‘Tective Man a Say, Say Daddy me Snow me What?? – The Tales of The Geek Underclass Soundtrack Part 3

And so finally we come to the third and last volume of the Tales of the Geek Underclass soundtrack. You may wish to check out Part 1 and Part 2, or just plunge onward and try to figure out what’s going on from context alone (good luck…)

21: The Stutter Rap – Morris Minor and the Majors – 1988

Religious education was of course a major component of our time at high school – probably no more so than in year eight when we were still young, impressionable and generally dazed and confused from our transition out of primary education. As such the year eight RE curriculum was focused very heavily on Catholic doctrine, aiming to get as much of it as possible wedged into our brains before we could get oriented enough to develop some kind of resistance. One unit in particular concentrated on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude… uh… Splendour… errr… Industry and… Pierre Barthès?

In any case towards the end of this unit we were broken into groups and ordered to prepare a song highlighting said gifts for performance later in the week. Ryan and myself found ourselves teamed up with Abraham Blemmy, and – for lack of any better idea – the three of us got to work rewriting the lyrics of the previous year’s smash novelty hit Stutter Rap by Tony Hawks MBE.

It was not the greatest thing ever written. Much of it consisted of swapping words out for more religious ones – “Church” for “Club” and “Bible” for “Bottle” for instance. Then we whacked three hastily composed verses about the Holy Spirit onto the end and called it a day, assuming the success of our performance assured by the fact that Ryan had the song on cassette single, allowing us to play the distinctive intro riff before hastily hitting the STOP button and launching into our own version.

I don’t recall much about the performance, but have a feeling it was well received, probably because three nerds humiliating themselves by doing a piss-poor parody of a pretty good parody of the Beastie Boys was likely the funniest thing anyone had seen all week.

22: Girl’s Life – Girlfriend – 1992

It was rule that all of our schoolwork had to kept in a large lever-arch file. In something that was either a bold statement of rebellion or – more likely – sheer laziness, I would rarely if ever actually clip my papers in, I’d just shove them between whatever papers were already in there. I also never bothered to add any kind of protective or decorative cover on the folder – it remained bare, increasingly distressed, cardboard. As such my file become a notorious menace.

In English Lit one day Lauren Alighieri decided to take matters into her own hands and made me promise to add a cover to it. To get me started she pulled out a promotional flyer for Australia’s proto-Spice Girls, Girlfriend. “Do you like them?” she asked.

On the basis that, a) I thought they were kind of hot, and b) I would have said I liked fresh dog turd on toast if Lauren had suggested it, I replied “Well, they’re OK“. Lauren immediately grabbed a glue stick and stuck the flyer to the inside of the file.

I had a fair bit of explaining to do to my friends about why I was suddenly walking around with the least credible and least manly pop group since the Backstreet Boys decorating my schoolwork – at least until I ripped it out and covered the entire file with riveted metal plating made from olive oil tins instead.

I still have that file somewhere. I also still have a deep seated dislike for Girlfriend’s insipid pop music, but here there are on the soundtrack nonetheless.

23: Everything About You – Ugly Kid Joe – 1991

I found Ugly Kid Joe’s novelty ‘hate song’ very enjoyable, particularly the first verse where Whitfield Crane explains that he despises every possible location a person could visit – which was a pretty good summing up of my attitude to family trips at the time. Ryan however seemed to prefer their grunge influenced cover of the Harry Chapin classic Cats in the Cradle – or at least he’d randomly screech “MY BOY – WAS JUST LIKE ME!!” for years afterwards.

24: Infomer – Snow – 1993

Like everyone else in 1993 we were captivated trying to figure out what the hell Canadian rapper Snow was talking about. Something about Nana Mouskouri going ‘blam’? And ‘lecky boom boom’? Anyway it was catchy as hell no matter what he was jabbering.

