FORGOTTEN GEM: Delta Goodrem “Innocent Eyes”

2003 was in many respects one the prime years of the noughties for music. Not only did it see the mainstream launch of The Black Eyes Peas with their first effort containing a contribution from former child star Stacey “Fergie” Ferguson, but it also marked the year that finally saw the eagerly anticipated and much awaited debut album from Destiny’s Child starlet Beyoncé. Meanwhile, Britney was definitely “In The Zone” as she released her fourth album.

But hidden amidst the American chart domination stood an honest and discreet Australian talent. Having come to public attention in 2002 as the coy and aspiring singer Nina Tucker in “Neighbours”, by 2003 Delta Goodrem had escaped her fictional alter ego and became a singer in her own right.

“Broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s
simplistic songcraft stood out.”

Her debut album “Innocent Eyes” was released in late March 2003 and although it only peaked at number 3 in the UK, I feel this album is one that deserved a lot more recognition. There are several factors that may have caused the lack of interest in Goodrem as a credible singer/songwriter. However, the most obvious is the fact that she was just the latest in a long line of soap stars to turn pop star. If this were to be the sole reason that deterred many people from giving her album a chance, then I believe it is these people who truly missed out on a selection of sublime music.

The album opens with “Born To Try” which was the song used by her alter ego to launch a parallel career in the soap (which saw Nina leaving Ramsay Street to pursue her fledgling success) and as this song entered the real world, the lyrics rang true for a generation seeking success. “Born To Try” also broke the mould musically, in a period of production, Goodrem’s simplistic songcraft stood out.

“Born To Try” was not alone in its pop perfection. As “Innocent Eyes” moves effortlessly from one song to the next, Goodrem is consistent in her catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with her soft and elegant voice, best demonstrated on the album’s title track “Innocent Eyes”. Goodrem’s composition shows how a pop ballad should be written. But it is her distinct vocal adding an extra depth which makes this the real stand out track on the album.

“Catchy and sometimes haunting melodies which contrast with
her soft and elegant voice”

As well as proving her vocal ability, “Innocent Eyes” is a showcase of her more than impressive writing abilities. Though the album as a whole in a stunning selection, some real gems are there to be uncovered; “In My Own Time” and “Will You Fall For Me” really show an honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.

Goodrem did not work alone and “Innocent Eyes” boasts some impressive collaborations, With Gary Barlow and Kara DioGuardi both on board, it is no surprise that this mid tempo album is full of not only catchy hooks and beats, but has the lyrics to compliment them too.

“An honest and vulnerable side of Goodrem, a quality that is
rarely seen in an artist’s debut album.”

“Innocent Eyes” definitely takes us on a journey from its subtle and understated opening ballads, which sweep and gradually increase to mid tempo pop songs.. And that’s exactly what this album is, a real pop album. When listening to the album, I never question its integrity. It is presented in such a firm and honest way that what you see is what you get. It is rare to find a solid pop album that creates this security. Pop music always feels the need to be new, modern and at the risk of sounding like Simon Cowell, current. As a result, the pop scene is constantly changing, leaving the listener little time to capture a moment before moving on to the next. “Innocent Eyes” is a treat that is not afraid of staying still. I do not mean that its boring and stagnant but it really has taken the time to breathe and grow. I really feel it explores the aural setting it belongs to. Out of this bravery comes a sincere work from Goodrem.

Not only do we enjoy the integrity of the lyrics and cleverly composed songs, but for me the real star of the album is Goodrem’s vocal quality. At the time she was one of the few pop singers brave enough to sing live on television, which just proved that she wasn’t just a studio artist but a live artist too. Never shying away, Goodrem’s vocal range is constantly explored throughout the album, starting with a low and almost spoken start to the album and ending in high melodical bliss with “Will You Fall For Me”, making “Innocent Eyes” an album that really should not be forgotten.

Words: Christopher Hall

FORGOTTEN GEM: “Haunted Honeymoon”

Gene Wilder was a comic genius back in the 80’s, a sort of Steve Carell – Will Ferrell equivalent nowadays. A not so known movie of his was “Haunted Honeymoon”, released in 1986; a horror-comedy spoof with a great cast accompanying him and the haunted house premise to play around with and create a mesmerizing story. He succeeded when the movie came out in the late 80’s. Nowadays, if you watch it, it is a bit silly and the gags do not seem as funny as one would expect.

“Funny enough to have a giggle, and scary enough to prove
to my friends that I am old enough to watch horror movies without being scared.”

