock-Pop on July 7 1979. It makes for a surprising synthesis of punk and music-hall/cabaret and circus act, with Duff in a kind of clown costume (doubtlessly also from his own hand) that’s at least as iconic as, say, Chaplin’s tramp or Marceau’s Bip; and he also cuts through the fourth wall, for which this German audience is the perfect victim. For some, this all just too much tom-foolery, not serious art; but here we get a post-modern mash-up of styles that is actually something novel, if not revolutionary, without being merely confrontational and decadent, or celebratory and nostalgic (where those invoking “cabaret” usually take us).
“Fools had ne’er less grace in a year,
For wise men are grown floppish,
And know not how their wits to wear
Their manners are so apish.”
– Shakespeare, King Lear, I-iv
Live music TV has rarely been like this for art and entertainment before or since.
+ A kind of related Benny Hill gag:
A. “You’ve got the brains of an idiot.”
B. “Oh. Do you want them back?”
+ Related post: Jeff Duff in Kush (and leotard) at the Sunbury Festival 1974.
+ Another Duff-Shakespeare association in Duff’s most recently recorded work.
Here’s a keen preview of the Sat 6 April 2013 event, telling you that “The opening will feature a new collaboration by Australian rock legend Jeff Duff and the much-loved Sydney Street Choir.”
But for a special guest report about this event from Duffophile Anthony White, directly to the Institute for Duffological Studies, read on:
Received my special assignment as cub reporter for JeffDuffStuff.com a day or two before the inaugural World Musician Day (6th April) in the rambling surrounds of the hip and historic Sydney Park. Bounded by the former working class suburb of Newtown, the aspirational area of St Peters and the terrifyingly toxic industrial terror that is Tempe, this oasis of eclectic landscapes promised to host a day of community camaraderie, fine tunes from local musos and a bright sunny day lying on the grass with a pinot noir in one hand and a cheroot in the other – hey, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, boom, tssh!!
Fast forward through the speeches (thanks Clover, love your work), the day hit off with Le Duff, JD, the Duffster, Duffo, Mr Duff to you Son, blending sweet harmonies with the Sydney Street Choir on tunes such as Let it Be, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Those Were the Days. Heart and soul were poured in generously by Jeff and the Choir one and all to personalise these standards into a series of sing-alongs, cameos and audience participation. Gotta hand it to the backing musos too – you can’t do Those Were the Days without a violin, and a fine exponent of the fiddle did some fine fiddling on that one.
Jeff, as always, was in fine voice, which is no mean feat considering your typical musos’ hours usually don’t include 12 midday for venturing out in public. Mind you, perhaps Jeff was being kept from his beloved cricket – not to be pigeonholed, our Jeff! And the other thing that set Jeff apart was his easy manner with the public and fans, no ‘tude from this dude! Really appreciate Jeff’s generosity with his time when filming post-gig – JD sure did put the C in Community!
– a. white
… And the “fine fiddler” at the gig – Graham Jacups – was actually once a principal violinist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra!
Thanks from Duffophiles to Colin Hay yet again for being in action and giving us Duff live at the Rock Opera, State Theatre, Sydney, Nov 19 2012.
I imagine half the audience gasping for consonance the whole scene long, the other half wide-eyed and rocking in plain wonder.
See also this Daily Telegraph “gallery of stars” from the event, where Duff is snapped in his silver Wayne Cooper suit with Chris E. Thomas. See also a magical youtube, courtesy of Colin Hay, of Duff and Thomas doing the iconic Duff song Macarthur Park on the Duets night at the State Theatre here. See also Duff-n-Thomas snapped in the Telegraph here. More Duff Macarthur Park via Hay here.
Colin Hay also has a vid of Duff and Brydon Stace doing Under Pressure at the Rock Opera: here.
The Semantic Analysis Division of the Institute has been processing an abundance of Duff-data, our CEO (as pictured) endlessly criss-crossing the aisles to keep all circuits a-sparked on the project. As an example of the challenge, try entering “Jeff Duff” into any of the many web-analytical calculators we might put to the purpose of questing our mutual Duffophilia: e.g., as listed at seomoz.org. It’s a kind of new clap-o-meter – only putting out on-the-pulse semantic ideas off the web, not so much energy amplitude of the immediate mob.
Results to date give a partial shimmer of that “elusive mind”. From Latent Semantic Indexing, we can get single words, word pairs, etc., that most frequently co-occur when entering the magic words “Jeff Duff” across the worldwide web. In cognitive psychology, this type of analysis is used to understand how ideas are represented in, or recalled from, memory, how one idea can lead to another in recognising words on the printed page, in coming up with creative associations, in meriting a diagnosis of “thought disorder”, and so on. So these types of connections between words across web-pages might tell us about the essential nature of a single idea or even being – knowing it by its relations – at least how it is represented in some great big common mind.
