Tag Archives: David Bowie

From Bowie to Warhol: Current Exhibitions in Australia

For art and photography lovers, the next couple of months in Australia feature a spate of eclectic exhibitions. While some councils in Australia are actively seeking to undermine the Arts industry, others are fully embracing the importance of art. The most popular exhibition of the moment is the Andy Warhol-Ai Weiwei exhibition at the NGV Melbourne which ends April 24. Looking at the the lives of the two artists, the exhibition emphasises their influence on modern art, featuring more than 300 works from the artists.

Warhol’s work will also be shown in an exhibition (one of two) dedicated to Marilyn Monroe:  Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon is now showing until May 8 at the Murray Art Museum in Albury. It will feature photographs and artwork surrounding Monroe’s illustrious career and enduring pop culture mythology. John McDonald writes in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“Albury has pulled out all stops for this show. The town is covered in pink flags and lights. There are Marilyn Monroe quotations on posters in shop windows. It’s worth going to see a city that is so supportive of arts and culture when other councils in NSW, from Broken Hill to Coffs Harbour, are working to destroy the galleries and audiences that have been built up over many years.”

The second Marilyn exhibition is Marilyn, showing from March 5- July 10, 2016 at the Bendigo Art Gallery. This exhibition will focus more on Monroe’s wardrobe, featuring over 20 original costumes from Monroe’s films.

For architecture buffs, there is Imagine a City: 200 years of public architecture in NSW showing at the State Library of NSW, which includes works by iconic artists and photographers Max Dupain, Lloyd Rees and Harold Cazneaux.

And to honour the late, great David Bowie, the small but popular Blender Gallery in Paddington, known for its music photography, is showing Starman 1947-2016, A Tribute to David Bowie featuring a series of intimate photographs of the revolutionary star.This will be on show from February 27 to April 2.

David Bowie, Mirror 1972 by Mick Rock



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Ashes to Ashes: David Bowie (1947-2016)

Words are not enough. David Bowie, who changed the music scene forever, has passed away at age 69. From his androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona to his sexually charged turn in movies such as Labyrinth (1986), Bowie incorporated poetry and psychedelic rock into his entirely unique music and has become one of the most notable figures of popular culture and music. The world has lost a truly great, experimental singer and musician.

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Record Store Day #2

Every year on the third Saturday of April, the world (or the musically-obsessed part of it) celebrates the superiority of the master record or vinyl with Record Store Day. Last year I was able to spend a few cold and sunny hours in TITLE, a record shop in the culturally vibrant inner city suburb of Surry Hills. This year the torrents of rain and my working commitments kept me away. Fortunately, the JB HI-FI store (a vast yet commercial chain) in the centre I work in was offering sales on its small collection of vinyls.

Under the pretense of collecting the mail for my shop I stopped in the busy store and frantically swept through their 50/60s and Jazz sections for good deals, not an easy task in 10 minutes. Amongst a gamut of The Beatles standards, obscure live Queen records, expensive Bowie albums and contemporary artists, I searched for hot and cold jazz artists combining obscurity and genius.

Of the selections  (lamentably lacking any Sonny Rollins whatsoever), I came across Miles Davis’ Miles in Amsterdam (1957), The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (1959), and Ray Charles’ Genius + Soul = Jazz (1961) with arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. All up it added to $40– the amount for a single Bob Dylan album, while I threw in the Rolling Stones’ Doom and Gloom single for $5. Davis’ Amsterdam Concert is one of the lesser-known recordings of the musician, one he played not with his usual quintet, but with the same line-up he used for the Ascenseur pour l’échafaud soundtrack. Barney Wilen features on tenor sax.

The haul was not as great as last years’ in which I found obscure and rare albums from Ellington and Art Pepper. But perhaps the further north you go in Sydney, the less likely you are to find those kinds of gems. In any case these fresh albums (marketed intriguingly as ‘pure virgin vinyl’), I felt were a good deal. Until next year!


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11 Saxophone Solos

Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street is often regarded as the greatest saxophone solos of all time, yet there are many other neglected numbers whose use of the sax illuminates the song from mediocrity to greatness. These numbers feature the eclectic instrument—mostly near the end—to show just exactly why the saxophone is such a versatile, expressive instrument. And with the latest Record Store Day set to take place in Sydney this Saturday, it seems like a good chance to revisit some gems. As Quarterflash lead singer Rindy Ross stated, the saxophone is an extension of the voice…


Year of the Cat—A little-known poignant song from the 80s, this track by Al Stewart has a tremendously rhythmic saxophone solo nearer to the end by saxophone player Phil Kenzie, and is almost heartbreaking in its intensity.

Year of the Cat, 1976


Whole of the Moon—Perhaps my favourite song of all time, this one hit wonder by The Waterboys, their most famous song, features a great saxophone solo near the end by Anthony Thistlethwaite

This is the Sea, 1985


Anywhere I lay my head—Perhaps the most well-known song of his, Tom Waits’ Anywhere I lay my head features a great jaunty, pseudo-jazz tune just when it sounds as though the song has finished. Arno Hecht and Crispin Cioe are the saxophone players for this number.

