Jeff Duff at Let’s Dance Carinda 2017 [review]

Posted on 8th October 2017

Following on from our preview here of Duff’s stellar performance at the Let’s Dance “Bowie Hotel” in Carinda, New South Wales, here’s some review of the event that was, this Sat 30 September to Mon 2 October:

Video:

A 6+ minute doco from Bernard Marden across the Carinda landscape, featuring its locals in celebration, closing in on Duff’s performance as it boomed across the town, then into the famed hotel itself:

Part 2 of a trilogy of first-person tour by Shawn Dare through the festival, here featuring Duff in concert, performing several Bowie songs:

Part 3 of Shawn Dare’s video trilogy, from inside the famed hotel, including interview with the mainman, and with Jak Housden:

Duff performs Golden Years in concert at Carinda:

Media

Coonamble Times

“SO MANY smiling faces,” observed Jeff Duff from the stage at Carinda Showground on Saturday night 30 September.
‘Duffo’ and his band, featuring some of Australia’s top musicians, were the headline act for the second Let’s Dance Festival held in Carinda over the long weekend.
Bowie enthusiasts and music-lovers of all persuasions had made the trek …

Western Magazine

Visitors and locals were dancing in the street on the weekend, when for three massive days a small outback town was transformed into the Let’s Dance Carinda Festival. It was 34 years ago that legendary singer David Bowie shot the music video for ‘Let’s Dance’ in the town’s pub and over the weekend that iconic scene was re-enacted by performer Jeff Duff …

ABC-TV Lateline – includes 6 m 47 s video story + transcript

34 years ago, the tiny NSW outback town of Carinda became the setting of the now-iconic video for the hit song ‘Let’s Dance’. …
(Jeff Duff gets out of a car)

JEFF DUFF, ARTIST: It’s unbelievable. It’s like being in a county fair in midwest America, somewhere. Listen to the music. …
GINNY STEIN: Sydney artist Jeff Duff was once David Bowie’s neighbour. Now he performs his songs in tribute shows and the people of Carinda are hoping David Bowie’s legacy – with Jeff Duff’s help – can keep their town alive. …
JEFF DUFF: I don’t try and impersonate David Bowie. I just – when I do the Bowie shows, I do it as Jeff Duff. I have always dressed the same. I have always worn make-up. I have even got make-up on today. I think he’s just amazing. The legacy of not only his music but his art and technology: he has opened the doors for a lot of modern-day thinkers, you know.
GINNY STEIN: Jeff Duff first met the music legend in London, when Bowie came to see him perform.
JEFF DUFF: And I have always been sort of compared to Bowie; I guess because I’m tall, thin and white.
GINNY STEIN: When Bowie arrived in Carinda, the locals invited him in. Bowie was entranced by the vast landscapes of the outback, but what he saw as Australia’s endemic racism angered him.
JEFF DUFF: He was way ahead of his time with all of these issues. Amazing. So the ‘Let’s Dance’ thing stands for more than just an incredible song: it stands for an awareness. …

The Grey Nomads review the gig!

… The night was a blast, with every visitor from near and far having absolute fun dancing on a bed of dust and burrs. Jeff Duff is arguably a most flamboyant and creative Australian entertainer, best described as a tall waif of a man with a strong voice. Whilst not attempting to imitate David Bowie’s looks, rather keeping with his own style, he sang with gusto and energy. My red shoes certainly got a work out …

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Satellite tubes & views

Posted on 9th September 2017

Jeff Duff‘s performance of Bowie Unzipped in Melbourne’s Satellite Lounge this September has had many fans of the mainmen recording their ecstasy for posterity—in views and verbiage, so to speak, as follows:

“Duffo sings excellent Bowie!” – Happy Sunflower

“Both Artists are sensational singers.” – White Cat.

“Super song of David Bowie’s, sounding phenomenal with Jeff Duff on vocals.” – Coral

“Awesome performance:))” – Planet Blue.

“…. and where are the spiders ?” – Galaxy Glider

~ and as championed by all Duff-Bows,

(~ and some from the Caravan to come …!)

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Remembering Elvis?

