There’s a great wave of international acts heading to Australia this year, and there were a fair few last year. The understanding of this is that the strong Aussie dollar is now able to encourage performers to make their way here, that the returns from Australian audiences are now comparable to those possible in the US and Europe despite the transport costs. Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Axl Rose, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt, Madonna, Iggy Pop, and Chris Issak have all recently announced 2013 tours. There are many others, even Black Sabbath is coming.
Lots of this is straightforwardly about the correlation of the audience being middle aged with being middle class, having disposable income enough to shell out (usually) several hundred dollars for a night’s entertainment, double that if you’re going as a couple. But the stars are coming out to shine and the car parks will be full until at least eleven pm.
What this leads to is an endless series of promotional moments in which almost everyone is described with adulation and awesomeness. Whenever I see Richard Wilkins he seems to be saying the word “legend.” This does, for me, get a little tiresome. It’s like one of those bits of undergraduate essays where a something (book, poem, author, film, production, singer, etc.) is written up as being the apex, the centre, the most important, the most, the best, the high point, the dominant.
It’s all spiel for sure, uncritical media waffle for breakfast television and those terrible shorts they show on the digital/pay TV channels, but what gets under my skin and provokes me is that a whole bunch of other stuff gets overwritten. How many articles about Bruce Springsteen have mentioned Southside Johnny and the Ashbury Jukes? How many Neil Young profiles have mentioned David Briggs or Jack Nietzsche? How many Iggy Pop pieces actually get to Asheton brothers? It’s not many I can tell you that.
So here’s my intervention. Lowell George. Little Feat. Not on the radio, don’t see them on Rage, not in JB Hi Fi, not on the jukebox. Lowell George won’t be touring, nor the post Lowell George iteration of Little Feat. There will be no interview with Richard Wilkins where he talks about how crazy those days were, or how great it was to play with those other guys. There will be no little sound bites on commercial radio playing the popular riff that everybody knows. There will be no posters on telephone poles urging me to buy tickets for the show at the Olympic Stadium.
Lowell George died in 1979 and I think he’s pretty much forgotten. Certainly you can go a long time between hearing his name in conversation. But Lowell George was awesome, the best, the most, crucial, central, high water mark, cutting edge, flagship rock, very, very important. When I play Waiting for Columbus, a live album recorded in 1977, my heart swoons. The energy, the joy, the playfulness, the instrumentation, the horns, the songs! There are times when I can’t believe that this isn’t on all of those best album ever lists that the music mags endlessly compile, can’t believe everyone doesn’t have a copy, can’t believe I never hear this stuff in public.
I’m shocked by the blanking of Little Feat and so to make some small act of protest and rectification here is some Little Feat from that 1977 tour: