Richard King – Original Rockers (Literature Review)

Richard King’s Original Rockers is more than a behind-the-scenes music memoir. It is a book of passion, capturing a time when music was everything.

Before reading this book, I didn’t really know much about Revolver Records, or the Bristol music scene. Though I have read a fair bit about music, this has only really included biographies of some of my favourite artists. My knowledge of music as an industry, particularly in the overseas market, is fairly limited. Original Rockers, for me, provided an interesting and thought-provoking read, unlike anything I’d ever really come across before.

Throughout its short life, Revolver Records became something of a cultural phenomenon. It refused to pander to the whim of record labels and did not stock music simply because it was popular. It indulged in stocking off-the-wall vinyls, rarities and bootleg recordings from some of the industry’s more obscure acts, and makes no apologies for doing so.

King puts it most poetically at the end of the first chapter, ‘Revolver never bought, sold, or played music in any accepted sense. Rather, the shop and its customers experienced music as if they were practicing rituals. I had renewed my familiarity with these rituals to a point where I was able to participate in a form of time travel, to a journey’s end where the emotional effect of music was as overwhelming and illuminating as the moon at its nearest and fullest as if revealing an eternal, solitary truth.’

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Buy your copy of “Original Rockers” at Dymocks.

In the beginning, this book seems to be all that it appears, an insight into the inner workings of a record store at a time when the Bristol music scene was still in its fledgling years. Sure, it has those anecdotes one comes to expect when reading books of its kind, such as the time when owner Roger was kidnapped by concert promoters after accidentally giving their money to a con artist the previous day, or when he refused to serve customers based on the fact that they were carrying shopping bags from other, more mainstream rivals; but that isn’t what makes it special.

Many music historians have taken on the death of vinyl over the years, particularly we move into a world that is becoming more digitally focused by the second. King’s account, as an employee rather than an outsider, of the inner sanctum that was Revolver, is what makes this book unique. His personal experiences of certain music, be it CAN, Rod Stewart or Townes Van Zandt, when meshed with historical facts about the industry at the time, allow for a book that is, on the whole, quite readable and entertaining.

Original Rockers encapsulates the music industry of days gone by and the reason why music continues to resonate so strongly in many a culture. For any music fan, it’s a must have.

It’s published by Allen & Unwin/Faber & Faber, and is available in hardcover, paperback or e-book formats.

[Editor/Author Note: This review was first published by cargoART Magazine.]

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Nelly Furtado – The Ride (Album Review)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since Canadian singer/songwriter Nelly Furtado released her last English full-length album The Spirit Indestructible and even longer still that she had us up and dancing around to her massive hits, Promiscuous, Maneater and Say It Right from 2006’s Loose. And let’s not linger too long on the fact that her that her breakout single, I’m Like A Bird was featured on her debut album, Whoa Nelly! (released in 2001).

Now, Furtado has officially released her highly anticipated sixth studio album, The Ride, an alt-pop record she considers to be inspired by life’s hard knocks, celebrating the stumbles and one’s ability to move on.

Nelly Furtado - The Ride

Click here to get your copy of this album!

 

 

Though it has been a while since Furtado’s last full length release, it would seem that she has lost none of the unique vibe that has earned her millions of fans worldwide. The Ride is a testament to Furtado’s ability to find her own pop niche, and stand out from artists who have come before, or will follow her into the industry.

The Ride opens with the heavy in-your-face hook of Cold Hard Truth, and it’s easy to see why this release is thought to be a departure from her usual sound. While it’s just that little bit different from her previous material, it’s still uniquely Furtado’s style, and certainly sucks the listener in in a way that only she can.

Carnival Games and Tap Dancing show off the lighter side to the singer-songwriter’s voice, highlighting her versatility and ability to excel in both ballads and more upbeat tunes. Be it the lyrical quality behind these songs or the sweet melody that provide a contrast to the tracks they feature in between, personally, I can’t seem to find fault with them.

