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Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 27/05/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Revenge of the 80s

More than a year ago now, I took exception to a few vicious and nasty comments about popular music made in 'Stay In Touch', the derisive news update and general rant that features on the back page of The Sydney Morning Herald. Along with longtime Gusworld denizens Spanky and Flirt, I got fired up enough to send off a fax, which even got reprinted in a later edition. Unfortunately, the editors don't seem to have learned an awful lot.

Yesterday's 'Stay In Touch', discussing the relative failure of INXS' most recent album Elegantly Wasted, concluded with the comment: "We would like to take this opportunity to finally pronounce the 1980s dead." We suggest they wake up and smell the flowers.

For the past two months, both the album and the single charts in this country have been topped by Savage Garden, a band which has taken the skilful appropriation of 80s pop idioms to new heights (the US version of their breakthrough single 'I Want You' is pictured above). Silver spacesuits (such as those depicted on this single cover) last enjoyed a fashion vogue at the beginning of the 1980s, when people actually knew who Gary Numan was. The most-hyped band in the world continues to be U2, who despite constant reinvention are very much a product of the world's most maligned decade. Duran Duran have just re-entered the UK charts. The Spice Girls are a jumped-up version of Bananarama. I could go on.

'Stay In Touch' doesn't help its case by appearing to be a tad hazy on really basic details about 80s culture. In today's edition, there's a discussion of a new theory that proposes no-one can ever be really famous for three years, or, by virtue of reinvention, two separate three-year bursts. John Farnham is proposed as an example of the latter: "A local example is Johnny Farnham with his Sadie stint from 1967 and his Whispering Jack stint from 1990."

The theory might be OK, but the dates are all wrong. Farnham's Whispering Jack album came out in 1986, and it was between then and 1989 (a period covering the Age Of Reason album, his stint as Australian Of The Year and lots of concert tours) that he was really famous, again. But I guess if you're in decade denial, the facts don't matter, do they?


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