Posted on 16th August 2017

elvis duffoLife transcends D, like essence tanscends concept. Like Elvis rings out elliptically, to the last epsilon, beyond our Voyager. Now 40 years, to this day, since this ordinary, folk-anointed king pulled off his Shakespearean shuffle. So Duffological …

Jeff Duff has sung about Elvis, D-wise, in the form of “Walking in Memphis”, that Marc Cohn song (oh yes, that Song of the Year & Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, 1991, Grammy Awards).

Here’s to saints, their little selves … and the fancy they’re preserving us …

Duff on Elvis, from one mainman to another:

A fab tube by Colin Hay of Duff singing the Cohn song in Waterloo, Sydney, 2013, with a lavish dose of his performance arts:

~ and Duff performing this song intimately with his main keysman Glenn Rhodes at the Mullumbimby Music Festival, 2014, as filmed by Anthony White:

~ and at the Thredbo Jazz Festival, 2013:

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Jeff Duff in Let’s Dance Carinda [preview]

Posted on 7th August 2017


Sat 30 Sept & Sun 1 Oct + Mon 2 Oct – Carinda (Outback NSW)
featuring Jeff Duff & Band, plus local bands, markets, food & bar, workshops

MEDIA RELEASE

It was 1983 when David Bowie travelled to the tiny NSW outback town of Carinda to film his now iconic video for “Let’s Dance” in the Carinda Hotel.

David Bowie films Let’s Dance at Carinda Hotel, NSW for the smash worldwide hit proved the perfect companion for the ground breaking song. The added bonus of the scenes filmed in Carinda and the Warrumbungle National Park created the magical backdrop for what many regard as Bowie’s most distinctive and powerful video.

Since that date, the pub has become a mecca for Bowie fans from all over the world, looking to stand and be photographed in the same spot where Bowie filmed his video.

The town itself has now embraced this historic connection and hosts the annual “Let’s Dance Carinda” festival paying tribute to David Bowie and his remarkable music legacy.

This year the festival will feature the evergreen Jeff Duff and his band, playing both at the Carinda Showground on Saturday 1 September as well as a reenactment of the famous video in the Carinda Hotel on the Sunday. Jeff explains:

 I’m honoured to be following in Bowie’s footsteps to outback Carinda in NSW — the wonderfully remote outpost where Bowie spotlighted the plight of indigenous Australians in his iconic video for “Let’s Dance”. I’ve been a passionate Bowie disciple most of my life and plan on doing whatever I can to to keep the great man’s legacy alive! Jeff Duff

With a population of around 40, Carinda is about three hours drive from Dubbo and its remoteness certainly appeals to the more adventurous visitor. If you are planning to come to the festival there’s plenty of camping space at the local showground and lots of cold beer and drinks at the only pub for miles around. For city slickers it’s a real chance to get a taste of the outback with the added attraction of local bands, activities for both young and old and even a Bowie ‘Look-A-Like Competition’ plus lashings of country hospitality. Carinda would love to see you there! BOOK ONLINE at eventbrite.


 

Duff performs Let’s Dance

Sydney Opera House, 2014

Enmore Theatre, 2011

The Vanguard (now Leadbelly), Newtown, 2007

Sydney Festival, 2017 (including Starman)

Satellite Lounge, Melbourne, 2017

Bowie performs Let’s Dance at the Carinda Hotel


~ & what about that other venue in the video — the factory where Bowie slave-drives the children? That stark setting was in the Sydney suburb of Guildford. Could that suburb not also do with a Duff-Bowie renaissance?

Media

~ Keep up to date with the event on Facebook Carinda Hotel Let’s Dance

~ ABC article about the Bowie fest at Carinda here with AUDIO from a Radio National feature here

~ and in the Huffington Post here

~ and at the BBC here

More Duff-Bowie gigs: bowieunzipped.com.au

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Jeff Duff in British Invasion Tour

Posted on 6th August 2017

11 minutes of Duff does Bowie in new vid from Paul Lacey of the British Invasion Tour (June-July 2017) — including Let’s Dance, China Girl, Starman — plus duet with “Elton Jack” and Rob Caudill (“Rod Stewart”) doing Under Pressure.

