Here’s a group that did something rather unusual on the pop music scene in the early-2000s. The Avalanches are an Australian group that formed in the late-90s. They made several songs that took samples from various sources, added a few beats, scratches, and general other odd noises taken from old records, and then stuck this all together to create something that sounded like little else that was on the scene at that time.
Their first single in the UK was “Since I Left You”, which was released in April 2001 and reached no. 16. Among the samples was “Holiday” by Madonna. This was highly acclaimed and accompanied by a rather memorable video with some dancing miners, which won several awards, including the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video. Also in April 2001, their first of three albums, also called “Since I Left You”, was released, and this reached no. 8, to become their first album to make the Top Ten in the UK.
But it was what they did next though that interested me the most. In July 2001 the follow-up “Frontier Psychiatrist” was released, and this reached no. 18. I was a fan of this one, not only because of the bizarre range of samples (including an old sketch from a comedy double-act), that somehow all worked, but also because of the rather strange video (that was on MTV rather often for a short while).
The video featured this song performed on stage with some rather unusual interpretations of the samples. If any of their videos deserved to be festooned with awards (why are awards always “festooned”, I don’t know) then it was this one. And how can you not admire a song that rhymes “juice on your chin” with “violin” (that is a couplet that deserved to win several major awards in itself). They don’t make them like that any more.
“Frontier Psychiatrist” turned out to be the second and final hit single for The Avalanches in the UK though, although I’m not really sure how they could’ve topped this. After a long break and various line-up changes, they did eventually return to the pop music scene though, and in more recent years they have gone on to have some more successful albums.