If there is one downfall of The Ride it comes in Pipe Dreams and Right Road. While the songs start off promising, they just don’t hold water and ultimately fall flat amid tracks that are quite solid. For me, they were way too generic and a little boring.

Paris Sun has a sticky, almost dirty beat to it that’s just begging to be played loud in a dark club somewhere, but Sticks and Stones and Palaces have that unique hit potential that Furtado is probably most well known for. The latter in particular is a definite highlight for me. You also can’t go past the closing track, Pheonix. Lyrically profound and beautiful, it’s the perfect way to finish this album.

The thing that I enjoy most about Furtado’s music is that she doesn’t seem to follow trends like many other female artists in the industry. She releases her style of music when she’s ready, and is seemingly ignorant of pressures others often succumb to. That’s what makes this album work. Sure, it does have hallmarks of her previous hits, but the overall sound has been revamped and modernised in a way that embodies the freshness of 2017 pop.

Whether you’re looking for something reminiscent of when pop wasn’t all meaningless noise, or just want something a little fresher to add to your music collection, give The Ride a listen. Though it does have its ups and downs, there’s enough there to make it shine.

[Editor/Author Note: This review was  published by AMNplify. View it in its original capacity here.]

Paige Hardt – I, Peter Wood (Literature Review)

Paige Hardt’s debut novel I, Peter Wood is a captivating examination of human relationships and the tale of one family’s journey back to one another.

There’s always a bit of pressure on a debut novelist picked up from the slush pile, and no one knows that better than Hardt, who has been trying to break into the publishing industry since she was a teenager. Hardt’s debut novel is proof that sometimes perseverance is worth the wait, even if your reward does take longer than expected to come to fruition.

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Buy your copy of “I, Peter Wood” here!

Audrey Wood has never got along with her family very well. She’s the odd man out, the black sheep. But when her father dies suddenly, she is forced to return to the family home – the last thing she wants to do at such a difficult time. But as they come together in their grief, Audrey discovers that she needs these virtual strangers just as much as they need her.

Personally, I was of two minds when it came to reading I, Peter Wood, particularly as I have been friends with the author for quite some time. Whilst I was excited and intrigued to read the book that was responsible for her recent success, I couldn’t shake the worrying sensation that it perhaps wouldn’t live up to my (somewhat high) expectations. Nevertheless, I put these feelings aside and approached the book openly, just as I would with any other author.

It turns out I needn’t have been concerned, and I honestly wasn’t prepared for the quality of Hardt’s work. From the outset, her tale is both heart-warming and engaging, her words poetic and well-crafted. The characters are three-dimensional with back stories that draw you in as you ride the Wood family rollercoaster and watch while they struggle to find their way out of this emotional turmoil in which they suddenly find themselves.

Drawn perhaps from her own experiences, it is Hardt’s frankness that I found most endearing. Despite the darker subject with which her novel deals, there are moments of lightness as the subplots come together to create a story that is full of life, further engaging the reader.

This novel is the perfect debut and will sit well on any bookshelf alongside the likes of John Green and Nicholas Sparks. I can’t wait to see more of Hardt’s work in the future.

I, Peter Wood is published through French Press Bookworks/Pen Name Publishing in both paperback and e-book format. It can be ordered into various bookshops or via Amazon.

Don’t forget to read my interview with Paige Hardt here!

 

[Editor/Author Note: This review was first published by cargoART Magazine.]

Todd Alexander – Tom Houghton (Literature Review)

Australian author Todd Alexander returns to fiction with his second novel Tom Houghton, a unique coming-of-age story set to inspire.

Growing up in Sydney’s western suburbs, twelve year old Tom Houghton isn’t like his schoolmates, and often ostracised because of his differences. His home life is somewhat dysfunctional and instead of spending his lunch hour playing footy, he prefers to curl up with a film magazine and indulge in stories of actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood – most notably the ever-glamorous Katharine Hepburn.

As Tom delves further into the life of his favourite actress, he finds a kindred spirit in her brother, Thomas Houghton Hepburn, who took his own life at an early age, and his sister’s dedication to keeping her brother’s memory alive long after his passing. It is at this point that he decides to follow in his idol’s footsteps and take on a new identity, rising above his bullies and fulfilling his superstar destiny.

