<![CDATA[Richard Dinnen Professional story teller - Blog]]>Sat, 23 Jan 2021 20:23:09 +1000Weebly<![CDATA[Whatever happened to greatest hits albums]]>Sat, 23 Jan 2021 10:00:49 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/whatever-happened-to-greatest-hits-albums
Whatever became of “greatest hits” compilation albums? Record companies used to reissue already successful singles on an album – easy money for the company and artist, and a good way for new fans to catch up on an established act.

It’s how people of my vintage learned about the Beatles – the red/blue album compilations issued after they split. I worked backwards from there.

Some acts resisted record company pressure to do “best of” compilations, especially in the album era, arguing that hit songs would be stripped of their “album” context and be presented in ways their creators did not intend.

But the money? “Greatest hits” records are cheap to make – no new material or expensive studio time. Nice little earner for act and label.

“Best ofs” began in the early part of the “album era” – 1958’s Johnny Mathis greatest hits is thought to be the first. Streaming killed them off, but for a time, they were a lucrative thing. So much so that the best-selling record ever in the USA is a greatest hits, by The Eagles – it sold 38 million copies.

And then labels like K-tel started doing amazing compilations of eras and styles, and Rhino Records began to issue compilations that taught us all about artists, styles and musical eras.

Listen to my ABC Radio story about greatest hits albums.                                      
<![CDATA[ABC must do more for local overseas news staff]]>Sat, 16 Jan 2021 04:32:45 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/abc-must-do-more-for-local-overseas-news-staff
The fearless Peter Dipp on camera with me at PNG Independence Day Port Moresby 2000
PictureFormer ABC foreign correspondent Ginny Stein
the fearlesThe Australian Broadcasting Corporation has long been our leading provider of news from the rest of the world. Read former foreign correspondent Tony Hill's remarkable book Voices From The Air, about the ABC correspondents who reported from the battlefronts of World War 2. Ever since then, the ABC has led the way on international coverage, with generations of foreign correspondents bringing us news from often dangerous and isolated locations. The coverage from Washington during the invasion of Congress was in the finest traditions of ABC international news coverage.

Some ABC foreign correspondents become household names and very big stars. All of them are supported by reporters, producers, fixers, office managers - staff hired locally in the city where ABC overseas bureaux operate. There are offices in Beijing, Jakarta, London, Tokyo, Washington,  and Port Moresby, where I served between 1999 and 2002. There used to be many more. Some have closed, and others are now a work from home arrangement - Bangkok, Beirut,  New Delhi and Jerusalem.

From these locations, correspondents file radio, TV and online reports, working a roster to fit Australian filing deadlines, rather than local time zones. They rely heavily on the local knowledge, contacts and nous of their local staff. Correspondents get the kudos and the awards. The local staff are largely unknown, their salaries and conditions far less rewarding than the ABC correspondents they support.

In Port Moresby, I had the tireless support of the wonderful journalist Ekonia Peni, champion office manager Rachel Tigen, the fearless Peter Dipp on camera, and the amazing Kauage and Sik as caretakers. I relied on their skills and kindness every day of my three years in PNG. I would not have filed a single story without them. I was well paid for my work there, but they were asked to work to Australian standards for salaries and conditions well below Australian minimums. And it is the local staff who bear the brunt of any repercussions when the correspondent delivers unpopular or contentious reporting.

This has been a concern in the ABC community for decades, and a recent development shows it hasn't improved. Former ABC Africa correspondent Ginny Stein, writes of her concern for a staff member at the ABC bureau in Nairobi, which is closing down amid cost-cutting at the national broadcaster.

Ginny and staff member "D" moved the ABC Africa bureau to Nairobi from Johannesburg in 2013. "D" has been made redundant, but Ginny says his low wage meant a "pittance of a payout". She says "D" will have to return to his homeland, Zimbabwe, where economic and political turmoil makes for an at best difficult future for this talented and loyal ABC staffer.

Read Ginny Stein's Facebook post about "D" and the Nairobi bureau. The ABC disputes some of Ginny's statements. But the situation she describes will be familiar to many former ABC foreign correspondents and local overseas staff.

And here's the link to a fundraiser for "D" started by Ginny.

