Thursday, July 5, 2012

Divinyls - Desperate (1982) + Monkey Grip Mini LP (1982)

(Australian 1980–1997, 2006–2009)
Divinyls formed in 1980, founded by Mark McEntee and fronted by lead singer Christina Amphlett. After scoring several gigs, they were discovered by Australian director Ken Cameron. This led to Divinyls providing the entire soundtrack for his 1982 film Monkey Grip. Amphlett was also given a supporting role in the film, playing a temperamental rock singer loosely based on herself, fronting a band played by other Divinyls members. In the film, the band performed their debut single "Boys in Town", as well as other songs "Only Lonely", "Elsie", "Only You", "Girlfriends" and "Gonna Get You", the latter being the first appearance of them in the film. The soundtrack Music from Monkey Grip was acknowledged as a Divinyls album, and when released in 1982, it made the top twenty-five of the Australian Albums Chart.
"Boys in Town" was a success in Australia where it made the top ten, peaking at number eight in 1981. The next year "Science Fiction" was released and was also a success, peaking at number thirteen. When Desperate was released, it climbed the albums chart and eventually peaked at number five. In addition, it proved to be among the top twenty most successful albums of 1983, ranking in at number seventeen according to the Kent Music Report end of year chart.
The track listing of Desperate differed between the Australian release and the international version. Because Divinyls had already released the Monkey Grip soundtrack, which contained the songs performed in the film, in particular the single "Boys in Town", they were not included on the original Australian release of Desperate. This meant that "Science Fiction" was released as the official lead single. On the international release of Desperate, some of the songs from the Monkey Grip soundtrack were included as official album tracks, such as "Boys in Town", "Only Lonely", "Only You" and "Elsie".
The majority of the songs on Desperate were written by Christina Amphlett and/or Mark McEntee except "Siren (Never Let You Go)", which was written by band member Bjarne Ohlin, and "I'll Make You Happy", which was a cover of the original 1966 song by The Easybeats. [extract from wikipedia]
The sound of early Divinyls is rock and roll with a hardened punk edge and a unique and original blend of pop and new wave. During the recording of Desperate, Divinyls managed to capture a sound as close as possible to their dynamic live performances.
Chrissy Amphlett's struggles and triumphs of cutting it in the male dominated rock scene loom large in her writing with the hit "Boys In Town" being a prime example. Aside from her toughness, grit and snear, she also expresses vulnerability in songs such as "Only Lonely" and brings the tale of an old lonely woman frighteningly alive during "Elsie". Mark McEntee from day one knew the best way to craft the bands arrangements playing the right guitar tones for Chrissy's unique vocals. Chrissy Amphlett has a powerful voice. She could put there fear in the audience with gut wrenching growls but also had a unique pop sensibility best used in the songs, "Science Fiction" and "Ring Me Up".
Desperate, in my opinion sits right up at the top with any early 80's rock/new wave recording. Many fans and Chrissy herself rate it Divinyls best album. Each song is notable in their own way. Several songs go down in OZ Rock folklore with one hard rocking cover version of Easybeats "Make You Happy". This leaves a few songs that were not as popular but well worth discovering such as "Take A Chance" and "Victoria". I loved Divinyls early raw and rocking sound before they compromised for a more commercial friendly pop/rock sound which did finally grant them international success [review by westozrocker, 2008]
The following is an extract from Chrissy Amphlett's autobiography, entitled 'Pleasure And Pain: My Life', in which she makes references to the Divinyls' assault on America and the conception of their album 'Desperate'.
VINCE LOVEGROVE (The Divinyls Manager) says:
In April 1982, after we had acrimoniously cut ties with WEA, I sent tapes of Divinyls' songs, photographs and the 'Boys In Town' video clip that captured Chris
sy's early, pre-feral stage act so well, to major US record companies. Then I sat back, waiting to be crushed in the ensuing frantic rush to sign us. Surely the Americans would realise what I took for granted, that Divinyls were unique and potentially the best band on the planet. Finally there was a nibble.