So does Latent Semantic Indexing tell us anything interesting about The Duff? Naturally, the words “Jeff Duff” co-occur with “jeff” and “duff” more than any other words. The following is a ready sample of words that are themselves not just common words (like “give”, “brings”, etc.) with which “Jeff Duff” commonly co-occurs on the web, according to Latent Semantic Indexing.
|Words co-occurring with “Jeff Duff”||Rank F|
Among the most common 2- or 3-word co-occurrences of “Jeff Duff” were “excellent tenor”, “brass monkey”, “tribute show”, “inspired show” and “rocking jeff duff” (each in at least 10 different web-pages).
Surprise, surprise, this might just tell us something: “Jeff Duff” is more associated with David Bowie than with any other idea or artist (in fact, the only artist he is commonly mentioned with), and he is mentioned as an actor as much as an artist or singer, and noted as a performer/entertainer/singer with such attributes as “eccentric”, “inspired” and “excellent”, in terms that are always positive in feeling, with no negative terms being common. His Kush days, and his “Easy Street” song, seem to be web-remembered more than any other later work, although his later “Duffo” moniker co-occurs with “Jeff Duff” at least 20% of the time, more than any other word. Well, that seems to fit with human nature if nothing else: “we always remember the first time”, and “the first cut hurts the deepest”.
Moving right along, the analysis tool “Übersuggest” uses an undisclosed algorithm to suggest words that can be associated with your search word for every letter of the alphabet – by some web-content indexing. This gets us into associations with some other artists and almost makes for raw elements of the Jeff Duff story, with some incongruities and mishaps to boot. So for the letter “A” we get “Jeff Duff and Kush”, “Jeff Duff albums”, and even “Jeff Duff Africa”. “B”, naturally enough, gives us “Jeff Duff Big Band”, “Jeff Duff Basement”, “Jeff Duff David Bowie”, “Jeff Duff banana”, and “Jeff Duff bronco”. How we get to “Jeff Duff crash” and “Jeff Duff congo” after that, remains for the Institute’s key-punchers to work by night and day to elucidate. Meanwhile, we can note the following other terms to follow in more or less alphabetical order, among others: “david bowie”, “dynamiq”, “duo”, “deep purple”, “ed wilson”, “experience”, “film”, “fragile spaceman”, “gay”, “genius”, “gig guide”, “goldman”, “stairway heaven”, “paul hogan”, “rise in your levis”, “saint john”, “jazz”, “kingston tn”, “macarthur park”, “manly boatshed”, “midday show”, “mining”, “navy seal”, “opera house”, “orchestra”, “palais”, “plane crash”, “prophets”, “ray charles”, “ray martin”, “rockwiz”, “seal”, “singer”, “sinatra”, “spaceman”, “sundance”, “sydney”, “tehachapi”, “trio”, “vanguard”, “walk wild side”, “wardrobe malfunction”, and “ziggy stardust”.
Well, all of that just about gets our computational resources at the Institute for Duffological Studies bursting at its bolts. May fellow Duffophiles push the enquiry along, ever spying through their Duffoscopes to reach the stars within the Duffological universe.
Drums of Duff-Stuff have been beating wildly again: The Duff was spotted in the audience of the Studio Theatre, Sydney Opera House, last Saturday night (1st December), at a performance of Doug Parkinson. Duff was slightly spectacular himself in his cricket whites and quirky shoulder-bag – and did not go unnoticed by Parko either, who offered a salutation from the stage to his mate. So dare we now imagine a Doug-n-Duff double act – when these two power-houses of soul while surely huff-n-puff the whole Opera House down?
Thanks to Anthony and his underground posse of Sydney Duffophiles for psst-ing this hot info to the Institute. Psst other actualities to the Institute from the mailbox on the right-sidebar, or email “info” @jeffduffstuff.com.
This performance has been cancelled as of 12 Dec 2012: See Duff’s blog at his official site as to how the scourge of bronchitis befell him.
So Santa has gone off romancing the Tooth Fairy, or, before he even left the Pole, he’s been bagged by frisky aliens from frigid, arid Mars. Either way, he won’t be pressing his portly way through the air-conditioning vents of your dome this coming Christmas Eve.
Nevermind, as they say at the end of the best children’s stories – this time because there’s a Duff Christmas party to press our own bods unto.
This year, this next coming Wednesday Eve, in fact, Duff prizes us Earthchilds with a bounty of his magic in Marrickville – at the Camelot Lounge. I have an earlier brain-storm about this venue – but, more to the existential point, have just scored a ticket to this gig; and so may all other Duffophiles who sleigh by these pages park their reindeers at this joint this Wednesday week with all their bells ringing and bobtails jigging, to meet Duff and his co-angels all a-singing.
