Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Desperate for Divinyls: Introduction


This is the introductory post in a series where I'll focus on songs from one band or musical artist, typically featuring one song per post. First band up? Australian rock royalty, Divinyls. The essays might vary in style and length, some might even focus on some aspect of the band and not just a song, but the plan is to simply get at the heart of why Divinyls' were a truly great band.

Divinyls were the first Aussie band to sign their initial deal with an American record company right out of the gate. Their career spanned nearly two decades and five studio albums and contained countless Australian hit singles and several international ones as well. Still, while the band is rightly revered in Australia, they're not nearly as popular in the U.S., where a lot of people know them mostly for the international mega-hit, "I Touch Myself." I've already written about when that song was ubiquitous on early 1990s radio and MTV as a way to explore generational conflicts that arise when arrogant youth butts heads with humorless maturity.

As great as "I Touch Myself" is (and it is a great song), Divnyls' produced even more incredible songs over their career. An uncle once introduced me to their music and that's when I realized just how good they were. Today, I'm hooked on their addictive sound and the truly unique voice of the late, great Chrissy Amphlett. I'm especially fond of their first two or three albums, containing some of the finest '80s New Wave/pop rock you'll ever hear.

I'll be covering a lot of songs off those early albums. The band seemed to arrive fully formed on their classic debut, Desperate. The album came after the band's debut soundtrack album for the film Monkey Grip and was released with variations in track listings in Australia and the United States, which was common back then. For further reading, I reviewed the U.S./international release of Desperate recently, for Spectrum Culture.

Photograph by Robert Hambling

Which song will kick things off  next time? Will it be "Science Fiction," the lead single off their 1983 full-length debut? Or how about their very first single, "Boys in Town," which predates Desperate? Stay tuned.

Also, a few last words about why I've chosen to start this feature with a band many of you might not know well. First, Divinyls' music brings me enormous joy, and if I can share even a little of that with others, then that seems like a no-brainer. Second, my earlier post reflecting on "I Touch Myself" is, as of this writing, my most popular to date. I think that's a testament to Divnyls' devoted fan base. Which reminds me, I'd like to thank the kind folks in the Chrissy Amphlett & Charlie Drayton Facebook group. Y'all have been especially supportive and your song suggestions for this series are a big help.

As a teaser, here are a few of the songs I'm most eager to cover. This list is fluid, of course.

Boys in Town
Science Fiction
Siren
Only Lonely
Elsie
Ring Me Up
Take a Chance
Temperamental
I'll Make You Happy (cover)
Don't You Go Walking
Good Die Young
Hey Little Boy

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