 


Jeff Duff performed the British Invasion Tour on/at:

  • Thu 22 June / Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre
  • Fri 23 June / REVESBY WORKERS
  • Sat 24 June / BELMONT 16 FOOTERS
  • Fri 30 June / DEE WHY RSL
  • Sat 1 July / WENTY LEAGUES
  • Fri 7 July / TWIN TOWNS
  • Sat 8 July / CALOUNDRA EVENTS Centre
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Jeff Duff’s Top 20 tubes Nov-Dec 2016

Posted on 18th December 2016
What were the most popular of Jeff Duff’s youtubes and vimeos over the last month?
The Duff Rover has been at work again, collating these statistics, including the number of extra views-per-tube from November to December.
Here are links to the Top 20, in order of extra views (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) and then some stats:
Easy Street
MacArthur Park
Easy Street
Take a walk on the wildside
Spics-n-Specs
Give me back me brain/Duff record
Stairway to Heaven
Studio 10 interview
Walk on the wildside
Sorrow
Tower of madness
Space Oddity
Easy Street
Starman
Walking on eggshells
Walk on the wildside
Fragile Spaceman (Keady)
Guillotine quickstep
Le Poseur
Walking in Memphis

Some interesting points about this Top 20:
  • Although Duff’s performance in the ’70s of Easy Street on the Paul Hogan Show is—with more than 64,000 views—far and away the most popular overall, the biggest increase across all Duff ‘tubes was for his performance of Easy Street on Mornings with Kerrie-Anne (Channel 9, Australia); almost doubling in views (albeit from a much smaller base of about 400 at the start of November). There was also a 67% increase in views of the live performance of this song by Duff with The Grand Wazoo.
  • Most of these Top 20 vids were of Duff/Kush originals and/or single releases: not only performances of Easy Street, but also a couple versions of Walk on the wildside, and his MacArthur Park on the Ray Martin Midday Show. Each of these had more than 300 extra views over the past month.
  • Also popular were Duff’s TV performances in the UK (on the Old Grey Whistle Test) and Germany of singles from his first solo album—Give me back my brain, and Tower of madness—as well as the title-tracks from his two most recent solo albums: Walking on eggshells and Fragile spaceman.
  • Performances by Duff of Bowie songs were not as popular as performances of his own songs. Only three performances of Bowie material made it into this Top 20.
  • Even looking at the next top 20, most of the videos were of Duff’s own songs, Kush songs, or signature covers—but performances of Bowie songs generally had no more than two more views each from November to December. This is surprising given the run of Duff-Bowie shows of late: It seems that a lot of people get interested in seeing more Duff-does-Duff after seeing his Bowie shows than seeing more Duff-does-Bowie (albeit there are more Duff-does-Bowie tubes out there, and so the views for them are more dispersed).
  • Most of these vids also make up the all-time greatest number of views, led, as usual, by Easy Street on the Paul Hogan Show, followed by Stairway to Heaven on the ABC, the Take a walk on the wildside video, and MacArthur Park on the Midday Show; and then including, at #5, a live performance of Someone like you (Van Morrison cover). Total views across 237 Duff videos (including duplicates) was close to 360,000 at the start of December.
So: is a Jeff Duff originals-only show timely?
More Duff tubes here.
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Jeff Duff and the Japanese sublime, singing Yutaka Ozaki

Posted on 1st August 2016

Was and is Yutaka Ozaki a James Dean and maybe even John Keats of song? All authentic and vulnerable, oceanic blue and alarmed like candle-light?

So Jeff Duff and Yutaka Ozaki must (if there is any law in the universe) connect.

Well—all this magic has happened, in our time, for experiencing and sharing.

No less surprising than everything else in Jeff Duff’s autobiography is the fact of his Japanese career—within which Duff has recorded Ozaki’s "I love you", with a Japanese audience in mind, laden with Australiana, as by kookaburra-harmonica.

Topmost is the art of hyperbole, stuff that Australia shares in spirit with Japan. So Jeff Duff delivers Ozaki with the height of his emotiveness, and perhaps with the highest note he’s put to record.