Tinsel, high spirits bounded by merry weather will no doubt be on offer a-plenty this Wedneseve. Grab your ticket here; read more about it here.
We already deeply thank The Mighty Duff for an offer of a Christmas party in the presence of his art; the best gas on offer in Every-Town to pump any person’s ride into a new year.
Friday 9th November 2012 will long be remembered in the annals of Duffology as the night “The Jeff Duff Experience” at Brass Monkey was cancelled – and suddenly Duffophiles crashed as one into that nightmare state of oblivion, against the alley-walls of Cronulla, with the annihilating Zen-empty thought that there was nuffin to Duffo-do.
UPDATE: See Duff’s blog at his official site re the illness that befell him.
That same night, news came through to the Institute of the term “No Duff” taking hold in the corporate industrial lexicon of latter-day Sydney-town to refer to a mission critical protocol, a no-bull situation. This news was despatched to the Institute with great urgency by Anthony, a Sydney-based Duffophile, who was himself preened and primed at the time to hit the Brass Monkey gig. It so happened that Anthony came a few hours earlier, that same day, upon a No Duff Experience of a quite different kind:
The Google link Anthony refers to here is at impactednurse.com, where some fine details of Duffological etymology are chronicled. Apparently “Duff” has particular resonance as a dessert among the Greater Manchester Police, as high frequency radio waves used by Canadian mounties against Japanese submarines, and so on. Moreover, as this essay suggests, the term “Duff” – as the opposite to “No Duff” – implies what is not real, the likes of surreality, fantasy, imagination – fabulous! So 9th November goes down as a double-dose of a “No Duff Experience” – when great disappointment at the loss of “The Jeff Duff Experience” was coincidentally crossed by great Duff-occult revelation.
P.S. Duffophile Anthony is captured in this youtube playing the Jack Thompson part, in apron, in his own kitchen, in a take from The Sum of Us.
Lew Keilar‘s music video for Duff’s “Logical questions to God” has been selected as one of 46 entrants in the inaugural International Motion Arts Awards organised by American Illustration-American Photography (AI-AP). This page archives the selected entries – including a frozen moment of Jeff Duff astride in the video. Count across about 28 thumbnails and you’ll hit the spot and then find a wonderful blurb about the vid and the song.
The AI-AP has, for over 30 years, produced one of the most respected illustration and photography competitions in North America, and the USA’s leading juried photography annuals. It has now produced a similar, long-awaited competition to celebrate the work of photographers, illustrators and designers in Photography/Live Action, Illustration/Animation and Motion Graphics/Design. The inaugural competition covers work created/broadcast in the 12 months from September 1 2011. It aims to “honor the artist’s original and singular vision [and] pay tribute to the best motion art from the year”. Work making the final finish – which includes Keilar’s Duff vid – is to be showcased at the AI-AP’s annual award celebrations – where it launches its photography and illustration annuals – and in an associated juror symposium, November 8-9 in New York City. Winning entries will then be permanently displayed on AI-AP’s juried image archive at ai-ap.com. The music video can presently be seen via the director’s vimeo account.
Q: Which earlier Keilar-Duff collaboration produced another festival success?
A: A music video for Duff’s “Dancing with the Jellyfish”. This video will be screening at the Sandfly Film Festival, Huskisson, Jervis Bay, NSW, November 10. See Keilar’s site for this vid too. Unlike the shallow (heartless, brain-dead) MVs of recent times (where all you get for satisfaction is a bit of shakey, tinselled black ass), this vid has all the phantasmagoric attractions of music videos of old but without the all-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality they ran away with. Instead, it works on a theatrically effective narrative to get us into – and off on – the song. It channels mainline and experiments with borderline aesthetics like a major work of art of any time ought to do. Same for the Logical questions vid.
Also – wait for another high-flyer: a just-completed music-vid by Keilar of Duff’s “Fragile Spaceman”.
This is the first Technical Report from the Institute for Duffological Studies on the visits across Planet Earth to Planet Duff by humans (a working assumption) via the youtube communication channel.
The Institute started recording youtube visitations to Planet Duff on July 18 2011. Eleven (11) sites on Planet Duff were quasi-randomly selected for monitoring. We have, today, sent out our Duff-Rover to make a fresh assay of visitations to these sites, and the above chart summarises the results thus far transmitted back to us.
Of our original sample of 11 sites, 9 were accessible at this time. Of these 9, the sample comprises a wide range of Duff performances – from his 1974 Paul Hogan showing, some Euro-Duffo, and some live Duff shows from 2009 – a bare smattering of Duff-stuff available via youtube, but certainly stuff worth following. What can we report of our latest assays of youtube visits to these sites?
