Art imitates art – Diane Keaton and Frank Black

In 1993 Diane Keaton (yes, that Diane Keaton) released a book she edited called Mr. Salesman. The book features noir-ish 1950s photographs of travelling salesmen taken by Jamison Handy. It’s an absolute wonder and loaded with photographs that sit somewhere between mundane, surreal and creepy.

In 1994 Frank Black from The Pixies released a pop song called ‘Headache’. Fun song, and it also came with a rather appealing black and white 1950s styled video.

In a case of art inspiring art I think it’s pretty safe to say the book was the inspiration for the video for Frank Black’s ‘Headache’.

Have a look at the video here:

And at these pictures from the Mr. Salesman book.

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Pel Mel – Rags to Tatters: The Best of Pel Mel


How the superb Newcastle/Sydney Australian 80s Indie pop outfit Pel Mel have thus far escaped a CD reissue is a mystery to me, but it’s great to see that this has finally been addressed with a limited (200 copies only) compilation Rags To Tatters: The Best of Pel Mel (also available as an unlimited download album). RTT compiles most of their debut Out of Reason (1982) and follow up Persuasion (1983) with a two non-album tracks included – their almost-breakthrough single ‘No Word From China’ and the excellent Water (B-side of Blind Lead the Blind 7”). Unfortunately chart success eluded Pel Mel despite their catchy singles and vibrant indie sound. I was hooked the first time I heard ‘No Word From China’ and Out of Reason quickly became a firm favourite featuring the deliriously effervescent singles ‘Blind Lead The Blind’ and ‘Shoes Should Fit’.

This compilation appears to have been released by the band and although it’s a fantastic thing for Pel Mel fans I’m disappointed that they’ve left off some tracks from their albums, in particular the heartbreaking closer from Out of Reason ‘Logic Failing’. Also missing from OOR is ‘Current’, and from Persuasion both ‘Tongue-Tied’ and ‘That Girl Had A Gun’ have been excised. I imagine this was due to space considerations but is still a great shame. A preferable approach would be an anthology double CD to collect both albums in full, following which there would be ample space for single b-sides,  different 7” versions, the 12” of Pandemonium, the early compilation track ‘Click Click’ and probably even their offshoot recordings such as The Limp and who-knows-whatever-else lurking in the Pel Mel vaults. Maybe they could address these missing tracks with a Bandcamp download compilation instead? They’ve already done this with a selection of live tracks – called I’m a TV: pel mel live 1979 ─ 1984

RTT remains an essential purchase and a long-overdue reminder of what an excellent band Pel Mel were – or are, as they reformed in 2012 as Pel Mel Organisation, hurrah!



Posted in 1980's, Australia, Pop Music | 1 Comment

#blogjune – The Trivia Encyclopedia


This is the last day of #blogjune. It’s been fun doing a post each day and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I thought I might keep this going at a slower pace – one a week, or thereabouts.

But, to today’s post, it’s something special from my childhood – The Trivia Encyclopedia by Fred L. Worth. I stumbled across this around 1980 or so and found it endlessly fascinating in its surgical detail of often useless facts. Want to know the name of the bear who played Gentle Ben? It’s here (Bruno). In the James Bond books and movies, what does S.P.E.C.T.R.E. stand for? (Page 253 – Special Executive for Counter-Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). What year was Alfred Hitchcock born? (Page 28, 1899). The names of all the Chan Clan (from The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan cartoon)? Why, it’s Allen, Flip, Henry, Moon, Nancy, Scooter, Stanley, Susie and Tom (Page 66). It’s all here. Thanks for asking.

Of course, we now have the internet and decades of pop cultural back-glances to know all this stuff, but then there was nothing and this was revolutionary goldmine of information. It was Google in a book, and from what I can tell, quite a hit. There was even a scandal involving Columbo and the game Trivial Pursuit using Worth’s book to source questions.

I have 2 different editions of The Trivia Encyclopedia but this el cheapo Tempo paperback is my favourite, partly because it’s the first copy I ever had, but also for the sensational slighty trippy cover design. Many thanks Mr. Worth.

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#blogjune – Mark Ryden’s Blood

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If I was in a court case to argue why physical media is better than downloads I would confidently present this item, smile and wave to the stunned crowd and exit in a puff of smoke. This is Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun’s Blood – a soundtrack commissioned for artist Mark Ryden’s ‘The Blood Show’, and what a treasure it is. Mr Ryden’s paintings adorn the fold-out sleeve and the music is an appropriately magical experience that will surprise anyone only familiar with Stan Ridgway from his days fronting Wall of Voodoo.

Enjoy. *Walt vanishies in giant puff of smoke*

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#blogjune – Rabbit and Cat School


So, this. I found this old plastic toy in a big bin of what I think were carnival prizes from, maybe the 1950s. There were also things like plastic mini-trumpets, paper streamers and other things I’ve forgotten now. But this was the star, a Rabbit and Cat school. It was in a plastic bag and I decided the best thing to with it was to display it against its original cardboard backing in a 3-D frame. Looking at it now I could have done a better job of securing the items to the card (I used those plastic cord tie things), I’ll go back and fix that at some point, but my lack of handiness notwithstanding I do think they are super. There’s even a blackboard (which says “1+1=?” and has the sum underneath). Bless.

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#blogjune – Big Eye S+P


The most expressive salt and pepper shakers I’ve ever owned. I mean, there’s no competition. These little Keane-like big eye pups are going to win every time.

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#blogjune Lion Pin


I found this on Etsy a few weeks ago. Another Soviet badge, this one a rather beautiful mid-century looking lion. It came all the way from Lithuania and photo above shows the packaging it was sent in.

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