REVIEW: Icon by Doug Anthony Allstars

Posted on May 29, 2014


DAASTo pretty much a generation of Australians, the stand-up comedy show, The Big Gig, was mandatory viewing. And one of the biggest names on the show was Doug Anthony Allstars. Paul McDermott, Tim Ferguson and Richard Fidler pretty much ruled the show. In Australia they were HUGE. While other acts sold out venues in places like pubs, DAAS sold out much bigger venues. What those of us back home Down Under didn’t necessarily realise was just how big they were overseas as well. For example the boys were H-U-G-E at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I have a DVD of them live in New York back in 1992 and they were blowing the crowd away.

A couple of months ago, I was talking about DAAS to a friend of mine who is still in her late twenties. She looked at me and asked ‘who?’ I suddenly felt terribly old and from a far distant generation. So with that generational thing in mind and bearing in mind some of my friends are from far-flung places outside of Australia, it may pay to acquaint yourself with who I am talking about. So pause reading, look up DAAS on Youtube. Don’t worry about me. I have a cup of coffee handy. And a cold chisel as I could use a manicure. Go on – off you go.


Scrape. Scraaaape. Ouch.


Oh there you are. Now that we’re on the same page, back to the review and my musings.

Always outrageous, DAAS were a musical comedy act. And insanely wild and funny with it. And musical comedy can be bloody hard stuff to get it right. Some acts get a bit too ‘clever’ for me and I get lost. But then again my own hopefully comedic music includes things of great subtly like ‘My Name’s Joe Hockey And I’m A Big Fat Bastard.’ Topical, satirical, challenging and funny as hell, DAAS could be clever and detailed but something about the structure of the songs and their delivery never seemed to lose me. And of course their act was a hell of a lot more than just standing there singing clever shit.

All the way back in 1990 (actually I understand some of it was first done on a demo in 1988), the boys went into the studio to record some of DAAS Icontheir stuff resulting in the album Icon. And now it is time for an admission. Somehow Icon passed me by at the time. I only very recently became aware that it was available at iTunes. So I grabbed a copy.

Icon is brilliant.

I’d been expecting something a bit like a recording of some of their live shows. Far from it. This is a wonderfully produced piece of work. The styles encompass harder edged, through lively, toe-tapping fun sounds and into simply beautiful harmonies. I wanted to turn it up on the stereo, grab my guitar and start bashing along with it. Not sure the neighbours would have been quite so happy about that though. Not with my tomcat-being-castrated voice intruding into things.

One thing really stands out from Icon. Doug Anthony All Stars were not just a wildly funny comedy act. The boys are greatly underrated as songsters and composers. Some of Paul McDermott’s lyrics are truly beautiful.

If DAAS were only in their early career today, the market would be flooded with all sorts of product like DVDs. Yet there isn’t that much left behind this landmark act. Icon is major part of that legacy.

It doesn’t matter if you know who DAAS is or not. It doesn’t matter if you don’t even find them that funny. Icon will have major wide-spread appeal.

Don’t sit here reading. Piss off and go get your copy from iTunes. NOW!

Ross sig

Posted in: Review