"Years and years ago I had this brainwave that all record companies would just become databanks, and there would be no retail, no printing and shipping, and no need for huge volumes of stock. It makes sense. If your recording studio had all the master tapes, [any customer] could go along to a local outlet fitted out with a CD burner and a laser printer, punch in a MasterCard number, and the music database would do all the accounting and credit the songwriter, and [the customer] would get the CD and the cover printed on the spot."
The other article gave the North a cool blast that it had been needing for so very long! In the July 13th issue of Billboard (the time honored, expensive bible o' the music industry), Glenn A. Baker (the time honored, expensive historian o' the Australian music industry) penned an article titled "Icehouse Comes Out of the Cold with The Berlin Tapes." Needless to say it was very exciting for the Americans to go to the newsstand and buy a magazine with an Icehouse article in it! Here's a bit of what Baker wrote for the bible: "While Massive is in 'advanced negotiations' for a U.S. and European release, the album has taken on a life of its own in the U.S., where it has been compared to Roxy Music's Avalon.
"Seattle-based Kevin Sutter, who became an Icehouse admirer during his years in PR with Chrysalis and now specializes in breaking independent repertoire on triple-A stations, has been responsible for having tracks from the import added to the playlists of KKSF San Francisco, KINK Portland, Ore., and KTT Los Angeles, where 'Heroes' was listed as the No. 3 most requested track."
Although the article had a very weak ending, it did point out to all who might be reading it that "in Australia, Man Of Colours set the record for the best-selling album by a domestic act." Food for thought for those execs who are itching to get their hands on a band with a proven and highly successful track record.
When Summer was blown away in the North by Autumn winds, Spring melted the icy grip of Winter in the South. With the change in the weather, the Sydney Dance Company tested the road with their toe shoes and found it traversable. Thus the SDC took Berlin to Adelaide and Perth. However, the angel had indeed stepped down from the pedestal and surfed... ahem... flew away on the last of Winter's cool breezes. Without the musical guidance of the angel, the press seemed to either concentrate on the Sydney season of Berlin or generalities of the program. A sampling from the Adelaide press:
Rip It Up, 5-11 September 1996: "Much acclaimed choreographer Graeme Murphy and the Sydney Dance Company enjoyed a huge hit when Berlin premiered in Sydney, and Adelaide is now set to see this highly spectacular production which follows on from their well received presentation of the controversial Fornicon of last year."
The Advertiser, 10 September 1996, by Louise Nunn: "Murphy cannot put a foot wrong at present. He took one of the biggest risks of his career with Free Radicals and it paid off. Developed from scratch in the rehearsal room with 13 dancers and three percussionists, the idea came from a desire after 20 years at the company's helm to really test himself.
"Critics loved Free Radicals and audiences rushed to it.
"Still, Murphy says, if things had gone the other way, it wouldn't have killed him. After all, he had Berlin to fall back on."
Later on in September, the SDC continued on the road to Perth. There was talk of how Berlin came about and the music intrinsically intertwined in the ballet.
The Sunday Times, "Berlin City Inspires Dance Show" by Alison Farmer: "Murphy has been working in collaboration with singer/songwriter Iva Davies who, with co-composer Max Lambert, has created a score featuring specially commissioned music interspersed with extraordinary covers of material made famous by performers such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Frank Sinatra."
The Western Australian, 26 September 1996, "Berlin's Odd Couple The Perfect Foil" by Vanessa Gould: "The score includes specially commissioned music from The Berlin Tapes by singer-composer Iva Davies and his band, Icehouse, and pianist-composer Max Lambert.
"Griffiths remembers her goose pimples when Davies sang live on stage at the Sydney premiere last November.
"'You hear someone on tape and you think they might have been able to have done something to his voice. But when you hear him live, it was like, oh, I loved it,' she said."
There were also some side projects noted in the press. With the new Ghostwriters' CD out, Midnight Oils' Rob Hirst took the opportunity to drop a few names. One that clattered to the floor was Iva Davies...
Rip It Up, 5-11 September 1996, by Robbie Dee: "The album features a plethora of musical guests including guitarists Mark Moffatt and Don (The Backsliders) Turner and Iva (Icehouse) Davies.
"'Iva made the mistake of walking past the studio one day and I grabbed him and said, "Come and play the oboe with us." [laughs] People don't realise that Iva is a marvellous oboe player,' Rob enthused."
This statement by Mr. Hirst excludes all those reading this fanzine!
Another article, this one featured in Drum Media on 17 September 1996, spoke of a "crisis in the Australian recording industry" caused by the closing of some major studios. Once again Iva stepped to the forefront with his knowledge of recording technology and its future. This article also featured a name known quite well to Icehouse fans, that of Simon Leadley of Trackdown Studios. Gavin Hammond quotes Iva as saying, "Technology is getting so good now that working hands on (at home) will teach you all you need to know. We've definitely lost a bit in engineering quality, but we've gained more than we've lost."
As we go to press, Iva has just conducted an interview with The Age down Melbourne way concerning his involvement with the Australian Music Examinations Board.
So as the Spring breezes blow softly in the South and the Autumn winds gust in the North, we shall look forward to what the next seasons will have put down in black and white.
The Ghostwriters' CD Second Skin has been released by the lovely people at Mercury Records Australia! We encourage each of you to find yourself a copy - Iva plays oboe on track #7, which is called "On Your Commission." Beautiful work, as always!
On the horizon for Icehouse fans is the Curios CD,
a collection of B-sides, demos, and cover versions. Iva tells us that
this could be available in early 1997, with plans afoot to release another
Curios album later on. There are also plans to re-release The Berlin
Tapes with a bonus CD included. Please see Iva's news for more details
about these two future releases.
