Sunday, January 23, 2011


(l to r: Christina Amphlett, Mark McEntee)
(Click above to hear "I'm On Your Side.")

It's amazing to me that a band that is so hugely popular overseas, and especially in their native Australia, is pretty much forgotten in the US, save their massive hit "I Touch Myself." Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee created countless pop masterpieces, many of which flew under the radar in the US. "I'm On Your Side" is one of the best. It's a soft, melodic, longing ballad about a love affair growing cold. Brilliant stuff.

diVinyls formed in 1980, and after a dizzying array of personnel changes, were left as a duo. They went from success to success in Australia, enticing Chrysalis records to begin
releasing their work in America. Their initial fanbase elevated them to cult status in the States, though commercial success was elusive, likely because of Amphlett's sexual charged stage persona and confrontational manner. No one could have predicted the smash hit they'd have on their hands with the release of their self-titled fourth album in 1990.

Packed with potential singles, it was "I Touch Myself" that was initially unleashed onto radio, and the single took off like a rocket, eventually peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This was no mean feat, especially as the single was refused airplay in a number of markets, due to its perceived explicit nature. While it seems tame in today's musical landscape, "I Touch Myself" was ahead of its time, and came to be perceived as a novelty, preventing many from taking the time to really experience the band's fine musical craftsmanship.

diVinyls debut LP, "Desperate"
Follow-up singles languished on the American charts, and a disagree with their label ended their run in America. 1996 saw the release of what would be their final album, Underworld. Amphlett and McEntee's professional and personal relationship had always been story, and after the album's release, tensions came to a head and they disbanded, both aiming at solo careers.

Amphlett released an autobiography in 2005, and McEntee concentrated on running a clothing company out of Perth. After nearly a decade of inactivity, fans were stunned, and delighted, to see diVinyls reform, performing on numerous television programs and on tour in 2007. A new album never emerged, however, and soon after Amphlett announced that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Schlorosis.

In 2009 Amphlett and McEntee officially put diVinyls to bed for good. Their catalogue of music is an absolute treasure, one that deserves to be explored by a new generation.

Live performance of "I'm On Your Side." (YouTube)
Video for their biggest hit, "I Touch Myself." (YouTube)

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