A “post-punk rock opera” on Jean Lee, the last woman to be hanged in Australia – for crimes of extortion, slow torture and murder – Pentridge Gaol, 1951, showing at the ArtsHouse, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, Dec 7-8 2013.
+ Feature article about the opera in The Age (Nov 30, 2013), where Duff is noted as playing the part of “the lecherous Pop Kent”.
+ ArtsHouse blurb, tickets: "Post-punk music genres infuse a score that evokes a dark underworld and exposes raw emotions, … music veers poignantly from erotic charge to sharp lament, combining pop, impro and jazz forms to create a unique theatre of music … backed by a seven-piece band …"
+ Interview with composer Andrée Greenwell (& map to the venue) : "… a concert version of the version first performed in Sydney in 200 … performed together with visual projections that give the production a documentary emphasis"
+ About her life, the murder, execution, etc. Wikipedia
+ News of the execution in The Argus, 19th Feb 1951 and 20th Feb 1951, including the latter eye-witness report describing how the trio walked up to the gallows:
The two men met their deaths calmly and steadily. The woman appeared to be unconscious.
Mug-shot: click for live stuff from the Sydney Opera House production, 2006
The event was held at the Bundanon Trust’s property, Riversdale, on October 12, 2013 – mixing astronomical education, demonstration, art, Ufology, and … Jeff Duff, the sole performer. He was billed as the Starman, wearing his golden jumpsuit with angel-wings, and sang mainly Bowie’s space songs, keeping with the astronomical theme of the event. With about 500 riverside campers, Duff’s performance involved “Celestial Radio”, upon a yacht covered with 60,000 mirrored tiles, with live-broadcasted soundscape.
It was previewed by the Trust here, and by the Illawarra Mercury here. You can also hear Duff himself talking enthisaistically about the up-coming event in an ABC radio interview. Reviews, post hoc, are rare, but astronomer Frank Gross writes the following about it at ABC open, with a vid that includes a bit of Duff on the yacht, voicing the “serious moonlight” phrase from Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. Goss writes:
Then it was time for Jeff Duff to begin his musical show standing on the deck of a boat covered with thousands of mirrors. Music from the 60s and 70s filled the air for the next hour. A group of at least 500 people gathered on the shore just next to the boat and gyrated to the music.
It was spectacular for the performer, too. Duff has written that it was "one of the most truly amazing events I’ve ever performed at … a surreal evening … under the evening glow of the moon and the stars … it was sublime." Note also Duff’s September blog preview.
Why did Andy Warhol, after shaking it with Jeff Duff, at some ’70s London party, report that he’s not been so moved about music since he got off on Sinatra, Presley, Jagger and Bowie (“popeye”) …? Maybe it was this song that clinched it – one off Duff’s The Disappearing Boy album, for which Warhol wrote his famous blurb: “Sinatra, Presley, Jagger & Popeye – now Duffo“. Check out the youtube here.
By the way, when Warhol mentions “Popeye” in this blurb, let’s note that he’s referring to Bowie, as in Bowie’s “popped” pupil, and also for the purpose of happy-slapping Bowie for the quizzical way he (Bowie) wrote about him (Andy) in his (Bowie’s) song about him (Andy) – being just a “cement (semen?) fix”, “another standing cinema”, “friends just for show”, etc. (off the Hunky Dory album). So Warhol says, in a syllable or two, how Duff’s the latest head off the best of popular songsters – from Sinatra to Presley, from Jagger to Bowie – but surmounting Bowie, who could only affront and confront and mimic the man. Warhol saw Duff as an Internationalist of great art-historical import. No Aussie artist or other has ever had it so bling.
Don’t mind the aliens melancholically meditating every Sunday arvo about Lou Reed. They’re just recovering after brunch from reading and remembering news of Reed’s mortal dashing off. They’ve done the same for centuries about Coleridge, and been depressed ever since.
May humans, instead, keep listening to and watching Reed’s work. Not all of us here in the Dumb ‘n’ Nasty Age, to be sure, just whoever keeps their head above the trash that aristocrats let idiots dispose upon us, and those who’ll survive any Martian Invasion – those liking Lou Reed making Coke and all our earthling stuff kind of beautiful.
