Boom Crash Opera Born Classic But Not Again

Boom Crash Opera are an Australian Band that reached the peak of their popularity in the mid to late nineteen eighties. They are a band that I knew about at that time but was never really excited by until they released their ill fated double album Born and Born Again in 1995 (Album cover pictured).

At the time of its release I was very much into emerging Australian musical acts and was also looking out for new sounds that were different and had kind of a futuristic/electronic sound. Artists that I was buying at the time included; Swoop, Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Its Self. As well as a really interesting release by David Bowie, the concept album, Outside.

Born was a fairly radical departure for Boom Crash Opera (BCO). The first single, Gimme, was often compared to the sounds of Gary Glitter, particularly his single, Rock n Roll part 2, because of the pounding drum loops. Watch the video below.



My favorite single from the album is dissemble which probably went nowhere on the charts but its electronic sound and seemingly reflective lyrics always strike a chord with me. Lines like "No... we haven't met, 'cause I've got a memory too big to forget." whilst not particularly deep have a naive complexity to them. Kind of like a machine carefully trying to understand how to link words together in order to express meaning.

Born is one of the few albums that I can say I like every track but what makes it interesting, apart from the music, is the themes, look and style of how the album was promoted.

One could argue the album was ahead of its time dealing with mass consumerism, violence, self obsession and futuristic machine domination by an increasingly computer reliant world. Born's album cover suggested the idea of people tuning out of reality by living more and more in a virtual world.

The band members promoted the album wearing minimalist, black, 'plastic' looking costumes that wouldn't have looked out of place in the movie The Matrix (which wouldn't be released for another four years).

Even the CD its self included computer multimedia presentations including two song video clips, Gimme and Tongue Tied.

The book that came with the CD doesn't include song lyrics, instead it features passages of text that extend or suggest themes and ideas covered in each song. There's complete instructions for creating your own 'cryo-doll', 'primal regression therapy in three easy steps' and 'how to turn your car into a psychotromic accelerator'.

As a concept album Born should be a classic. It's filled with so many ideas. I bought it when it was released in 1995 and songs from it are currently on my MP3 player (which only has 1GB of space so I can't just stick my entire catalog of CD's on it).

The sad thing is that this was released as a double album in a double CD cover (the old style, double thick case). It came with a cardboard circle where the Born Again CD was intended to be, when released, according to the circle, in April of 1995. It never was. Born wasn't a commercial success despite its singles receiving generous radio airplay. Record label BMG dropped the release of Born Again as a result.

To this day other than two singles from Born Again, Soundtrack and Radio, available on BCO's release, Best Things - Greatest Hits (1998), the album has never been released.

One can only assume the album was complete or nearing completion because the release of Born came with a complete track list for Born Again. The complete list includes the tracks; Analytical, Radio, Soundtrack, Stay Where You Are, Shallow, Mind Over Matter, Hit The Beach, Bomb For You, Beating Addiction, Shivers, Come a Little Closer.

Perhaps there was even another book full of ideas as per Born?

I recently picked up Gizmo Mantra (1997), the last new release from BCO, in a bargain sale. Not because I was waiting for it to be bargain priced but I never knew they released anything after Born. I just happened to see it and bought it on the spot - hoping it might have some of the brilliance of Born.

To be honest, Gizmo Mantra, whilst you can see some of the themes echoing through, never stood a chance against an album I've loved for 13 years. It's not that Gizmo Mantra is bad - it isn't - it's just that Born captures my imagination and continues to do so.

With bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails releasing entire albums directly to their fans online, I hope BCO will take a leaf out of their book.

Personally I'd prefer them to release Born Again on CD with any book or extras that may have come with it had it been released back in 1995. I'd buy it as a mail order item from their web site (if they had a proper web site rather than a myspace page maintained by the band).

