The Cockroaches reunite! Plus some thoughts connecting little-known bands, the Wiggles and Fleetwood Mac

The Cockroaches reunite!
Plus some thoughts connecting little-known bands, the Wiggles and Fleetwood Mac
            I was very excited when my wife posted this on my Facebook wall in early April:
This coming June, for the first time in over 25 years, The Cockroaches are reforming their original album line up to celebrate the release of their album catalogue on iTunes. Join Anthony, John and Paul Field, Jeff Fatt, Phil Robinson, Tony Henry and Peter Mackie for one of two shows! All tickets $30 and on sale Monday (April 14) at Midday!Dee Why RSL – Saturday June 14. For tickets, call (02) 9454 4000 www.deewhyrsl.com.au

Rooty Hill RSL – Friday June 27. For tickets, call (02) 9625 5500 www.rootyhillrsl.com.au

Tickets on sale Monday, Midday…Hey let’s go, let’s go!

***
            Before I tell you about the Cockroaches, let me tell you about the Wiggles.  My daughter, then three, watched the Wiggles at her babysitter. About a year ago, I do not remember the exact momentous date, we found some Wiggles on our TV through Youtube.
            I walked in to the living room and my wife and child were watching a show with grown men wearing long-sleeved yellow, blue and red shirts, black boots and black trousers with pant legs only going to their upper ankles.
            “You’re watching the original Star Trek?”
            Then a fellow in a purple shirt walked on the screen. Purple? No one on Star Trekwore purple. At least until The Next Generation – when Troi wore purple. He’s a Betazoid? Oh great. “Captain, I sense hostility!” “Yes, Counselor. That explains why they opened fire on us…”
            No, no, explained my wife. This is the Wiggles.
            I had heard of the Wiggles – I knew they were a children’s show that did songs and danced and such. They were mentioned in a radio DJ’s rant: “Flav-a-flav and the Wiggles will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before Rush and Foreigner will”. (I know, I know, Rush was inducted in 2013. Too little too late, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…)
            I watched and enjoyed the shows. We Tivoed more shows and enjoyed them too. By the time we got into the Wiggles, they had over twenty years of children’s entertainment under their belts.
            By summer of 2013 the Wiggles were #1 on my daughter’s Hit Parade, trumping even Barney in the “What would you like to watch” category.
            We looked up all we could on the Wiggles. We want to know what our kid is watching – we did the same with Barney and with newer shows she’s watched. Who stars in them? What else did they do? We don’t want her to watch a bunch of weirdoes or a show just out to sell toys. 
            I made a wonderful discovery in my research. The Wiggles grew out of a rock group called the Cockroaches. That sounded familiar, I said. I googled it and found the video to their biggest hit “She’s the One” and another for “Permanently Single”.
            “I remember those songs!” But how? It was a hit in Australia in 1987 and 1989 respectively, which meant it hit the US in 87 or 90. Could I have seen their videos on MTV? No, I had stopped watching it by that time.
            During the late 80s/early 90s I was in law school but also working at a college town radio station in southern Illinois as a DJ.  I’ll bet we had the albums at the station (well, CDs by that point), but we didn’t play them. We were beginning the format now known as “Classic Rock”. This meant our playlist stopped at 1982 or so. It’s all the rage now – we were ten years ahead of our time at being twenty years behind the times.  We wouldn’t even play new songs by established artists.
            So there was no way we’d play new songs by new artists. We received a lot of big hair metal bands’ CDs  – all in the hopes that some station might play a song or too. One CD we received was the first album of LA Guns – they eventually got to be a pretty big group!
            We must have received Cockroaches CDs, too. I liked their style of power pop better than the barrage of metal sent to the station.
            By now other contemporary Australian groups had some hits in the US – Crowded House and Midnight Oil, for example.  I know, I know. Midnight Oil had been around for many years before the mid-to-late 1980s. I’m being Americentric here, haha.
            As is usually the case, once one band opens the door, others jump on the bandwagon. Especially in US markets. In the early 1990s you couldn’t swing a pair of ripped jeans without hitting yet another grunge band from Seattle.
            Australia is the same. “Like Crowded House? Listen to THIS” a sample  CD would boast. When Henry Lee Summers’ album debuted, he was billed as “not just another tall, lanky kid from Indiana” in a clunky attempt to attract John (then Cougar) Mellencamp fans.  The irony here is that Mellencamp is anything but tall and lanky.
            I cannot confirm ANYWHERE on the internet whether the Cockroaches’ CDs were released in the states, or even if their CDs were pushed by marketers to radio stations. But how else would I have known about them?
            The Wikipedia entry for the Cockroaches – telling us their entire history – is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cockroaches
            A brief synopsis: the Cockroaches numbered among them three brothers with the last name of Field.  One of the Field’s daughters died of SIDS. The band broke up shortly after that tragedy. The fun had gone out of it. I don’t blame them.
            One Field brother, Anthony, went to college and got his degree in Pre-School education. My sister has that degree too. Of the 500 or so students, there were five men. Three of those five men decided to try an experiment. Since they were all of a musical bent, why not try to make music for children that would excite and interest them and not talk down to them?
            And in the past year our house has dozens of their DVDs (some rented from the library), CDs, and ticket stubs to their live show. You can read about my review of their St. Louis concert here:    http://michaelgcurry.blogspot.com/2013/09/were-off-to-see-wiggles-review-of.html