Will he succeed in his endeavour to be free of his past? What effect does the torment he endured as a child have on his self-worth as an adult? Told over two timeframes (that of Tom as a pre-teen and as an adult), these are the themes explored in Alexander’s latest novel.

When a novel is labelled “special” by the publishers and receives such high praise from critics even before its release, it is difficult to not have high expectations upon reading it. This, in turn, raises the inevitable question: is it really worth all that hype? After all, publishers are hardly going to sell novels by telling readers about all the bad reviews, are they?

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Click here for your copy of this book.

Though the novel does explore this moral strain of bullying and its long lasting impact on a person’s character, it is not preachy as some novels tend to be when exploring this idea.  Alexander’s storytelling is tender and unique, sympathetic to the younger Tom and yet pointing out his blatant character faults as an adult.

As Tom embarks on a journey of self-discovery in the midst of turmoil, the readers are right there with him, cringing as he makes mistakes and cheering him on when he succeeds. Such is the life Alexander has breathed into his characters, I found myself thinking of him when I wasn’t reading the book and he stayed with me long after I finished.

Tom Houghton truly is an inspiring read and one which I would recommend to all.

You can find out more about Alexander through his website, or read this interview!

[Editor/Author Note: This article was first published by cargoART Magazine in 2015]

CF Patients Seize The Day

 

[Editor/Author Note: This article was originally published by My Town Magazine in 2014.]

Cystic Fibrosis patients inspired locals with their stories of bravery and triumph at the annual Cystic Fibrosis High Tea Fundraiser this past weekend.

The champagne flowed just as much as the tears as 85 friends, family members and strangers banded together to indulge in the delicacies offered by Lavender and Lace High Tea. The mood was lightened with a fashion parade, where Narangba Valley State School teachers modelled clothing provided by Just Add Bling. There were raffles to which local businesses donated prizes.

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Image via Cystic Fibrosis Qld‘s social media.

Cystic Fibrosis is a cause which is close to Lianna Manuel, committee members Heidi Willows, Kylie Bocking and Kristy Blacker’s hearts, as both Kristy and Kylie have children with Cystic Fibrosis. Having raised over $3000 (and counting) for Cystic Fibrosis Queensland, these ladies should congratulate themselves on their efforts.

One in every 2500 Australian children are born with Cystic Fibrosis every year, with one in twenty-five people carrying the gene.  The average Cystic Fibrosis patient will be admitted to hospital between one to six times a year, as complications increase with age.

With statistics like this, you would half expect patients to be downhearted about their experiences, but the afternoon of August 23rd 2014 was a time to look to the future rather than dwell on the negatives of this devastating illness. The Australian Rules venue, in the Moreton Bay Sports Complex at Burpengary, was filled to the brim with stories of positivity, such as that of Kristy Blacker’s son, who, despite doctor’s prognosis that he would not live to see his third birthday, recently graduated from palliative care and is preparing for kindy. He will turn four this year.

Another Cystic Fibrosis patient who refuses to be held back by her illness is Lucy. ‘I stand here today to give parents of children with CF hope,’ she says. She will celebrate her thirtieth birthday this November. Such milestones, while commonplace for the average person, are even more important for Cystic Fibrosis patients, who have a shortened life span. Her condition has taught her not to take life for granted. It has left her with the determination to make the most of the time she has. ‘Even if I don’t get to grow old, I have everything I want. I’m happy and I’m young.’

To find out more about the amazing work Cystic Fibrosis Queensland do, click here.

 

 

Interview with Scott Darlow

Having called the music industry home for a number of years now, ex-school teacher turned singer/songwriter Scott Darlow discusses his debut solo album, Sorry, working with Shane Howard and being an ambassador for World Vision Australia.

Scott Darlow

Image courtesy of artist’s Facebook.