+ TOP HITTING site: the most visited site, by a long shot, was the Kush performance of Easy Street on the Paul Hogan Show of 1974, with Duff as a waifling leading the band – with a prize-showing by Duff of many uncommon virtues: go-along fag theatre in the intro, sophisticated scat in the first chorus, watch-me-now surety but Aussie-reserved modesty by every later bar and frame of a performance that is cool by any standard of the post-moderns and the midday crooners. Over 2011 to 2012, visits to this site have increased by 42% – from about 24,000 to 34,000. At last count, visits to this site accounted for just less than a third – actually, 29.32845% – of all 100,000+ recorded youtube visits to Planet Duff (see below for specifications).
+ TOP GROWTH in VISITS was for the youtube Le Poseur – quickly followed by Duffodoll. These had a 199% and 181% increase in visits (respectively) – i.e., almost tripling their 2011 visits in little more than a year. To be sure, they started from a low base – both less than 500 views – but they are on a trajectory of exponential excess. “Le Poseur” itself increased in views from 338 to over 1,000. The Institute’s Duffologists are unable to explain this radical and extraordinary surge; a number of theories have been proposed; results pending. The average percentage increase in 2012 visits on top of 2011 visits across the sample was 76%.
“Stairway to Heaven”on ABC-TV “The Money or the Gun” (1990) achieved the second highest tally of visits, after “Easy Street”. Generally, vids of live shows (viz., “Time Traveller”) and TV appearances (incl. “Kiss” on The Midday Show) took on a mid-range level of growth.
The Institute is now closely monitoring more sites on Planet Duff that are accessible via Channel Youtube – 65 tubes with 128,846 views so far, and summing to 4 hours, 35 minutes and 50 seconds of Duff-stuff – and will offer a further technical paper on these data, as the Duff-Rover signals them to hand. For links to these – go to the new youtubes page. The first and second highest ranking tubes among these 65 is the same as shown in the chart, but the third highest viewed Planet Duff youtubed site at this time is from Jeff Duff and the Prophets: “Spinning Wheel” on the Kerrie-Anne Channel 9 morning TV show.
The Institute kindly acknowledges those pioneering Duffonauts who have made available the tubes that the Duff-Rover is presently monitoring. Highest regards to the live work of Colin Hay, and so to the TV reminiscences, from VHS to youtube, of Angelgroover. Of the high-flying youtubes, “Le Poseur” was originally shunted home by bonzoboydog, and “Duffodoll” by thismusicismydesire.
For more hot astro-Duffo news, see this tube from inter-galactical alien interceptors of Duff-stuff.
~ Logical reflections on Duff #2 (after #1)
Michael Parkinson verbally abused Zsa Zsa Gabor when she confessed on his TV chat show that she loved animals more than humans. Parkinson thought that was pathetic, and worlds collided. There was a sudden battle of minds and spirits over one of the great dialectics of human reason: the value of man versus other animals. It was a collision that goes down as a great dramatic moment in human history; Parko and Zsa Zsa on the world’s forum, TV, stealing the light over a core philosophical point. One day it will make youtube.
It can still surprise – perhaps more the Duffo-tista than the Jacko-phile and Phillo-Collinsist and Abba-lone – how much humans resist the idea that they are animals or just plain earthlings; intrinsically related, by their very chromosomes and neurochemicals, to plants and rocks. It takes a certain kind of guy – actually, an artistic genius – to exploit such things. Many artists are delighters by Jove, and others bear the lantern upon the night-side of human nature. There are few, such as Duff, who shine a light upon the double dimensions of such things, to create (not just communicate) a third element, beyond such essences and arguments at the base of human reason as Parko and Zsa Zsa encapsulated. Take out Hegel’s lyrico-scope over Duff songs and you will see, in the most direct and literal ways, the expression of this dialectic. By that I mean something akin to paradox – to tell us that black is white and vice versa, or that “this sentence is not true”. But more to the soulful point, it is to show how to be happy is to be sad, and vice versa, and to feel proud in any human capacity is to be ashamed of all that makes us human, and vice versa. Jeff Duff signs off and sings anon about this play of opposites, at the end of a day’s work, as just one among his many arts.
You can see this art of contradiction in the very classes of song that Duff produces. On the one hand, there are those that, at a blush, sound funny, coy, and even silly (but always very clever) – like the fun he offers on his “Noses run in my family”, “Monkey for your love” and “Banana Song”. And then there are the ethereal jaunts of, say, “The choir inside my mind”, and “Angel Song”. And the libidinal melancholies of, say, “Come drown with me” and “Hurt me tenderly”. But that, to quote Barnum, ain’t the ‘alf of it – Duff plays out such opposites of insight and delight within many a song, and then often does this with a doubly surprising trick – yes, expressing the essential Gabor-Parko dialectic, the rub between the norm of pride and the extreme essential, between the obvious positive and its unguarded negative … but also – as I will argue in a moment – this is an über-Brechtian method of Duff’s – but for now: a sample tabling of Duff’s “ostinato of opposites” within his lyrics.
