Some entertaining and meaningful interviews with Jeff Duff on mainstream broadcast media of late … classic anecdotes but also, particularly given the interviewing arts of Jane Hutcheon, matters of love and spirituality on ABC-TV’s One Plus One.
Jeff Duff interviewed by Jane Hutcheon on the Australian national public broadcaster ABC-TV program One Plus One
The interview begins with an extraordinary short piece of footage from ABC-TV’s Countdown program; otherwise known as “lost”; Jeff Duff with a string of sausages. To date, only this other short piece has been recouped: here.
The One Plus One interview has touched many people, perhaps stoking insight into their own appreciation of this artist. Among comments on JD’s FB about this interview, people have said:
· I really enjoyed the interview Jeff. Very honest, and that’s why we all love you 🎤❤
· Awesome interview Jeff…..so natural and honest!
· Honest,erudite, kind, funny – I could go on – loved this Jeff
· It was very interesting.
· Fabulous interview on One plus One, Jeff Duff. One of the best, Man
· Yeah it was fantastic
· Great interview with a great entertainer
· Just finished watching it! Thank you so much. Such a pleasure to listen about your life trails. I’ve learned all about a great entertainer/music man. 😊 This interview with Jane made me smile and feel a tear or two when you talked about the one love of your life. A beautiful story about a time in your life. …. and us humans yes, this is so true about love.
· I have really enjoyed watching this interview of Jeff Duff. I recommend it to everyone.
· Finally got around to watching your ABC interview, Jeff. Beautiful, honest and moving.
And, on Jane Hutcheon’s Twitter feed, there is more of the same—e.g., “the Jeff Duff interview was brilliant, thank you :)”, and “If all men were as honest as Jeff we would all be in a better place :)”— … including from the interviewer herself:
Naturally, one comes across some other reactions: “strange” was one lady’s only response after watching the whole half-hour interview, and a certain bloke laughed at Duff’s show of emotion, and performed a mocking parody of it. … As in the quote from Duff’s father that Hutcheon inspired Duff to relate at the end of the interview, the strength involved in expressing all this, in existing this way, is the most worthy of all.
Not to be missed: another contemporary interview: Jeff Duff on Lifestyle Overnight (2UE Radio). With the unrestrained enthusiasm of David Prior, it includes an interesting take on Duff’s early career in Melbourne and Sydney ahead of his flight from Oz.
Jeff Duff interviewed by David Prior on 2UE Radio Lifestyle Overnight
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:
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.
Sony Music Australia has released (this 3rd week of May, 2016) a new Various Artists album entitled Big Time Operators: The Big Bold Booming Voices Of The 60s & 70s.
And, of course, quite fittingly, Jeff Duff appears among the esteemed artists.
Artists include Duff’s own hero, Scott Walker, with the song Duff himself covered on his own latest album: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore). Walker is also on the album with Joanna. Other artists include Johnny Cash (Ring Of Fire), Long John Baldry (You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’), Leonard Cohen (Suzanne), Blood, Sweat and Tears (You’ve Made Me So Very Happy), and—another Duff hero—Bill Medley (Peace Brother Peace).
It also has the original Seasons of change by Blackfeather, which has been covered by Duff (on the Angels and Rascals album, and live on TV:)
—and of Eloise by Barry Ryan, also covered by Duff—but unfortunately with rotten, static-laden sound quality in this live-on-TV performance:
—and Duff also offers a version of this CD’s Long John Baldry song: from Ray Martin’s midday TV show:
And the Duff song on this 2 CD album? That’s on CD 2, Track 6: Easy Street, with Kush.
See the ARIA page here for details of the release. Seen to be available at all the usual outlets, including iTunes, Amazon, EBay, JB HiFi, and Spotify:
And lest you assume this is just an album full of fellas, it’s got at least one sheila on it too: The Aussie Alison MacCallum, best known for her politically arousing It’s time, but here with Excuse me (as one youtuber comments, sounds like a James Bond theme song, and with impressive Bassey-like touches too).
The long-awaited Jeff Duff autobiography has been published — released in May 2016.
Crafted by Duff over many years, gloriously published by Melbourne Books, the work has a provocative promise as its title: “This will explain everything“, being a 248 page tome, hard cover printed on gold foil, beginning with a Foreword byMolly Meldrum. Here are some excerpts from Australia’s mainman of the popular music industry:
Unique is an over-used word in showbiz. But Jeff Duff is unique. …
Flamboyant, eccentric, cheeky, charming …
Jeff Duff is one of the greatest entertainers Australia has produced. —Molly Meldrum
FACT: It’s been a longtime coming. Already in 2004, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Duff was "putting the finishing touches to an autobiography that will be published next year". See the SMH article here.
From the launch of This will explain everything at Better Read Than Dead 265 King Street Newtown, NSW · Sun 19 June 2:00 p.m.:
Darren Sanders was joined on his Channel 9 GO! TV show recently by the Australian music legend Jeff Duff—screened on 28 Feb, including performance of “Vampire Lover” and chat about 70s Glam Rock and his other career d’amour … in cricket.
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!!
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
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 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:
Why 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:
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?”
There are two (2) RocKwiz essentials for the Duffo-phile:
1. Jeff Duff and Clare Moore do “Sorrow” (Bowie’s big cover). This is a live-in-Melbourne filming of SBS RocKwiz, one night of four at Melbourne’s Forum theatre a few years back – available to view from youtube or as Track #25 on Volume 2 of the RocKwiz duet DVDs via JB Hi-Fi (that’s the same volume that has Adrian Belew and Martha Wainwright covering “Heroes”). If you want to scour the shops for it: JB Hi-Fi shops seem to only sell the full box of 3 volumes, but the SBS section at Dymock’s has each volume available separately. And hey, while you’re browsing – don’t confuse this with the RocKwiz National Tour DVD, or RocKwiz’ Uncovered, Duets or Christmas CDs!) (Who is Clare Moore? I thought she was Lindy Morrison!)
Jeff and Clare performed ‘Sorrow’ as part of a run of four nights at Melbourne’s Forum theatre a few years back. Only one show of the four was filmed in its entirety, but bits and pieces of the whole run were filmed and shown as a special. So … You’ll have to be happy with the youtube version I’m afraid! Cheers brian
2. Jeff Duff covering ABBA’s “Dancing Queen“. This is from a live-in-concert event from Feb 2009, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl. Duff’s contribution is available on the SBS DVD RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl. (This links to JBHi-Fi – they sell this online, but scouring their Sydney and Melbourne shops – no go.)
SBS says 28/02/2011 8:09 PM:
> Yes, how about that Jeff Duff! The show which featured him was our special episode … RocKwiz Salutes The Bowl (Melbourne’s Myer Music Bowl). This show will certainly be repeated one day on SBS, but rather than waiting, you can purchase the dvd from good retail outlets. … Cheers and keep rocking
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+ Jeff Duff interviewed by Jane Hutcheon on ABC-TV’s One-Plus-One June 2, 3 & 4 · streaming here
Congratulations on the JDS site. It really is amazing, comprehensive and accurate … and very well written. Your research is sublime … Thank you for all the hard work … / You continue to impress me with your handsomely constructed and informative insights into ‘Duffoworld’— J. Duff [ 2011/07/07 & 2012/05/17]