 

Congratulations on the release of your latest album, Sorry. Can you tell me about the inspiration behind the record as a whole?

Thank you. Yeah, it’s a really interesting record. Some of the songs are really old and some of them are new, so I guess in some ways it feels like it’s really telling the story of my life over the last several years. One of the things that I get comments about is, there’s a real diversity between the songs. There’s some love songs, a break up song, but then there’s some real political songs as well. So for me, I feel like it’s a real representation of the different parts of my life over a journey of the last several years.

 

This is touted as your debut solo album, but you’ve released albums under different monikers, such as The Darlow Show, over the years. How does this compare to previous releases?

That’s a good question. So The Darlow Show was a band that I started years ago. We got around as kids and we toured the States and Asia and had a really fun time, but like any band, it’s not you, it’s a band. Even though it’s my name on the bill … there was a drummer in that band – a guy called Callum and he’s now a producer, and he had a lot of ideas when it came to producing records and writing – and then Lyndon who played guitar, he’s also now a producer, and he’s done solo records himself.

Being in a band with two guys in production particularly, it really was a group consensus all the time, whereas with this record, it’s been a situation where I’ve really been able to make the record I wanted to make, I think, which has been exciting. And also, being able to come and investigate what songs I wanted to put on it, and have people say, “No, don’t put that song or this song on.” It’s been a lot more of a personal, selfish representation, put it that way.

 

What was the recording process like?

It was cool, actually. We recorded all the drums and bass and guitars in America. All the drums and bass we recorded in an old studio down in San Clemente in Orange County, almost towards the San Diego border.

We recorded to two-inch tape, analogue. So, in today’s day and age, everything’s … all digital. We actually went and bought reels of tape in Hollywood, and then recorded the drums. I don’t know if anyone can hear it, but every time I hear the drums and bass, I just love ‘em, cos they sound really big and fat to me. And then guitars we recorded in Long Beach.

It was a really exciting experience to be in the States recording with other players, and just immersed in that environment.

The vocals are really interesting. I had a go at doing them with the guy who produced all the guitars and drums, and just wasn’t happy with how they sounded, and then I came back to Australia, and I had a go at recording a fresh set with Irwin Thomas – you might know him as Jack Jones, he used to sing in a band called Southern Sons. Jack and I had a go at them for a couple of weeks, and I still wasn’t one hundred percent happy with them. I had this thing in my head, “It doesn’t matter how good the guitars sound, the drums, if I don’t nail the vocals [and] I’m not one hundred percent happy with them, it doesn’t matter.

So eventually, somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody recommended that I go and see Adrian Hannan – Adrian’s a producer who lives in Melbourne and he’s worked with everybody from Delta Goodrem to … all Taxiride’s early stuff. He discovered Gabriella Cilmi, he’s just an amazing producer, an amazing vocal coach and a beautiful human – and he actually taught me how to sing in the studio. Even though I’d done records before, looking back now, I had no idea what I was doing back then (laughs) … We got ‘em done, and he actually produced the sessions with Shane Howard as well [and] really helped us get that duet cobbled together, which was a whole thing in itself.

 

I did actually want to talk to you about how a few of your songs reflect your Aboriginal heritage. How important is it for you to include those messages of cultural awareness in your music?

I think it’s important, because it’s who I am. If I’m gunna be making a record, it’s gunna be telling the stories of my heart, and it’s my song lines. There’s a song on the album called My Love, which I wrote about my daughter when she was born – I love her, she’s my daughter – but similarly, a song like Sorry is a song I wrote about my family and the ache in my heart to see my people do better.

It’s not so much like I’m trying to make some political statement, it’s my song lines. These are songs that are in my heart, and my story and my journey. For me, that’s what an artist does. He shares himself with the world via music. And the flipside of it is, it allows me to have a platform and challenge people to be changemakers.

But I think you can only have those songs and do that if … they’re coming as a representation of your spirit. I think if you [can’t] try to write songs to be antagonistic or to try and be a changemaker if that’s not who you are. They’ll come across as being disingenuous.