Also, fluttering out of Duff’s hands, the song gets a full-throated baritone airing.

The key note, though, is sincerity—Duff sings this song out like it’s the best delight in the world, belling out its meaning like an angel meant it. So, for Duffromantics everywhere, Duff’s cover of Ozaki’s song is on the streamed album from Laneway Music: Elizabeth Bay, available on iTunes, for example, here, or on Spotify here:

Thank you to Sachiko W., Duffophile, for her associations and research re Yutaka Ozaki and Jappo-Duffo, without which this blogpost would not have been possible. She is a Noble Fellow of the Institute for Duffological Studies.

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Vital Duff video from the vault

Posted on 24th January 2016

Fresh light of vid on long unseen Duff originals from his Lexicon and Bob the Birdman albums:

  • the dada-esque approach to Warholian themes in Sandy’s Drum:

  • and a stylish reflection on James Dean:

  • Duff’s invitation to "Come drown with me":


And there’s more …! VIZ: a contemporary version of Walk on the Wildside, and a more recent video of Duff’s Hide-and-seek, all re-released via Laneway Music.

See all Duff tubes from most recent to earliest, on youtube and vimeo, catalogued here. That’s all of about 190 tubes, or about 14 hours of viewing.

As of tonight, they’ve collectively had 270,102 views (as calculated by the Duff Rover). That’s over 60,000 down from late last year when the original Easy Street video (performed by Kush, live on the Paul Hogan Show) was pulled by youtube due to copyright issues (presumably related to a Paul Hogan retrospective on mainstream TV). Sadly, because this was by far the most viewed Jeff Duff video on youtube. But ~ an alternative copy of that vid still lurks on youtube …

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On the road to Duffo: Mullumbimby Music Festival 2014

Posted on 18th November 2014
Mullumbimby, that is

Mullumbimby, that is

The Duffo-pilgrimage of 2014 continues — now by way of a long road to the Mullumbimby Music Festival, courtesy of Antonionio at the wheel (I know how to spell his name, I just don’t know when to stop). Hope to document this travelling as it goes, and also to be so bold as to take post-worthy pics of the performances. The opening night has already sold out (but we’ll be there), and then there are afternoon gigs day-by-day (checking in). Potential plus! Duff is appearing in Kings Cross later on the same weekend, and then at the Rock Opera night at the State Theatre – from wearing flowers in his hair, to dodging king-hits, and then frocking up for something truly regal, all in a blink of days. Unless Antonionio is good for whipping, I don’t think we can follow Duffo all the way from Mullo back to Sydney so swiftly. But plenty of blinding spells to be reported soon enough and nevertheless, via this channel of Duffophilia.


So Jeff Duff played the Civic Hall on its opening nite (Thurs, Nov 20), on a fly-in. A German lady I met, Duffo-dumb till then, thought he was on cookies! But she also said he struck her as like broaching the line between genius and madness, in league with “David Bowie” and “Kate Bush”. Well, I rose up to the challenge of discussing this stuff, slipped verbally up and down here and there … and that’s enough of that night.

Then there was the Poinciana Café the following night (Fri, Nov 21). I didn’t exactly shadow Duffo but kept somehow in his wake as he, pre-performance, ordered a vego meal. I was, as a matter of fact, on the look-out for the same. That’s how I’d just excused myself, for hunger’s sake, from the German lady of the previous night, who was there again at this gig. But, all feeding and gabbing aside, Duff was soon up on stage—only to be attacked by Xmas beetles from all sides. Glenn Rhodes (who had just improvised some legs for his keys, so prepared the venue was …) later remarked that they performed like a punk band that whole night long, as they batted away this plague. It was a distressing debacle. My meal arrived with a beetle upon it. Mullumbimby pavements were absolutely caked with Xmas beetle. Vegans filled the nut-house. Duff and Rhodes championed on.