I remember I watched this movie probably two or three years after it came out. Back in the VHS era, the local video-club was a haven of anything the local retailer would bring and offer the masses. Horror and comedy were always two of my favorite genders, and seeing the cover (Wilder and his wife Gilda Radner, with a drag queen version of Dom De Luise) it looked funny enough to have a giggle, and scary enough to prove to my friends that I am old enough to watch horror movies without being scared. After the movie finished, I realised I had discovered that a movie can be loved and it became the first movie to ever be in my Top Ten of all time (It made me realise I needed to find nine more to make it proper – so my quest started).

Though a commercial flop at the time of its release, only grossing $8,000,000 in America entering the box office at number 8, then slipping to 14 the following week, “Haunted Honeymoon” is film perfection for all its flaws. Having since become a cult classic, on revisiting a childhood favourite, its charm was once again immediately evident.

The story: Gene Wilder is getting married to his sweetheart. They both are successful radio actors (the movie was set in the ‘50s) on a very successful horror radio show – the ones with a lot of human made sound effects and cheesy dialogue.  Wilder’s character is scared of anything spooky, and before he gets married, he needs to overcome this so what should he do? Go to the spookiest haunted mansion where all his family are gathered for his wedding. And of course, scary things start happening, and Gene Wilder needs to overcome his fear in order to save his sweetheart and uncover what is going on.

And funnily enough, it works. The characters that Gene Wilder has created are unique enough but common at the same time for the viewer to feel immediately drawn to them in their characters own specific way. By the end, you want the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win. Tackling comedic, sometimes slapstick, elements with classic horror ones (werewolf, ghosts, ghouls etc.), and also creating the family characters as classic stereotypes it creates a great atmosphere where you easily get scared as you are easily laughing.

The stereotypical characters include: the mysterious magician, the classic film noir femme fatale, the loser cousin – which is usually the one that will get killed first, the butler who is loyal to their master, the hysterical maid and the list of usual suspects continues.

“A Forgotten Gem for all the wrong and right reasons.”

The direction is simple enough, and the photography is quite atmospheric. This is not an amazing movie of course, but it works in all the levels and does not feel it was put together on the spot. All actors play their parts well, with Dom DeLuise stealing the show as Gene Wilder’s auntie. Yes, he is in drag, when it was still politically correct to use male actors to camp it up. Despite his on screen charisma, DeLuise’s efforts were rewarded with the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actor.

For all it’s comedy gold, another reason that “Haunted Honeymoon” warrants celebration has a more tragic tone. Though unknown at the time, “Haunted Honeymoon” was to be Gilda Radner’s final screen appearance, with her premature death in 1989 at the age of just 42.

Overall, this is a Forgotten Gem for all the wrong and right reasons. Very old-fashioned nowadays, it does not fail to still entertain and to remind this generation why Gene Wilder was a comic genius. It is obvious how the current comedians have learned so much from him. A true inspiration.

Words: George Mathioudakis

FORGOTTEN GEM: Daphne DuMaurier “My Cousin Rachel”

On my twelfth birthday I was gifted two books from my cousin Rebecca. Wrapped up in wrapping paper were Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” and My “Cousin Rachel”. Thirteen years later I read “My Cousin Rachel” (and about time too). I love Du Maurier’s work. After reading “Rebecca” when I was fifteen I went on a Du Maurier buying spree. In between reading an additional five books over the years, “My Cousin Rachel” continued to be bypassed until recently when scanning my bookshelves I realised I needed another Du Maurier fix.

“My Cousin Rachel” does not disappoint. It is as formulaic as a Daphne Du Maurier book can be, while still being its own distinctive narrative. She is famous for her ability to create romantic novels with sinister overtones. While relationships become stronger and characters become more dependent on each other, some other force or person is enmeshing itself into the relationship to disrupt it in some way. The strange and the unexpected appear in the common place. In this way “My Cousin Rachel” develops.

“Every thought and every word uttered by them
is entirely believable.”

Phillip’s cousin Ambrose, who raised him, marries, while convalescing in Italy, a woman called Rachel. Ambrose unexpectedly dies and Rachel travels to England to meet the cousin. Thrown into this very sedate story line are a couple of letters written by Ambrose before his death that cast aspersions on the character of Rachel, claiming that her arrival is driven by a desire for an inheritance from her dead husband, who not having changed his will, left her nothing.

“My Cousin Rachel” as in most of Du Maurier’s books is a study of character. She creates the world and the mind of our narrator so perfectly that every thought and every word uttered by them is entirely believable in the make up of the character.

