Friday, 10 October 2014

Cursing Matilda

Recommended to me by WWR follower Graham Clayton, today’s disc, the peculiarly-named Shadow Valley and Iron Triangles, is three minutes of turgid Australian jingoistic nonsense masquerading as a call to arms to support the conflict in Vietnam . The title isn’t mentioned in the ‘song’, but it’s fairly safe to assume the ‘shadow valley’ part references the Lord’s Prayer; according to Wikipedia ‘In United States politics, the iron triangle comprises the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, the bureaucracy, and interest groups’.

Written by Andrew Jones MP (who, at the time, was the youngest person ever elected to the Australian House of Representatives: he’s not the same Andrew Jones MP who is currently serving as the Conservative member for Harrogate) Shadow Valley and Iron Triangles is credited to the group The Young Australians but is actually narrated by Rex Heading, a former DJ turned TV exec who went on to create the popular Aussie kids’ character Humphrey B Bear, over a version of the standard Waltzing Matilda. Issued in 1967, although the song was banned by several radio stations it was a sizeable hit in certain parts of the country, even reaching Number One in the Adelaide district.

Young and idealistic he may have been, but Jones – who was elected to the House of Representatives in November 1966 – was perhaps not the best person to be playing at politics.  In the same year that he had his hit single the naive young Liberal MP made the mistake of telling a journalist that "half the MPs in Parliament are drunk half the time". His faux pas ended in humiliation: he was forced to stand in the House of Representatives and apologise to Parliament.

The song later appeared on the 1986 double album Bob Hudson & Glenn A. Baker Present Antipodean Atrocities: Dubious Ditties, Patriotic Pap and Enthusiastic Excesses that Made Australia Grate. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to track down an audio clip of the song’s B-side Too Many Twisted Trails. Anyone out there help with that?

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