The Commonwealth Games are a bit of an anachronism, aren’t they? Not in the games sense; it’s basically Olympic sports with a few important additions such as lawn bowls and Royal tennis and a few omissions such as curling and skate boarding. At least, that’s my understanding.
No, the oddness is the Commonwealth bit. British Empire Games was the original name. Hooray for imperialism and all that. Still, it’s fun to see countries that almost never get screen time in world sport coverage strut their stuff in the games-of-the-parts-of-the-map-that-used-to-be-pink.
The other evening, for instance, I was riveted by the Women’s Beach Volleyball as Vanuatu narrowly defeated Cyprus in a big sandpit some kilometres from the ocean. But they had banana lounges to rest on during the breaks in play, and wore bikinis in their national team colours, so the atmosphere was certainly sunny, even at night.
Last night I was entranced by the final of the women’s pole vault, watching a Canadian lass unexpectedly triumph over the plucky New Zealander while a delighted young Aussie couldn’t stop smiling about her bronze medal placing. It was beautiful sport, in every sense of the word, and though I’m not sure why they were dressed in similar outfits to the beach volleyball players, I had no objection. None at all.
During an ad break, as I caught my breath from all the excitement, I had a most excellent idea. Sadly, it was about three weeks too late, but I want to share it with you anyway.
I realised that many readers of Vinyl Connection—particularly those who regularly comment on each others music posts—are from Commonwealth countries. I know this leaves out our American cousins, but as they tend to dominate pretty much every sport (except cricket, but we’re not talking about Australian cricket at present) I’m sure they won’t mind being excluded from this particular tournament. My idea, you see, was to have playoffs between artists/albums from the various countries of the Commonwealth.
Here is an example.
Event: Women’s Solo Album (Legends)
Match: England versus Canada
Competitors: Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell
Albums: The Sensual World (1989`) vs Hejira (1976)
A pithy 250 word review of each album would follow, with a mark out of 100 using the patented Vinyl Connection scoring system.
Vision and Innovation: V / 30
Playing and Composition: P / 30
Listener Enjoyment: E / 30
X-Factor [eg: cover, design, reviewer bias] X / 10
Total: V + P + E + X / 100
Obviously it would be even more thrilling if bloggers from the relevant country wrote the review and did the scoring for their national artist, but at a pinch both sides could be written by any author, music bloggers being people of such exemplary honesty, integrity and fairness.
So what do people think? Should we plan for the next Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, 2022. Wonder where they’ll play the beach volleyball) or even the next Olympics? The latter would of course admit the good ol’ US of A, which is swell because we like to be inclusive of under-represented marginals.
While you are mulling it over, here are a few more Commonwealth examples.
Event: Men’s Solo Album (Legends)
Match: Northern Ireland versus England
Competitors: Van Morrison and John Martyn*
Albums: Tupelo Honey (1971) vs Solid Air (1973)
* Where an artist has a mixed background, choose the one that suits you. John Martyn, for example, was born in London to an English mother and Scottish father.
Event: Team Album (Pop/Rock)
Match: Scotland versus Australia
Competitors: Teenage Fanclub and Crowded House**
Albums: Grand Prix (1995) vs Woodface (1991)
** See previous note. As two-thirds of the original Crowdies were Aussies, I’m claiming them for this event even though that is patently ridiculous, it being unequivocally Neil Finn’s band. Given Neil’s recent recruitment into Fleetwood Mac this presumably means that New Zealand can now claim Rumours.
Event: Team Album (Eccentric)
Match: New Zealand versus Wales
Competitors: Split Enz and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
Albums: Mental Notes (1976) vs Introducing Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (1996)
Event: Team Album (Heavy)
Match: Australia versus England
Competitors: Buffalo and Uriah Heep
Albums: Volcanic Rock (1973) vs The Magician’s Birthday (1972)
Event: Solo Album (World Music—Vocal)
Match: Pakistan versus England
Competitors: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan vs Sheila Chandra
Albums: Devotional Songs (1992) vs Weaving My Ancestors’ Voices (1992)
Further events might include:
Anonymous Electronic Outfit (21st Century) — solo or unknown number of musicians.
Team Album (Progressive) — imagine the arguments on who qualifies for that one!
Solo Singer/Songwriter (Established)…
I’d come up with more, but there’s another medal about to be decided on TV.