 

I interviewed Shane Howard a few months back. As you said, you worked with him on your version of Solid Rock. What was that like?

(Laughs) Mate, it was so good! You gotta understand, I grew up idolising Shane, you know. I asked him to do the duet not for a minute thinking he’d say yes. So then when he said yes … To be honest with you, I don’t think that I really believed it would happen until his van pulled up out the front of the studio and he stepped out of his van.  (Laughs) And I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, this is happening!”

It was an early morning session, 9am, and he gets out of the van and steps up to the microphone, and just nails it! He gave me a lesson: this is how you be a pro in the studio at nine o’clock in the morning after four hours’ sleep. The guy’s a phenomenal artist!

But aside from being inspired by him musically, I’ve just been inspired by getting to know him; he’s just so humble and generous and the guy’s got an amazing capacity to love. I can’t speak highly enough of Shane and how talented and generous he’s been … It’s been like doing an apprenticeship, looking at somebody who’s older and going, “I’d really like to be like him when I’m older.”

When I asked Shane about that song, he said it seems to have grown and changed somewhat over time, and always gets a good crowd reaction when performed live. What is it about Solid Rock, for you, that continues to resonate today?

Look, there’s a lot of things about that song that makes it resonate. I sing in a hundred high schools a year around Australia. It’s funny, if you look at my Facebook page, there’s footage of me singing that song to 150 Year 12 boys from St Bernard’s College in Essendon, they were all singing along, chanting a lyric out. And I’m going, “Here are 17/18-year-old boys singing their lungs out to an acoustic guitar and one dude.” And that’s not because of me, it’s because that song is just a magical song. [It’s] partly because of the truth that lies in the lyric; it’s a history lesson – I’m an ex school teacher; you could teach a lyric in that song as a history unit – but then musically, it’s a friggin’ great rock song.

And I also think, without sounding too much of a hippy, … there’s stuff that happens in the spiritual realm when music is playing, that we don’t understand. I think there are certain songs that connect with people’s spirits. I don’t know why and I don’t know how; if we knew why and how, we’d all be writing hits and I’d be retired on a beach somewhere.  But I think that’s one of those songs. It’s got some magic in it. It connects and it joins people’s spirits.

 

You’ve done a lot of community work, playing in schools and providing assistance to Aboriginal communities in need. Can you tell me about that and your work with World Vision?

Yeah, I don’t know that I’ve provided assistance to Aboriginal families in need directly. What I do is I go and sing and speak in high schools all over the country, and use my music to educate students about the real history of this country.

I don’t do it in a negative way. It’s not about trying to make people feel guilty because of their ancestors or blaming people, but it’s about saying, “This is what happened in our country, and what happened in 1788, that directly affected what happened in 1800, and that directly affected what happened in 1810, and so on and so on.” History connects history and connects history, and that connects to the future.

The things that we see in Australia today, like the life expectancy disparity, the fact that Aboriginal children are 10 times more likely to go to prison than finish high school … all of these things are a direct  result of compounded history.

By teaching people the history of this country, what you do is you allow them to have an understanding of why things are the way they are today. Once you understand why, that gives you an ability to try and negotiate with the present and find a way forward that’s positive and healthy.

I try and do that, and go in to hopefully inspire students and teachers to have empathy and really want to create change and fix some of the problems that we see. The way that I do that is I talk to them about F.L.U.T.E (which is an acronym for Forgiveness, Love, Understanding, Tolerance and Empathy), and by everybody [hearing] that word and deciding to incorporate it into their day, every day, and try and change a percent more of those things to every person they encounter, it’s kind of like a pay it forward [scheme] …

But then the other way is talking about World Vision. For $35 a month (a dollar a day pretty much), you can sew into an Aboriginal community and help education and health outcomes, all these programmes.

I often say to people, “It’s great that you sponsor kids overseas. Please don’t stop doing that – we really need that to happen. But I reckon a lot of people can afford to take care of our back yard as well as someone else’s.”

Between education and really promoting the amazing work that World Vision Australia do, I’m doing my part, I think.