Satanic Deity – Kush: Snow White and the Eight Straights
Cage the people at the zoo
Let the monkeys roam
A lot of men perceive the steel and concrete as his home.[...]
Now think of war as something good.
Life as something bad.
And when I cry I think I laugh,
And when I smile I’m sad.
New Boy in Heaven – Jeff Duff and the Prophets: Kiss My Apocalypse
You’re a devil with a halo. You’re an angel with a gun. [...]
You’re a virgin with a dirty face, in a hang-man’s noose.
You’re the deadly silent witness, you’re the madman on the loose. [...]
You’ve got the angels waiting, for your punishing embrace.
God Bless all the Clowns:
God bless all the clowns.
God bless them when they frown.
God bless all the clowns.
God bless them as they drown.
Give Me Back Me Brain – Duffo (Beggar’s Banquet album)
Now I’ve got a face without an expression
I tried to smile again, but I look so depressin. …
It could have been fate
It could have been luck
It could have fallen off the back of a truck.
It sure ain’t me
Coz my brain is my body’s employee.
John & Betty Go to L.A. – Duffo: The Disappearing Boy
I’m building an igloo in the Sahara.
It’s snowing inside my sauna.
I feel like an Eskimo in Egypt.
My deserts are covered with fauna.
God for a Day – Duffo: The Disappearing Boy
I’ll be laughing when the nails are hammered in …
Come Drown With Me
I’ll be your lifeline, I’ll take your breath away.
You’ll be my skyhook, don’t let me slip away.
You’ll be my lifeline, you’ll take my breath away.
I’ll be your skyhook, I won’t let you slip away.
I Be the Alien
You’ll wake alone but I’ll hear you scream.
A curious thing about expressing yourself in this cha-cha of opposites, in this flux of antimonies, is the paradox that the opposites and antimonies are more related to each other than most other ideas are to each alone. … There is also a touch here of Brecht‘s Verfremdungseffekt: the “making strange” or “alienating” about something familiar and normally unattended, and so forcing (often unwelcome) attention to it, recognizing that what was normal is really strange, what was deemed passive is actually actively working upon us and shaping our visions and ideologies. Duff’s lyrical work does this, to be sure, but goes a step beyond – where the base thing being referred to is often itself outside and exceptional – something apposite to us observers. So we start, say, with mention of an Eskimo, or waking up alone – some exceptionally outsider identities and experiences – and these are themselves “made strange” – the Eskimo is set into the heat of Egypt, and the lone awakener is heard to scream – but how when they are alone? In this way, Duff’s lyrics – even when superficially simple – can have a profound subliminal effect, merging, it can be seen, Brecht’s alienation effect with a touch of E. T. A. Hoffmann‘s uncanniness within the scheme of a Hegelian dialectic! The song “Blinded by the dark” (on the Fragile Spaceman album) perhaps best and starkly epitomises this, in its very title, while Duff often accomplishes this psycho-lyrical weaving with threads not so much of starkly contrasting blacks and whites but of alternating greys … synthesising many colours … But of all that we better be silent and leave Duff to do his work.
Actually, it’s not just in the lyrics. Listen to all these intros. They’re all quite different to each other by instruments, tempo, rhythm … but there’s at least one way by which they’re all alike – and that’s in using an ostinato of opposites …
What is the effect on the listener of this artistic trick, of Duff’s moment-by-moment ostinato of conceptual opposites, drawn from the source of the kaleidoscopic manifold beyond the senses? A perfect phi spiral, naturally – from the ears to the spinal chord and all the way up and down the lifelines of every bod, and so along the kundalini highway to the songlines of all ages.
Another Brechtian connection: Mac the Knife – Duffo style …
Readers of Duff’s blog will have been touched by his recent news that his cat companion of 22 years, Ruby, has had done with her feline coil – and shuffled off unto the 10th dimension that is cat heaven. We here at the Institute for Duffological Studies, and so too, doubtlessly, our readers, extend our sympathies to Mr. Duff on his loss. And we would add …
All cats start off as superbeings, from worlds unimaginable by us, and they are destined to live apart from others, more than any human masters – from Moses to Murdoch – could imagine, and their prize for holding stubbornly on to that proud consciousness through all their earthen days is a free passage to godhead, when they stand as one like the sun over us still experimenting here in the lower worlds. Cats continue in superbeinghood, having captured the eternal, in a blink, after all, and never paining for the loss of being among us. Yet they will quietly accept our completeness, when we might lose ourselves totally, mortally, at the heels of their spirits one day.
