For fans of Talking Heads, New Order and Arthur Russell. In 1985, Australian musical iconoclast David Chesworth joined forces with friends Philip Jackson and Warwick Bone to form Whadya Want? Their sole album Skippy Knows is a quintessential mid 80s artefact, melding elements of post-punk, art pop and club-facing dance music. Now a coveted collectors item, at first it seemed to disappear almost without trace.
David’s background in celebrated Melbourne group Essendon Airport had already seen him explore funk and hypnotic rhythm on their 1981 album Palimpsest (since reissued by Chapter alongside David’s early solo albums). Philip also created compelling electronic post-punk in bands Equal Local and Whirlywirld, while Warwick was a mysterious studio maverick.
The songs came from a performance David gave in 1983 at the Paris Autumn Festival, whose Australian focus that year saw a host of antipodean artists invited to perform internationally for the first time. David wrote a suite of songs commenting on the archetypes and stereotypes of Australian culture, then going through a brief vogue with the success of Men At Work, Bowie’s Let’s Dance video and Crocodile Dundee. David performed to backing tapes and slide projections showing clichéd images of Australia – kangaroos, platypuses, pristine beaches – with cryptic messages superimposed.
Back in Melbourne, David decided to document this project with help from Philip and Warwick, who had access to a high-tech studio featuring a Fairlight CMI and the then-new Yamaha DX7. They recorded late at night and roped in friends such as ex-Essendon Airport pals Robert Goodge and Ian Cox (both playing in I’m Talking by this point), Mick Hauser (Equal Local), Michael Sheridan (Max Q), Paul Schütze (Laughing Hands) and Bill McDonald (Paul Kelly).
The result is a kinetic, oddly moving collection of eccentric dance pop, at times propulsive, at times introspective, captured with a high-sheen studio gloss that few art-minded Australian musicians could afford at the time.
This first ever reissue comes with three digital-only bonus tracks (including irresistible single B-side Involved With You) plus liner notes from David and original slides from his 1983 performance. The album is pressed in striking white-in-red “colour-in-colour” vinyl.