But the location, the setting of her story is an additional character that cannot be forgotten. The location, the estate on which Phillip has grown up, is as much a part of the story as the characters are. The land provides the wealth and the living thereby shaping the characters. This is the beauty of Du Maurier’s literature. She understands the power of an environment in determining the character and the actions of an individual.

Phillip has never had prolonged contact with women. He has known no mother and therefore the arrival of Rachel at his home is the first time he has lived with a women under his roof. This premise allows Daphne Du Maurier to explore how a woman’s emotions influence a man’s, especially when the man has no previous experience of these manipulations. I was engrossed in the mind-set that she created in Phillip; in each analysis of the words or actions that Rachel performed and how these actions where analysis by a man unused to a women, sometimes accurately and sometimes not. As a woman it made me analyse things I say and actions that I perform and reflect on how these would be interpreted.

“She understands the power of an environment in determining the character and the actions of an individual.”

A fascinating study of human character, although in an outdated age the emotional trajectory that Phillip follows is reminiscent of the emotional upheavals and trials that men and woman have to negotiate together even today. Like a lot of her books not a lot happens during the middle, life slides along with the pages, but they aren’t uninteresting. Her use of language is such that she creates her written images in your imagination.

Published in 1951, made into a film in 1952, earning Richard Burton (as Phillip) a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, which is ludicrous as Phillip is the protagonist, but I’m not analysing the politics of the Oscar’s here, this book has been almost subsequently forgotten. It was remade for television in the 80s but it has not had the pervading remembrance that “Rebecca” has had on our collective consciousness. Whether this is because “Rebecca” was immortalised by Hitchcock or because it was genuinely a better novel I hesitate to guess. Of the books I have so far read, neither of these two take the crown which would be tossed between “The Scapegoat” and “The Parasites” but that does not mean one should not read this book.

It is engaging. It is sinister. It asks questions that it does not always answer. But above all it makes you think about the simple manipulations of the human being, in contrast to the complex creatures that we are.

Words: Rachel Jacobs

FORGOTTEN GEM: The Go-Betweens “16 Lovers Lane”

The Go-Betweens are one of those bands who never quite got the attention they deserved. Of the nine studio albums they made, their sixth, “16 Lovers Lane”, stands out as the most beautiful and influential.

As singers, writers and guitarists, Grant McLennan and Robert Forster were not only the heart of the Go-Betweens but also one of the best songwriting duos in pop-rock history. Arguably the best Australian group of all time, the Go-Betweens released their defining album in 1988. Arguably “16 Lovers Lane” is one of the best albums ever made.

Having started the band in 1978 in Brisbane, Australia, McLennan and Forster moved to London and got on with recording a succession of critically acclaimed but commercially under-performing albums including “Tallulah”, “Spring Hill Fair” and “Liberty Belle & The Black Diamond Express”.

“As dramatic as it is understated”

Opening with ‘Love Goes On’ and the immortal line ‘There’s a cat in the alleyway dreaming of birds that are blue. Sometimes girl when I’m lonely this is how I think about you’, the tone as indicated by the title”16 Lovers Lane” is clearly set – an album of songs about the trials and tribulations of love. And like all the best love songs, they will break your heart every time you hear them.

With the introduction of ‘Quiet Heart’ openly inspired by U2’s ‘With Or Without You’, the album evolves delicately with this gently lullaby to lost love and lines like ‘I tried to tell you, I can only say it when we’re apart about this storm inside of me and how I miss your quiet heart’.

And yet although, “16 Lovers Lane” does have its many heartbreaking moments, the shimmering elegant acoustic pop of songs like the hugely infectious, sunshine pop gem that is ‘Streets Of Your Town’ and ‘Love Goes On’ more than express the beauty and commercial potential of which they were always capable. “16 Lovers Lane” is one of those albums where everything from the songwriting, production, lyrics, instrumentation and the vocals all come together to make something as dramatic as it is understated and moving.

The two mainstays always shared songwriting and vocal responsibilities and on their albums with McLennan’s more gentle, natural and accessible vocals and melodies contrasting with and complementing Forster’s rather spiky, artful songs. Forster never really sang, but spoke melodically in a slightly clipped way.

Other songs on the album include the sweet and brief ‘Devils Eye’ and the gentle, romantic harmonies of ‘Clouds’, which remind you of how it feels to be with the person you were always destined to be with and that being together forever can be a wonderful thing. But it’s not all sweetness and light as in the spiky and aggressive end of a relationship fable on ‘Was There Anything I Could Do?’

