Review- In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran


My workmates know me well for my 80’s tragic status and my fandom to all things Duran Duran. They alerted me to this book which was published last year, which is the autobiography of John Taylor, bass player of Duran Duran.

Yes, there are the obligatory photos, but it is much more of a wordy book than I imagined. I had heaps of books about Duran Duran in the 80’s which were really just merchandise/photo albums designed for teenage tastes, so it was a great to hear his voice in the book, albeit a ghost written voice.

The childhood and teenage photos were quite revealing, showing a little boy, growing up into an awkward bespectacled teenager who looked to older cousins and friends,  and of someone who was more comfortable just to the left of the spotlight.

In many ways his story jogged so many half-forgotten memories, of interviews in Smash Hits that I had read over 30 years ago. He changed his name to John from Nigel (Nick Rhodes, was originally Nick Bates), his love of cars (inherited from his father) and the beautiful models/actresses with whom he shared his life.

In other ways, reading the book makes you realise how filtered the message was about your favourite band in the 80s, without the full on glare that is now present with the Internet and social media. Seen through the pages of a magazine, all you saw a bunch of guys living a hectic, hedonistic lifestyle, surrounded by models and driving fast cars.

What you didn’t see was the effects from a jump from unemployed would-be muso still living at home to world famous pop star,  combined with the stress of touring constantly, and recording with a chronic lack of sleep. Taylor’s prodigious consumption of drugs and alcohol and his sex addiction (to deal with loneliness on the road) is documented extensively in this book, as well as his entry into rehab in the United States.

It is an autobiography, but it not a warts and all exposé of his relationship with the other band members. He speaks of them with love and respect, and alludes to periods of strife, but doesn’t go into detail. His marriage with Amanda de Cadenet is dealt with respectfully, yet frankly acknowledging the breakdown of the marriage to a series of factors, including age difference, and his substance abuse.

It’s an enjoyable read, and with its short chapters, you seem to power through it quite easily. Am now off to put Rio on…

Top 7 Songs from 80’s movies

Shaunstar suggested my top songs from  an 80’s movie. Clearly this reader knows me all too well :).

This proved to be tricky and entertaining. There were quite a few movies I loved, but I hated the soundtracks. As a result, anything that involves Kenny Loggins and Huey Lewis didn’t make the cut, which meant Top Gun, Footloose and Back to the Future. St Elmo’s Fire and Dirty Dancing never made the cut because I’m not a huge fan of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze (there, I’ve said it).

With that in mind, these songs represent favourite movies and  are my favourite songs from those movies. They tend to evoke certain moments of my teenage years, and it truly has been a nostalgic trip trying to compile these. So thank you Shaunstar for giving me this assignment.

1. “In your eyes”- Peter Gabriel Say Anything

I hear this song and in my mind, I see John Cusack holding a boombox over his head, trying to woo back Ione Skye. A great movie with a great soundtrack, it was the directorial debut of Cameron Crowe. I also loved Peter Gabriel and remember doing homework while listening to his album Say Anything on my tape player.

2. “People are strange”- Echo and the Bunnymen (cover) from Lost Boys

I got into The Doors are watching this movie, mainly because of this cover! My friend Viv was a huge fan of this movie and I remember watching it just before exams with her. The lines were snappy, the boys were suitably dishevelled in a very sexy way, and the music was good too!

3. “Oh Yeah”- Yello from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I hear this and I see Cameron introducing Ferris to his dad’s Ferrari, and Ed Rooney forced to catch the bus. I want to save Ferris! I need to see this again in my pjs, quote extensive lines from the movie and pretend I’m 17 again.

4. “If you leave”- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) from Pretty in Pink

I prefer 16 candles to Pretty in Pink as a Molly Ringwald movie, but this song really rocks. Truly, John Hughes certainly knew his 80s britpop.

5. “Don’t you forget about me”- Simple Minds from The Breakfast Club

This was a sleepover movie, with Bernadette Moloney. We stayed up late, sneaked some cigarettes, and talked with this as the background.