Mark actually bought me a copy of the cassette single, which I suspect was a low key attempt to convert me to whatever slightly odd variety of Christianity his family practiced. As a result I am not only familiar with Informer, but with the B-Side Lonely Monday Morning, which is basically just Informer slowed down with a different chorus. Such variety!

25: The Grease Megamix – 1991

‘Megamixes’ were a thing in the 90s. They were a cheap way to manufacture a hit song by taking all the good bits from a bunch of vaguely related tracks and slapping them over a drum machine. The genre was pioneered in 1981 with Stars on 45, but it was the success of Jive Bunny and the Mixmasters and their 1940s themed Swing the Mood in 1989 that resurrected the idea for the ’90s.

As such it was inevitable that the release of Grease on home video would see the creation of a megamix. And what a megamix! It dominated the charts for weeks and was the third highest selling Australian single for the whole of 1991.

It was fun, it was catchy, and most of all it meant you could enjoy the music of Grease without having to actually suffer through watching Grease.

26: Joyride – Roxette – 1991

I make no apologies for Roxette being one of my favourite bands of the 90s. Their songs rocked then, their songs still rock now, and I will fight any man who says differently!

(Well, maybe apart from The Big L, I mean that one’s not great…)

Strangely I remember Joyride as their first big hit, but research indicates that it was just about their last. Maybe I was just very late getting on the bandwagon.

27: I’m Free – The Soup Dragons – 1990

While we generally held dance music in disdain we could recognise a good jam when we heard it. This track definitely qualified, probably because it was originally a Rolling Stones song.

28: Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1991

You couldn’t get away from this track back in ’91. It was another that we composed a parody to, this one about one of our less effective teachers. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a teacher, I just sit here and talk to my best friend…

The Chili Peppers toured Perth the following year and numerous girls in Justin and my physics class were quite excited to see them, particularly since they were known for performing wearing only a single sock each. “Where!?” commented a scandalised Justin. “Where would you put a sock if that’s all you had to wear, man?” I asked him by way of explanation.

29: December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) – The Four Seasons/Ben Liebrand – 1993

This remix was a huge hit in our final year at high school. I particularly remember it being played on the year 12 retreat at Jarrahdale – presumably on cassette since radio reception down that way was notoriously horrible.

30: Last Train to Trancentral – The KLF – 1991

It is difficult to convey how much we geeks idolised, nay, worshipped the KLF. Their smash hit album The White Room was like holy scripture to us. We sang it. We quoted it. We ascribed strange powers to it, like the time the sign at the Home of Peace retirement village lit up one evening just as the line “…war and peace…” from Church of the KLF came sliding out of the car stereo. I memorised the rap (inaccurately as it turns out) from the Stand By the Jams version of Justified and Ancient and would recite it at such speed that it resembled speaking in tongues to try and impress girls (this never worked). We pondered the mysteries locked within Justin’s unplayable copy of History of the Jams, made efforts to obtain a copy of the aborted White Room movie and even christened Justin’s land rover The Justified.

We regarded Last Train to Trancentral as the greatest of the Stadium House Trilogy, not just because of the music, but because of the awesome model train layout (or in Justin’s case Wanda Dee) in the video.

– THIS IS WHAT KLF IS ABOUT –
– ALSO KNOWN AS THE JUSTIFIED ANCIENTS OF MU MU –
– FURTHERMORE KNOWN AS THE JAMS –

 

Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

31: Two Princes – The Spin Doctors -1991

The Spin Doctors had a sizable hit with Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, then followed it up with this even bigger hit. It cropped up repeatedly during our high school years, Mark discussing the lyrics in art class, Justin arguing that the video clip mocked overweight people, and being played towards the end of the graduation ball, during which we geeks mostly sat around a table slamming back cola and watching everyone else dance.

32: Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen – 1975

The Geek Underclass soundtrack would not be complete without Queen’s classic rock-ballad-opera-anthem-epic.