How do you believe that music in general can help us as a nation towards that ultimate goal of reconciliation?

Well, I think in a number of ways. As I said before, there’s stuff that happens in a person’s spirit when music is played. A song like Sorry, I’ll get people come up to me – I’ll often close my show with it typically – and they’ll be in tears, and they can’t even tell you why. That song particularly has been a real gift to me. I remember writing it. I was sitting on the couch at my mum’s house with a pen and paper and I had this lyric written. The impact I’ve seen that song have in people who hear it is overwhelming.

I think it’s a thing that happens in the spirit with music. But, also just the platform it gives. On Saturday night, I had the privilege of opening for Diesel in Melbourne and before I sang that last song, I got to talk for five minutes, not even five minutes, three minutes, about the work that World Vision do, and after the show I had a table where I was selling CDs, but I also had flyers. All these people came and took flyers. Some of them will go and sponsor the program.

I think you can really educate through lyric [and] you can educate through what it does to a person’s spirit. But also just tangibly, getting to talk to people on stage and afterwards … everyone loves music, and it allows you to share your message with all kinds of different people.

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Finding Comfort in One’s Own Skin: An Interview with T.M. Clark

 

Having just released her third novel, Tears of the Cheetah, author T.M. Clark finds inspiration in the familiar.

Clark has always had a vivid imagination and something of a penchant for storytelling, however turning her hobby into a career never really seemed to be an option. Instead she honed her skills as a technical writer and at night she would tell her children stories of her Southern African heritage.

Clark’s success has been swift since the publication of her first novel My Brother But One received a nomination in the Queensland Literary Awards. The accolade, something which many a writer could only dream, was particularly important to her as she has dyslexia. Shooting Butterflies, her second novel, received an award for cover art so the prospects for Tears of the Cheetah are quite high. Despite having only released this book in late November, she is already putting the final touches on her next novel, Child of Africa, which is due at the publishers in February 2016.

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Drawing on her own heritage and experiences was a natural way to go in her second book, Shooting Butterflies, having received such high praise with her debut, but Tears of the Cheetah is perhaps the novel closest to Clark’s heart. Her mother would often take in orphaned baby cheetahs and return them to health, so it was during these early years that Clark’s love of this endangered animal was born, and the inspiration for the story ultimately began.

She began her creative writing life after getting her short story published overseas before publishing children’s books under her full name Tina Marie Clark and eventually taking on a novel. Clark is now known as one of the best African suspense writers of the genre and though her novels are now highly regarded for the vivid culture they feature, dramatic characters and gripping scenes which enthrall the reader, it wasn’t always that easy.

This latest novel, in fact, began life as a story aimed at Mills and Boon’s “Blaze” category, where many of her writing friends were published. “We did this thing at my writing group where we had to take [our] story and change the location –originally that book was called Rocky Cowboy  and I’d set it up in Rockhampton, I then changed it to Africa – my writing group all just sat there and said, ‘What are you doing trying to write Australian? Your writing comes alive when you’re writing African,’” Clark says. “Once I got accepted to Harlequin Mira, I knew none of my books would ever be category romances.” Now, it would seem she would not have it any other way.

But it’s not all about personal success. Clark sees her job as being one of inspiring others, and runs the CYA Conference – a set of workshops designed to help aspiring writers of the Young Adult genre achieve their goals by introducing them to industry professionals. Now in its tenth year, the conference is well regarded and Clark hopes it will continue for many more years. “It’s my baby,” she says. She also co-ordinates the donation of books to Papua New Guinea, and the building of schools and libraries to help these local communities flourish.

Tears of the Cheetah is published through Harlequin Mira and is available from major bookstores and in e-book format. Child of Africa is said to be published in December 2017. For more information, visit Clark’s website.

[Editor/Author Note: This interview was originally published by Hush Hush Biz in December 2015. To view it in its original capacity, click here.]