6. “Ghostbusters”- Ray Parker Jr from Ghostbusters

I remember going to the movies during the school holidays in Geelong and seeing this with my sister and brothers in 1985. We all loved it, especially Bill Murray. Mental note- must introduce the kids to this…

7. “It had to be you”- Harry Connick Jr from When Harry met Sally

I skipped a uni class and headed into the city to go to the movies occasionally and this was one of those movies. I didn’t have a boyfriend and rom-coms like this one made me wish I had one.

Review- Pop Life

My pocket money when I was 14 was pretty much spent on buying Smash Hits. Every fortnight, I would ride to the milk bar on the way to school and pick up my copy to read from cover to cover, savour the lyrics, the interviews and the posters.

My Smash Hits obsession overlapped with my obsession with all things Durannie. Now, there is a book called Pop Life which celebrates what I considered to be the best magazine in the world (when I was 14), written by Marc Andrews, Claire Isaac and David Nichols, some of the writers who put it together.

The Australian Smash Hits emerged from the British magazine of the same name* and was the creation of James Manning, radio broadcaster and record-shop owner. While the Australian version recycled a bit of content and images from the English version, the rise of home-grown pop stars such as Kylie Minogue and INXS achieving international stardom saw Smash Hits Australia emerge as a publishing entity in its own right.

My days of devotion span the early days, from 1984 to 1986/7. My musical tastes began to expand, mainly to the 60’s and I wasn’t really enamoured with the latest bunch of popsters. I think one of the last Smash Hits I bought was one which featured New Order, probably the only time they ever featured in Smash Hits. It may have been when Bizarre Love Triangle came out.

The demise of the magazine is discussed and attributed to several factors. Changing musical tastes, the availability of information online are just a couple which forced the magazine to close.

What is also revealed in the book are the motivations for the writers- for Claire, it was about meeting her idols. For Marc, the pop world was an outlet for expressing his sexuality and for David, it was something he fell into, and gave him an excuse to watch a lot of Neighbours, Home and Away and E-street.

What was also  enlightening was how the early readers of the magazine, now parents, interacted with music in a different way to that of their children. For Penny, part of the love of Smash Hits music was its tangibility- you could look at a poster, read the interview, have the tape or LP with accompanying photos and lyrics and artwork. For her daughter it was about searching for articles or lyrics online and downloading the song onto an MP3 player. Just like Penny, the music for me was tangible- you could hold it, read it, listen to it and see it. The invisibility of a music collection on an iPod or on a hard drive begs the question- do we value it less if it’s no longer tangible?

Pop Life is published by Affirm Press an independent publisher with, by the looks of it a few cool titles. I bought my copy directly on the Wednesday and it had arrived the following day- great service!

*and right here I will not mention Mr BG’s obsession project which entailed tracking down the English Smash Hits from 1979-1981 on eBay.


Back to the 80s- Books

I do have more memories of the 80s, -they’re  memories of my adolescence, of braces and glasses, extreme shyness around boys, changing schools and moving towns- not all of it good.

I will tell you this- my first kiss happened at my uncle’s wedding on September 15, 1988 with another guest. He was a terrible kisser, all lips and not very firm. Things however did improve slowly on that front 🙂

My final journey down memory lane is via my bookshelf. When I wasn’t watching TV, listening to music, I was reading.

Mum was forever trying to kick me out of the house and exercise, which I did sporadically. But I would always creep back into my room eventually and read.

I read anything and everything- magazines, the newspaper (we used to get The Herald) and books of all descriptions. I would buy them, borrow them from the library or from friends. In a time when your adolescent hormones were in a state of flux, friendships developing and dissolving, books were a constant in my life.

I developed quite a taste for mysteries. From The Secret Seven and Trixie Belden, I progressed onto Agatha Christie. My 13th birthday was made all the more memorable by a teacher friend of my dad’s, Miss Rohan, giving me a bunch of Agatha Christies she had.

Romances also featured quite heavily- the Sweet Dreams series, and  Sweet Valley High were just coming out when I started secondary school. My reading habits were  pretty trashy that the school librarian recommended other books which were of a more worthwhile nature. The ones I remember were the Flambards series and the Pennington series, both by KM Peyton, and the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. For that reason alone, I am very grateful to her.