Rain Dogs, 1985


Changing of the Guards—My favourite Dylan song, due to the fantastic combination of lyrics and saxophone riff in between the verses. The saxophone is subtle and short-lived, but completely lifts the song. Pure poetry.

Street-Legal, 1978


Never tear us apart—This one is featured often in ‘best sax solo’ lists, though evidently this is due to the fact that it is a truly great number. Originally composed in the style of Fats Domino, the arragnement was changed though Kirk Pengilly’s ‘cathartic’ saxophone solo, which again appears near the end, makes the song legendary. It was also played while Michael Hutchence’s coffin was being carried out of St. Andrews Cathedral in 1997.

Never tear us apart, 1988


One Year of Love—Featured on Queen’s A Kind of Magic album, band member John Deacon decided to substitute the guitar with the saxophone, played by Steve Gregory. The song appeared briefly in the film Highlander before fading into relative obscurity. Though the solo is short-lived it gives an edge to the song.

A Kind of Magic, 1986


Misterioso—No ‘saxophone solo’ list would be complete without my favourite sax player, jazz great Sonny Rollins, who builds up the suspense in this number before blasting out a great sax solo that would go great with the ending of a black and white film. Originally a Thelonious Monk composition, this number appears with Horace Silver and Monk on Sonny Rollins, Vol. 2, a Blue Note Record.

Sonny Rollins, Vol. 2, 1957


Shine on you crazy diamond—This epic song by Pink Floyd, split up into nine parts, features a saxophone solo in Part V, delivering the haunting sound the band is known for. The work takes commitment but is worth it. It was first performed live for the band’s 1974 French tour before being recorded for their Wish you were here album in ’75.

Wish you were here, 1975


Modern Love—Ever the musical chameleon, David Bowie’s Modern Love features Robert Aaron’s up-beat saxophone riff that was then played live by Lenny Pickett.

Let’s Dance, 1983


Living in America—While It’s a Man’s World was described as having a great degree of chauvinism, this number from funk master and Godfather of Soul, James Brown, delivers sharp patriotism. Yet when listening to the sound of the sax and rhythm you cannot help but be sold.

Living in America, 1985


Long as I can see the Light– Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty plays a great solo in this number featured on their Cosmo’s Factory album from 1970. A great addition to CCR’s oeuvre.

Cosmo’s Factory, 1970

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A Clockwork Orange at the Seymour Centre

As cinemas become flooded with adaptations (This year is to see Anna Karenina, The Hobbit, Stephen King’s Carrie and The Great Gatsby, among others at the movies), the Seymour Centre is to stage Anthony Burgess’ most notorious work, A Clockwork Orange (1962), the hedonistic tale of behaviourism and violence as the answer to adolescent tedium. Not the author’s greatest work, it is certainly the most well-known of Burgess’ works, exploring the hauntingly potent issue of humanity and behaviour. Having celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the novella is still considered a great work of philosophical enquiry, most notably exploring the notion of free will. Alex, the protagonist/antagonist is a violence-loving and seeking leader of his pack of ‘droogs’, living in a dystopian, futuristic London. After being arrested for a string of sexually violent crimes, Alex agrees to undergo an experimental treatment, the Ludovico Technique, which renders him both helpless to his societal captors and unable to listen to his beloved classical music. This prompts a metaphysical dialogue about governmental power and brutality. It is an odd yet compelling novel in which Burgess shows the seamless ability to move from hatred to sympathy for Alex’s deranged though intelligent nature.

Burgess writes that the title came from a saying he overheard when he was younger, claiming it to be an East London slang phrase. Later, Burgess wrote that the title was a metaphor for ‘an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odour, being turned into a mechanism.’ Another insight into the meaning of the title is found when Alex and his droogs brutalise a couple in a cottage, where the man, later revealed to be an anti-government protestor named Alexander, is writing a manuscript called A Clockwork Orange, which is ripped up by Alex. Burgess expressed disdain for this novella, claiming it to be his weakest work, the inspiration for which was his wife’s rape and beating, and his return to London where he witnessed the growth of London youth culture.

With three parts and each with seven chapters, the book’s 21st chapter was considered by Burgess’ publisher and Stanley Kubrick, the director of the film adaptation, to be less convincing an ending, in which Alex abandons his violent ways and begins contemplating settling down. The American edition of the work omitted this final chapter, letting the novella end on a darker, more believable note, before the original was re-released. Burgess seemed to want to convince the reader that Alex was capable of change, where the American edition was keen to preserve the more realistic notion that Alex succumbed to his violent ways.

The stage adaptation is to feature music from David Bowie, Placebo and Alex’s much-loved Beethoven. It is playing at the Seymour Centre, Chippendale, from April 23-28.

BYO Milk-Plus

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