Planet Duff had only just been enlightened with the addition of HMV’s “naked” video of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wildside into its online tube catalogue when news was heard of Mr Reed’s mortal perishing. Reed had (as any Duffophile can tell you) himself extolled Jeff Duff’s version of Walk on the Wildside as “the best”. There have been several recordings and mixes by HMV of Walk on the Wildside. Like the prior, and this Aaron B Mix, and the following live stuff from the Jeff Duff Orchestra on Oz TV: the sound-quality is appalling, but, filtering the audio for bliss, walk on the wildside with JD as your guide into Erebus right here:
That was Duff doing Reed on Oz TV. More Duff-Reed to come. But to labour on the alien-vs-human theme, what really drearified this week were the sub-human drones by the Australian Federal Education (!) Minister when asked on a national TV panel show to comment on the passing of Lou Reed – an international artist who had, throughout his career, given much to Australian culture by his frequent tours to a willing public, media interviews with more or less intimidated and embarrasing journalists, and, lately as an arts festival organiser. So Minister Pyne complained that he would rather celebrate Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and ABBA than a heroin-addicted transgressive who never figured in his own ’70s. How broke the split between world culture and Oz, Reed and NOW, can be – in this offering on ABC-TV’s Q&A show where Minister Pyne, true to his nasty ilk, spits out his ignorance about Reed. As if there is no place in commercial culture for a person who writes and sings up the musicality and poetry at once of his own time and place. Just thanks to Q&A and that lady for putting up the question.
If shock-jocks and mainstream media in Oz actually want something useful to say in the context of Lou Reed’s death, how about they brainstorm about Jeff Duff’s cover of Walk on the Wildside? This was Duff’s music and video hit after coming back to his Mother Country after a decade across Europe as the punk-cabaret star “Duffo”, and well after he hit Oz-media (The Paul Hogan Show, Countdown, …) as a bright, strange and talented voice, a “star is born”. All this and his “Give me back me Brain” fame behind him, his several albums artfully mixing up 50s rock-n-roll, Blood-Sweat-n-Tears psycho-jazz, punk, reggae and Gilbert and Sullivan behind him, he returned to Australia with this Reed cover, just after Italy scored it like so:
Then the full-on vid. Get close to the tube:
Then there’s this spare analog version über alles, with its generous stills, and its build-up à la “Heroes”, the version Lou Reed probably had himself in mind when he said Jeff Duff did the greatest ever version of his song (rapping “Candy on the wildside, Joe on the wildside …”):
Thanks to ABC-TV Rage for showing last night just about every unadulterated camera pinch of Lou Reed in Oz. (Didn’t see the Charlie Pickering interview in there, though, maybe that’s to come …).
So it’s easy/hard not to feel angry/sublime over this time, with so many Logical questions to God. May aliens offer a meaningful alternative to what we human souls, for all our arts, can merely intellectually, by our still primitively afflicted forebrains, reflect about ourselves.
Then there are these 100 books, all authored by humans, as commended by Bowie. And this pic offered by Bowie under his news headline: “R.I.P. Lou Reed”. It shows how two people can perfectly coincide with each other, to make a perfect album, “Transformer“.
The Grande Dame of Australian TV, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, introduces the Jeff Duff Orchestra doing “Puff the Magic Dragon” live for the nation:
"We don’t quite know what to expect from him, but we always love it. A wonderful performer. And his latest group – it really is an incarnation. It incorporates a string section. They’re playing some support shows for Dionne Warwick, who’s just wonderful (dates up on your screen …). And possibly, I reckon, the only man in Australia who could get away with singing this song in the ’90s – please welcome the Jeff Duff Orchestra!" – Kerri-Anne Kennerley
Like K.K. says, this is a Jeff Duff Orchestra performance, recorded on their Alone and paranoid album – catalogued on this site here.
Only 12 views on this youtube as of posting – how high and fancy can Duffophiles go?
Anyway, no true Duffophile goes past a chance to witness Duff, as also intro’d by Kerrie-Anne, doing “Spinning Wheel”, in full-pound, on midday TV:
Read all the youtube comments here, too … You want to get excited, don’t you, and be a rebel with a cause? e.g.:
Amazing voice! He ->must<- be inducted into the Australian Musos Hall of Fame. I remember my older siblings had his records and have since youtubed all Kush's stuff. He (and Kush), is/are just awesome.
man he’s got a good voice he should have tried out in the USA
saw this one early morning, and have never forgotten!!