Mostly I'd just like to have the complete concept double album. It's bugged me for 13 years not having Born Again. I know the band is still together and have gone back to where they started with the Aussie Pub circuit. Somewhere in their 'unreleased' pile of songs there's a whole album of potential brilliance that completes the MUST HAVE classic release that is Born.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the heartfelt response to a project that we put our hearts into. You have picked up many of the abiding themes; the post human imagery, the edge between human and machine, the obsession with consumerism, the fluidity of the human persona in the post modern age (who and where am I if I am everyone/no one and nowhere/everywhere?).

    And just to torment you the full Born Again package including videos for Soundtrack and Beating Addiction was completed, mixed and mastered ready for production (including Tony Cohen mixes on a few tracks). BMG froze. The band alone own the few copies and, no, Sony BMG won't let us put it out.

    Born Again was the antidote to the harshness of Born - although it has some truly ugly moments (Stay Where You Are, Mind Over Matter) it also has moments of humanity - Shivers, Bomb For You. The idea was '21 songs in 21 styles - nothing sounding like Boom Crash Opera.' We strung the songs into a narrative starting with the birth of our future cryo baby and ending in restaurant with muzak.

    We're hoping to pop up a web page soon devoted to our lost album.

    I am knocked out that you so much 'got' Born/Born Again - thanks for the blog

    Peter Farnan

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    1. Any chance in seeing Born released on itunes????

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  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Peter. Nice to know an actual BCO band member read my article and cares enough to torment me with the news that Born Again was completed in it's entirety but can't be released without Sony BMG's approval.

    I'll live in hope that they'll release it some day and aren't just sitting on it out of spite (I'm pretty sure I heard in an interview you guys once did that you were far from happy with Sony BMG and their decision not to release Born Again). Will watch for the web site.

    Born was such an influence that I bought Gimme and Dissemble as CD singles and recorded you guys performing Gimme on Andrew Denton's show at the time (nice and appalling rendition of 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon' at the end of the show - Dale sounded Bummed out having to sing that!).

    Kept watching for Born Again's release but eventually the wait won out and I stopped watching.

    Even though I only own half a concept album it's still a fine example of what a concept album can be. Thanks again for stopping by.

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  3. Just picked up on this searching for BCO on the web. I too was gutted at not being able to get a copy of Born Again . I thought it was down to me being in the UK - clearly not. Sony havae just announced a new president of music in the UK - I think an email might come his way. Oh saw BCO in Melbourne at the Sy Geoges League Club around Xmas 91 great show!!!

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  4. Maybe someday we'll get some movement on a Born Again release. I do know if you scratch around on the internet enough you can download nearly all the tracks from Born Again. Personally I'd rather have an official release.

    I've never seen BCO live but they always struck me as a band that loved live performance.

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    1. Hi,

      I have searched high and low for even just Born....can you help me in grabbing 9 of the 10 tracks. I have the single Gimme on their greatest hits package but thats it.
      Yours sincerely.
      patrickb@iprimus.com.au

      Pat

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    2. I'd imagine if you downloaded software such as Freewire you could get all or most of the tracks that way (not that I'm condoning piracy but if there's no other option).

      Otherwise, just keep watching ebay and similar music trading sites.

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  5. "Born" is one of my favourite Australian rock albums, largely because it was such a radical quantum leap for Boom Crash Opera. I was absolutely addicted to the "Gimme" EP when I bought it and couldn't wait to hear what the rest of the album was like.

    The quirky, galling wit of the album concepts, the layout, and the themes that were explored in it are chilling true of how life is today - self absorption, online shopping, consumerism, instant sensual gratification. The band obviously knew a lot of things that the public didn't at the time.

    It's a shame that this grounbreaking album was not marketed properly as it had every potential of becoming an international hit.

    Hopefully the band will be able to negotiate something with Sony Music to have it re-released with Born Again in tow with it.

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    1. It was for that very reason that I bought Born. At the time I was really interested in music by Australian artists that was a shift in some way from what they'd done previously.

      BCO weren't a band that was on my radar - except for the fact I always loved the bands name. Born was the first time I bought their music. It the most played album of my music collection outside of David Bowie's contemporary albums like 'Outside' and 'Earthling'.

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