Saturday, October 1, 2011

"Boys in Action"

Amazon MP3

(Capitol, 1976)

October is LGBT History Month, so I've decided to make it an entire theme month! All the songs I post this month will either be by LGBT artists or about LGBT issues. As per usual for Lightning Jukebox, the music will be eclectic; it will not be a month of show tunes, dance music, and lesbians with acoustic guitars. I say that not to denigrate those genres, but because those are the stereotypical ones associated with us, yet we are a varied bunch.

When I was a kid, I was a metalhead. If it wasn't loud 'n' heavy, I wasn't all that interested, usually. Starz was one of my favorite bands then (and still are), and their 1976, eponymous debut album had a very gay sounding song title: Boys in Action. Now, I pretty much knew I was gay by the time I was 11, but I was in deep denial. I also knew the song was really about boys in action with girls (ew!), not other boys. Still, it was a turn-on to 14-year-old me; plus, it was the hardest rocking, fastest song on the album.

It wasn't 'til decades later that I discovered that bassist and song co-writer Peter Sweval was gay. Sadly, he passed away from cancer (i.e., complications due to AIDS) in 1990. There's scant information on the web about this, so my conclusion that he was gay may be wrong. I've read articles that make vague references to his sexuality, however, so it seems unlikely that I'm off the mark.

After he left Starz, Peter was a member of the Canadian band The Skatt Brothers, who were supposed to be the straight answer to the Village People, but who had a gay dance club hit with Walk the Night. I don't know; it sounds pretty gay to me. :-P

Before all this, he was a member of the band Looking Glass, who had a massive hit with Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) back in 1972. I've always loved that song. That's Pete on bass, backing vocals, and beard in the video.

5 biased opinions:

James Von Sutekh said...

So naturally, you'll be giving Jimmy and The Boys a write up then?

Lightning Baltimore said...

Uhhhhhh . . . who?

Lightning Baltimore said...

Oh, wait, do you mean Bronski Beat? Jimmy Sommerville's voice gives me the willies (and, no, I don't mean penises).

James Von Sutekh said...

Jimmy and the Boys were an Australian Punk/New Wave/Shock-Rock act active between 1976-1984 whose concerts rapidly developed a reputation for highly confronting stage acts and violence.
Fronted by the bisexual, and very camp contortionist Ignatius Jones who was in turn assisted by drag queen keyboardist Joylene Thornbird Hairmouth.
Their biggest hit was "They Won't Let My Girlfriend Talk to Me" which was written for them by Tim Finn of Split Enz. The video is mildly confronting by their standards, but back in the day it certainly displeased my mother greatly.

Live footage gives a better idea of what they were like their take on a Brian Eno number:

Even more telling is their own number "Butchy Boys" in two parts. Be warned: These two videos are totally NSFW.

After the band broke up, Joylene Hairmouth made an unsuccessful bid for NSW parliament as "The Cocktail Party". Ignatius Jones had a short-lived solo career in synth rock and briefly experimented with jazz/cabaret in the thankfully forgotten "Pardon Me Boys". He was last seen choreographing the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympic Games.
He also wrote a style guide "How to be Hip" which included the useful advice "Don't worry if you think you may be gay, because there are actually an awful lot of you out there, and these days there are lots of places where your kind can gather to wear funny clothes and hiss at each other."

Biki said...

whoa! i wasnt expecting much from this, but what a great song!