By the end of October 2013, Duff youtubes reached a grand total of over 180,000 views. A complete report of high-flyers, trends, etc. via the Institute’s Duff-Rover is coming up, once we have end-of-year data. But we take this opportunity to alert Duffophiles to a troubling trend …
Last month saw the smallest percentage increase in month-to-month views of Duff vids ever seen since the Rover started collecting data in October 2012.
The average percentage increase from month-to-month over the past 12 months was 3.02%, but over September, there was only a 2.18% increase. That’s not a statistically significant decline, assuming a normal distribution of percentage increases (standard deviation = 0.71%), but it’s still a worrying trend. In plain numbers, April 2013 saw the biggest increase so far, 6957 extra views (an increase of 4.63% over March), although that compensated for a declining trend over the prior months (see the slump in the chart). The increases have remained steady since then; just in August this year, there was a respectable add-on of 5294 views (a 3.09% increase over July). But across September, a sudden flop: only 3849 new views. A barely visible blimp in the chart, but worth an alert to ensure it doesn’t become a trend!
What’s going on? This has happened even with the addition of several excellent new tubes over the past month.
At this rate, Duff’s youtube views will only hit 200,000 some time through February 2014! Can we buck the trend? Can we kick the slope? Go Duffophiles!Let’s aim to cross even ¼-million by the end of the year!Share, share, share. Link, link, link. Let the world be a better place!
Freely roam over the catalogue of Duff-tubes here. Then here’s a target-market slotting of some Duff tubes – a Xmas guide to Pandora’s Box. Have an emo friend, or metal-head mother? Ideas for their satisfaction follow.
Emos, and tried-hard singers
Let them enjoy Duff’s “Yesterday” for searing emotion, and a key to performing to your highest potential in a bare-bones environment, in a poor theatre. If they like to skate, and especially if they are International Situationists, they’ll also love the Duff-Keilar vid of “Logical Questions to God“.
Nuclear families with 2.5 kids and x vehicles per head, margarine eaters
Let them enjoy the Tom Jones Show! That’s for starters. They can bump along to “Under Pressure” too. If they’re achievement challenged, gift them “Mercedes Benz.” They love seeing children on youtubes, too, short of cats, and Duff has “What’s going on” (the, er, Cyndi Lauper song, wasn’t it?) for them all here.
Duff’s performance of The Burn Song in the movie Sons of Steel will get them banging.
Deep lovers of the Dame will be fascinated by Duff’s live turn of “Wild is the Wind” (at the Sydney Opera House). Then there are plenty of Duffological “covers” of the more fan-ready stuff, like “Starman” (at the Enmore) and “Space Oddity” (on Channel 10 News) and “Sorrow” on SBS-TV. How more live can the man go?
Duff gets some enthusiastic accompaniment from a big band, what with his surprising vocal dynamics and band-friendly leadership, in this version of “MacArthur Park“. He’s one of the few singers anywhere who knows how to hold his own among a cacophony of musos, conducting them gently, by hard-trained musicological skill, not just raw art, into a sequence of ever more meaningful moments as they each belt out their individual best. Some serious musicians I know love his live “Give Me Back Me Brain” and the magical minimalism of “Yesterday“. They also keep enjoying, with critical eyes and ears, the showing of themselves and their peers on Duff’s many live TV and theatre/concert appearances, as youtubed.
So some dudes only get off on what measures up on TV. For these nuovo-homos, we recommend Duff wiping all the electrons and exploding all cathode tubes away with Kiss (formerly a Tom Jones and Prince song), Stairway to Heaven, and, of course, HMV’s very own Give Me Back Me Brain.
Colin Hay’s video of Wild is the Wind, Sydney Opera House, 2012
Got new Duff tubes? Pls alert the Institute – check the sidebar info link. They’ll be added to the ‘tubes page, and the Rover’s watch.
I got mine from Wollies (or however you spell it). It’s featured in every Sunday paper catalogue, anyway. We’re all going 1920s, or at least 1970s, when the last Great Gatsby movie was made.
So while playing Twister and snorting cocaine, can you Spot the Duff in this movie’s clinchers? Here’s a sampling.
