AUTUMN ALMANAC

Born in Melbourne, Australia on 25th October 1941: singer Helen Reddy. Her song ‘Delta Dawn’ was a #1 hit in the liberating year of 1973.

Diary – Turned on the transistor and heard that dreadful song about the jilted woman who goes crazy. I’m going crazy trying to work out what to wear to school now that we don’t have to wear a uniform. Never had to think about this before. For years the same kit every day: shirt and school tie, grey trousers… simple! But now it’s a problem, mainly because I don’t own anything cool or current or even casual really. Guess it’ll just have to be the ‘Sunday Lunch at the Grandparents’ gear: shirt and tie, tan trousers. At least I’ll choose a nice tie.IMG_2636

Chris Norman, singer with the group Smokie, born on this day in 1950. Their song ‘Living next door to Alice’ was a big hit in 1976.

 Diary – Just went from Friday nights + Saturday mornings to full-time in the lead-up to Christmas. This is my third Christmas/Summer stint at Max Rose Electronics (records and electrical goods) and I AM SICK OF TOP 40 MUSIC!!! Max always wants to play popular stuff, says it’s what people want to hear. But if I have to listen to that drivel about unrequited love for bloody Alice one more time I’m going to vomit. Maybe I’ll suggest a compromise. Play new releases in the afternoons, like ELO’s A New World Record or The Eagles Greatest Hits. Play more interesting stuff (Split Enz Second Thoughts, the recent live Led Zeppelin) in the mornings. Wonder how Max will cope with ‘Moby Dick’ at 9:00am?

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1944. Troubled times everywhere, but joy for Mr and Mrs Anderson of Lancashire, UK who celebrated the birth of their son on this day. Due to war-time rationing of haitches, he was christened Jon.

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Diary – As we mooch towards another yuletide season, it is apparent that the year has not lived up to the sophisticated promise of my Yes, Prime Minister 1987 Diary. Some low-lights:

  • my first live-in relationship is not a source of joy. It’s like I have never really arrived and I’m having fantasies of sneaking away. Maybe the problem is that our music tastes are too different. Or that I haven’t got a clue about relationships.
  • Deciding to be a humane tertiary administrator was a good plan, but it hasn’t worked out. The system is strong and the force is weak in this one. One win though: getting live student music performance back into the Graduation Ceremonies. Job hunting again.
  • The new Yes album has generated big disappointment.

Try as I might, I cannot forget John T’s funeral. Torrents of Greek wailing at the open grave while his drama mates clustered in mute distress off to the side. Then the wake where no-one spoke about how John had simply wasted away and a camp chap I’d never met made loud crass jokes that didn’t fool anybody. I’ve never lost a friend before. Not to death, anyway.

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Release of Pink Floyd’s double album “Ummagumma”, 25th October 1969. A strange hybrid beast, the album consisted of an LP of live material plus another disc shared between the four members. 

Diary – I think there is muttering about my shows and who will anchor The Electronic Influence in 1990. There are four of us rotating on Tuesday nights but Gary is the main man. His production job with the national broadcaster gives him clout and status in the tiny pond of public radio. The implied problem is that my playlist has by far the least new releases. It’s not that I don’t spend the money on CDs, I most surely do. But (a) my tastes are diverse and I’m feeding a number of genres in addition to ‘progressive’ music, and (b) I’m a cheapskate at heart who would rather buy three mark-down discs rather than one full-price new release.

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I’ve been talking to my mate Steven about putting in for our own show on a Friday night. We’d alternate week by week with a joint presentation whenever there is a fifth Friday in the month. The format would start off rocky (as we’d be following the Heavy Rock show) and finish off more quietly ‘to ease you into your weekend’ and fill the font for the Christian Music Show that follows. Talk about the devil and the deep blue sea. It would be called Late Night Shopping. But first there is (maybe a final?) ‘Electronic Influence’ I’ve been working on for some time. The others will hate it – especially Gary, whose lack of humour is legendary at the station – but stuff it. ‘Pieces With Very Long Titles’ may be my last show in this slot, but it’ll be fun. Some probable inclusions:

  • Wallenstein – The Cosmic Couriers meet South Philly Willy
  • Quiet Sun – Mummy was as asteroid, daddy was a small non-stick kitchen utensil
  • Penguin Café Orchestra – The sound of someone you love who’s going away and it doesn’t matter

The climax has to be the Floyd classic from Ummagumma

‘Several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict’. At least Roger Waters has a sense of humour.

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The US #1 single on 25th October 1986 is Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colours’.

Diary – Can’t say I’m especially fond of Cyndi’s hit. Seems more like shallow affirmation than genuine insight. ‘Don’t be afraid’ is simple advice but a lot harder to live. Anyway, she pinched the title True Colours from Split Enz. But I really like the song ‘Time after time’ from She’s So Unusual. With that one Cyndi nailed something in both melody and lyric that is timeless and touching. Quite a rarity, sincerity in a pop song. Miles Davis thought so too. He recorded the tune on his 1985 album You’re Under Arrest and performed it in concert for years. What is it about Miles? Restless innovator and peerless talent spotter in the 50s and 60s, shrewd observer of rock trends in the 70s, flirting with mainstream pop tunes in the 80s.

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A 2013 audit showed that I have more Miles titles than any other single artist. It seems bizarre. Perhaps the changing styles, fashions and ensembles offered by the Miles Davis catalogue offer something for a listener’s varying moods. His true colours were truly kaleidoscopic and he wasn’t afraid to change. I like that.

6 comments

  1. Yes, indeed – “Several species…” is the ultimate long title. Good old Rog.

    And I remember “Delta Dawn” well – it was played ad nauseam here. Brownsville, as in “all the folks ’round Brownsville” is an hour or so out of Jackson.

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    1. Ah, local knowledge is a wonderful thing. Hope the song was NOT one you identified with!

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  2. No, that song sets my teeth on edge and makes me cringe with embarrassment. You know – one of those songs that makes you feel embarrassed for the artist and for all the people that are going around acting as if it’s a good song. I have a whole list of those songs in my head, unfortunately. Let’s see, here’s a few…”Mr. Roboto”. “Your Kiss Is On My List”. “The Greatest Love Of All”. You get the picture. It’s the cheese factor rearing its ugly head again. I’d have to rate “Delta Dawn” a 10 on the cheese factor scale. Sorry, Helen.

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  3. The Prudent Groove · · Reply

    Great window into your varied past! Do you have recordings of any of your shows?

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    1. Some windows should be curtained, eh?
      The photo of the drawer of cassettes are actual recordings of the radio shows. I did digitise some a few years ago, though it’s probably best for everyone that they languish in the archive.
      Thanks for visiting and adding to the conversation, PG.

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  4. […] Friday nights in the early 90s, a mate and I alternated presenting Late Night Shopping on 3PBS FM, a Melbourne public radio station. Whenever there was a fifth Friday in the month, we […]

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