The highlight was the St. Martin’s Hall gig the next day (Sat, Nov 22). There the masses fully thronged the pulpits. And Duff and Rhodes reached deep down into their whole armamentarium of sound to deliver potent renditions of “Yesterday,” “Walking in Memphis,” “My baby just cares for me,” among others, including a swag of Bowie, in the hour. Rhodes played with mesmeric power throughout, surprising with his every harmonic choice, and his basic legerdemain. He’s truly the pianist to Duff as Mike Garson is to Bowie. As he explained later, his wonderful arrangement of “Walk on the wildside” works by him taking the minor chords to each of the major chords in Duff’s vocal lines. It makes for a bold and novel, arousing working of the song. How the crowds flocked to Duff and Rhodes after this performance, after they marvelled in applause to each and every song.

Here’s a tube, courtesy of Anthony, featuring Duff on concentrated, sublime vocals, and Rhodes in bar-by-bar wonders referencing just about every jazz style—absolute mainmen of keys and cords (folds of membranous tissue which project inwards from the sides of the larynx to form a slit across the glottis in the throat, and whose edges vibrate in the airstream to produce the voice):

See also their performance of Walking in Memphis at the same gig.

Some notes from another punter about the St Martin’s gig are here.

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Duffo, Ono, Leo and Frack: One of these things doesn’t belong …

Posted on 1st February 2014

DFNYWhat do Duffo, Ono and Leo have in common — apart from what they obviously share with Eno and Bono?

Each being legendary? Sure, but here’s Yoko Ono with a hint of more; about what’s ruining New York. And here’s Jeff Duff and Leo Sayer (among other legends) with an Aussie punch about it all – as Leo Sayer channels Bon Scott:

Testy, eh? (Also on vimeo here.)

This vid summons the Lock the Gate campaign: “a national coalition of community groups from across Australia who are uniting to protect our common heritage – our land, water and future – from reckless coal and gas expansions” – i.e., fracking (or “CSG” to be polite, and dumb.)

FACT CHECK: [from New Scientist, 10 Aug 2013:]

… Studies are suggesting fracking [pumping water at high pressure into shale beds to release trapped gas] could accelerate climate change, rather than slow it. … benefit is illusory. … [A] recent study [showed] that substituting gas for coal increases rather than decreases the rate of warming for many decades. … [S]witching from coal to gas could only bring benefits this century if leakage rates get below 2%. If rates are at 10% – the top end of the current US estimates – the gas would deliver extra warming until the mid-22nd century.
A recent review by the UN Environment Programme agreed that emissions from fracking and other unconventional sources of natural gas could boost warming initially, and would be comparable to coal over a 100-year timescale. [p.6]
[T]he worry is that, seduced by a false promise of cheap, plentiful energy from shale gas, we will cut back on investment in truly green, renewable alternatives. If so, as the costs and emissions associated with shale gas rise in the future, as they inevitably will, we will end up on a costly bridge to nowhere. [p.36]

+ Then it’s not just about climate change, as Yoko Ono explains here.

+ For another Duffo-Ono connection, try listening to Mindtrain on Yoko Ono’s Fly album of 1971 without trains of Duff-Duff going through your mind.

We’re all such prescient beings, c’mon.

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Reed on the Wildside

Posted on 31st October 2013

reed with cokeDon’t mind aliens melancholically meditating about Lou Reed. They’re recovering after reading 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, just whoever keeps their head above the trash that aristocrats let idiots dispose upon us. Those who’ll survive any Martian Invasion – those liking Lou Reed making Coke and all our earthling stuff kind of beautiful – minus guns, meat and McFries, and the fact that pop-art has had its perfect day.

Planet Duff had only just noted 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, including the following.

There’s also 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:

Then there’s the video hit Duff had 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”.

Then there’s this spare analog version, 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 …). But 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 Christopher 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.

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“.

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Puff stuff

Posted on 21st October 2013

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

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!! 

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MacArthur Park keeps melting …

Posted on 4th October 2013


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 a popular 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 …!?" – Ray Martin

ray_martin_introduces_jeff_duff_sm


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.
  fantastic classic

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 cake left out in the rain. A cake with green icing. But is that lime or avocado? And being pressed in love’s hot-fevered iron, as the cake melts, is just tolerable as an image, but as for lovers like a “striped pair of pants” …? What on earth is it about MacArthur Park that makes it, since the 1970s, one of Jeff Duff’s most recognized tracks – and most requested live performance covers?