Everyone was a bit unsure about Queen. I mean, they were a gay band right? If you listened to Queen you might be gay – or be thought to be gay, which was something we geeks suffered through on a daily basis anyway and didn’t want any more of. We all changed our minds however in 1992 when the combination of Freddie Mercury’s passing and the song’s appearance in Wayne’s World rocketed it back up to the top of the charts for weeks on end and we all realised just what we were missing.

Apart from Satanic Shaun Bettar of course. He didn’t care if Freddy Mercury “wanted to break free”, he simply refused to acknowledge that anything lighter than Metallica could be considered rock music. But hey, that just meant there was more Queen for the rest of us.

And so we come to the end of the Tales of the Geek Underclass soundtrack. Thirty Two songs (assuming I’ve counted them right) that sum up my weird, strange, horrible and awesome high school years. There were many more tracks that could have been included, but I think these ones provide the best impression of that crazy half decade. Peace out, be excellent to each other and make mine a 99!

All the Russians Wanna Rock – The Tales of The Geek Underclass Soundtrack Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the theoretical soundtrack to the Tales of the Geek Underclass! If you haven’t read it already you may want to head back to Part One – otherwise, enjoy!

12: Sacrifice – Elton John – 1989

About halfway through our high school careers the elderly and hardly ever seen school Chaplain was replaced by the young and dynamic Father Jack. He was about as cool as any Catholic priest could hope to be, which was probably down to him being a Franciscan (all Franciscans harbour a touch of anarchy in their hearts) and his taking his dog with him everywhere, even up on the altar at school masses. We geeks ended up sharing a cabin with him on the year 12 retreat, which was certainly better than having to bunk down in the dorm with all the jocks.

One thing he did seem to miss the boat on though was the meaning of Elton John’s song Sacrifice. He played this incessantly at school religious events, linking it with Jesus’s crucifixion. Unfortunately it’s actually a song about infidelity and relationship breakdown. Not such a great choice there Father!

13: Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight – Body Count – 1992

Mr Feverson, the school art teacher, liked playing music in class. This generally varied between classical works such as Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess and tracks from a ‘self-esteem’ CD he apparently thought suitable for the edification of teenagers rather than kindergarten children who might actually feel encouraged rather than talked down to by a song titled My Magic Brain.

I’m not entirely sure of the circumstances that lead to him authorising a student to play Body Count’s Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight. He stood by the CD player with an interested expression as the song began, an expression that became increasingly troubled as Ice-T rapped about discovering his mother was a racist. By the time Ice was beating his mother to death with a baseball bat Mr Feverson’s face was drawn and pale, and when it got to distributing her body parts all over the United States he looked ready to either burst into tears or pass out.

Personally I found the song to be so ridiculously over the top as to be hilarious. I can’t imagine seeing one of his students laughing hysterically at this sordid tale of matricide made Mr Feverson’s day any easier.

14: Jesus Was Way Cool – King Missile – 1990

Similarly bought in and played by a student was this meditative piece by King Missile. It was in Mr Eggar’s Religious Education class in 1993, our senior year. At the start of said year Mr Eggar had informed us that he didn’t believe in forcing religion down people’s throats so he would teach us whatever we needed to pass any tests and otherwise we should treat his classroom as a place to hang out, catch up on any study or homework we were lagging behind on, and generally just do whatever we wanted as long as it didn’t disrupt our fellow students. Forget Jesus, Mr Eggar was way cool.

One day someone bought in King Missile’s album and asked to play this song. Mr Eggar allowed it and we listened. We all agreed that it was pretty cool, and then asked Mr Eggar if we could play King Missile’s other well known track Detachable Penis.

Mr Eggar jumped up like he’d been shot and grabbed the CD player, stating that with ‘Fruitbat’ Romero as Principal there was no way in Hades he could allow us to play such a song. He maintained this line firmly despite much begging and my own explanation that the song was “just another way of looking at life” – a statement even I found puzzling as soon as it left my mouth.

