Can we all just, for one second, take a minute to marvel at the artwork that is the album artwork for ‘Weekend at Donny’s’? Surely, that is a work that will be going in the pool room, or at the very least, be nominated as one of the images that will convey the best parts of humanity to visiting alien races. For those who aren’t as Donny mad as they should be, Donny is old mate in the middle there, with the sunnies and corpse pose. To the right is Jack Ladder with an expression stolen right off McCauley Caulkin’s shit eating Home Alone debut, and SPOD is looking like a cocky bastard. Man, I can’t wait ’til the whole crew finds out that these guys were totally fakin’ it! Then they’ll get sent to jail! And their careers will be in tatters! And they’ll never be able to re-adjust to regular society again due to the inhumane and extravagantly cruel conditions of Australian prisons. HAHAH, what a bunch of idiots!
On a less sadistic note, this album is Donny’s third record, and his first in which he doesn’t take the spotlight. Whereas his other records featured tracks that the producers of Knight Rider and Miami Vice were kicking themselves for not getting as theme songs, ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ instead allows for Donny to take the backseat. It’s almost like he is Kit, and he has a revolving guest-star of Hasselhoff’s.
The results of ‘Weekend At Donny’s’ are both diverse and riveting, plunging into strange territories that seem like lost goldmines of eras that never existed. There’s this weird anachronism thing going on, like an episode of Quantum Leap that’s been taken over by the embodiment of sex. The guests range from the local to the high-profile: IsabellaManfredi from The Preatures, SPOD, Jack Ladder, Geoffrey O’Connor, Kirin J Callinan and Elana Stone of All Our Exes Live In Texas.
Now, some of these collaborations work better than others. For example, “The Edge”, which features Kirin J Callinan, is a match made in heaven. Or rather, a match made from the greatest porn parody of Star Trek, where the budget was concentrated on the soundtrack. It’s a song where the lyrics “I wanna fill you up with my love” sounds like the greatest thing a partner could whisper in your ear. Add the space-exploration bass riff and panting synths, and you’ve got the perfect hot and heavy song. You can so easily picture this in a live setting, both characters back-to-back, Donny slapping his bass with a wry smile and Kirin J Callinan absentmindedly flicking his mullet, whilst a blinding amount of cameras shoot their beams for what has to be the shot of the century.
Other parts of the record stand incredibly tall and , “Sex Tourist” with Jack Ladder and the SPOD collaborations. The former is the perfect palette for Jack Ladder’s baritone to sink to its most immoral depths, a song packed with humour and loneliness. The latter contributions, “Gentleman’s Choice” and “Fantasies”, are probably the closest thing that resemble old-school Donny, rumbling bass funkadelics, heavy breathing and Donny’s special brand of hedonism (and vocals).
The only issue to be had here is mild, in that some songs on here resemble the guests’ own projects more so than as temporary visitors to Donny Land. Sure, there’s the Benet aesthetic there, of whispered lushness and trickling, unreal bass slaps, but “Endless”, which holds Isabella Manfredi’s vocals, and “Never Alone” come off like Preatures and Geoffrey O’Connor songs that have been Back-to-the-Future’d a few times, and picked up some 80’s sprinkle from all that time warp-age.
However, this is hardly a complaint. When the cast is as arrayed and talented as this, scoring a really good Preatures song on a Donny Benet album is just a bonus treat amongst the gold already there. When you’re submerged in this sensual world of Donny’s, it’s hard, painful even, to pull yourself out. Even though I was born a decade after the fact, the 80’s has that sheen to it, and Donny exploits it for a new and eager audience. And with these guests, he surmounts that problem of novelty wearing off. Now, his supreme talent as instigator and philanthropist of retro-sound can be completely appreciated for the genius that it is.
‘Weekend at Donny’s’ is out on Rice is Nice Records now. Donny’s bringing the touch to Brighton Up Bar on October 10th and 11th, with You Beauty and Food Court respectively. Go to one. Go to both. But go. Because his name is Donny Benet, and he will bring you happiness.