***
            However I came to love their music; I am not surprised I am a fan. A big fan. Beatles aside, I have always been a fan of lesser-known artists. There is so much music out there – to limit yourself to a few musicians or groups is ridiculous. It is, however, the basis for most radio station programming now (I have blogged about the desolate state of radio: http://michaelgcurry.blogspot.com/2013/08/i-finally-bury-long-dead-friend-begin.html). It’s sad to think of all the music people are missing while listening to “Taking Care of Business” for the thousandth time. 
            Instead of the Rolling Stones I listened to Badfinger. Instead of Eric Clapton I listened to JJ Cale (so did Clapton for that matter). Instead of listening to Springsteen I listened to John Prine (so did Springsteen …). I loved the Stones and Clapton and Springsteen; but I loved Badfinger, Cale and Prine more. They needed it more.
            That may be why I liked the Cockroaches so much. While the other DJs were oohing and aahing over the latest metal CD, here was a group making party-rock music. Here are two links to two of the You Tub hits: She’s the One (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1wzFeCJ2dc) and Permanently Single (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKBUl_wzi8o).
            Permanently Single is especially baffling. It barely charted in Australia (#87 in the charts); I doubt it would have been pushed in the US.
            How on earth do I know about this music?
***
            But wouldn’t it be fun to watch them reunite for a couple of shows? It’s not like they’ve been out of practice. Anthony seems to have stepped up his musicianship with the Wiggles – with the new members HE is the one playing guitar instead of Murray. He also continues on the drums and, according to his autobiography, is proficient on many instruments.
            His brothers Paul & John are also involved in various Wiggly escapades – John writes many of their songs and Paul produces songs and videos and acts more or less as their spokesman and manager. They recently formed The Field Brothers and released an album of country music 1964. http://www.thefieldbrothers.com.au/
            Check out some Youtube videos of their live performances – including a countrified version of “Permanently Single”. The Field Brothers have a Facebook page, too.
            This is the last entry on their Facebook page: “Don’t forget! For the first time in over 25 years, The Cockroaches are reforming their original album line up and more to celebrate the release of their album catalogue on iTunes in June. “
            Unlike the original news release quoted earlier, this kind of statement riles me. It’s not the original line-up; it is the most popular line-up.       Notice the press release says “album line-up” which is more correct.
            This may just be my hang-up but usually when a band has its “original line-up”, it doesn’t.
            Fleetwood Mac is reuniting and touring for the first time in many years and I see that phrase bandied about: original line-up. How is that possible, I ask, when Peter Green is dead? Huh, some people ask? Sigh. The ORIGINAL line-up for Fleetwood Mac was Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. The band’s original name was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. They were all part of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers and splintered off into their own group and had a few hits (including “Black Magic Woman” – they wrote it but it became the signature tune for Santana).
            This Fleetwood Mac that is reuniting and touring is certainly the most successful line-up (Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood) – their songs are the ones constantly repeated on the radio. But theirs weren’t the first line-up to be successful!
            My favorite line-up for Fleetwood Mac was the one before Buckingham and Nicks joined. This included Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch (who were replaced by Buckingham and Nicks – never that simple, Kirwan left and was replaced by Bob Weston for one album, the group with Welch made one more album after that then he left, etc. …). Their hits included “Hypnotized”, “Heroes are So Hard to Find”, “Bare Trees” and “Sentimental Lady” – a later solo hit for Welch.  You NEVER hear these tunes on broadcast radio. I like this line-up better than the reunited one.
            But that’s just the way I am. Instead of Fleetwood Mac, I listened to Fleetwood Mac.
            If you think about it – there are some groups that did better with a second line-up then their “originals”. The Moody Blues pop to mind. They had a few hits (“Go Now” and “Do Wah Diddy”, but when Justin Heywood and John Lodge joined, their work went into the stratosphere! They’re still touring!
            The Eagles were very successful with their original line-up; their later line-up was HUGELY successful, but their earlier incarnation had plenty of hits, too.  The Eagles are another group that people tout as the “original line-up” going on tour or recording. Umm, no. If Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt are there, it’s not the original line-up.  It’s a GREAT line-up, but not the original …
***
            Back to the Cockroaches…
            So here’s my plan – we can fly to Sydney on Thursday, get there Saturday (damn that international date line), go see the show on the 14th (I am unavailable the other date), fly back Sunday morning and land home Sunday night (bless that international date line) and back to work Monday – only two days off!
            Airline tickets for two adults and one child is just over $6,000.00. Add in the cost of the show, food at the airports and elsewhere, a quick overnight stay in a hotel and we’re talking about $7,500.00. To see a band that had no hits in the US and only one top ten song in their native Australia. I should start saving now.
            Maybe Lachy and Emma can babysit during the show. I’ll have to post my request on their Facebook page. I wonder how much their charge? They’ll have to email me their references, of course …
 
 
 
Original Material Copyright 2014 Michael G Curry
             


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