Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The Real Thing(s)
Meet The Real Thing, by Russell Morris. The psychedelic classic from 1969. With a video to match - a subdued slice of prime coolness that runs as far away from trippy overkill as humanly possible (It's also possible that they only had twelve dollars to shoot it). "What classic?" I hear you ask, "I've never heard this before in my life." Well, that's a good point. And it's addressed - drunkly and obliquely - by Peter Garrett in this live cover version from Midnight Oil:
Did you get the gist of why you have never heard this song before? No? Well, here's another clue, a cover by (of all people) Kylie Minogue, from 2000. Note that this isn't actually an official video for her version - obviously, some fan just took the track and laid it over some other Kylie video, but I guess footage of Kylie is footage of Kylie, lip-synching be damned:
So, based on Garrett's weird diatribe of nationalist fervor through art, I'm guessing this song is some kind of anthem in Australia. And these covers are the equivalent of White Rabbit being covered by both The Cult and Sophie B. Hawkins.
It makes it sound like they had some boss music down there. Lord knows I'd rather hear this on the radio for the billionth time over those American acid-rock stand-bys like Spirit in the Sky or Magic Carpet Ride. I'll have to see if I can get a Russel Morris greatest hits, because this song became an instant favorite for me when it turned up on a British Nuggets kind of compilation CD I got for my birthday a few years back. If he has even one other song I like half as much, it will be worth it.
As if to prove what a weird journey this song has had through Australian popular culture, here's the Kylie version again, appropriately made into a Melbourne drag routine by someone named Zowie Knox. Looks like Melbourne has a swinging night scene:
One final version: a semi-remix from Morris himself several decades later:
Note the bits where the 'trance' drums come in, followed by a horrifying glimpse of the flower-power boy present day, balding and looking for all the world like he somehow inhabited Gary Neumann's body and forced it to stand in front of a slideshow on 20th Century Man's Inhumanity to Man. Note also how the elegant restraint of the actual 60's version has been updated to include all the trippy excess that people think the 60's was really about. So, what's more real? The real thing, or the memory of the real thing? Come and see, indeed.