Stung: “Desert Boot Nose”

stungDNRC096 | 3xLP | 2024 | DELETED

Electrical pulse sensation Stung learnt a lot in his days touring the German and Austrian satellite circuits supporting luminaries like Mead and Kentucky Barbie. Those days had been a kind of ‘apprenticeship’ for him, be it one which only confirmed his rising status in troubadour circles. But he never knew what hit him the day he got hit in the face with a copy of his second album, the essentially timeless masterpiece Desert Boot Nose.

The Kiwi Sting impersonator known to the world as Stung had released what was supposed to be his masterpiece album – I speak naturally of his debut, the recklessly hideous Dream of the Blue Pipe Cleaners – in 2003, back in the very early days of DNRC Records, when an ‘anything goes’ spirit prevailed.

The fallout from that album’s release, and DNRC Records’ subsequent deletion of it, was an emotional and creative nadir for the troubled pop antecedent from Dunedin. Rumours inevitably began flying around about the validity of rumours that he was not actually a Sting impersonator – that he was, in fact, a freelance composer who had written some of the world’s most intriguing and complex car commercial theme songs.

The fact that Stung had attempted to fake his own death on a commercial airliner in protest at this slur on his name, employing an elaborate hoax involving his seeing eye llama and a Vicks inhaler, did not really help matters. That he then entered a period of self-imposed exile, re-learning the arts of various woodwind instruments, only made things even worse. Hideously worse.

It wasn’t until more than twenty years later, in 2024, that Stung finally overcame his creastive differences and returned to Tribesco Studios to record his second DNRC Records LP. A year later he would eprise his on-again, off-again affair with Davey Dreamnation, acting as vocal coach and second flautist on the faux-valedictory E.P., The Sounds of Silence. Though no DNRC Record of this E.P. yet exists, we can easily guess at its contents from the evidence offered on the ridiculously grandiose and totally unnecessarily long Desert Boot Nose.

The news, though there is lots of it, is not good. Desert Boot Nose is, essentially, a fitness workout concept album. As unfortunate as it is to relate, opening track ‘Chucky’ begins with the sound of boiling water, and hissing steam. After about two minutes of this toejam Stung’s melodious voice comes over the P.A., with some kind of announcement.

Perhaps it’s just as well that you will never get to hear the announcement itself, for when the synthesized saxophone (played, it is alleged, by Eyna, who had opened for him on tour in Bavaria) kicks in, and the beats start up like Robots On Chipmunk, you will be beyond language.

You will also find yourself inside a car commercial dressed up as a fitness workout concept album, as title track and lead single ‘Desert Boot Nose’ coaxes you out of your cynical reverie and convinces you, instead, to purchase the latest model Daviumobile. It’s marvellously effective but from here on in, the ride is all downhill.

The addition of snippets from ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ on the otherwise radio-friendly ‘C3PO Dance’, though seemingly a good idea at the time, should have stayed just that. Apart from the obligatory but kind of cute exercise instructions and eighteen compulsory advertorial interludes that allow the listener to be carried away on bed of flautist wonder, it’s all desert boot, but no nose.

In fact, by the time your turgid listening ordeal is over, you’ll be wishing you’d never heard of Stung, or his desert boots, let alone the absent nose. It’s a gut-wrenching experience to fall, finally, into a small coma of relief at the conclusion of the final ‘routine’, a rhyme jam filled with so many IT in-jokes it makes R2D2 look like a sock-puppet.

And there, one would think, the story should end. Alas, this is not quite true; for there is a happy ending to come, and it comes in a shape familiar to us all. According to several sources, late one Friday night, after an emotional and intense eight day recording session in the Camp Davey studios, Stung’s triple album was finally ‘in the can’, as studio technicians used to say in the music industry.

A riotous party ensued. Assembled at this party were no less than thirty DNRC Records artists, including Mead, Eyna, Davey Dreamnation and Scaramouche the Llama, Stung himself of course, along with some of the older, lesser luminaries of the Tribesco scene, including assorted members of Cried, The Sea Pigeons, Footpath, Cliches, Hoodie Over Heels, Captain Sans Tenielle and (unbelievably) the Guide Ponies.

When Stung and his band of assorted hangers-on finally left the studio at around 2am on Sunday morning, they left Dreamnation and Scaramouche there, and retired to the Camp Davey Compound, where celebrations continued for several more days. It wasn’t until the following Sunday that anybody realised someone had simply deleted any record of Desert Boot Nose from DNRC Records.

And though this very thing had happened so many times before, not one person has yet said a word about how or why anyone let Dreamnation and that stupid llama anywhere near the mixing desk unsupervised, let alone at night, and just before the ‘release’ of another DNRC album, too. The rest of us are left to ponder what might have been, and whether it’s just as well that it didn’t. Happen, that is.

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