Great Melbourne Songs #10: 'Boys in Town' by the Divinyls

It may not namecheck Melbourne, but thanks to its memorable appearance in that most Melburnian of films, Monkey Grip, we'll take it

The Divinyls were based in Sydney for most of their Australian career but Chrissy Amphlett was a Geelong girl, and she reflected the steely industrial determination of that working class city in her provocative, sometimes menacing, always unpredictable stage persona.

‘Boys In Town’ was the band’s first single and the impact was immediate – the song was a top ten hit. Amphlett had played a thinly veiled version of herself in the movie of Helen Garner’s classic novel of life amongst Melbourne’s music, art and drug scene, Monkey Grip, and her performance of the song at a club in the movie is unforgettable. Amphlett was a fine actress and it’s a pity she didn’t feel like showing us a great deal more. Her turn as Judy Garland in The Boy From Oz was also a rare treat.

‘Boys In Town’ was part of the Divinyls’ soundtrack to Monkey Grip, and was also included on the band’s stunning debut LP Desperate in 1983. By then it was the group’s signature tune although they had started to rack up more hits, primarily ‘Good Die Young’ and the Michael Chapman/Holly Knight-penned ‘Pleasure and Pain’. After a few quiet years and a dizzying array of members passing through the revolving door, the band thundered back in 1990 with a worldwide hit, 'I Touch Myself'. It was controversial, original, beautiful, and unfortunately, subsequently a karaoke favourite. There were further Australian hits but no more global smashes.

The Divinyls’ music was written by the prodigiously talented guitarist Mark McEntee, whose quintessential tight pants and flailing blonde hair provided a perfect counterpoint to Amphlett’s confrontingly lurid combination of schoolgirl dress, or French maid’s outfit, suspenders and fluorescent mike stand. Questions may have been asked about this apparent soft porn approach but Amphlett’s message was, “Just try it and see what happens.” She was no coquette. She was however, a true star.

Read our interview with Chrissy Amphlett

First published on . Updated on .

By Michael Witheford   |  

Great Melbourne Songs #10: 'Boys in Town' by the Divinyls video

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