Eileen Myles – I Must Be Living Twice (Literature Review)

Eileen Myles is one of America’s most renowned writers, known for her inimitable approach to verse and poignant stanzas that strike the hearts of many who read her work. With over twenty published works to her name (including poetry, libretti, plays and fiction), she is highly critically acclaimed, having secured (among other notable awards) the 2010 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America  and The Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing in 2015.

When I picked up I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975 – 2014, however, I wasn’t aware of the illustrious reputation that proceeded Myles and her work, so approached the book blind, with no expectations other than the hope that I would find another poet to add to my ever-growing collection of favourites. What I got was an approach to poetry that I had never come across before.

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I Must Be Living Twice is published by Allen & Unwin/Profile Books

Myles’ style is bold and unique, frenzied and unyielding as she seemingly refuses to follow the poetic rules of those set out by her predecessors. From newer poems such as What Tree Am I Waiting, LONDON EXCHANGE and memory, she moves onto the work for through which she has made a name for herself, starting chronologically with excerpts of 1978’s The Irony of The Leash all the way through to 2012’s Snowflake/Different Trees, and it is here that I find the poems to which I am most drawn.

For me, what makes Myles work stand out is the surprise within her prose. One poem can last up to two or three pages, almost essay-like in format (such as School of Fish) before displaying her talent for minimalistic brevity like that found in Road Warrior – which was one of my personal favourites.

While some poems may take a while to grasp the true meaning of what Myles is trying to say – I often found myself reading lines over again before I could make sense of what I was reading – it’s further proof that this is an artist who is unafraid to push the boundaries, to step outside the comfort zone of what a reader expects by making them question what they thought the world, and poetry in particular, was.

Admittedly, I didn’t like all that I read, but there were quite a few shining lights that made me keep coming back for more, wondering what Myles would do next, what topic she would cover and how she would do so. Poetry, at its very best is subjective and as such, hard to critique, but Myles has a unique way with words. It’s a confidence not often seen in even the most accomplished of poets that makes it compelling, if nothing else.

Myles may not be the most conventional of writers; her work has a restless quality that can make the reader feel a little uncertain at times. But if you’re looking for something outside the box, that makes you sit up and listen, you just may find something of worth in I Must Be Living Twice.

Anna Clark – Private Lives, Public History (Literature Review)

Australian historian Anna Clark is well-regarded in her chosen field and is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Public History at Sydney’s University of Technology. In the early 2000s, she received the NSW Premier’s Prize for Australian History and the Queensland Premier’s Prize for Best Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate alongside colleague Stuart Macintyre, with whom she wrote The History Wars.

Her latest book, Private Lives, Public History allows readers to question their relationship with Australian history, its influence on Indigenous Australians and immigrants, and how we as a nation appear on an international scale.

private lives public history

To secure your copy of Private Lives, Public History, click here.

 

 

Though it may not be as old as other nations, Australia has a long history – one which extends further than the settlement/invasion of the British in 1770. It’s diverse, much like the land in which we live – steeped in a culture that shapes the nation as a whole.

Much favoured by politicians, our “national history” focuses heavily on patriotism and a desire to help others in need, as commemorated in days such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. Our affiliation with the English is celebrated with national holidays including the Queen’s Birthday and Australia Day.

Though these are important to our nation, this appropriation of our history does not really take into account the Indigenous history that existed in this nation long before the British set foot on Australian soil. Nor does it encompass those who have chosen to call Australia home – immigrants who have left their native country in search of a better life, thus enhancing the multiculturalism of our nation that politicians seem to rely when presenting themselves to other nations. And it is this which Clark is most concerned in the writing of Private Lives, Public History.

Speaking to a number of diverse focus groups throughout the country, including Indigenous Australians and immigrants, Clark discusses whether we in fact need a national history, whether the one we have needs updating and Australians’ own relationship with that history and history in general. She asks the hard questions and is not afraid to include opinions that may disagree with the status quo.

From my early schooling, I have had a keen interest in history, devouring history books and historical fiction whenever I can get my hands on it. Private Lives, Public History fulfilled my desire for knowledge and allowed me to question my own opinions on Australian history and my relationship to it.

