Blasts From The Past

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 6th October 2009.

This year’s A Day On The Green sees the return of seminal US New Wave rockers The B-52s to Australian shores for the first time since 1990. I attended their Hordern Pavillion show way back then and to date, it is still my all-time favourite concert. I already have my tickets to their gig in Bowral in November, supported by Mental As Anything and Scottish two hit wonders twins, The Proclaimers, and I can’t wait to shake my “cosmic thing” to Rock Lobster and Love Shack.

The prospect of seeing one of the groups I loved in the 80’s got me thinking about other bands from that era who may no longer appear in the charts but are still alive and kicking.

The B-52s: Forming in 1976, in Athens, Georgia (also the hometown of R.E.M.) and named after a beehive hairstyle which was similar to the nosecone of the titular aircraft, the B52s had early hits in their trademark call and response vocal style with Private Idaho and Planet Claire. They then gained mainstream success with their 1989 smash Love Shack from the album Groove Thing. Interest waned following their follow-up album Good Stuff in 1992 but they continued to tour. 2008 saw the release of their fantastic comeback album Funplex which the group will feature on their Australian tour. Despite the death of original guitarist, Ricky Wilson, of AIDS in 1985, the band’s other four founding members continue to tour and record.

Boney M: Assembled by German music producer Frank Farian, Boney M had major chart success between 1975 – 1985 with memorable disco hits such as Rivers of Babylon, Rasputin and Ma Baker. As with the later Farian creation, notorious lip-syncers Milli Vanilli, only members Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett actually sang on the records. After splitting in 1986, a subsequent 1990 court ruling determined that all four members of the original line-up were entitled to perform under the name Boney M. Currently there are two different Boney M bands touring the world. Liz Mitchell fronts the Frank Farian endorsed Boney M, whilst iconic male dancer Bobby Farrell also leads a touring group. Despite never singing a note on a Boney M record, Bobby sings live on stage.

The Village People: Assembled by French music producer Jacques Morali in 1977, and aimed originally at a gay disco audience, The Village People soon crossed over to the mainstream with camp hits, Y.M.C.A, In The Navy and Macho Man. A feature film, You Can’t Stop The Music, starring the group, alongside Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine, was released in 1980. By that time, disco had died and strangely the only place the film was a hit was here in Australia. Milkshake anyone? Original leatherman, Glenn Hughes died of lung cancer in 2001, but the group continues to tour to this day, with founding members Felipe Rose (Indian), Alex Briley (Soldier), David Hodo (Construction Worker) alongside lead singer Ray Simpson (Cop), who joined in 1979. A new cowboy and biker round out the group. The Village People last toured Australia in 2005, supporting Cher. Prior to that, they toured Oz in 2000 supporting Culture Club. I hate to admit this, but I actually attended that gig, and it was great fun.

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Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 23:59  Leave a Comment  
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