I posted a video that was made in the early 80’s. It’s Jan 26 today, and this video has had 145 views so far. I know it’s not a lot by Youtube standards, but by my standards it’s a lot in a short amount of time. I have no idea what’s driving it, the quality is lousy and the sound is pretty awful. I was going to restripe the tape with a better quality audio track, but I forgot and just threw it up on youtube with no fanfare at all. The Armchairs were a four piece band that I had formed with Johnny Topper in Melbourne while I was still working at Channel 9 in 1979. It was kind of a comedy band, and didn’t have great expectations. Topper and I took it to Sydney once, and it that was fun. I remember sleeping on someone’s living room floor the first night, but things improved after that. The next night (I think) I met Vera Plevnik, who had appeared in The John Sullivan Story, a TV movie as a resistance fighter Nadia Grosse. She loved the band, and she was pretty cool, so I stayed with her. She was killed in a car crash a few years later. which was quite sad, I liked her, she was a fun chick.
After that sojourn up North I think Topper left the band to pursue a solo career, and I recruited a new guitarist and a girl bass player who I found through someone who worked at Channel 9. Her name was Sue and I think it may have been her first band. Anyhow, she was cute and tiny which only made her bass look even bigger than it really was. NIck Seymour, who was just in the process of getting Crowded House together with the dude from Split Enz, came up to me at a cafe in Acland St one afternoon and said, “Who is that gorgeous bass player that plays in your band?” I asked him what his new band was called, and he gave me some stupid name. I said, “fuckin’ bullshit!”, to which he replied, “Well, that’s actually the best name for it, fuckin’ bullshit, because that’s what it really is.” That may not be an exact quote but that was the gist of the conversation.
When Rod Hayward, who was on guitar, left the Armchairs, we found someone who was a friend of Janus Friedenfelds aka Johnny Crash. His name was Boris, and I can’t for the life of me, remember his last name. It’s a constant source of annoyance because he’s in a lot of the videos that the Armchairs made. I heard he was in a car crash a long time ago, and I hope he’s alright. Unlike Like Vera Plevnik who didn’t survive, and Johnny Crash, who isn’t with us anymore. I liked Janus. He played on what was to become the Slaughtermen’s first single, ‘Jesus Saves White Trash.’ We didn’t have any drumsticks in the studio, so I think he ended up using coat hangers for sticks. It was funny session, and look at what came out of it. A song I don’t really want to ever play again. (never say never) None of this explains the popularity of “Can You Guess” this new/old video which everyone is looking at though.
The song is pretty much ad libbed the whole way through, and based on the opening lines of The Little River Band’s “Home on a Monday”. “Can you guess where I’m calling from? The Las Vegas Hilton.” Our version goes on to describe other places I might be calling from, eg, “A rock in your garden, a phone box in North Geelong etc etc. My old friend and songwriting partner from way back when, Graham Barker, ad libbed most of the lines. It’s really just a dumb song, and part of the general stupidity and laissez-faire attitude that was the Armchairs. I’ve also got a video of the 20 minute version of La Bomba that appeared on the Armchairs one and only album, Party Time! Dj’s loved it because they could put it on and take a leisurely visit to the crapper without fear of the song running out. That’s what Billy Baxter said anyway. I told Tony Buettel, the recording engineer at TCS, to keep recording until the tape runs out, and that’s what’s on the record.
Can You Guess? Ian Stephen vx and guitar, Boris guitar, Sue Parncutt bass, Andrew Snow drums. I think I posted this yesterday, but since there are no archives here, someone might have missed it.