Cats – just listen to children talk about their cats, and see them loving them – accentuate both parenthood and childhood, all humanhood – models for a sure sense of our individuality and potential for duty and devotion. They also teach us about the death of love – not only love physically bound, but love that starts anew at every funeral, beside the backyard burial, and continues for our pets, and so our sakes, across the universe, much further and more radiant than we could imagine for any human satellite.
Breaths are lost when gazing upon the stars above us, as lives are blessed when herding the cats of this world about us.
Like the Egyptians sang to Pasht, when they felt the meaning of life, we call out, across the night, across our neighbourhoods, for puss to come back home to us – an essential experience in this universe of things.
Trust Duffophiles that, on these Ziggy nights, at the Sydney Opera House, all minds will explode in unison by the highest blasts of Bowie art. Read about this September 2012 show and buy tickets here at the Sydney Opera House site. “Mind-blowing”, “all killers, no fillers” are words used to describe the Ziggy Shows thus far by Duff and associates.
The show has evolved from what Duff was doing in the 1990s, and touring in one-man form in NSW in the 2000s; you could have been tragically flicking, like me, through a Wyong newspaper, one day in about 2006, and come upon a photo and story re Duff covering Bowie and Sinatra songs, in costume, at the local footy club. There was a residency at Sydney’s The Vanguard in 2009, where the show came in four themes, a different one each weekend of October.
A bigger show, focussed on Bowie alone, integrating the best of these experiments, booked out Sydney’s State Theatre in 2010, when Duff was joined by Steve Balbi, Brydon Stace and Iota, ahead of a band of good repute. With reliable music and exciting vocal talents, and dance-steps, the show came in ever cooler costume changes across switches from arresting solos to all-out rock and funk band-heavy numbers.
Then there was the Enmore Theatre show: now a rock concert crafted with Duff, Balbi, Paul Capsis and Christa Hughes as the keys to the drama, each putting their own stamp on the show in sets of one or two solo leads of a brassy rock band. “Wild is the wind” by Paul Capsis any one? “Suffragette City” by Christa Hughes any one? And who do you think took the Mercury part in the fierce Duff-led “Under Pressure”?
Duff, Balbi and Stace next took the show to the Adelaide Festival this June, and now it’s onto the Opera House this September. But how has the show evolved? Where will Duff be when he’s supposed to be at the Sydney Opera House, for fruck’s sake, before a gaping crowd, all of us gapers on his side? “It will surely be beyond evolution” said an old Messiah, coming back for a tick.
What’s extra great about all these Bowie shows, and Duff’s recorded covers of Bowie, is that there’s never an effort to just mimic Bowie. Everyone, including we the audience, is in on the game – but we know the artists are referencing. It’s how they reference that matters, what we especially enjoy, seeing our glam needs nicely exploited by genuine talent.
Duff is “job ready” to put on a show at the Opera House, it’s an old stomping ground of his. Sydney gets prized again, this September 2012, with another Duff experience upon one of the heighest artistic stages of all ages. It’s like hearing the songs of Osiris off the top of the Sphinx. But that’s enough verbal filigree for now, enough emotional pornography for you – but how this news doth swell the Duffophile’s bosom with a hearty pride of passion.
When you have trouble communicating to yourself over a cup of coffee, with only a blank piece of paper in front of you – you just have to think of these people – like Duff, Balbi and Stace – who express themselves and communicate to us for a living, who have the courage to become significant in other people’s minds, day by day. There are thugs in the Cross who, in spite of their fists and barbs, communicate zero passion. On the other hand, there’s an essential Duff-Balbi-Stace Ziggy show to see.
And so the show has ended, the crowds dissipated under Duffological spell, his Mesmeric gestures, his capture and alarm of the crowd, from his now signature jog to “Let’s Dance” and his first steps into the space before us, his pean to the “Young Americano” and all that’s recalled by so many reviewers more articulate than me as a “loss for words,” “engrossing” … describing Duff’s very presence on stage, let alone his mastery of music and gift of song. On that point, no golden words are spent or rare enough. The second set appearance of Duff upped the spectacle – with bright Bowie-bedecked leotard (or some glam-Nippon smattering upon in), dark and shimmering stockings, high white boots, curt curled-back platinum hair, a Warholian vision; thankfully Duff did little more in movement than give us a slow slide across the stage, fully aware of his potential energy and the bomb he could unfurl. We were all especially aghast by Track 3: his gift of Bowie’s “Wild is the Wind” – and thereupon I spare my words and must truncate the superlatives for now …
and remark, in turn, on Steve Balbi. Balbi channels and accentuates the essential Ziggy themes of the mortal god, rock shaman, sacrificed messiah, romantic suicide-poet, blind Baptist preacher, from Morrison to Morrissey, a salve to common human weaknesses and wretchedness, absorbing the natural ills and turmoils of each member of the mob, giving licence to their right to party, stirring them into soul-healing ecstasy, sans any artifice of religiosity. At one point, at the end of a song, Balbi mentioned, or questioned, the greatness of being alive – and that was precisely what was on my thoughts and doubtlessly those of others at that time – the basic blessedness of being sensate, and sorry for the dead souls who could not be party to the magnificence of our present party. Balbi crafts iconics in his show before us – including moments with a long-stemmed rose, gifted to a rollicking audience member, and a certain kiss on the butt of Duff – quoting that rock-iconic oral gesture of Bowie upon Ronno. Balbi also offered the most startling lighting effect of the night – among several – what with his suit stripped off a mirror-ball.
