The Meanies DVD - WebWombat

The Meanies
Review by Chris Wood

What else can be said about influential Australian punk-rock outfit The Meanies that hasn’t already been said before? World famous? One of the most important Australian bands of the '90s?

Despite these comments being thrown at The Meanies more often than spare change at a bum on the footpath, they are still undeniably an important chapter in the annals of Australian rock history, and this DVD certainly shows them as exactly that.

Bursting onto Melbourne’s world-famous live music scene in 1989, the Meanies tore it up both on and off stage far and wide, including places as diverse as The United States, Europe, Japan and the Diamond Creek Town Hall.

One doesn’t have to be a fan of the band or the style to have an appreciation for what they have contributed. The colourful history of the band is certainly a story worth telling and at just under an hour, this documentary isn’t one of those enduring pantomimes that talk about those sappy ‘divine intervention’ moments when they came up with the riff of their most famous chart-topper.

Although I consider myself a fan of the Australian rock genre, The Meanies have thus far eluded me as a primary rock band of genuine consideration. It just seems to have been one of those instances where they have escaped my era.

The Meanies were believed to be part of a powerful underground machine, cultivating a crop of young musicians who thought they too could start a band, a fact that ‘Kram’ from Spiderbait attests to.

My intention isn’t to worship at The Meanies feet in the vein hope that I will be considered worth commenting on rock n’ roll by my peers. It appears in the documentary Sorry ’Bout The Noise that before the likes of The Meanies and Dirty Three, there was not a strong connection between the local scene and abroad. This DVD shows them as honest blokes who played the music they loved. And in doing so helped bridge the gap between underground and mainstream rock with their intuitive marketing sense.

Highlights of the documentary include some of the stories that you wouldn’t tell your mum about (let’s just say one of them involves an on stage brawl with no pants, and the other includes drumsticks, no pants, and a lot of beer). Yes, The Meanies certainly took band shenanigans to a whole new level with that one. It makes biting heads off chicken's and on-stage dwarf hangings look passé. Some of the more bizarre and quite disturbing on-stage antics caught on camera involved lead singer ‘Link’ Meanie at his most masochistic (his cutting abilities match that of esteemed play school host Noni Hazlehurst, and even more eerily of her ex-husband John Jarret).

My favourite part of the DVD, to be found in the live performance section, is the untimely rendition of Pathetic. For those of you who are unfamiliar, allow me to recite a few lyrics. For those of you who are easily offended, this song probably isn’t for you. These are, without doubt, some of the greatest, most honest lyrics I have ever heard:

“You’re pathetic, you’re pathetic, you’re a pathetic c**t…. You’re pathetic, you’re pathetic, you’re a f**kin’ c**t.”

‘That is Mozart and Shakespeare combined’ says Lindsay McDougal from Frenzal Rhomb. And I tend to agree. Although a lot of us like to think we are above that kind of humour, the truth is that we still find it funny. I myself thought that rhyming c**t with c**t was one of the most ingenious song lyrics that I have ever heard, and such poetic lyrical genius is even capable of making the most pretentious 18th century literary figures jealous.


Aside from the feature length documentary, other features include (as noted above) rare live footage from Newcastle University that shows The Meanies as a formidable force that can match it with any other band. And if you ever happen to see them live, beware Link Meanie if he ever gets hold of a drumstick… Seriously.

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