15: So Far Away – Dire Straits – 1985

For reasons I can only attribute to the fact that their music is so damn good, Ryan and I became massive Dire Straits fans in high school. This was decidedly uncool – while the other kids were listening to Nevermind and Blood Sugar Sex Magic we were grooving to Brothers in Arms and swapping pirated tapes of On Every Street (my sloppy handwriting making My Parties look like My Panties was the source of great merriment, particularly as I’d filled up some left over space on the cassette with Single Handed Sailor). We’d challenge each other to identify Straits songs by their lyrics – Ryan notably baffling me by quoting The Blues (a rare track that I didn’t rate so much).

Dire Straits were also called into action when a couple of our geeky comrades forgot to bring in examples of ballads for English class. I happened to have Money For Nothing on me that day so Adam was assigned Tunnel of Love, while I managed to come up with a somewhat convincing argument for Walk of Life for Mark.

As such the soundtrack would not be complete without a contribution from Mr Knopfler, and what better than this classic tale of loneliness?

16: Jukebox in Siberia – Skyhooks – 1990

By 1990 glam rockers Skyhooks were looking rather worse for wear, but they managed to pull themselves together enough to commemorate the thawing of Russian relations with this hit novelty track.

We geeks had a somewhat mixed relationship with it – it should have been terrible on every level, but the the lyrics were pretty clever and the tune was really annoying catchy. We compromised by singing along with slightly altered lyrics – Jukebox in Siberia! A pain in the posterior!

17: Just the way it is Baby – The Rembrandts – 1991

Every time I hear this song it takes me back to the summer of 1991-1992, lying on my bed in my newly cleaned bedroom, listening to the radio and reading a graphic novel adaption of Dragons of Winter Night with the sun streaming in the windows and the entire school holidays in front of me.

18: You Could Be Mine – Guns n’ Roses – 1991

Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II both came out in 1991 and were regarded as almost holy artifacts when one of the bogans bought copies of them with him to the year 11 retreat at Jarrahdale. The obvious track to feature would be the awesome November Rain – particularly after Fabian spent hours and hours transcribing the violins by ear to reproduced them in a tracker program, but I’m instead featuring the decidedly second rate You Could Be Mine simply because Satanic Shaun Bettar almost punched me in the face when I mistakenly attributed it to Metallica during a discussion about Terminator 2 in art class.

19: To Be With You – Mr Big – 1991

Desperate efforts were made during the year 11 Jarrahdale retreat to try and pick up a Perth radio station for some decent music (the bogans refusing to yield either Use Your Illusion for general consumption). Fiddling with the aerial eventually picked up a crackly and distorted signal long enough to listen to Mr Big’s To Be With You and Zucchero and Paul Young’s Senza una Donna before it faded back into static.

20: What’s Up? – 4 Non Blondes – 1993

The current generation tend to know this as the HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA song, but back in 1993 we were blown away by the astonishing vocals (and most impressive hat) of Linda Perry.

So there we go. Be sure to check back soon for the third and final installment of the Tales of the Geek Underclass Soundtrack!

I Wanna be Just Like You – The Tales of The Geek Underclass Soundtrack Part 1

Back in the day when I was writing the Tales of the Geek Underclass I had the idea of putting together a soundtrack of songs that featured in the stories or evoked (for me at least) that particular period in history. I never did, mostly because I got a job, which cut down on the time I had to spend on writing, and I went on antidepressants which – although making me feel much better generally – affected my ability to write anything at all. The Tales stalled and getting perilously close to twenty years later I’m not sure if I could pick them up again. A lot of memories have faded, and not only am I no longer the kid who went through it all, I’m no longer the young adult who wrote what exists of them.

I’ll never say never, but the prospects of a Geek Underclass revival are – at this point – fairly dim.

