Songs about Brisbane – 2: The Parameters

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[Day 2 in our ‘Songs about Brisbane’ series comes from renowned local author Andrew Stafford, whose book of a few years back, ‘Pig City’, helped re-galvanise interest in the city’s alternative music scene, albeit retrospectively. Appropriately enough, he has chosen to write about the classic Brisbane protest song ‘Pig City’ – Ed.]

‘Pig City’ isn’t an important song because it ended up lending its name to a book, or a concert – even if that concert was headlined by the first gig by the (almost) original line-up of The Saints for 30 years. There are arguably many better songs – certainly, there are many wonderfully poetic songs about Brisbane that are far more, shall we say, professionally recorded and performed. All this, of course, misses the point.

Because ‘Pig City’ isn’t just a vital song about Brisbane. From its pithy title down, it’s THE definitive song of a particular era in Queensland – where the police dutifully did the government’s bidding to keep a state population cowed and a mad premier in office for nearly 20 years. Recorded in dribs and drabs by a one-off outfit assembled by political activist Tony Kneipp, ‘Pig City’ was a protest song written for the 1983 state election, where a vicious gerrymander ensured a corrupt and mendacious administration’s return.

Paranoia, fear and rage drips from every spat-out lyric here, but even so, it’s impossible not to laugh at the chant of ‘Pig City’ at the end of every one of them – not to mention that fantastic, slightly wonky saxophone part that somehow holds the whole thing together, or Ian Graham’s deadly guitar outro. The Parameters weren’t even a band (they never played live), but they ensured their legend forever with this song.

Andrew Stafford

[P.S. We here at Collapse Board would also like to give a shout-out here to the totally awesome Brisbane-based blog That Striped Sunlight Sound. You can find their post about this song here – Ed.]

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