What with so much Duff to spy, even within the first 30 seconds of the film, it’s a wonder this film got “mixed reviews”. Some critics complained about a lack of emotional connection with the characters, given the visual splendour. Well, that’s actually how the original story works: that readers had to struggle with how they were fascinated by the world these people lived in, but could still appreciate the people as much like themselves; i.e., awful, and plain unlikeable. The critics are just expressing the basic dilemma of the work, and their own selves. No?
In the add-ons to this DVD, Luhrmann narrates some neat stuff about how he, with Craig Pearce, worked through the psychological telling of this tale, maximising its potential for human drama by cutting out the superfluous. He chose to chop off all those post-climactic explanations that Fitzgerald put into his novel, all that “Deus Ex Machina” stuff, when heavenly powers (or just remote memory) suddenly came up to explain all that’s gone on before. Actually, it was only after Luhrmann talked about this stuff that I remembered reading these scenes, and seeing all that stuff portrayed in the 70s film; meaning, it was extraneous, after all, it was forgettable. Luhrmann’s film makes that flaw in the original work quite obvious, by excluding it, and so some people don’t like it. But his editing out of this stuff was a psychologically meaningful choice, one made with respect to today’s psychology, something more sophisticated than Fitzgerald himself could rely on – but which he doubtlessly would have if he could.
I also liked all the ways Luhrmann made his movie a narration of a literary work, never abandoning the source of this work as a written text. That showed respect for the original medium, more than any prior film adapted from a literary classic (e.g., the earlier Gatsby film, Dr Zhivago, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?, etc.) has ever achieved or offered; movies that pretended to be original stories when everybody knew they weren’t. Luhrmann doesn’t take his audience to be so naive, or let them get away with naivity, or let his medium be so ingratiatingly self-stupid.
Corroboree, anyone? Duff whips up musos and patrons all at once into romantic froffin ecstasy as he style-cuts, like Eddie Scissorhands, the finest sculptural turf out of his very own classic MacArthur Park. As recorded at The Grand Wazoo Gig, Caravan Music Club, Aug 2013 – thanks to john montesante bands.
On top of that hat, let’s also present JD doing MacArthur Park on the Ray Martin Show, from circa 1992, as recently highlighted on his facebook. “When youtubes of livemusic were actually artistically directed,” rattled the croaker. When a pop-artist held his own at the front of a symphony orchestra, on live TV. The truth was told in the following eloquent intro from the mainman of Oz TV at the time, Ray Martin:
All right, I’m told by anyone who knows anything about music that it takes a brave man to attempt this next song. MacArthur Park is one of the most challenging ballads ever penned. But Jeff Duff has always thrived on a challenge. So now, with the Midday Show Orchestra, would you please welcome the very brave Jeff Duff and MacArthur Park …!?
Neat comments that followed JD’s showing of this clip on his FB included:
Get’s me all teary. You do the best version ever.
Hey Jeff, which year was that? Nice job Jeff Duff. Hi Freny, I think it was 1992.
Also lately on his FB, JD shared the following hot info:
I’ve attempted so many Jimmy Webb songs, I’m sure that I’ve had a bash at Paper Cup. In the past I’ve played quite a few Jimmy Webb nites with my orchestra featuring guest singers, including one of your comrades, Robyn Dunne. I think I’ve recorded MacArthur Park half a dozen times and fortunate enough to have had a hit with it in the seventies. I wish I’d written the song! I’m going to post a version I was lucky enough to perform with Sydney Symphony on the Midday show in 1991… ouch!
Yet another rendition to please – from the State Theatre, Sydney, 2013: Duff with Chris E. Thomas, a whole dance spectacular:
… and not to forget “Storylines”, Newtown, Sydney, 2011 (4,547 views as of posting):
A German teen-idol mag of circa 1977 reported, with this pic, next to news about ABBA and Elton John, the following story, under the headline “Hinterwäldler aus Australien”:
In seinem Heimatland Australien gilt er etwas als verschrobener ¸¸Hinterwäldler´´. Und das ist noch recht harmlos, wenn man bedenkt, wie Duffo in den letzten Monaten Schlagzeilen gemacht hat. In London wurde er wegen Erregung öffentlichen Ärgenisses verhaftet, zweimal kam er nach einer Prügelei ins Krankenhaus, außerdem erschreckt er seine Fans durch das Tragen von spitzen Plastikohren. Fans hat er nämlich seit “Give Me Back Me Brain” reichlich.