Brydon Stace was the Young Americano Davido – funky, full of flair – right down to the hem of his pants – actually, a suit that some Duffologists suspect came out of the Duff closet itself. Stace also offered – with Duff stoking on the side – all the wails that earthlings could imagine a human voice to utter in taking the Freddie Mercury part in “Under Pressure”. Plain listening became all the more hallucinogenic one moment after the other, thanks to Stace punching powerfully through the pitches of this song.
It was also a boon to see some serious merchandising outside in the hall. Did you get the Ziggy Show badge, the Ziggy Show poster, Duff’s Fragile Spaceman CD (includes a pretty “Ziggy Stardust”), the Ziggy Show T-shirt, the Duff/Wilson Big Band CD – and sign the email list? I did – no losers here. Thanks, it seems, to EmpireTouring, for getting this side of the act together.
There are some youtubes of the event to be seen, like this Wild is the Wind, with the band in their Duffo-naut outfits straight from NASA.
There’s perhaps never been a time like this one of ours today when every Tom, Dick and Sally is trying to be a “genuine artist”. There are university courses you can do with government support to get you to the “emerging” stage. That ends you up lauded with all the respect we give to well-boiled eggs. The career clincher is on TV shows franchised across the world like hamburgers, where the rent-a-crowd gives you standing ovation for wailing out a note for some five seconds or so, then you smirk and curtsey with faint gratitude before the criticism of mega-super-überstars born yesterday: “I’m proud of all my failures and successes” you stubbornly pronounce to more applause.
A Duff show is essential, more than all television is today.
Can we reel off 4 keyboardists of the past 50 or so years of popular music who’ve defined their art and craft? We can do this quickly for guitars (Hendrix …), and maybe also for drums (Muskett …), but how about keyboards? As far as I know, we’d have to put up Professor Longhair, Leon Russell, Fats Waller, Carole King and Elton John, for a quick start, plus Herbie Hancock, Stevie Winwood, Jon Lord, Rick Wakeman and Mike Garson … Would Thomas Dolby fit in or is he too “wham”?
Anyway, Jon Lord is the one personage who this post is about, who fits all bills without qualification. He was the Deep Purple keyboardist and bandleader, a “pioneer fusing rock and classical or baroque forms” (WP). His most recent gigs, over the last decade, have been headlining the Hoochie Coochie Men, an Australia-based blues band comprising, apart from Lord, bass player Bob Daisley (former Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne), guitarist and singer Tim Gaze, and drummer Rob Grosser. Jon Lord first performed with The Hoochie Coochie Men in Februrary 2003, since which time the band has become one of the hottest properties in Australia’s citywide live entertainment circuit. But how about HCM recordings for the rest of us?
Deep, self-cutting Jimmy Barnes fans punch each other up to get their hands on this hot DVD – last seen selling new for $198.90 – where Barnes fronts Jon Lord with the Hoochie Coochie Men at Sydney’s Basement. Few apart from Fat Gina von Rheinhart can still get their hands on it. Even more amazing though is the fact of this other hot CD where you get a couple songs from both Barnesy and Duffo fronting the Hoochie Coochie Men – with Jon Lord. That’s 2 HCM Jimmy Barnes tracks, and 2 HCM Jeff Duff tracks – on the one CD. Awesome as. Barnes does a couple covers, with a surprise range below his usual chimes. Duff hazards some originals from the band – and takes the show handsomely away with a plus to their total creativity. We only miss his artful doings of more of the original songs on this album!
… And now for some unfortunate news, and some unorthodox Derryn Hinch type of posturing and soap-boxing from me about it.