<![CDATA[The life, times and music of Uncle Seaman Dan]]>Thu, 14 Jan 2021 09:12:34 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/the-life-times-and-music-of-uncle-seaman-dan
SeamHenry Gibson Dan was, in his quiet, unassuming way, one of the most remarkable men I've met. A proud Torres Strait islander who worked at many things across northern Australia. His nickname "Seaman" comes from his many years diving for pearl shell, in the old-fashioned pressure suit and helmet, breathing through a hose running down from a boat.

Seaman Dan was a "deep water man", one of the saltwater cowboys who made a living when pearling was a lucrative pursuit in our northern tropics, for those  with the courage and luck such dangerous work required. And he would perform in pubs, at parties, that rich "crooner" voice delivering everything from Nat King Cole to calypso, hula, jazz. Island style music - like Torres Strait - has a little bit of everything and everywhere.

By age 70, Uncle Seaman Dan could have opted for a quiet life back in Torres Strait. But visiting music scholar Karl Neuenfeldt heard him sing, and invited him to make an album. They went on to make eight albums that put Torres Strait music on the map, and won Seaman Dan fans and admirers across the world. He won two ARIA awards, he's in the National Indigenous Music Hall of Fame, all sorts of honours, including an Order of Australia. 

He kept performing well into his 80s, sharing his music and life story with characteristic generosity. Seaman Dan died in late December. He was 91.

Listen to my ABC Radio tribute to Uncle Seaman Dan

Find yourself a copy of his biography - Steady Steady: The Life and Music of Seaman Dan
<![CDATA[Gerry Marsden: Mersey Beat star]]>Wed, 06 Jan 2021 02:49:46 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/gerry-marsden-mersey-beat-star
British rock and roll began up north, in Liverpool, a port city soaking up the music seamen brought home with them from far and wide. By the late 50s, a local style had evolved - skiffle, from which hundreds of local bands found their way to American rock and roll, bolder and more popular than the British radio hits of the time.

The new sound was called Mersey Beat, after the river that runs through Liverpool. Its most famous band was The Beatles. Their closest rival was Gerry and the Pacemakers - their front man, Gerry Marsden, has died in the UK. He was 78.

Listen to my ABC Radio story on Mersey Beat and Gerry Marsden
<![CDATA[Farewell Torres Strait legend Seaman Dan]]>Thu, 31 Dec 2020 11:08:59 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/farewell-torres-strait-legend-seaman-dan
I am very sad to hear the great Torres Strait singer Henry Gibson "Seaman" Dan has left us. He was 91.
Uncle Seaman began his career as a recording artist at age 70, but he'd been making music since childhood. He was born on Thursday Island in 1929, going on to be a pearl shell diver, boat skipper, taxi driver and mineral prospector. It was during his time working as a diver that he acquired his lifelong nickname ‘Seaman’ Dan.
He was welcome at any venue or party, getting the crowd going with his lively "island" style music delivered in his rich "crooner" voice.
A chance encounter with visiting music producer Karl Neunfeldt led to Uncle Seaman's first CD in 1999. Since then, he had national and international success as a performer and recording artist, winning two ARIA awards and many other honours.
I worked with Uncle Seaman many times, and interviewed him whenever I could. Here's one we did for the launch of his biography in 2013.
Listen to Uncle Seaman Dan tell the remarkable story of his life and music
<![CDATA[Songs about years]]>Wed, 16 Dec 2020 08:46:40 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/songs-about-years

 Has anyone written a song about 2020 yet? We may not want to remember this stinker of a year, but it's got all the ingredients for a song - fire, contagion, corruption, and lately, the downfall of a tyrant.

It's surprising how many songs there are about years, and many of them have captured the feel of an era, a time, a place. As 2020 ends, songs about years. Listen to my ABC Radio story and enjoy a Spotify of songs about years.

<![CDATA[Rain songs for the coming wet season]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2020 05:50:38 GMThttp://mojowire.net.au/blog/rain-songs-for-the-coming-wet-season
Those dot dash lines on the top of the weather map are the monsoon, forming up and approaching our tropical north. Sweltering days breed epic thunderstorms, and rain returns to the Kimberley, Cape York and the Top End, after an absence of many months.
People really do go out and dance in the first rain, celebrating the breaking of the build-up, and an end to high temperatures and humidity that combine to create awful conditions.

Then there's the magical scent - petrichor - when long-dry soil gets wet for the first time. Rain renews country, creeks and billabongs are full, and life is abundant once more.

It's a time worth celebrating, with songs about rain. Listen to my radio piece (from ABC Radio's It's Just Not Cricket) and enjoy a Spotify of rain songs.