The soundtrack project however is something that’s been hovering in the back of my head for close on two decades, and now that the data sucking behemoth that is Google hosts just about every song ever recorded by mankind on YouTube it’s a lot easier to accomplish than having to locate the tracks on Napster, spend a week downloading them across dial up, burn them to CDs, design and print covers and then distribute the finished items to people who probably don’t really understand what the whole project is about in the first place.

So, let’s get on with it…

(Yes, I could make a YouTube playlist but I am averse to willingly providing Google with even more info than they have already no doubt amassed on me. If they want this data they’re going to have to scrape it damnit!)

1: The King of Wishful Thinking – Go West – 1992

As a lovelorn teen I was very keen on the name of this song and adopted it as a personal title in relation to my long running crush on the girl I’ve glossed in the Tales as Lauren Alighieri. This was in spite of the fact that the song – as was repeatedly and vociferously pointed out to me by Ryan – was clearly about a guy unable to get over a breakup and there was no way I could “miss the way that [Lauren] used to kiss me” because we’d never even so much as held hands.

2: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers – 1988

This was played on the bus to year 8 camp resulting in the entire year singing along with the “da da da da” bit – probably to the intense annoyance of the driver.

3: Enter Sandman – Metallica – 1991

No Tales soundtrack would be complete without something from Metallica, the favourite band of Satanic Shaun Bettar. He much preferred this to the other major cut from the Metallica album – Nothing Else Matters – which he described as a “soppy fucking love song”.

4: Just Like You – Robbie Neville – 1991

I clearly remember Ryan declaring this to be his favourite song ever. He equally clearly remembers hating it with the heat of a thousands suns. It’s funny how memory can mislead us.

5: Get Ready for This – 2 Unlimited – 1991

The early 90’s were when electronic dance music crossed into the mainstream. Most of it was appalling, and this major hit from the Netherlands was no exception. We hated it. It became for us a symbol of everything that was wrong with popular music. Its ubiquity throughout ’91 and ’92 and our burning hatred for it means that it cannot in honestly – despite its dreadful mediocrity – be excluded from any musical summing up of the Tales.

(Two additional notes: In a moment of random computer class insanity I re-coded the into music for a game where two giant gorillas threw explosive bananas at each other to the song’s synth riff, and I’ve never been able to shake the mental image that occurred to me when I first learned that 2 Unlimited were Dutch – that of two skinny old men in suspenders and flat caps with scraggly beards hanging down to their belts strutting up and down and performing dance moves on top of a canal boat.)

6: Winds of Change – The Scorpions – 1991

It’s probably difficult for anyone who grew up after the whole thing was over to appreciate just how momentous the end of the Cold War was. We’d all grown up with the fear of nuclear annihilation hovering over us, the world could end at any moment with only a few minutes warning and there was little to nothing we could do about it. Then, suddenly, in the space of a few short years it was all done. The Wall was down, the Russians were our friends and it was time to party! Paging David Hasselhoff!

Looking back from our post-9/11, Putin-on-the-warpath world the carefree days of the 90’s seem like another planet. But such has always been the way of the world.

The Scorpions’ anthem also makes it onto the album for another reason. I don’t know how the secondary school system runs nowdays, but back when the Geek Underclass were being forced through it the final two years – Year 11 and Year 12 – were optional. You generally only did them if you intended to go on to university. If you had an apprenticeship or job lined up (or if you just didn’t give a monkey’s) you could finish school at the end of year 10 and never come back. And if you stayed on, things got dead serious with only two years to prepare for the dreaded Tertiary Entrance Exam.

So for me at least, the end of 1991 was much more of an end of high school than my actual graduation at the end of Year 12 in 1993 was. It was the last time our class was complete, with a swathe of friends, enemies and bit players vanishing from the school stage. Our carefree childhoods ended and we became professional students, knuckling down and packing our brains for the TEE. Winds of Change felt like a commemoration of that transition, a graduation song a full two years early. I still remember sitting in a pew at the chapel down at Saint Brigit’s with it playing, although I can’t quite remember why we were there rather than at the school’s chapel/gym – maybe there was a volleyball game or something that day?