One morning I took a call from a guy named Roger Watson, an A&R guy at Chrysalis Records, an independent English outfit with New York and
Hollywood offices that had been originally set up by the managers of Jethro Tull.
At Chrysalis we had been having substantial success with Aussie-born producer Mike Chapman, who'd produced for Pat Benatar and Blondie. Mike had come across Divinyls on a recent trip to Australia to see his mum and gave me a record of theirs on his return to Los Angeles. I have a feeling it was Monkey Grip.
There was a name on the cover—Vince Lovegrove—and I asked Mike about him. He gave me his telephone number. After tracking Vince down we had a natter and I got the okay from my boss, Terry Ellis, to fly down to Sydney to take a look at Divinyls. We had an affiliation with Australia's Regular Records (we signed Icehouse for the world, excluding Australia) down there and the blokes who ran it, Ray Hearn and Martin Fabinyi, came to meet me—they were diamond geezers who knew Vince well. They introduced us and we became firm friends, and still are twenty-five years later.

CHRISSY says: The quarter-of-a-million-American-dollars advance from Chrysalis was a fortune to us, yet it was never going to go far. As long as we were a Chrysalis act, we always seemed to be $60,000 in the red. The bills escalated from the moment we left Australia. From our advance we had to pay for airfares, accommodation, living expenses, lawyers, accountants, transport and road crew when we went on tour, setting up our shelf company, Setona Pty Ltd, through which we ran the business side of Divinyls and paid income tax. We had to pay for six weeks' use of the Power Station, the most expensive studio in New York, for Bob Clearmountain, the engineer and the second engineer, and our producer, Mark Opitz, and Vince's costs. The recording costs were ruinously pricey. Nowadays you can record digitally, but then it was tape. We had to buy boxes and boxes and boxes of expensive reel-to-reel tape.

The instrumental tracks were cut quickly. Not so Chrissy's vocals. She wanted the vo
cals to sound intimate so she refused to allow any of the band in when she was recording. She sang, with just Mark Opitz and all her candles, for hours, sometimes all night, and the guys would have to hang around in the foyer drinking coffee or playing games, bored shitless. Mark McEntee was adamant that Chrysalis people be kept away. 'Why should they come in? It's our record. They can hear it afterwards.'CHRISSY says:
'Desperate' remains my favourite Divinyls album. It's raw with a gutsy energy and comes closer than any of our other studio records to capturing the dynamism of Divinyls live. The four songs from Monkey Grip that we re-recorded were infinitely better the second time around. Put that down to the superior recording set-up, and also, we were a much better band than before, no small thanks to Rick who had ca
me on board after Monkey Grip. Even today "Boys In Town", "Elsie", "Gonna Get You", "Siren", "Only Lonely", "I'll Make You Happy", "Casual Encounter" and "Science Fiction" leap out of the speakers and hit you right between the eyes.The album hit American and Australian record stores in March 1983. It reached No. 3 on the Australian album charts and spawned a series of singles.

Of 'Desperate', Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times that our music fitted in somewhere between old-fashioned hard rock and stripped-down new wave 'and Christina Amphlett's lyrics are as hard-headed as anything in pop'. Pareles added that my singing was 'so peculiar it's irresistible. Her voice is hoarse and pugnacious, and every so often it erupts with quavers and hesitations and hiccups and yodels...' He said Divinyls hadn't bothered 'with the hip trappings of Men At Work or INXS ... they're just making the strongest music they can. That it happens to sound thoroug
hly Australian—from the accents to the scrappy attitude—is less important than that it sounds something of their own.'

Wrote Christopher Connolly in US Rolling Stone, 'And you thought only whimsical, bland bands had joined the Australian invasion. Meet—if you dare—Christina Amphlett [whose] banzai vocals fuse the growly conviction of Joan Jett with the frenetic ululations of Lene Lovich for a vocal package that suggests a Sydney-spawned Patti Smith. The twin guitar attack of Mark McEntee and Bjarne Ohlin sizzles with an impressive urgency... The garage-band power of 'Desperate' sounds to these ears like 1983's best antidote to techno-pop burnout.' Of course I was grateful for the glowing tributes, but I was pissed off when the American journalists kept comparing me to other performers... All fine artists but all unlike me.