Trashy books though always held a place in my heart. I read quite a bit of Virginia Andrews and when I was about 15-16,  and Jackie Collins- tres hot stuff for a Catholic schoolgirl :). I remember many a whispered discussion in the library or classroom in Year 10 regarding the sex scenes in Chances.

And as for other books- well, I do remember hiding a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Delta of Venus under my mattress. And yes, I did read them for the sex, but re-reading them now, you are also made aware of how beautifully they are written.

And so ends this trip down memory lane. Stay tuned for more adventures, and don’t forget that today (March 1) is  International Hug a Librarian Day. Hugs to you all!


Back to the 80s- Music

How do you describe your favourite musical moments of the 1980s, when it feels that all you did in your spare time was listen to music?

If I wasn’t watching Countdown, it was Video Hits. If it wasn’t Video Hits, I was listening to EON-FM’s Top 8 at 8. If I wasn’t listening to it on the radio (and getting into huge arguments with parents about listening to the radio too much), I was reading about it in Smash Hits. If I wasn’t reading about it I was watching movies and videos and loving the soundtracks, largely the John Hughes films (note I don’t make mention of any soundtracks which feature Kenny Loggins).

Most of what I listened to was pop, and most of what I really loved about 80s music was the stuff from the early 80s, and largely British and Australian. Natalie Craig’s article which spoke of her muscial experiences of Bon Jovi, Europe and Poison spoke of the latter period of the 80s. I knew them, but weren’t huge fans of their over the top productions and plastic American smiles. I know Europe are Swedish, but they were trying to be Bon Jovi, and they are NO WAY in the league of Abba, but I digress…

Apart from listening to it on the radio, I listened to music on tape, with a tape player, and on my bright yellow walkman rip-off. I went through so many AA batteries, I’m sure I kept Eveready in business for much of 1985. The tapes were either mixed tapes which I bought, or were Christmas presents, or mixed tapes I had made from taping off the radio. I’m kind of hoping there’s a statute of limitations on copyright violations :).

There was a bit of an obsession with hair in the 80s and the haircut bands I knew and loved were Haircut100, Spandau Ballet, and Wham! but not Pseudo Echo- loathe is not strong enough a word to describe my feelings for them.

I am not going to mention Duran Duran here, as I have pretty much expounded that in a previous post, and another (actually just do a search and you’ll find a few mentions…)

Here are a few of my favourites:

Simple Minds- Lovesong is the first song of theirs I remember after listening to it at camp. and I loved Don’t you forget about me from The Breakfast club

Madness-I remember seeing the House of Fun on Countdown and loving the video. It was only years later that Mr BG told me what it really was about- oh how innocent I was!

The Models-I thought James Freud was a bit of a spunk, but it was a shame that they dumped Andrew Duffield, when they expanded the lineup. Out of Mind Out of Sight was cool, but I Hear Motion was my favourite song of theirs.

Split Enz and Crowded House- given that one of my closest friends was a Frenz of the Enz, it was hard not to get into them. Crowded House were a big part of  my tape collection in the second part of the 80s. I think Neil Finn’s songs in Split Enz were always the ones which applealed to me the most, with One Step Ahead and Message to my Girl being my all time faves.

The Cure kept on popping up on a lot of mixed tapes my sister and I owned. There was a darkness I liked, but they could also write a mean pop song.

New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle  was one of my favourite songs of the decade, and through that song I also discovered Blue Monday. In my ignorance, it was only later that I  discovered their previous incarnation as Joy Division, which happens to be Mr BGs favourite band. *hangs head in shame*

Madonna- I can’t not say anything about her. She was not my favourite artist, but I knew all her songs. She was a shameless rip-off merchant of musical and fashion styles, but her continous evolution made her fascinating. Like a Virgin is her standout song of the 80s for me.

Violent Femmes- Blister in the Sun was played ad nauseum in our classroom at lunchtimes in VCE. I was sick of it by the end of the year, but it was part of my final year at school.

My favourite novelty song is Divine’s You think you’re a man- is hilarious and definitely preferred over It’s Raining Men as a novelty song. I can still sing it word for word 🙂

Oingo Boingo Stay was a weird song that still bounces around in my head.

