I love Saturdays. Saturday mornings especially. No husbandly iPhone alarm blaring, slow to rise, leisurely grazing on fatty brunch food and celebrity guest DJ hour on my favorite local radio station. I find it fascinating to hear what makes an artist tick and how often the music selected seems to be in total contradiction to what they themselves produce. Last Saturday I was disgusted and excited to find that everyone’s favorite Frenchies, Justice, were spinning the wax fantastic. Intrigued, I settled in.
First, a little background. When I first heard the D.A.N.C.E single several years ago I was hooked. The genius video drove the point home that these dudes were on top their game. Shortly thereafter I watched “A Cross the Universe” and all the love I had turned into disappointing crippling intestinal pain and nausea. What a-holes.
Nevertheless, I reserve the right to have a love/hate (imaginary) relationship with both Augé and de Rosnay, my emotions dependent upon their future records and public behavior. With the release of Audio, Video, Disco late last year I, once again, wear a crown of hearts and bluebirds for the bastards. At first listen I was elated as I proclaimed it “ELO-ish”. But would the DJing escapade ruin them in my eyes yet again?
No fucking chance. They were brilliant.
Playing a lot of 70s progressive rock, their inspiration was made abundantly clear. Whether it’s heard in their homes everyday is unknown, but if you’ve listened to it (A,V,D), such sounds certainly had to be a galvanizing force behind the new record. To my chagrin, the track list contained no Electric Light Orchestra. There was a particularly savory tidbit nestled in between The Who’s “Who are You” and Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days” however. I mean, if ELO couldn’t be there, thank goodness Olivia Newton-John was. This sneaky maneuver launched Justice from wishy-washy limbo to a permanent place in the recesses of my big ol’ heart.
You see, it all has to do with the film Xanadu (1980), The World’s Most Ridiculously Perfect Musical. Starring Ms. Newton-John, it details the plight of a suffering young painter, Sonny, who works for AirFlo records (Note: I’ve been saying it for decades – PLEASE, for the love of all that is good on this planet, someone start a label and call it AirFlo for cripes sake). He wearily paints oversized reproductions of album covers for store window displays because he can’t make it as a freelance artist. O.N-J. rollerskates out of one of his paintings, serves as his muse and proceeds to help him fulfill his dream of opening a nightclub/roller disco. Told you it was perfect.
I saw it in the theater when it opened in ’80 and was mesmerized. I received the soundtrack on cassette that same year in my Easter basket. I carried it around in a table top tape player (pre-boom box) and listed to the hell out of it. I also bought the LP which unfolded into a seven year-old’s utopian dream photo montage of rollerskating in pink dresses and legwarmers and all other kinds of purple loveliness. It’s also when I first discovered ELO, who have 4 tracks on the album. I absolutely still love this record for its kitsch value of course, but mostly for the memories it jettisons from near obscurity into the forefront of my brain every damn time I hear a song from it. Plus ELO.
My reasoning skills might be warped and although they haven’t said it outwardly, I’ve decided that Justice must love Xanadu as well. That’s tops in my book (just go with it). Viva la Justice. Until I catch them being snarktastic again and all bets are off.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]