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…)
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.
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.
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.
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!
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!