Your author, as a Russo-Austrian first Aussie generand, can offer you the following translation of the above:
In his homeland of Australia he’s something of an eccentric “backwoods boy”. And that’s quite tame when you think how Duffo’s made headlines in the past few months. In London, he’s been arrested for exciting public offense. Twice he’s been in hospital following a bashing. On top of that, he frightens his fans by wearing pointy plastic ears. Fans he’s got aplenty since “Give Me Back Me Brain”.
See Duff doing “Give Me Back Me Brain” on Kraut TV in the late 1970s here:
I’ve taken liberty here in translating “Hinterwäldler” as “backwoods boy”. The word means someone from the back (hinter) woods (a Wäldler, someone who wanders about them). Cassel’s New German Dictionary translates Hinterwäldler as backwoodsman and squatter.
Just when the prospect of a one-way ticket to Mars pricked the suicidal and scientific fancies of all Duffophiles – for who else lined up by the 200,000 across the globe for the ride? – the Mighty Duff launches a couple awesome mega-gigs to keep you spaced out on Earth. Reach deep for Duff-stuff on the 16th September, 2013, in Waterloo’s Warehouse, and then again on the 19th of November, 2013, at Sydney’s State Theatre, for two rationally economic intragalactical fixes.
(So these gigs might burn your wallet – isn’t that just in proportion to them igniting your brain – all Kylies aside?)
They say it’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Exposed” this July on ABC1. But have you heard Duff sing “I want to be like him”, “I want to touch him” and “I want to be a part of his song”? He sings all about it on his Disappearing Boy album. That’s a song where Duff is at the foot of the Ig, on that world tour when Bowie bangs at the piano and leads the publicity, like on the Dinah Shore Show, to get Iggy Pop up-front like Elvis. It’s the tour that inspires Ian Curtis (Joy Division) all the more to lead a band. It’s the tour when Euro-Duffo’s no vegemite but a whole Barry Pop, an Ozzie Iggy – as my philosopher friend Dr Robert Scotney got it after recently viewing this vid of Duffo like Artaud on Kraut TV, 1979. Roll up, mesdames & mademoiselles, and get some context all about it from this story:
Get downing those protein pills and upping the carbs for this one: Jeff Duff & Co bang the Sydney Opera House with Bowie bonuses all night long this July.
Get a wham-bam of the 2012 show here, as reviewed by YT, or as youtubed here by Colin Hay (includes Wild is the wind). And then there’s the State Theatre Show, the Adelaide Show, the Enmore Theatre Show …
You’ve read enough!
Ready to rebel? Can afford a ticket? 18 July 2013 – 20 July 2013.
Can’t wait for the man? TV previews here: On the Channel 9 morning show:
and the Channel 7 morning show (a pre-fabbed mash-up of several previewed songs, not for epileptics, with Larry Emdur’s sugary overdubs, pending the corp’s own publication of the event):
See also a swag of fizzy quotables about nakedness and such in this Sydney Star Observer interview with Duff about the show.
Whether you’re a lover, brother or mother, get your Ziggy Opera House tickets here.
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.”
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. Sound familiar?
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”:
Jeff Duff performs “I’m Your Football” (Countdown Annual 1979)
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 at the time 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 DeadSea Scrolls in mind, we might hope that 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 (Lene Lovich and Kevin Borich Express also on the bill). It’s a mix of punk and music-hall/cabaret and circus act, with Duff in a kind of clown costume (for sure from his own hand) that’s at least as iconic as, say, Chaplin’s tramp or Marceau’s Bip; and he also cuts cruelly through the fourth wall, making a perfect victim of this German audience. Too much tom-foolery? Or a post-modern mash-up of styles that is actually novel, if not revolutionary, without being just 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?”
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!
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”
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.
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 imagine a Doug-n-Duff double act – when these two power-houses of soul will 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 to “info” @jeffduffstuff.com.
