The Barman would have me squawk about “full disclosure”. Don't you get arrested for that?
Oh, not if you're a politician? Mysterious donors suddenly appear with suitcases of cash for your defence team? What if you're a priest? Oh, you get transferred to a 'virgin' happy hunting ground?
Uh-huh. Anyway, I know Bob Short. He knows me. I know where he lives - and if you own either of these books, you know where he lives, too.
Man on the edge.
Okay, so this is the second part in a series. Do you need to own part one?
Well, strictly speaking, no. However, to fully grasp what's going on, yes, you do. Allow me to recap, just slightly.
So, we have a flash comic book, with artwork which is deliberately awkward and muckily-presented (in best punk d-i-y style). Never mind the photoshops, Bob works with what looks like printouts from the internet, white-out, textas and possibly water-colour.
There is a plot, but it's muddied (or clarified, perhaps) by a multitude of composite characters purposely designed to keep us away from the plot as such, so as to focus on Bob's main drag, which is social commentary.
Bob Short Filth, Blood & Roses, Dead Rabids, 4 Stooges, The Light Brigade et al Sydney, Australia
Twenty-twenty is a phrase used to demonstrate a standard of visual acuity. Providing a Top Ten list for the year of that name using normal standards of vision presents certain difficulties.
The harbinger of our civilization's downfall was, of course, the motion picture "Cats". This was a movie that spent its first hour-and-a-half introducing a series of characters played by celebrities in bad valley CGI mode licking themselves inappropriately whilst singing and dancing. Spoiler: It ends with the ritual suicide of the most downtrodden character by balloon.
Its similarity to the year it announced were too staggering to avoid. All year, we have been bombarded by celebrities entertaining (themselves) us from their living rooms in bad clothes and makeup whilst the poor and broken down die gasping for breath.
What stands out in the year that broke the world? And make no bones, the world is broken. Certainly, rock and roll is broken. It has been a long time coming but that bucket has been firmly kicked.
There has been illness for a while now. We've all been getting old. Most people stop adding new songs to their playlists in their early 20s. Some of us have kept our ears open much longer but that ultimately makes no difference. You could make the most stunning new music and no one would be there to listen. The old aren't interested in the new and the young aren't interested in the old.
Once upon a time I went to The Big Day Out. I can’t remember which, but the events themselves I always thought were a nuisance which one was obliged to endure in order to see the two or maybe three bands you actually went to
Anyway, it had dawned on me that “my generation” was utterly reviled by the one coming up. Which is understandable, of course, as every generation has to gain independence and identity, and the quickest route is to revile the old farts. ’Cause of course, we no nuffink.
Now that I am a card-carrying Old Fart who Shouts At Clouds and Doesn’t Like the Look of Those Teenagers, I have a blessed distance to view the rich landscape of modern music [Barman: insert vomit noisehere]. In 1987 Steve Albini made a passing comment: “Pointless teenage thrash bands”.
One of the trace elements of Sydney’s punk history will be exhumed on September 11 when Filth supports the Celibate Rifles at Oxford Art Factory, as part of the Sedition festival.
Filth sprouted from Radio Birdman’s fertile Oxford Funhouse scene and spawned the Psychosurgeons and the Lipstick Killers. Nihilistic and self-destructive, Filth presaged a richly diverse and extreme musical movement based in pubs like The Grand and The Civic.
Loud, fast and full of body fluids that were generously shared with audiences when the mood took them, Filth attracted fans who are even more deranged than them and were rarely invited back by venue operators. One show at Bondi with a nascent X remains infamous for both the repair bill and the number of fans sent to hospital.
Dead Rabids main man Bob Short was a member of seminal Sydney punks Filth before he fucked off to England to become a goth and live in abject poverty. He’s also penned the odd vituperative review for the I-94 Bar. So now it’s your turn. Do your best.
There’s no hint of hyperbole in you being told that the A side is a fantastic song. A stone classic. Dead Rabids are no more and never pulled a lot of people when they were a going concern, but don't let that stop you plonking down your hard-earned virtual cash and picking up a copy before it goes out of print.
The pathos runs deep on "The Sound of My Broken Heart" and it sounds like something the early Saints would have turned out in one of their more reflective moments. Put away any sharp objects and lock the medicine cabinet.
Flip the single and switch the mood to bathos: "Do the Harold Holt" is an old Filth song (I think) and you can imagine singer Peter Tillman spitting out its message for poliical leaders to jump into the sea three times and surface twice. A resuscitated classic. The Rabids' abbreviated take on "White Rabbit" sounds positively doom-laden and there's a harsh beauty in its acrid chords. Feed your head some squat food.
Along with half of once-underground Sydney, I know Bob Short. Unlike the rest of Sydney, it seems, I’ve only seen the scrote play once and, because he was rather brilliant, he rates a decent listen and a proper review of his first 7”.
This isn’t an essential purchase, not in this world of freebie downloads and rubbish music. Surely?
Well, actually I rather love this little record, and it looks super in my collection. And, as I understand from Bob’s accompanying pitiful blurb that there’s an LP in the works, all this is as far as I am concerned, most certainly essential. Why?
So settle back on Granfer’s knee and I’ll tell ye a story young feller …