HAIR TODAY, ARIA TOMORROW: A JET PACKED WIND BACK WEDNESDAY



Ah, those days when ARIA could hold an awards ceremony, actually have people in the room, and be safe in the knowledge there would not be questions of morals, cover-ups, women fronting for a male-run industry, and a history of abuse that won’t end (because they won’t even accept it’s happened).


What heady times. What morally bankrupt times. Or as we might now refer to them, the Handlin Years. Which are definitely not, perish the thought, part of what's happening tonight when the (remote/distanced/let's hope no one asks tricky questions) ARIAs are held.


Wind Back Wednesday frocks up for 2004’s ARIA Awards, a night of hirsute pursuits and almost total domination by EMI – at the time still a separate major, not merely a part of the ethically compromised Universal Music juggernaut. We now know this must have burnt Sony’s Denis Handlin up more than anything given, as Four Corners revealed this year, he used to lead his staff in chants of “fuck EMI”, like the inspiring leader of women and men he was.



But even if his favourite (at least until Amy Shark arrived 12 years later and put a delicate nose out of joint), Delta Goodrem, didn’t win absolutely everything again, you suspect Handlin could still look upon all he had wrought and think “fuck, I’m a genius aren’t I?”. And who, at ARIA, or Sony, or anywhere in the boardrooms and backrooms of the industry, would tell him otherwise?


BARBERS WEPT, BUT IT WAS A GOOD NIGHT FOR BLOKES and those who remember that most benighted of decades, the ‘70s.


Be they elaborate afros seemingly working on the principle “the higher the hair the closer to God”, or men whose days of regular visits to “trim a bit off the top” have long gone, the ARIA Awards last night offered little solace to the nation’s clippers and snippers.


Chief among the winners was the hairiest band in Christendom, Jet. Flamboyantly be-whiskered and shaggy of lock, usually clad in denim and sounding like the long haired ‘60s as played through the hirsute ‘70s pub rock years, Jet took home six of the pointy trophies handed out by the Australian Recording Industry Association.



Among that swag were the night’s major awards for album and single of the year (for Get Born and Are You Gonna Be My Girl respectively) and best group and best rock album. The six-pack left them only one award short of Delta Goodrem’s stunning ARIA haul last year.


For a band begun in an outer Melbourne Catholic boy’s school a decade ago by Nic Cester and his best friend Cameron Muncey, the multiple awards cap off an incredible 18 months. In that time, along with bandmates Chris Cester and Mark Wilson, they have provided the soundtrack to an international campaign for techno gadget de jour, the iPod, sold several million copies of their debut album across the world and watched the slow death of Chris and Nic’s father.


Almost as tumultuous a time has been had by the owner of the most famous ‘fro in Australia since Aboriginal activist Michael Mansell.



Guy Sebastian, who this time last year was discovering fame through the TV talent show Australian Idol, didn’t get a single nomination for an ARIA Award judged by his peers. Undeterred he performed at the ceremony and managed to snaffle two awards: highest selling single, for his Angels Brought Me Here, and the only publicly voted prize, the Channel V Australian artist of the year.


Sebastian missed out on highest selling album, despite selling several hundred thousand copies of his debut, thanks to the continued massive sales of Delta Goodrem’s Innocent Eyes which won this award last year as well. Apart from Goodrem, the only other women to break the male stranglehold this year were 21-year-old Missy Higgins, whose song, Scar, was judged best pop release, and ARIA favourite Kasey Chambers who won her third best female artist award and yet another best country album trophy for Wayward Angel.




The best male artist was the once-unlikely figure of best blues and roots artist winner, John Butler. A man wearing the kind of dreadlocks first seen in these parts during the mid ’70s reggae explosion, Butler’s business and political independence – he won’t sign to one of the major labels - is more in tune with that Whitlam decade than the Howard years.


Much the same could be said for Paul Kelly who began his career in the late ‘70s but today, as the popular winner of the best adult contemporary album prize would be the eminence grise of local songwriters if he had hair to show the grey.



Perhaps fittingly then it was Little River Band, the ‘70s pioneers of Australian artists breaking through in the USA, who were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame. While still able to make those harmonies which defined their sound, for most of the original members the days have long gone when a visit to the barber was absolutely necessary. If you know what I mean.


The 2004 ARIA Music Award winners:


ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Jet - Get Born (EMI)


SINGLE OF THE YEAR

Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl (EMI)


BEST GROUP

Jet - Get Born (EMI)


BEST MALE ARTIST

John Butler - Sunrise Over Sea (Jarrah/MGM)


BEST FEMALE ARTIST

Kasey Chambers - Wayward Angel (EMI)


HIGHEST SELLING SINGLE

Guy Sebastian – Angels Brought Me Here (BMG)


HIGHEST SELLING ALBUM

Delta Goodrem – Innocent Eyes (Sony)


BEST POP RELEASE

Missy Higgins – Scar (Eleven/EMI)


BEST ROCK ALBUM

Jet - Get Born (EMI)


BEST URBAN RELEASE

Koolism - Part 3 Random Thoughts (Invada/Inertia)


BEST BLUES & ROOTS ALBUM

John Butler Trio - Sunrise Over Sea (Jarrah/MGM)


BEST DANCE RELEASE

Infusion - Girls Can Be Cruel (BMG)


BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Kasey Chambers - Wayward Angel (EMI)


BEST ADULT CONTEMPORARY ALBUM

Paul Kelly - Ways & Means (EMI)


BEST CHILDREN’S ALBUM

Hi-5 - Holiday (Sony)


BEST COMEDY RELEASE

Scared Weird Little Guys - Bits and Pieces (Shock)


BEST INDEPENDENT RELEASE

John Butler Trio - Sunrise Over Sea (Jarrah/MGM)


BEST MUSIC DVD

Midnight Oil - Best Of Both Worlds (ABC)


BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST – ALBUM

Jet - Get Born (EMI)


BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST – SINGLE

Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl (EMI)


BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM

Teddy Tahu Rhodes - The Voice (ABC)


BEST JAZZ ALBUM

The Necks - Drive By (Fish of Milk/Shock)


BEST ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK/CAST/SHOW RECORDING

David Bridie - Nautical Forlorn (Mana)


BEST WORLD MUSIC ALBUM

Seaman Dan - Perfect Pearl (Hot)


BEST COVER ART

James Hackett for The Dissociatives by The Dissociatives (Eleven/EMI)


BEST VIDEO

James Hackett for Somewhere Down The Barrel by The Dissociatives (Eleven/EMI)


ENGINEER OF THE YEAR

Paul McKercher for A Song Is A City by Eskimo Joe (FMR)


PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

Paul McKercher and Eskimo Joe for A Song Is A City by Eskimo Joe (FMR)