Once upon a time there was a Pulp Baby, who fell into a Mixmaster and in conjunction with the poor shielding common to so many household appliances in those days, was responsible for a kind of electromagnetic interference with radio and particularly television reception, commonly known as static but colloquially known as snow. It was but the work of a moment to turn this admittedly peculiar adolescent daydream Into a pulsating pop powerhouse comparable to the work of anyone you care to name from early Human League or the Normal to possibly even Georgio Moroder (!), and thereby pollute or corrupt, I'm not sure which, the minds of dozens, perhaps even scores of innocents hip to the circulation of memes
- which should probably be understood as an inherent contradiction. It was beyond my immediate power to achieve this latter aim alone, but I was able to further it with the help of those contemporary engines of persuasion, 2JJ and Doublethink. Let's tell the story one more time. Hmm? …
If we consider the cultural history of white Australia as a category of sedimentary geology, then 2JJ was an example of the kind of molten magma erupting from a Zeitgeist run wild and in the throes of upchucking everywhere for the ages (pop sociologists used to love this kind of talk...), Tony Barrell for one was producing something fascinating there, a programme on Sunday afternoons that was like a kind of fractured
hörspiel, light on theory but strong on taste, a programme so fascinating, in fact, that I had to meet its maker. Barrell and I became friends and one day I played for him a version of this pulsating pop powerhouse which was, frankly, anything
but the work of a moment performed on the mighty Roland 101 and realised through a noisy mass of overdubs between radio cassette player A and radio cassette player B. It seemed conceivable that it was something you could croon to even so, and after a couple of false starts attributable mainly to my own jitters and nerves, "Pulp Baby" was recorded on 4-track by Barrell's colleague Graeme Bartlett, placed on medium rotation and shown to be danceable enough even to warrant preservation in vinyl and, it seemed to follow, a commercial release for those who wished an inexpensive keepsake of the dance, the croon, and the synthetically rendered cries of the eponymous baby. Enter: Doublethink!
My friend Turnbull has elsewhere on this website sketched the importance of Mr. Roger Grierson as manager' promoter, shill for a handful of bands performing at the time. But Grierson also looked after a recording label by name of Doublethink' closely connected with these activities, and this is where I'd been sent. Doublethink had released recordings by bands performing around Sydney at the time such as Popular Mechanics,
Sekret Sekret, Tactics, the Rejex, the
Thought Criminals (the band Grierson was involved in, natch) and even the Barons, but more about them
A long, long street named Bourke, in Surry Hills, governed by trees that I still don't know the names of, and buildings I'd eventually discover were called Terrace Houses. "Pulp Baby is all very well..." I was told by Grierson who, at the time, was a benign but indifferent being from a dimension far more exciting and dangerous than I had hitherto known. I was but a poor hick from the Northern Beaches, used to blond brick blocks of flats named "Oceanview" and wind-withstanding trees I was only slightly less uncomfortable identifying than those of the inner-city variety, and I was despairing of making a good impression in a situation I'd never before encountered, governed by rules of conduct
I was sure had no relation to anything I'd experienced previously, "'All very well" he said, "'but we need a B-side!" Thus all calls were held as he whipped me around the corner and into Wilshire Street, and we visited the two-storey house in which a strange man named Mitch and his cohort Michael (whose 21st birthday I'm sure it was that day, thus establishing events sometime mid-December), both late of the Barons (whom you can find out more about elsewhere on this site), were pursuing their audio experimentations.
"We need a B-side," Grierson told them, "'See ya" and he was away out the door.
The details of my first meeting with these even more decisive people are lost to me. They were, like Grierson, friendly but distant, possessors of a shared history which was plainly beyond me but which I longed to be a part of. It seemed all I was good for that day was wishing that I was more worldly, or older, or in possession of a greater suavity and sophistication etc, than I could ever hope to
possess. I remember the naive complication I brought to it all - even now I can sympathise with the poor little wretch as he struggled to deal with these challenging entities, who probably even
smiled at him when they invited him to sit down, and asked whether or not he'd like a glass of Coke, or some other beverage. Well, guess what! I got all of what I'd wished for, or most of it, certainly the part about being older, and that etc, part, and even the part about being or becoming part of a shared history, and… but... well, all in good time...