Thursday, September 24, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Boys in Town' by Divinyls


Piggybacking off of Rolling Stone's updated 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I would put the 1983 debut by Divinyls, "Desperate," as the best LP not included on the list. Remembered unfairly by many as a one-hit wonder for their international smash "I Touch Myself" in 1991, these Aussie post-punk rockers were the real deal, led by the band's enigmatic singer/songwriter, Chrissy Amphlett. cranking out tight albums packed with hook-filled songs. 

When Divinyls' first video for a song called "Boys in Town" hit the MTV airwaves back in 1983 it was as if Amphlett had reinvented rock 'n' roll. Bucktoothed and dressed in a schoolgirl uniform and torn fishnet stockings that would make Britney Spears blush -- and scream-singing into a lightsaber microphone, I just couldn't wait to find out everything I could about this riveting new band. Almost to my surprise, their entire debut long-player was every bit as good as the song in the video -- much in the mode of the Pretenders debut a few years earlier. The perfect pop song "Only You," the playful "Ring Me Up" and "Science Fiction" and the suicidal angst of "Elsie" -- the album had it all. Chrissie's band rocked and her snearing, overtly sexual lyrics and persona were like a breath of fresh air in the era of Quarterflash, Sheena Easton and Irene Cara. 

(My brother Bill saw them at a 21-and-over bar show and bought me a T-shirt that I wore till it was nearly see-through.) 

The band went through numerous lineup changes -- ultimately becoming the duo of Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee -- and put out four more excellent albums. (The Pretenders even covered "Human on the Inside" from 1996's "Underworld.") But after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007 and later breast cancer, Amphlett succumbed to her ailments in 2013 at just 53, ultimately leaving us with a brief but substantial catalog of work, work Rolling Stone would be wise to acknowledge for future generations of music explorers to discover.

P.S. Stunned to learn that McEntee at least attempted to carry on the band, with singer Lauren Ruth Ward and ex-Blondie guitarist Frank Infante, although its 2019 tour was abruptly canceled

UPDATE: Was just made aware that a expanded remaster of "Desperate" came out earlier this year -- featuring "Monkey Grip" material and the first CD appearance of the Aussie-only song "Sahara." 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Divinyls without Chrissy is a stupid idea. The cancellation of this tour is possibly the only good thing to come out of this COVID pandemic.