7: Friday I’m in Love – The Cure – 1992

There were two reasons we hated the Cure.

First of all they were Goths. Or at least they were listened to by Goths, which in our addled teenage minds pretty much added up to the same thing. Goths – strange, dark, and pale inhabitants of the GPO steps in Forrest Place – were the subject of much disdain, both in our day to day conversation and on Radio RTR’s letter request program Steregoround. We mocked them mercilessly, I even made up a Goth joke!

Q: How do you know when there’s a Goth in your freezer?

A: Face prints in the vanilla ice-cream.

I can’t think of a single reason why we despised Goths so. Possibly as close to the lowest members of the social heirarchy  we just needed some group to look down on, and Goths were a convenient target. Particularly so in that there were no Goths (obvious ones at least) at the school, and hence we had no fear of reprisals.

The second reason we despised the Cure is that they were the favourite band of one of our enemies, a girl I shall call Carisse Halter. While most of the school’s female population saw fit to simply ignore us, there was a small contingent who went out of their way to harass and belittle us, and Carisse was one of their leading lights. We would exchange insults and invective on a regular basis, and one of the most effective ways to rattle her was to mock her beloved Robert Smith. In particular I used to do a Robert Smith impression consisting of spreading out my hands, affecting a look of weepy confusion and making what are probably best described as high pitched wookiee sounds towards the sky.

Friday I’m in Love being the Cure’s biggest hit made it – in our minds – the most Gothic song ever written, and we were scathing in our disdain of it!

The irony was I actually thought it was a fantastic song and just pretended to hate it. And as the years went by and I shed the more gregarious idiocies of my adolescence I came to realise that the Cure are an amazing band with dozens of other fantastic songs. Sorry Carisse! Sorry Robert!

(I also developed a bit of a thing for Goth chicks, but that’s neither here nor there…)

8: Mistadobalina – Del tha Funky Homosapien – 1991

This was probably the first piece of hip hop our white arses ever heard. It was so catchy that we even rewrote a version about Sarge, the Chemistry teacher (for the record it wasn’t very good…).

9: The Globe – Big Audio Dynamite – 1991

We were huge fans of both The Globe and Rush by Big Audio Dynamite, so one of the two would have to feature on the soundtrack. I was particularly proud of having memorised the lyrics behind the chorus (Tryin’ to – get out this rain…).

10: Runaway Train – Soul Asylum – 1993

As a moody teen there are times when you simply have to wallow in self pity about how awful your life is and how no one cares about your feelings. One of the best songs for this during our school years – in my opinion – was Soul Asylum’s mega hit. Even today it still stands up – particularly when you realise it’s not about how your parents just don’t understand you, but about depression.

11: Heart in Danger – Southern Sons – 1990

Another song I enjoyed sulking to, Heart in Danger has not stood up anywhere near as well. The tune is still pretty rockin’ but the lyrics read like every moody teenager diary entry ever penned – which is presumably why it appealed to me so much at the time. Now it’s just pure cringe, and as such must be included in the soundtrack to remind us all of what free-wheeling, artless fools we once were!

So that’s it for today. Tune in soon for more 90’s goodness in the Tales of The Geek Underclass Soundtrack Part 2!

Westfail

Weighted Companion Cubes

So, Westfield are setting up a “virtual shopping mall”, featuring all the stores present in their physical shopping centres.

Or at least the ones willing to pay even more than they’re already gouged for to obtain a “virtual lease”.

So they can be on an e-commerce site. On top of the e-commerce sites they almost certainly already have.

Oh, and they’ll pay a commission back to Westfield on all sales.

Sounds a lot like the “virtual shopping malls” that did so well in the late 90’s. Remember them?

Thought not.

I mean I’m not saying it won’t work.

I’m just saying it probably won’t.

Prove me wrong Westfield dudes!