Although “16 Lovers Lane” is the Forgotten Gem here, I would argue that Go-Betweens themselves are the true Forgotten Gem. as one of the most under-rated bands and writing partnerships of all time. Lennon & McCartney and Jagger & Richards were undoubtedly hugely creative and successful partnerships but for me, Grant McLennan and Robert Forster have written some of the most beautiful songs of all time. “16 Lovers Lane” just shows them at their creative peak.

After “16 Lovers Lane”, McLennan and Forster decided to take a break from the Go-Betweens and work on solo albums, which they did for 12 years until they were asked to perform at a 10th anniversary party for renowned French music magazine ‘Les Inrockuptibles’. They did and it went so well that they recorded three more critically acclaimed albums over the next six years, although mainstream commercial success still somehow eluded them.

“Deep down I’m lonely and I miss my friend”

Sadly, Grant McLennan died of a heart attack in 2006. So there will be no more Go-Betweens albums, although Robert Forster has since released a solo album “The Evangelist”. On ‘Dive For Your Memory’ from 16 Lovers Lane’, Forster sings ‘Deep down I’m lonely and I miss my friend’ and although it was initially written about a relationship break-up, eighteen years later and with McLennan’s sad passing away, this song seems more poignant than ever.

A huge influence on bands like REM, Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand, the Go-Betweens’s catalogue of albums are full of openly romantic and  idealistic lyrics with a gentle undertow of occasionally spiky and naturally melancholy optimism.

Perhaps the Go-Betweens were never destined to be loved by the masses (not necessarily a bad thing) but if you have not yet listened to “16 Lovers Lane”, listen to it now. It’s graceful, sublime and truly magnificent. And in your darkest days,  it will give you the hug you need when you need it most. And that can only be a good thing.

Words: Jason Newton

 

FORGOTTEN GEM: Once

A prophetic title, “Once” is here to remind us that once in a while, you get a film out of nowhere that surprises you and reminds you the magic of the movies.

“Once” tells a story of a street performer, a busker, that communicates to the passing crowd his feelings and despair about the love he once lost. A Czech girl, an immigrant who is selling roses in the street hears him, and expresses her admiration for his voice and his songs. And one of the greatest stories starts to play out in front of the audiences eyes. Their growing bond spoken through song.

Two people, ignored usually by the crowds that pass them by, show tremendous talent not only in singing and playing their instruments but in learning the lessons of love through their songs and lyrics. We never learn either of their names. There is no need to. They are just two people, could just as easily be you and me. We never see them in a soppy love story. Those are for Hollywood, real life is never like that. That just is not how the world works. Instead we see them singing some amazing lyrics to one another and that is enough.

“Once” is one of the movies that forces you into contemplation after you’ve seen it. Upon watching, the audience will enjoy a very independent little movie, complete with not so steady camera work. As with many films of its ilk, the shaky screen can be uncomfortable, but persist, the magic of “Once” comes afterwards. Post-film, when you put all the scenes that you experienced together, you form a beautiful story, told in the most interesting way.

Using unknown actors (and I use the term actors lightly – the two leads are in fact musicians in real life, rather than actors) works very well given the anonymity of the roles they undertake. “Once” could not have worked if lead by the A-list stars. Unassumingly normal, the pair are refreshingly everyday, increasing the relateability factor.

Both Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are subtle, real, and genuine in their understated performances. They easily convince as two friends strengthening their relationship.

The dialogue is simple yet effective, but the majestic is left for the songs which easily dominate the scenes in which they are present. “Once” boasts without doubt one of the most delicately beautiful and emotionally uplifting soundtracks of recent times.

Written and directed by former The Frames lead singer/bassist John Carney, it is clear that Carney has a passion for observation. “Once” steers clear of the intrusive. In a Big Brother obsessed society, Carney has captured the feeling of following a stranger you meet down the street without ever really imposing on their world. His approach feels like a documentary. He is here to remind us that we are watching these people, to listen to them and enjoy their relationship.

The observational documentary effect is only enhanced by the camera work. For the majority of the fi lm, the hand-held effect is simple yet used to good effect. However, Carney is too clever to leave the viewer in a state between reality and fiction. The last scene is perfectly executed. Using a crane, the camera ‘flies away from the scene providing an ending so complete, yet so full of craving to fi nd out what became of our fictional pair.

“Once” (Icon Home Entertainment) is available on DVD.

  • Latest Issue

    ISSUE 6: OUT NOW Email thekaje@thekaje.com if you want it direct to your inbox for free!!

  • Blog Archive


  • Enter your email address to subscribe to us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 41 other followers




  • Follow TheKajeBlog on Twitter
  • Follow The Kaje Sessions