RAM magazine's Phil Stafford thought that 'Make You Happy' kick-started the album 'with an amphetamine rush'. He then remarked on my 'formidable larynx. When she's not wrapping it around the lyrics, Amphlett's adding instrumental flourishes of her own, trilling, whooping and yodelling in counterpoint with the fused guitars of Mark McEntee and Bjarne Ohlin. Beneath it all, Richard Harvey and Rick Grossman graft with workmanlike precision.'

The reviews in America and back home raved about our sound. By letting us record 'Desperate' at the Power Station, Chrysalis sent a message to us and the music industry at large that they were serious about Divinyls.

This post consists of an mp3 (320kps) rip taken from my Australian vinyl pressing, and includes full album artwork. I have also included as a bonus track, the U.S version of "Elsie" which was made available on the B-Side of their single "Siren", and is a longer version than that released in Australia.
Track Listing
01 - I'll Make You Happy
02 - Science Fiction
03 - Casual Encounter
04 - Victoria
05 - Siren
06 - Motion
07 - Ring Me Up
08 - Take A Chance
09 - Sahara Rock
10 - Don't You Go Walking
11 - Elsie (Bonus Single U.S Version)

* Divinyls were:
Christina (Chrissy) Amphlett - Lead Vocals
Mark McEntee - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Bjarne Ohlin - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Rick Grossman - Bass
Richard Harvey - Drums
Divinyls Desperate Link (93Mb)  Link Fixed 12/04/2014
Monkey Grip - Soundtrack (Mini LP)
Because the International release of Desperate was a mixture of tracks from the Australian release of Desperate along with 4 tracks taken from their Monkey Grip Mini LP, and have decided to post the Monkey Grip Soundtrack as well, so you can have the best of both worlds.
To me, they are two distinct albums (that's how I was first introduced to the Divinyls) and should never have been messed with ! Now for some info about the movie itself.

Movie Synopsis
 Nora (Noni Hazlehurst) lives with her 11-year-old daughter Gracie (Alice Garner) in a crowded share house in inner-city Melbourne, in the late 1970s. Nora works for an alternative magazine, as she tries to write fiction. Javo (Colin Friels) is an actor, a friend of her boyfriend Martin (Tim Burns). Nora feels a powerful attraction to Javo’s reckless charm. Her friend Eve (Cathy Downes) warns her that he’s a heroin user, but Nora is already in love. Gracie accepts her mother’s choice, as does Martin. Javo becomes a regular around the house and in Nora’s bed. They are mad about each other, except that Javo keeps disappearing to chase heroin and acting jobs.
Nora calls it off and tries to move on, drifting towards an affair with Willie (Harold Hopkins), a drummer in a rising rock‘n’roll band. Javo gets thrown in jail in Bangkok for a few months. When he returns, he and Nora reunite, but he is seeing another woman, the beautiful actress Lillian (Candy Raymon
d). Nora, Javo and Gracie go to Sydney for a holiday. He promises to kick heroin, but that never happens. Nora returns to Melbourne with Gracie and restarts her life. She begins writing again, moves to a new share house with Eve, and starts seeing Gerald (Don Miller-Robinson), the guitarist from the rock band. Javo reappears, with another declaration of love, but he is still using heroin. Nora tries to summon the courage to end it, for the last time.

Noni Hazlehurst won Best Actress at the 1982 AFI Awards. She had originally auditioned for the role of the singer Angela, who’s played in the film by Christina Amphlett, lead singer of The Divinyls (a group formed in Sydney in 1980). Nora’s daughter in the film is played by Alice Garner, the daughter of Helen Garner. Neither Hazlehurst nor Colin Friels was well-known at the time of their casting.
Monkey Grip was released in Australian cinemas in June 1982. In addition to Noni Hazlehurst’s Best Actress AFI Award in 1982, the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actress (Alice Garner), Cinematography (David Gribble) and Editing (David Huggett) awards. [Extract from Australian Screen Online]

This post consists of an mp3 (320kps) rip taken from my vinyl pressing, and includes full album artwork.
Track Listing
01 - Boys In Town
02 - Only Lonely
03 - Elsie
04 - Elsie (Reprise)
05 - Only You
06 - Gonna Get You
07 - Girl Friends

* Band members the same as 'Desperate'
Monkey Grip Link (53Mb)  Link Fixed 21/12/2012