Half Deaf, Completely Mad: The Chaotic Genius of Australia’s Most Legendary ProducerBy Tony Cohen with John Olson(Black Ink)
“Unputdownable” is a word and it officially entered the English lexicon in 1947. That’s a full decade before Tony Cohen came into the world, but the descriptor could have been custom-built for “Half Deaf, Completely Mad”, his posthumous autobiography.
This is a tale of hyper-energy and off-the-wall sonic experimentation cleverly disguised as a 230-page paperback. It’s a weaving, sometimes wobbling story told through Cohen’s often bloodshot or pinned eyes, with dry wit and self-deprecation.
People who worked with the man and saw his excesses first-hand might question his ability to recall fine detail, but in the same manner that Tony would feverishly splice three-inch tape to insert a crucial edit, his co-writer John Olson stitched the bits together.
Not familiar with Tony Cohen’s work? The music he produced was the soundtrack of the life of anyone into Australian underground music in the 1980s and ‘90s. The Boys Next Door, the Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Michael Hutchence, The Johnnys, Beasts of Bourbon, Go-Betweens, Hunters and Collectors, Kim Salmon, Laughing Clowns, The Cruel Sea, The Saints, X, TISM…the list goes on. Flick through your own record collection and get back to me.