Duff first recorded MacArthur Park with Kush, on their 1974 Warner album "Snow White and the Eight Straights" (the best version still on record? for its historical associations as much as the all-band commitment at the time? its bar-by-bar surprises as well as keeness?), and it was released as a single in 1975 (b/w Klue). A live recording of it is on offer on the Aztec (now Sandman) Records re-release of the second "Nah tellus …" Kush album (1975/2008) (celesta and folkish guitar licks for intro, horns soon blazing, much room for a voice that goes from sentimental to rocky in a flash, thoughtful and wayward by a phrase, as the band quietly mixes pretty wind and percussion, ahead of creating a pounding, full-throttled push to the climaxes; all appended with some punkish patter by Duff). Unique recordings by Duff of the song can be found on the first (self-titled) "Jeff Duff Orchestra" album (1989) (true-to-the-MS piano intro, deep-throated and breathy vocals, soft-pedalled rhythm and a smooth, sure orchestral approach to the climaxes), and on the Jeff Duff Band album "Lost in the Stars" (2005) (chunkier piano, electro-string/-guitar and percussive highlights, some trickled-down rhythms for folksiness, and slightly lighter but more plaintive voice, always climaxing in bold stupendousness, rocking even like Bowie’s epic Width of a Circle). The song (as per JDO) also appears on the 2-CD Jeff Duff compilation album "Martian Girls are Easy".

Tubes of Duff doing the song live are plentiful. There’s the Sydney Opera House performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKeP9okuWq8. There’s the performance of JD fronting the Ed Wilson Big Band in a Tom Jones show:

macarthur_park_sheetWhy it’s so challenging can be picked up from just the first page of the score. First off, you notice how the bass is tonally split from the harmony, pressing out a minor seventh, or the dominant, against the “flat” or minor chords – hence the somewhat airy “la la” feel, but with melancholia never too far gone, even almost fundamentally resolved; pretty unusual for popular songs (even in Bacharach, although Bowie uses the technique on several Never let me down tracks, and on Absolute beginners).
Still complicating the musical picture, we’ve then got a couple changes of metre before the singer comes in, a switch from 4/4 to 2/4 for a bar (ok, like Bowie does throughout Soul love), and then a switch from 4/4 to 3/4 and then to 3/8 … for a quickly arresting climax … right ahead of the voice coming in with the lyric/melody – which has to quickly shift to a feel all about softly defiant nostalgia, angst-in-pleasure, surreal reminiscence … And then, in just the two opening melody bars, the voice has to avoid (in part) the time it kept the first time around. Pleasant novelty for the listener, but for the musicians, spot-learning’s not enough, there’s uncertainty about every next bar, a potential abyss to rise from bar-by-bar. … All in a day’s work for the Duff … and hopefully all appreciated by orchestra players as an expressive challenge. As its composer Jim Webb recently wrote (in an interview with The Guardian), he was challenged “to create a pop song with classical elements, different movements and changing time signatures,” and came up with MacArthur Park, “more of a suite than a song.” Webb also shares here the personal, romantic origins of the song.

A chord-chart for MacArthur Park is available from here.

Music journalist Susan Moore wrote of Duff as having “one of the richest baritone voices in rock,” and that “his version of MacArthur Park remains unsurpassable” (Moore, 1982, Australian Women’s Weekly, p. 170). That was after a #1 US hit with it by … the hot-stuff babe herself, Donna Summer. (See the article at the National Library of Australia site.)

Need more MacArthur Park? That’s what people have been shouting out for at the end of Duff’s gigs, unsated by Bowie songs. So add this tube, again via Ray Martin, Duff with broken wing:

And another one, as part of the Bowie Unzipped shows:

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– rodg.
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Logical Questions for International Motion Arts Awards

Posted on 1st November 2012

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 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.

Also – wait for another high-flyer: a just-completed music-vid by Keilar of Duff’s “Fragile Spaceman”. (Now at youtube here.)

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– rodg.
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