Sunday, April 5, 2009

Soap Gets In Your Eyes

In this final installment of songs from Theatresports Lightning Doubles, Doug Bayne, Trudy Cooper and Tom Dunstan belt out a song about Soap Opera addiction. There are two versions of this song; the first was live and completely improvised. The second was, well, half-live, half-not. If the idea of improvising in front of 100,000 screaming fans interests you, you should have a listen.

The Original Version

Once again, the actors start the music, and the song is all the better for it. The beginning caught me completely by surprise, actually; when the title was announced, I mentally got geared up for an old piano standard (like Smoke Gets In Your Eyes). Suddenly Doug counts in and starts stamping his feet and grunting... giving me a couple of seconds to get a drums-and-bass patch up and running. (Just goes to show that, if you use different patches, you probably need quick access.)

Listen to Soap Gets In Your Eyes

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Doug breaks a bunch of conventions in this song. For starters, there isn't any singing; it's not a rap, more of a spoken-word rock song. Doug also pretty much checks out for the chorus, leaving it up to Tom and Trudy.

Like A Tim Tam Too Far, if you're not from Australia, you might need a little background before the in-jokes make sense.
  • Neighbours: Popular long-running Australian soap opera; 30 minutes a day, screened in prime time. Will probably run until the 22nd century.
  • Paradise Beach: Short-lived Australian soap opera.
  • Jason: Jason Donovan, an actor/singer who featured in Neighbours in the 80's.
  • Kylie: Kylie Minogue, the Australian singer/actor who was also in Neighbours in the 80's. Jason and Kylie's characters (Scott and Charlene) got married in the series and moved to Queensland. Somehow all retiring Neighbours characters either die or move to Queensland. What are they trying to say?

Even though there's no melody as such, as usual there's a bridge in the song towards the end. The chord progression changes and the music gets a little sparser, so it's hopefully some good light-and-shade for the audience. Doug and I do a nice synchronised stop at the end of the bridge, putting an offer out there for Trudy and Tom that they happily pick up.

I'm sad that Doug and Trudy no longer perform; they're both legends of the Brisbane impro scene. Tom is more of a living legend, currently performing with several groups in Brisbane and Sydney, and with some great projects on the boil.

Soap Gets In Your Eyes, the Arena Spectacular

You may have heard improvised songs before, but you haven't heard anything like this.

Listen to Soap Gets In Your Eyes - the Arena Mix

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For some reason we decided this song would have been fantastic if it was a real stadium rock song. To make this come true, we secured the services of David Lovell (guitarist and bass player extraordinaire) and his friend Mr Drums (who I'm sure has a name, lost in the sands of time) to put down band parts in a studio. Because we recorded the original performance with isolated microphones, we had a nice clean recording with Doug lead vocals, and a slightly less-clean recording with Tom and Trudy's backing.

Overlay some crowd noise, chop and arrange the vocals, add way more echo/delay than any self-respecting sound engineer would add... Hey presto - Doug, Trudy and Tom performing to thousands of screaming fans.

Performing to thousands of screaming fans? The way impro should be. ;)

Download Soap Gets In Your Eyes (mp3)

Download Soap Gets In Your Eyes - The Arena Mix (mp3)

That's it!

That's all for this series of Lightning Doubles songs. I hope to bring you more improvised stuff from Brisbane in future posts, hopefully with less tape hiss and more video!

If you live in Brisbane, you can catch the great-great-grandchild of Lightning Doubles: Impro Gladiators, running at the Paddo Tavern on Wednesday nights in 2009 from April to August. See you there!

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