The Celebrated Knackers & Knockers Band
Two Albums of Disgustingly Funny Australian Bawdy Song and Verse
FIRSTLY, A message from Major Bumsore! As a music historian I make absolutely no excuses for the songs in this disgusting collection. They are part of a very long tradition of bawdy song, some dating back hundreds of years. Like most music they have come in and out of fashion however, despite aggressive political correctness, often to the point of being ridiculous, these songs refuse to completely disappear. I feel as if I am doing my part in having them stick around a little longer.
Bawdy song scholars have suggested that Australia is one of the last bastions of the genre. I tend to agree and would suggest the songs vigorously entered the tradition here at a time when we were a different country, a country born of a massively disproportionate male to female ratio. The 19th century saw these songs sung, and the poems recited, in shearing sheds, teamster and droving camps,outback pubs and then passed to the factory workers and sporting clubs of the early twentieth century. Their important role in male bonding during wartime also played a significant role in their survival. Television, that vile enemy of homemade entertainment, killed off most community singing however ‘filthy songs’ are resilient little buggers and they still manage to survive and I am never surprised to hear politicians, judges, stockbrokers and even a few women, enthusiastically singing ‘their’ version of such songs.
All of the songs and recitations in this collection were collected in Australia. Like all traditional songs, part of their survival mechanism is the circulation through what we refer to as the ‘oral tradition’ – songs learnt though repeated singing at sporting clubs, on coach trips and drunken sessions at the local rubbity-dub. The fact that many of the songs possess loose rhythms and the verses often more doggerel than artful lyric is no coincidence. Simplicity and sing ability are part of their success story. That said, the songs are of a noble tradition and what appears simplistic is often far more subtle and, of course, often hilarious.
Parody is one of the most popular vehicles for bawdy song. A well-known song is changed to suit the story. These songs are not plagiarism other than the fact they have been ‘claimed’ by the ‘folk’ and their originator, understandably, usually anonymous.
It is important to document the bawdy song tradition because it is a threatened expression. Entertainment is changing dramatically and these songs are rapidly disappearing despite being racist, homophobic, sexist and just about every other taboo in the book. If we erase our oral history we have no check on our own history.
Finally, my chicken-hearted musical friends refused point-blank to have their real names associated with this project. They didn’t mind the songs, in fact they relished in singing and playing them, but thought going public was going a stretch too far. You can probably work out who they are.
The recordings were made in 2009 at Bloody Dog Studios with the enthusiasm of Marcus Holden, George Washingmachine, Clare O’Meara, Mark Oats and Garry Steel. The former had absolutely nothing to do with the musical arrangements, singing or playing of the music.
Mastering was done by Andy Busuttil of Blue Mountain Sound. Andy, a sensitive soul, would prefer not to have his name or his studio mentioned in the notes.
The cover artwork is by James P. Gilmour. James couldn’t give a stuff.
The Celebrated Knockers & Knackers Band...
Major Bumsore. The Major saw action in WW2 where he was officer in charge of latrines and ablutions. A strict disciplinarian, he had a well-earned reputation as a man on a mission. He learnt many of his songs in seedy bars, shower blocks, and quartermaster’s stores and on route marches.
Andre Rude. Born of immigrant parents, probably from the Netherlands, Andre learnt the violin at an early age. Although his favourite composer is Strauss he also claims to be fond of heavy metal and some operatic arias. He also plays mandolin, guitar and gin rummy.
Shiela Blige. As recognisable from her name Shiela claims Aussie/Celtic ancestry. A gifted fiddler she has been advised to keep her hands to herself and her music to the world.
Dick Longhorn. Despite his name Dick is quite short and does not play horns. He is a fine fiddler and has been known to break out in song and rashes.
Oliver Guinness. Oliver has a drinking problem but, when sober, can play several instruments including mandolin, violin, Vera Lynne and a glass of gin.
Rodney McMinge. Highly talented at the keyboard and cheeseboard this keyboard player has made quite a name for himself in bawdy song circles. He proudly wears the McMinge tartan of shaggy crossed black and red pubic hairs interwoven with the McMinge family motto: ‘One In All In’
Thanks also to Ben Dover and his brother Skip Dover, Buster Cherry, Dick Burns and Ophelia Titz for their loving support for the project.