"Andy Warhol and John Lennon both achieved a lot more than fifteen
minutes of fame; and both got shot for their trouble. Nowadays there’s the
reverse idea. People might commit violence as a means to their Warhol-prescribed
Which should hardly shock Australian audiences who have been inured to the
horrors of fame-seeking by the Scandal’us superficiality of a television
series-cum-star-making-machine that is very nearly an anagram of pop-art and
also of pop-[insert a portion of the anatomy familiar to John Hopoate and
David Bowie, to my knowledge, has never been shot; but by 1975 he had
experienced enough of the vicissitudes of fame to collaborate with Lennon in
penning: “Fame, puts you there where things are hollow”.
Here, this worthy hit from Bowie’s Young Americans album is given a hard
and funky electronic edge by God Lives Underwater. Blistering bass and
percussion rhythms underpin a vocal interpretation that is half-sung and
half-rasped with the harrowed conscience of tortured celebrity. Angry, biting
and contemporary without losing its class, this is a great interpretation of a
paragon of self-deprecating pop music.
The CD itself is printed with the obvious quote from Warhol, and also a
portion of the Stars and Stripes, which seems more Jasper Johns’s domain. Does
it mean that pop-art, or pop-culture, or the fame-game are more or less the same
any way you shake the cocktail of celebrity? In what particular shade of shallow
would you like your fifteen- minute slice, Sir?
But there is more variety on this CD than your average programmed poundathon;
well, more variety than a Warhol silk-screen series in any case. Carmen Queasy
by Maxim (or is it the other way around?) combines a sassy tune with some nifty
production. It starts out sounding like a plastic guitar sample put through a
wringer and a perpetual vibration machine (and strangely engaging as a result)
and develops with the sort of theatrically purred vocal that is usually allergic
to contemporary beats.
Other than this track and Fame, none of the others quite
extricate themselves from four-on-the-floor immurement but nearly all are better
than average electronica. Among the more interesting moments, Ultra-obscene
perform some eponymous moaning about ‘skin on skin’ over a spectacular
farrago of odds and ends percussive samples. Which all amounts to a bundle of
potential energy looking for a chorus or at least a climax. And Prodigy get full
marks for a wonderfully weird coda that is a sample of either someone
demonstrating how to whistle backwards, or Monica Lewinsky demonstrating the use
of an oversized cigar: ‘just put your lips together and . . . ’ Now there’s
a lady who knows a thing or two about fame."
Published May 17, 2001