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Edited by Karen Hobson
a scratch on the
When the rock industry gets
together, sometimes rocks are
thrown, finds KAREN MIDDLETON
IT SEEMS good sportsmanship
is only for the cameras. When the glitterati of Australia's music industry donned penguin suits and evening dresses for the second annu al Australian Record Industry Asso ciation (ARIA) Awards on Monday night, the Sydney Sheraton-Went worth Hotel ballroom should have been ankle-deep in mud.
Insults flowed almost as freely as the wine and all three of the interna
tional guest presenters fell victim to flimsy jokes and foolishness. But the greatest revelation of the evening proved that there are more sore los ers in the business than the small screen would lead us to believe. When a winner happened to be a little unpopular, the beautiful people booed.
Midnight Oil, Icehouse and John Farnham won the most prestigious
awards of the evening, with Icehouse the only ones actually bothering to show up to collect them. Midnight Oil was touring in New Zealand, so manager Gary Morris collected the three awards for best single and song of the year (Beds Are Burning), and best album cover artwork (Diesel and Dust — Ken Duncan/Worts).
Morris himself was unquestion ably the winner of the unofficial prize for least-liked personality. Re ceiving one award, Morris aimed a poor one-liner at British presenter Bryan Ferry and his crumpled suit. "We do have room service in Aus tralia and you can order an iron," Morris said as the ever cool Ferry took two steps back and looked sur prised. The gag hardly brought the house down, but the audience took
quick revenge as Morris began his pro-Aboriginal acceptance speech. "I think if we've got any chance of reconciling we can do it in 1988," he said to a loud chorus of boos.
Presenting an award later, the Akubra-clad Ian "Molly" Meldrum commented that not many Aborigi nes could afford to stay in five-star hotels (Morris had a suite at the Sheraton). Morris replied that not many Aborigines had the opportuni ty to drive around Melbourne in a Rolls-Royce either and promptly told Meldrum to shut his face. Meld rum was heard to say quietly that he'd thought a boomerang might hit him. Nasty, nasty.
In another incident which reinforced the shambles, veteran singer Col Joye repeatedly found an "s" in the surname of the guest pre senter and Peter Pan of rock, Cliff Richard. The bespangled Richard then called Irish singer Feargal Shar key "Fergie", to which Sharkey re plied "I'm not pregnant". And to top it off, both Sharkey and Ferry were
seated at the back table under the potplants. Hardly VIP status. What a charade.
Living legend John Farnham did not show for the ceremony, choosing instead to let his manager Glenn
Wheatley pick up his awards for spe cial achievement, best adult contem porary record (A Touch of Paradise) and nest male artist. Wheatley said Farnham was too busy in the studio trying to follow up his Whispering Jack success to accept any more awards for it But Farnham was not the only musician to snub the indus
try bash. Almost half of the winners did not attend. Perhaps they antici pated the atmosphere and decided to stay away.
In contrast, Icehouse frontman Iva Da vies took the whole band out with him to collect the two awards for the highest-selling and best al bum, Man of Colours. Davies, who had a white suit and suntan to rival Andrew Peacock's, wore his shoul der-length hair in a ponytail till it came time to take to the podium, when he whipped off the elastic band and fluffed out his locks. Still, it was nice to see those who had earned the ARIA actually receiving it.
Neighbours star Kylie Minogue made an unusual speech when she accepted the ARIA for highest-sell ing single. Highlighting her own youth and relative inexperience, Minogue said she knew that some people were not necessarily "proud" of her but that she hoped they would
be when she was older and more experienced.
The award for best video went to Claudia Castle for Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls' clip To Her Door. David Nicholas won best engi neer for his work on Richard Clap ton's Glory Road and INXS's Kick, and Mark Opitz was voted best producer.
Billy Birmingham's Wired World of Sport won best comedy record, the Flying Emus took out best coun try record for This Town and the soundtrack from John Diedrich's musical Nine won best original soundtrack. Promoted to the indus try's Hall of Fame were Johnny O'Keefe, Col Joye, Slim Dusty, Dame Joan Sutherland, Harry Van da and George Young, and AC/DC.
Aside from the not-so-closet bitchiness, the evening was probably a success. Even the most insulted of the 700 invited guests kept smiling and looking as though they were having a fabulous time. At our table, games to guess the winners from among the lists of nominees kept people occupied through the pre senter change-overs and even Aus tralia's rock guru Glenn A. Baker, one of the 104 notables involved in judging, didn't get them all right.
There were plenty of surprises among both the winners and nomi nees. Crowded House picked up the ARIA for best group in front of other nominees; Hunters and Collectors, Icehouse, INXS and Midnight Oil. The WEA table was ecstatic when Melbourne band Weddings, Parties, Anything grabbed the award for best new talent ahead of the likes of Dave
Dobbyn, the Lime Spiders, James Reyne, and Painters and Dockers.
Jenny Morris won best female art ist with her only real competition, Kate Ceberano, one of the few gra cious losers. Others nominated in that category were Anne Kirkpat rick, ex-Kiwi Sharon O'Neill and current Kiwi Shona Laing — a little strange when the category is official ly called "Best Australian Female Artist". But if you agree with Glenn A. Baker, "we're all the one country"
Another categorical confusion lay in the award for best Australian indi genous record. Accepting the award on behalf of winners Gondwana land, Gary Morris actually had some support when he pointed out that perhaps somebody should "look up the word indigenous" in the diction ary. Doing just that, we find The Macquarie Dictionary defines "indi .-genous" as "originating in and char acterising a particular region or country; native". Nominations were This Town (Flying Emus), Gond wanaland (Gondwanaland), Austra lia All Over (ABC/Festival), Diesel and Dust (Midnight Oil), and Go Bush (Warumpi Band). The War umpi Band was the only band which came anywhere near being "indigen ous" in the true sense of the word. Why should an "indigenous" rock band have a category on its own anyway? Just another measure of in equality and another black mark on the industry's night of nights.