Meanwhile, enjoy sonorous, psychedelic Dougo blues right here, in a heart-stabber, doing everything head-on-heart subliminal beats do, shamanically, with Duff angels to fly to, punk in your pulse, and the vision of Doug and Duff fronting the Opera House, two cool Pavarottis of Oz song …
And how do you describe his vid? Montage experiments, without excess, quickly cut through … There’s Parko just long enough to get associated with hope; not long enough to get stressed out by; the photographer and editor had psychology in mind, for one thing. And pulled it out!
Richard Harris in Camelot, who too sang of MacArthur Park
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.
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 and here at youtube.
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, or here at youtube. 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.
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.
Duff-tube view numbers and percentage increases 2011-2012 (pilot sample)
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 Duff-Rover at work assaying visits to Planet Duff (not to scale)
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.
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.
Resist the idea that we are animals, plain earthlings? Intrinsically related, by chromosomes and neurochemicals, to plants and rocks? It takes a certain kind of guy – actually, an artistic genius – to exploit such angsts. Many artists are delighters, and others light up the night-side of human nature. But few, such as Duff, shine a light upon the double dimensions of night and day, creating (not just communicating) a third factor, beyond what Parko and Zsa Zsa encapsulated. Hegel’s lyrico-scope set over Duff songs reveals something akin to paradox – that black is white and vice versa, that “this sentence is not true”, and 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. That’s all too easy, however. Go the Duff for a higher paradox.
Brechtian Verfremdung: A female officer, with joyous authority!
For the art of contradiction, see 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 ain’t the ‘alf of it – Duff plays out such opposites of insight and delight within 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 a über-Brechtian method. If all that enthusiasm of interpretation is too confusing, it’s on a plate for you here: In the following samples of Duff’s flat-lined expression of the “ostinato of opposites”:
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 touch of Hoffmann’s “uncanny”: Tomcat Murr, the scribe
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.
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.
Ground Control is counting down – Sydney time – until Show Stopper #1, über alles at the Grande Maison d’Opera:
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-Nipon smattering upon it), 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 …
Stuart, the comic-book seller in the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory, at one point, as sexy Penny steps away from his counter, tightly mouths “I love you”. It’s something between a private whisper and an open confession, with pain anyway. The canned laughter doesn’t hold back.
What’s so funny about that? Oh, that we should all be able to relate to it – the desire of what cannot be requited, underdog lust like Weltschmerz, the old horror of beauty and the beast.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice works on something similar – it all turns on us recognising what is common to us all. We’re supposed to be satisfied that someone else feels just like us – and, because the novel is a world-wide hit, that the whole world must feel like us. Not about anything we’ve been publicly conscious of – just what we allow each other to privately admit. It is the private pleasure about a common good – one that novelists, poets, screen-writers, even song-writers, have all been able to reliably bank upon, over the centuries.
And then there was Duff. A common approach to Duff’s songwriting involves, yes, the confessionalism we’ve come to expect of great artists. Why? It’s all theatre anyway, as Bowie’s taught us about self and culture – that our need for authenticity is satisfied by artifice anyway – so what was our need to begin with? Duff’s lesson is related but different and as unique. He gives us a confession of extreme feelings we’re pressed not to relate with – feelings about being with each other that, we might suspect, with some alarm, are not just Duff’s … No openly shared scenarios of emotion but what, if others saw them, they might have something contrary to say about. These feelings expressed by Duff don’t form a meme, at least not one that thrives on sunlight. But they are unpassable offers anyway. Here are a few to examine, à la Duff.
These are emotional scenarios, the “emo-semantic narratives” a cad would say, that we do not quietly admit, at least not as openly much as themes of impossible “beauty vs puny” desire, and pride-powered prejudice. (Austen’s heroine doesn’t even, in the end, learn that much from the exposure of her prejudice – which should be more about herself and love than about self and pride, about how self and world relate, not just virtues of character and social perceptions. So much for the value of common feeling.) That Duff has turned each of these odd feeling-themes into a song implies his faith that they – weird twists of spirit and marginalia of mind that they might be – are not only his own. He expresses and maybe even celebrates here his speciality; and hurrah to that. But he must also be saying, all the while, that these phrases always merit our attention – not just because we are of that mind ourselves (as Austen and Bang Theory trade on), but because we care so much not to realise these things – as if denial was ultimately important.
(See also Duff’s "Lost in my Room", "Duffodoll", "Killing this Affair" …)
The title here quotes Duff’s "Logical questions to God".