Admittedly, it is not an easy read; I don’t think it was ever meant to be – the questions posed are designed to get the reader thinking – but Clark’s writing is very readable. She breaks down concepts the average reader might not understand and at no time did I feel I was being preached to. To my recollection, she does not even state her opinion on the subject, merely stating the facts as she found them through her research and allows the reader to make up their own mind.

[Editor/Author Note: This review was published by The Australia Times Books Magazine in 2016 (Vol. 4, Issue 4 pg 62) . To view it in its original capacity, click here.]

Interview with Steve Hackett (former Genesis guitarist 1970 – 1977)

As Genesis’ guitarist from 1970 to 1977, Steve Hackett contributed to some of the band’s best songs, such as Blood on the Rooftops, The Musical Box and Afterglow. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the group’s iconic Wind and Wuthering album, Hackett is making his inaugural journey to Australia in August with his highly-acclaimed Genesis Revisited tour.

In this interview, he discusses his excitement for the impending tour, Genesis’ legacy and the influence his time there had on his solo success.

 

Steve Hackett (Image Supplied)

Image supplied.

You’re visiting Australia later this year as part of your Genesis Revisited tour. What are you most looking forward to when you tour here?

I’m looking forward to coming to Australia for the first time. It’s been a long time coming. My wife Jo and I are really looking forward to it and so is the band for all sorts of reasons.

We’re doing a show called Genesis Revisited but there is some solo stuff involved with that as well. It’s mainly Genesis. We do authentic versions of some really old tunes of Genesis from the ‘70s, but I kind of think they’re classic and they’re timeless. I don’t get a feeling of passing of time.

We’ve done an American tour, we’ve done the European. I’m about to be doing the UK tour so we’ll be there soon. I can’t wait to get there. The response already has been absolutely wonderful, from the people that I’ve spoken to. Basically, it’s a dream come true.

I guess, if you ever get that feeling that something isn’t going to work out, it’s never going to happen, you just have to keep [saying], “It’s never too late.”

Here we are at a late stage, but I think that it’ll be all the better for the wait, because I’ve got the best band line-up of all the bands that I’ve had so far and they are a group that can turn on a dime very authentic versions of early Genesis but they’ve got capabilities beyond that. They’re a kind of chameleon-like bunch and very gifted players and I love working with them. We have a laugh. We’re out there on the road, it’s fun.

At the moment it looks like the only Australian dates are in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Do you plan on announcing more dates soon, or will you return at a later time to tour WA, TAS, and the NT?

Well I haven’t got the dates in front of me now … but I suspect there will be other dates down the line. We do New Zealand as well. If it goes well … it all depends on attendance. If people show up, I’ll be back. It’ll be as simple as that.

David Williams, our promotor, is really looking forward to it. I don’t really know what to expect. I think that Australia – many of us haven’t had the pleasure of playing there before – it’s been a locked continent to us. My late great pal, John Wetton, spoke about the fact over the years that he’d never been to Australia, always wanted to go but it’d never quite come off for him … He’d wanted to come. He would like to have come.

Likewise I said, it’d never come off for me … In some ways, it was the same for Japan. It’d never come off for many years and I had to wait several decades until there was something in place but I’m really looking forward to it.

Generally speaking, what can people expect from one of your live performances, especially seeing as this is the first time Australians will be seeing songs such as Eleventh Earl of Mar and Dance on a Volcano in concert?

Oh yeah, we’re definitely doing those. We’re doing all sorts of tunes. We’re doing Dance on a Volcano, Squonk, Blood on the Rooftops, El Nino, Afterglow … The Musical Box, Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers … Eleventh Earl of Mar, which you mentioned … I think we’re doing different sets in different places. We have the capability of slipping in local themes, depending on how it goes but I know that David was very keen in advertising the fact that there is different sets.

I might also do an impromptu acoustic thing as well. I don’t really know what to expect. I believe in one day, I’m doing three performances so … I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be a challenge. Hey, I’m only 67 years young!

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