Stephen Morgan was very busy performing in a six week season of "Smokey Joe's Café." Steve told us the show "rocks along for about two hours" with such hits as "Stand By Me," "On Broadway," and "Jailhouse Rock." He described the show as "very slick, very cool, very Broadway." The show is now rocking along in its Melbourne season, which Steve enjoys because he can leave the theatre and go home! "SJC" will run in Melbourne til the end of the year so we encourage all you Victorians to go see what sounds like a great show! The New Year will see "SJC" tour the rest of Australia, with possible stints in Asia and New Zealand..
Steve is to be congratulated! The studio where Steve has
previously done some work was suddenly in need of a manager. The owners
of the studio asked Steve if he would be interested and he accepted. So
now he's "Mr. Manager" Monday thru Friday and at nights a key
figure at "Smokey Joe's Café." Congratulations to a busy,
Oliver Gildea is proving to be an extremely bright four year old who is making plans for his future. He told us he'd "rather play football than anything" and when he's as big as his Daddy he wants "to get a job. I want to be a guitar player like my Dada." He says he has a real toy guitar and he learned to play it by himself. In discussing the distance between Australia and America, Oliver said he liked plane food but McDonald's is his favorite. Oliver may get his chance at plane food on the way to America on a holiday next year with his Dad.
David Chapman and his partner, Derek, are expanding Zig Zag Lane once again. They are building studio number three and, in the words of Mr. Chapman, are "unbelievably happy." There was also a mention of becoming swine of some sort but we won't explore that further... David is keeping fit with all sorts of physical activity including jogging, swimming, and renovating his house. He has just purchased "the loudest stereo money can buy" so that he can blast the neighbors with the album of heavy metal muzak he produced for EMI. David advises - "don't forget to order your copy NOW!" You can't get it here, though... Interspersed between all of that will be the theme music he composed for the Olympic 2000 logo.
Iva Davies is a man who seems to be reinventing himself constantly. He is the chameleon's chameleon. With a mind always on the go and the talent to keep up with it, he keeps those around him continuously wondering "what next?"
Some may have been wondering "why not" as Iva was not on stage in Adelaide or Perth for Berlin. In the end, negotiations did not work out as planned for the parties involved and therefore Iva was not present when Berlin commenced once again. While those seeing the show in these two cities may have missed seeing Iva, he took the time to settle in his mind "what next."
Iva devoted some time to getting his studio in tiptop shape and, provided that all gets working properly, he will then settle down to writing new music. He is listening to many and varied artists who may (or may not!) inspire him in some new musical direction. Recent listening pleasures for Iva have been the CDs by Garbage and Eels.
That direction will be heading out to Japan and Southeast Asia as Iva has signed a contract to have his music distributed there! First release due in that area of the world is The Berlin Tapes. This will be out on the market early next year and then Iva may collaborate with some Japanese artists. That is still being worked out; however, this will not be a reunion with Yukihiro Takahashi.
Distribution deals for America are still in the works, though no contracts have been signed.
Iva also told us The Berlin Tapes will be re-released in Australia with a bonus CD which will include previously released material. He said this bonus CD will include "ambient tracks" such as "Melt Steel 1, 2, & 3."
The album for which Spellbound subscribers sent in their suggestions may also be released as early as next year! Iva tells us it will be called Curios and will contain such tracks as a couple of covers he did prior to Berlin. These covers are songs previously recorded by Free ("Be My Friend") and another by a little-known English band called The Beatles ("Come Together"). He also does a cover of a song by one of the guitarists of the above band - John Lennon - called "How Do You Sleep?" He tells us "Java" is slated to be on there, as well as previously unreleased material from the Code Blue demos. Laurie Dunn does plan on releasing two Curios albums and that is something to look forward to!
Iva has been lending his celebrity status in support of the AMEB - Australian Music Examination Board. He appeared on "Good Morning Australia" to speak about the AMEB program and also did an interview with The Age in Melbourne. Iva explains that the AMEB is a set of exams external to the school system. Any serious student of music (whether they're taking lessons from a private tutor or learning an instrument in their school's music program) may acquire the AMEB syllabus. The student will then practice what is set out before them in order to pass the exam for their particular instrument. However, the AMEB is trying to update their system by letting their horizons broaden. Previously based almost entirely on classical music, the AMEB is now having a course for contemporary music. These exams will include guitars, keyboards, etc. The student may also perform pieces of music by their favorite band (approved by the board) or music they had written themselves. This will now allow those contemporary musicians to get some musical training in areas such as musical theory, where in the past they may not have approached this classical-dominated area.
Iva was once again a member of the panel for the Talent
Development Project who gave their professional opinions and suggestions
to aspiring young performers.
Another mysterious thing is Simon Leadley's album. It has been mentioned in the Icehouse camp as having been seen but we believe this was a work in progress. We will keep on the trail of this musical mystery and pass on clues as they are uncovered.
The most exciting news for Iva was, of course, the birth of his son! Evan Rhys Davies was born on 9 August and was instantly adored by his older sister, Brynn. Tonia says Brynn tells everyone within hearing that she has a new baby brother and "isn't he bootiful!" Evan has been a bit noisier than his sister was and seems to enjoy the nightlife whilst napping the day away. When Iva was told it sounded as if Evan was already preparing for a rock'n'roll lifestyle, Iva said he would try his best to discourage that! However, it may be in the blood! Photos show that Evan strongly resembles his father so time will tell if other tendencies develop as well. Congratulations once again to the Davies and Kelly families!
As we go to press, Iva is in Fiji securing his house for the upcoming hurricane season. However, after his two week working holiday, Iva anticipates returning home to his studio to begin the process of writing and recording a new Icehouse album.
With the two Curios on the horizon and Iva starting in on writing new material, we all have a lot to look forward to!
...and that's what's happenin'!