Barbados (J Freud/A Duffield) and Out of Mind, Out of Sight (J Freud) – The Models 1985
Part 1 of James Freud’s memoirs, I Am the Voice Left from Drinking, is confessionally honest, and disarmingly self-deprecatory about his drug and alcohol abuse up to this time in his career. Whether the drugs heightened his creativity or simply blunted his artistic achievements is a moot point, but undoubtedly the lyrics of the song Barbados would chart his history of abuse, and it was diverse and significant – marijuana, cocaine, heroin, acid, Rohypnol, expired morphine ampoules from a doctor’s rubbish bin, his mother’s valium, speed, serapax, carsickness tablets, magic mushrooms, cooking oil fumes, wine, spirits, etc – if he could snort it, inject it, drink it, eat it, or inhale it he did. He displayed a junkie’s mordant sense of humor in his memoirs when recounting an incident in Sydney when he had overdosed on heroin and his fellow users gave him mouth-to-mouth and kept him alive, about which he concluded “If you’re gong to take life-threatening drugs make sure you’re with responsible junkies. Don’t you just love an oxymoron.” (I am The Voice Left from Drinking – James Freud 2002)
He was a functioning addict who was about to enter the most productive phase of his career as both a songwriter and front man for the Models, the band would start to record tracks for their next album in 1984 with producers Reggie Lucas, who had written and produced Borderline for Madonna, Australian Mark Opitz (Cold Chisel, Australian Crawl, INXS), and Brit Nick Launay (Midnight Oil, the Jam, and the Birthday Party), at the Platinum Studios (Syd)
Freud and keyboard player Andrew Duffield wrote Barbados, the melody is reggae-inflected, and its bright, breezy, sunny, feel-good calypso rhythms masked the dark lyrical undertones that reflected the wasted life of the Model’s bassist, “All I see/ is washed away/I am the voice left from drinking.” Subtle steel drums, an insistent bass line, Freud’s trite but relateable lyrics enlivened by the backing vocals of Kate Ceberano and Zan Abeyratne, and a riveting saxophone solo by James Valentine, produced a very radio-friendly track that became the band’s biggest hit to date when it climbed to #2 nationally, blocked from the top spot by USA For Africa’s mega-hit We Are the World .
Freud was injecting cocaine at this time and consequently his voice was shaky, and his throat very tight, producer Mark Opitz had to remix and re-record most of the original version of this song before it was released. The video was a curious mix of noir – Freud shoots himself in the head, Deer Hunter-syle, whilst driving a jeep in the opening scene – and then segues to an outro more predictably focused on party scenes in bars and boats with girls, cars on the beach.
The third single released off the album was the definitive title track, Out of Mind, Out of Sight, another Freud song which had started life as Engine Driver but once Freud came up with the chorus it was quickly renamed. The lines which caused the most interest were “Do you like the way I love you when I turn out the light/ Do you like the way it feels when I hold you tight…”, James Valentine thought the lyrics were gratuitously sleazy and unnecessary, Freud was adamant they remain, and no doubt they imparted added drama and sexual energy to the song. By this time Roger Mason had replaced Andrew Duffield on keyboards, James Freud had married Sally Clifton, and Sean Kelly was about to start a long-term relationship with Wendy Matthews, after he had prised her away from Red Symons.
The song was consummate pop, dramatic tempo changes, fat resounding bass lines, a brassy driving beat, emphatic lead vocals by Freud, and solid vocal backing from Kate and Zan again, who were now also touring with the band. But some so-called rock cogniscenti damned it, describing it as “A bloated bag of pop clichés in praise of aerobics (as in the lyric “gotta keep my body tight…”) and feeling horny.”
Freud has explained that he was referencing his commitment to remain faithful and virtuous when on the road and away from his wife and anticipating the time when they would be re-united.
The promo video was a straightforward studio performance which projected a band who were a bubbling cauldron of talent, romanticism, attitude, and new wave rock, delivering a four on the floor dance beat that was infectious. The public thought so too and sent the song straight to #1 and it occupied the charts for 23 weeks, the album also did good business, charting at #3, and included a sly drug reference in the artwork credit to Okidoke, a pet name for cocaine.
The Models had morphed from cult-post punk band to local chart toppers scoring the only #1 by an Australian band in 1985, and taking Out of Mind, Out of Sight onto the US charts at #37, they were signed to Geffen Records in the States, and toured there with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in November 1986.
The band would never scale these heights again and ultimately disbanded in 1988, James Freud sadly passed away in 2010, a week after the band had been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame along with The Church, The Loved Ones, John Williamson, and Johnny Young.