Interdum stultus opportuna loquitur...

Friday, May 19, 2006

ShockRant: Sometimes... WHAM

Note - from June 24th 2009, this blog has migrated from Blogger to a self-hosted version. Click here to go straight there.

There are times when it just hits you. When you smell coffee made with condensed milk, suddenly you're 18 again, standing around the 'mornos' urn wih 20 other young soldiers... stinking of sweat, cheeks sore from the strong-yet-subtle recoil of the best infantry weapon ever devised (the Fabrique Nationale FN-LAR, also known as the SLR).

Things that interest me never leave my overcrowded brain. How to pull apart an SLR (including the breech block and the buttstock return spring)... how to load rounds into those pain-in-the-arse magazines... the difficulty of sighting with those "hole and blade" sights... and the recoil. It makes my right cheek throb - and my right eye water - just thinking about it. I didn't know that the blurring was the result of keratoconis until fifteen years later.

Those lightweights who think that a 5.56 mm weapon does the job, have never felt the heft of a 7.62mm RNR (rimless NATO round). (Plus, everyone knows that the FN-LAR was designed to kill you if it hit any limb, whereas the M-16 was designed to wound rather than to kill).

Anyhow - apart from the brief stint as a trained killer, the other things that smacked me between the eyes were The Smuts and one guitar lick.

If you get to know me I will tell you about life as a Smutterman - a profession that is now almost lost to the world, but which was a delightful period of my late-adolescent life. It's nowhere near as "smutty" as it sounds, but it is so interesting that I bore people to sleep when I talk about it - that's how much I liked it. Made a change from "trained killer", that's for sure.

And the guitar lick? Well, when I bought a load of HiFi stuff in 1989 plus a video camera for Mum & Dad, I overpaid by almost a grand (I got a bank cheque for the sickest hifi you can imagine - the speakers alone were $5k worth - but I got he amount wrong). Anyhow - long story short, I had $980 in change so I bought pretty much every CD in the shop. Included amongst these was one by Johnny Diesel and the Injectors; on it was atrack called "Burn", which fast became my favourite.

Fast-forward to New Years Eve, 1990.

Me and Bogey were among the detail providing security for the very same Johnny Diesel (the other act, from memory, was Nick Barker and the Reptiles... but it might have been Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or Cave Barker and the Mad Reptiles).

So anyhow, there I was with Bogey, in a shirt that was WAY too tight (they only went up to XXL and I had been on the gear for months), and then it happened... that same lick. Little Johnny - the white-breadest little bloke you ever saw in your life - slapped that axe like a reincarnation of Stevie Ray (although I think Stevie Ray was alive at the time, and besides, Johnny Diesel's "Burn" has more soul that anything Vaughn ever did - call me a heretic).

Seriously, the guitar from "Burn" still represents - for me - the ultimate "groovy crunch". It's rock guitar raised to an art in the same way as "Flea" from Red Hot Chili Peppers and John Taylor from Duran Duran both raised bass to an art. (Disagree with me on Taylor - I dare you). Not jazz-wanker slapping (I HATE jazz), just crisp but quintessentially funky finger-picking. ("Rio" is my favourite basstrack of all time).

Fun times, 1990. The women who gave my mate Fred a blowjob just to get a pick that belonged to Richie Sambora... those same women will probably pick up their kids from school tomorrow in a Volvo 4WD paid for by some accountant (the song "Volvo Drivin' Soccer Mom" is one of the best pieces of social commentary since TISM's "Greg! The Stop Sign!"). But they will always carry - as PAD's second abum was titled - that STAIN...

PAD - Perverted and Demented - was a band founded by a mate of mine at Uni; its stuff was actually good music, and included lyrics like "I never agreed to abandon my hate" or something like that... I still have my copy - do YOU?

The rhythm guitarist (Ash) is now an economist with the WTO or some such, Pete Nolly went to Whyalla as an Engineer (God knows where he is now), Jaffa was an Eco student last I saw, and only Ross Coulson was still a bearded shitbag. Go Ross - anyone who can dress up in an SS uniform and crash an International Students' fancy dress night, has my vote3.

Not that I approve of democracy, of course...