Time Out Melbourne

Great Melbourne Songs #9: 'City Flat' by Boom Crash Opera (1987)

It was a case for wrong place, wrong time for Boom Crash Opera

Boom Crash Opera were one of those bands condemned to play understudy to a similarly designed but far more popular act. In their case the Alpha rogue was INXS. This is not to say BCO weren’t popular in their way. In fact, they were one of the biggest local acts of the late-’80s. You just sense they might have been able to, had things fallen more their way, sell out Wembley Stadium and gone Grammy-hunting. They simply arrived too late – in 1987 – and couldn’t quite break out beyond the area girt by sea.

Frontman Dale Ryder, with his relaxed, charismatic moves, dimpled grin and curling drapery of hair made Michael Hutchence look like a spotty high school kid. Ryder could wear a loose suit as stylishly as Bowie, and the rest of the band were suitably glamorous without affectation.

The flat city in ‘City Flat’, (the band’s third single and the second from their 1987 debut LP which went gold) is of course Melbourne. Its uniform lack of undulations, are employed here to symbolise a general sense of boredom.

"Here we all are in the city flat / It's the bottom of the world and that's that! / Flat as a table”. By the time you get to “Everyone’s kitchens look the same” you realise you’re listening to a quite prickly critique of the sameness of home turf skilfully camouflaged in a big celebratory pop tune. “We’re planning to do what we did yesterday”.

If you took it seriously you might eventually take umbrage and tell BCO to go live somewhere else if they don’t like it. “This is not real life / this is just half speed”. Seriously, guys, I think that’s enough.

The band still play now and then. Mr Ryder is now thoroughly bald. The city has taken its revenge.

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Updated on 4 Apr 2013.

By Michael Witheford   |  

Great Melbourne Songs #9: 'City Flat' by Boom Crash Opera (1987) video

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