Pleasure and Pain was written by the songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, whose credits include The Best for Tina Turner and Love Is A Battlefield for Pat Benatar.
Holly Knight was quoted as saying:
“It’s a great song, I’m a big fan of the Divinyls. This is before they did “I Touch Myself.” I just like the lyrics. I like that it’s a little bit darker and still very sort of poppy. And I was a huge fan of Christina Amphlett from the Divinyls. And I just liked the tune. It’s sort of more in the line of “Invincible,” but a little bit darker.“
Divinyls was an Australian rock band that was formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1980. The band primarily consisted of vocalist Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee. Amphlett garnered widespread attention for performing on stage in a school uniform and fishnet stockings, and often used an illuminated neon tube as a prop for displaying aggression towards both band members and the audience. Originally a five-piece, the band underwent numerous line-up changes while Amphlett and McEntee remained as core members, before the band’s dissolution in 1996.
At age 53 years, Amphlett died on April 21, 2013, at her home in New York City, after a protracted battle with breast cancer. Amphlett had been unable to receive radiation treatment or chemotherapy as treatment for the cancer due to the multiple sclerosis that she concurrently suffered from.
Amphlett was the cousin of 1960’s Australian pop icon Patricia “Little Pattie” Amphlett, who had been married to Keith Jacobsen—younger brother of pioneer rocker Col Joye and leading promoter Kevin Jacobsen. In her autobiography Pleasure and Pain (2005), Amphlett described breaking into the music scene from the age of fourteen, being arrested for busking when seventeen and travelling in Spain, and how her performances drew upon childhood pain.
What a Life! was the second studio album by the Divinyls, released in July 1985 by Chrysalis Records. The album is a genre of rock and new wave songs — written entirely by Divinyls members Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee.
After touring and promoting in the United States, Divinyls came back to Australia to begin the follow-up to Desperate, with Mark Opitz producing again. They produced three songs including Don’t You Go Walking and Motion but Amphlett and McEntee were not satisfied so they returned to the road, replacing drummer Richard Harvey with J.J. Harris, and wrote more songs. A year later they again tried recording, this time with the producer Gary Langan who was the founding member of the band Art of Noise. He brought a sophisticated, high-tech edge to Divinyls’ sound, but a full album failed to get done. Recording stopped once more.
Eventually, Amphlett and McEntee made a journey to Los Angeles, where they asked pop producer Mike Chapman to come back with them to Australia and finish their second album. Chapman ended up producing only two songs: Pleasure and Pain (which he also co-wrote with Holly Knight) and Sleeping Beauty.
The album was released almost two years after recording began. It reached # 4 in Australia and # 91 in the US, while Pleasure and Pain hit # 11 in Australia and the lower reaches of the Top 100 in the US.
Editor’s Note: I wanted to try something different this week and adopt a theme for the Video of the Day daily (or at least near daily) feature. This week’s theme will be Australian artists.
Though the Divinyls are best known for I Touch Myself, which has almost become a parody of itself (unfortunate because I did always thing it was cool to have a woman singing about sex and masterbation – though I still prefer this one), it was this song that I first heard and was immediately attracted to. I fell hard for Christina Amphlett’s rasp and wanted more. Plus, it is just one hell of a sexy song.
The Divinyls were never a “one hit wonder”,and here is one of the reasons why.