Lord was recently diagnosed as suffering from pancreatic cancer, a normally swiftly developing and deadly form of cancer. He is currently undergoing special treatment in Israel hoping to recover and get back to music. According to drummer Ian Paice the cancer was discovered in its “early, early stage” so there is hope for recovery. (WP)
I’ve been long and impatiently waiting for an affirmative cryogenics policy from the US government, the Eurozone and ASEAN. That means that they provisionally accept the assumptions of cryogenics as scientific even if only, at this time, pointing to “a likely possibility”. Still, that means, together with the precautionary principle, and basic humanistic factors, that we should start funding a National Cryogenics Database which, apart from other roles, works to preserve the consciousnesses of certain people deemed to be sociologically factorial, transculturally significant, and humanly definitive. An International Survival Project is more to the point. So all scientific knowledge about human eternality (from cryogenics, parapsychology, computational intelligence, psychological physics, biographical history …) is put to the purpose of elongating the opportunities for the creative output of specific consciousnesses beyond their presently biologically limited lives – and we start taking this seriously as a science worth propagating for basic human good.
Where is the politician with the grey cells and guts to get this crucial social policy up-front in mainstream politics around the world?
hey some latest duffstuff i’ve seen – from the 1993 Channel Nine Midday Show in Australia with Derryn Bloody Hinch as compere – Duff does the Tom Jones/Prince track Kiss on the show, with his Orchestra. He’s in glorious voice and motion, with never-faultering live arty TV direction in front of him (- or what would you have done with the live cut?). Each Duff gesture is worth a Chekhov play, etcetera.
See also, from the same time, also on Australian midday TV: a Seasons of change.
This seems to be part of a swag of midday show tubes recently uploaded by “angelgroover” to youtube. We are also enjoying this cover by the JDO of “Spinning wheel”.
thanks to www.clker.com for the lips.
Not ephemera, not existentialism, is happening in the Australian City of Churches this June 2012 as Duffophiliacs descend upon Adelaide for the latest exposition of Jeff Duff’s Bowie-as-Ziggy Show. Citizens be strong and beware!
We’d arrest Duff and his diabolical duo (Balbi, Stace) here and now if we could jaunt into the future – for only then do they promise to show themselves. We are not too sure of what the Duffophiliacs will get up to when they roll into Adelaide, City of Churches, in zombie-file behind their leader, but, having consulted The Origin of Species, we must caution that it will be no ordinary primate social behaviour, and certainly no Teddybears’ Picnic.
For evidence of Ziggy-expressive Jeff Duff, with his stalwart comrades of the glam-bang, Steve Balbi and Brydon Stace, see how they flagrantly youtube grand piecemeal slices of their show here. The show is happening this time in 2012 at the Donny Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide at 9.00pm on June 20 (Wed), 22 (Fri), and 23 (Sat), and also 6.30pm on Jun 21 (Thurs).
Show-length is about 70 minutes too fast – unless Ziggy is forced to an encore. Police will require a large crowd agape at every show, all peeled-back eyes, rolled-wide mouths, and everyone climbing bare-leggedly over each others’ backs, for evidence to charge against this spectacle. Please also oblige your peace-keepers with Zulu trance-dancing in the aisles.
Here is a raw Duff and Balbi snap on 2UE radio – with Jack Housden on guitar and back-vocals. Go forth, hand-cuff and belly-flop upon these outlaws.
Here is news about the Ziggy Show at the Enmore in Sydney in 2011, when the Duff Gang escaped by the skin of their fangs from the Premier’s personal “Devil Diminution Squad”.
Ordered this piece of vinyl Duff, a 7 inch “Flexi-disc”, playable at 33.3 RPMs, and yellow – a promo disc from 1979. Side A is described as “Psychiatrists Warn That Duff Records Can Cause Brain Damage”, and Side B seems to be from another artist, Johnny G., namely, “Johnny G. Introduces Slices From His Genius L.P. Sharp & Natural”. More to report once the yellow disc has been flung into my letter-box (thanks Australia Post), and I find a turntable.
Update June 19 – arrived in the box … Onto a turntable …
If there were a New York Underground Film Festival, sponsored by, say, the New York Film Academy and Pravda-Vodka, who in the whole wide world do you think would be its 2012 winner in its Music Video category?
Why, Jeff Duff of course – with his animated exposition of Dancing with the Jellyfish, off his Fragile Spaceman album. From the album’s release being heralded on David Bowie’s official site, its sleeve-photography by Penelope Beveridge scoring 3 awards at the International Photography Awards (IPA) in New York (2011), and then the album’s launch at Sydney’s iconic Basement, Duff’s Fragile Spaceman continues to out-shine every super-star in the sky (night and day).
The video was screened during the BeFilm Festival on Thursday April 26 at The Disney Screening Room, 500 Park Ave & 59th St. See stills from the video at the site of the director, Lew Keilar – plus a link to the video itself. Like Lew recommends, Duffophiles may (or we say must) request the video for showing on ABC-TV’s Rage HERE.