Towards the end of the 80s I was listening to more U2, The Beatles and The Doors when I started uni (I remember a bit of paisley beginning to creep into my wardrobe around this time). In fact I discovered 60s music in a big way. By the end of the decade, and the start of the 90s, I had gotten a job at the record counter at Myer, helped by an avid interest more kinds of music.

This is just a snippet. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered more bands from the 80s I overlooked at the time, simply because they weren’t on my radar. This is largely in part to Mr BG, who was 5 years older and had different tastes.

So this is one of these half-forgotten songs I was re-introduced to, Golden Brown by The Stranglers.

Back to the 80s- Television

For the first five years of the 80s we lived in Ararat, which meant having two TV channels- BTV 6, the regional station, which amalgamated feeds from 7,9 and 10, and the ABC.  Occasionally, if the weather was clear, we could pick up Channel 8, which was Bendigo.

As a result, it was a bit of a hotch potch. I watched A Country Practice, but not Sons and Daughters. We didn’t get Prisoner for quite a while, because the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat did not want it screened (apparently, but it could have very well been the Catholic Bishop of Ballarat!). It was screened at 11pm.

TV was the main way in which news broke. I remember a newsflash interrupting the after school cartoons to announce the murder of John Lennon

Our TV viewing options increased when we moved to Geelong and was able to get a metropolitan TV feed. This was the first ad we saw (honestly, I kid you not)

It was different from ads for silos and tractors at any rate.

My favourite TV moments were, in no particular order…

Doctor Who- which screened on  the ABC at 6pm weeknights, Monday to Thursday, when the episodes were half an hour and the story took place over four nights. My favourite has always been Tom Baker, until David Tennant came along :).

A Country Practice– Molly dying still brings tears to my eyes.

Neighbours– I saw it on Channel 7 before it went to Channel 10. I remember the original Scott, the original Lucy and the original Ramsay family before they moved away. It still spins me out that the Melbourne Museum has part of the set and Charlene’s wedding dress on display.

Home and Away- when I see Justine Clarke on Play School, I still remember her as Roo, Alf’s daughter, and still get a kick when she teams up with Alex Pappas, who played her boyfriend Frank on certain episodes of Play School (yes, I am a freak).

Hey, Hey it’s Saturday– in the 1980s, it was great as a show on a Saturday morning and I remember it becoming a fixture on a Saturday night in the mid-80s.

Countdown– it had to be said it was something which has never been replaced. Video Hits has come close and I watched that when I wasn’t wrestling control from my little brothers when they wanted to watch He-Man or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The biggest TV moment of the 80s was Live Aid– I watched all but three hours of it. The high points were Queen and U2, the low point was Molly talking while Duran Duran were on the stage in Philadelphia- pfft. My lovely sister gave me a DVD of it for Christmas a couple of years ago.

This then kinda segues into the next post, which will be music (of course!).

Back to the 80s- Fashion

Well it was going to be that wasn’t it?

I am looking into a crystal ball and seeing flashbacks of my wardrobe from the 80’s.

It was a look heavily influenced by Olivia Newton John (circa Physical), Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama and the pages of Smash Hits magazine.

Baggy trousers with the cuffs rolled up,worn with oversized shirts buttoned up to the top with a brooch at the top,  and oversized jumpers in pastel green and pink. I’m also pretty sure I had a Choose Life tshirt too…

I’m sure I wore frilly blouses and I get the odd glimpse of tartan, but that could have been my sister.

I do know I wore black legwarmers worn over my jeans, my ballet tights to dance class, and once under a skirt, so they looked like leggings.

On my feet were brogues,  suede pixie boots or jelly shoes. Socks were sometimes neon, but by the end of the decade, I had taken to wearing them very big walking socks and pushing them down, so they looked like legwarmers around my calves.

I see myself wearing drop waist dresses- one a blue and white sailor-style outfit which I wore to my first school formal in Year 7. I danced with Matt Molony who was in Year 10, who told me I looked nice. I was also wearing my first bra at the time! The next year I wore a drop waist pink pinafore which Mum made me with a candy stripe (pastel pink and lemon) cotton top underneath.

My hair was worn short with a long fringe, but by the end of the 80s it had progressed into  a mullet style of short at the front with a bob at the back, with a perm through it to give it extra body. As if my thick hair needed any more body, but hair was big to go with the freakishly huge shoulderpads that were in everything.

