Sunday, 29 April 2012

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - Incredible Penguins (1985)

Here's a concept: I'm going to share a piece of music which I really don't like. Think of it as an act of vigilance on my part, as I don't want to ever be doomed to repeat the kind of history which is represented by this release by the Incredible Penguins. This is a benefit single released in '85 by a number of actual and semi Aussie musical celebrities in the aid of the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor). Allow me to outline the crimes committed by this single:

1. The abysmal artwork and title of the band. What the hell were they thinking? Is that snow in the background? Little Penguins are native to the southern coast of Australia and coastal New Zealand - they live on beaches, not snow. Then again, it does perfectly compliment the slap-dash attitude exuded by the single as a whole.

2. And speaking of slap-dash, what's with the choice of song? They've taken a very well known cover (which was rereleased after Lennon's murder only five years earlier), which was probably good for sales, but what has the song got to do with penguins? What's worse is that in order to create some kind of relevance from the song choice, they play samples over the outro of politicians talking about the Falklands War! What the hell does that have to do with the plight of this native Australian penguin species?

3. The musicians involved in making this record were frankly, pretty uninspiring. This single was the brainchild of Aussie music industry legend Molly Meldrum, who I would have thought could have assembled a pretty impressive mob of musos, particularly during his heyday in the eighties. Instead we get Angry Anderson and Brian Mannix! Granted, Meldrum also got Colin Hay, John Farnham and Bob Geldoff (who during this era evidently got involved with absolutely any charity single that would have him) but they are swamped by a chorus of no name Aussie singers and the Hare Krishna Chorus(?).

4. After you've handed over your hard-earned cash to help out the penguins, what sort of value do you get with this single? An extended version, a radio mix and an instrumental mix of the same song which was already done ten times better on the original - the listenability potential is just overwhelming.

5. Maybe this is going to sound like a weird complaint, but the Little Penguin isn't even endangered (and as far as I'm aware, wasn't categorised as such when this was recorded). Don't get me wrong, any money going towards the conservation of native species is great, but there are loads of other less well-known bird species in this country that could have done with the sort of financial boost that this recording would have brought in - such as the insanely endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. One can't help but think that the Little Penguin was chosen as an easy animal to identify with regardless of other potentially more pressing conservation issues at the time.

Basically, this recording feels like a soulless, vapid enterprise entered into by people who may well have had their hearts in the right place but ended up creating something so pointless and tacky, that it's no wonder that no one (and I mean no one) plays or has even heard of this recording today. It's hard to avoid being reminded of the brilliance of the Simpsons and their own vapid celebrity benefit single We're Sending Our Love Down The Well.

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