I wasn’t necessarily a slave to fashion- I couldn’t afford to be, but my fashion faux pas were many and varied. I didn’t dress to suit my body shape, and preferred to hide my growing curves under big clothes. I think once I started looking to people like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn as style icons, I think I began to understand style over fashion.

There is only one thing I have in my wardrobe from that time, and it’s an Oroton scarf which was my mum’s. It was a gift she passed on to me, a striped square in grey, white and black. It goes great with a black sleeveless shift I wear, to break up the black.*

I find it quite funny that 80s fashion has the odd resurgence, and I know my time of wearing 80s fashion was in the 80s. I went into a chainstore about six months ago to try on a jacket which I thought would be quite fetching with a new pair of jeans. The shoulders were like little wings, and I thought nah, done shoulder pads before, dont need ’em again.

The sales assistant asked brightly,  “So, how’d you go?”

“Great!” I replied “The jacket is lovely, but those shoulder pads…”

She nodded. “Yeah- cool aren’t they?”

Er, no.

*Actually I lie- I have my first blue and white formal dress in a box. I can’t believe how small I was. A reminder of a magical night in the distant 1980’s.

Back to the 80s

It’s probably due to Master BG starting school, but I have been reflecting on days past on my own childhood.

A recent article in The Age on Sunday took a nostalgic trip to the 80s, which looked at how the decade is being rediscovered for its music, fashion and culture.

Making money from nostalgia is nothing new-I just think it’s a hoot that people actually look at the 80s like it’s history or something- wait a minute, it is :).

One thing that struck me was that the author herself was born in 1980, so essentially she missed some of the best bits of the 1980s. Her memories of Bon Jovi, Poison and Europe were simply not mine.

So this week, I’ll be bringing you a taste of my life in the 80’s- my favourite books, music, and memories of my time there. Seeing the 80’s straddled my primary and secondary school years and the beginning of my uni days, it was an interesting decade for me. Braces, and big hair and British boy bands, glasses and moving to Geelong, and my first (forgettable) kiss.

Today is my favourite movie moments of the 80s.

It was when Tom Cruise was a hot guy in Top Gun, Robert Downey Jr was fresh faced and Demi Moore was engaged to Emilio Estevez. The Brat Pack were super hot and Kim Cattrall played a young ingenue in Police Academy and Mannequin.

A lot of what I saw was on that new-fangled device called a video recorder. We lucked out and got a VHS and looked pityingly upon those who had chosen a Beta, mainly because there was little for them to watch at the video store. One of the first videos we saw was from 1980 but is still one of my favourites- Flying High

I watched The Breakfast Club and The Lost Boys on video and taped Ferris Bueller’s Day Off from the TV and watched it so many times I could quote large tracts of it from memory (I still can!).

I was a huge Harrison Ford fan and my all-time favourite movies featuring him were Bladerunner and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both were seen on video, butthe power of seeing the Director’s cut at the Valhalla a few years later has never left me.

That’s not to say I didn’t go to the movies we went to the Astor in Ararat to see The Man from Snowy River and ET. The Pix in Geelong West (now a church) was where the arthouse movies played and where I saw my first French language movies during my VCE year. My VCE year (1988) was when I saw Monty Python’s Meaning of Life for the first time on telly. At school the next morning, our English teacher overheard us talking about it and launched into singing “Every Sperm is Sacred” – he was an interesting teacher!

The Village Twin (as it was then known) in Geelong was where we would go, usually with my sister and brother being dropped into town by dad. We would head to coles to get cheap lollies and soft drinks before going in! It was we saw Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Goonies and Back to the Future. My sister was a very big Michael J.Fox fan, and her side of the room was plastered with posters of him as well as Michael Jackson.

The 80s were the decade in which I discovered James Bond, largely through this song

Then I realised the better Bond movies were those of Sean Connery, and Goldfinger the best Bond theme song of all.

I remember cutting history class at uni to watch Dead Poets Society, though now I really can’t see what the fuss is about. St Elmo’s Fire and Dirty Dancing were okay, but not great movies.

So next time will be fashion- it will be scary reliving that in my head…