TURN UP YOUR RADIO, the Master’s Apprentices 1970 declaration that they were now a rock band rather than a teeny bopper sensation, opened our Australia Day show, featuring 40 years of Australian Classic Rock. They quite rightly remind us that rock n roll started a good 15 years before this but there was no way that we were going to fit 55 years of rock into a two hour show, so 1970 seemed a fitting start. Check out this video when Glenn Wheatley was still working the bass guitar:
Daddy Cool’s EAGLE ROCK was recorded in 1971 and went onto become the best selling Australian single of the year. According to songwriter and singer, Ross Wilson, he was inspired by the popular 1920s black dance performed with the arms outstretched and the body rocking from side to side which was called the Eagle Rock. ‘Doing the eagle rock’ is also a metaphor for sexual intercourse.The accompanying promotional video was put together quickly for $300 and shows the band in some old Melbourne haunts including the Dolphin Café in Clarendon St., South Melbourne and St. Kilda’s Aussie Burger Bar opposite Luna Park as well as live shots from the 1971 Myponga Festival held in South Australia.
In early 1972 Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs released what became their biggest hit, and Thorpe’s signature tune – MOST PEOPLE I KNOW (THINK THAT I’M CRAZY), a song now widely regarded as one of the classics of Australian rock. It was a huge hit for the Aztecs, propelled to the top of charts by the band’s triumphant appearance at the 1972 Sunbury Music Festival. Thorpe himself claimed this as a pivotal moment in the development of Australian music, thanks to the promoters’ decision to feature an all-Australian lineup, rather than relying on imported stars.
And here’s an interview with the late great Billy Thorpe at Sunbury:
After the demise of the Easybeats in 1969, Stevie Wright embarked on a successful solo career. In 1974 he released the epic EVIE, an 11-minute 3-part classic, which to this day remains the longest song ever to reach #1 on any chart in the world.
In 1975 AC/DC released the album T.N.T. with the iconic track IT’S A LONG WAY TO THE TOP (IF YOU WANNA ROCK N ROLL). Written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, its notable for combining bagpipes with hard rock, electric guitars, drums and bass. In the mid-part of the song there is a duet between the bagpipes and the electric guitar.
Two very influential Australian bands that were at their best in the mid 70’s were The Angels and The Saints. The Saints, in particular, are considered to be one of the first and most influential punk rock groups. By 1975, The Saints were employing the fast tempos, raucous vocals and “buzzsaw” guitar that characterised early punk rock. With their first single, I’M STRANDED, in late 1976, they became the first punk band outside the United States to release a record, ahead of better-known punk acts like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. According to Bob Geldof, “Rock music in the seventies was changed by three bands – the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Saints”.
Meanwhile Cold Chisel were about to record the song that quite frequently tops those ‘best of’ lists, so it couldn’t be left out of this playlist: KHE SANH. I’ll dedicate this one to Chisel drummer Steve Prestwich who passed away last week at the very young age of 56.
Midnight Oil and Men at Work released songs like THE POWER AND THE PASSION and DOWN UNDER, that have become Aussie anthems. And then in 1983 The Choirboys came into their own with their first single NEVER GONNA DIE .
By 1984 INXS were breaking out internationally with songs like ORIGINAL SIN and Chrissie Amphlett and The Divinyls proved that a female lead singer could rock it out as well as the boys on songs like PLEASURE & PAIN:
In the mid 80’s Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls released the Gossip album and proved that there was a place for consummate storytelling in Australian rock music. The hit single from the album was BEFORE TOO LONG:
Hunters & Collectors came together in the early 80’s and were a blend of pub rock and art-funk. While they attracted a growing fan base both here and overseas, their first real recording success was with the 1989 album Ghost Nation which featured the hit single WHEN THE RIVER RUNS DRY.
The most successful Australian rock band ever, though, continued to be AC/DC. Unfortunately Bon Scott passed away in 1980 but the band bounced back and found a worthy replacement for Scott in Brian Johnson. They kept performing and releasing albums throughout the 80’s and in 1990 they released what was considered their major comeback album The Razors Edge. Here they are performing my favourite track from that album, THUNDERSTRUCK. Go Angus!
Also in the 90’s bands like The Screaming Jets and the Baby Animals were making an impact on the local scene.
Killing Heidi’s first single WEIR was released in August 1999 and reached #6 on the Aria charts (and Platinum sales) by the end of 1999. The band’s debut album Reflector was released in early 2000 and debuted at #1, quickly becoming the fastest-selling album in Australian music history. Here are Ella and Jesse Hooper performing live on TV show The Panel around that time:
Also around that time Powderfinger were emerging as a force to be reckoned with. As was Spiderbait who had a #1 hit with their terrific version of BLACK BETTY in 2004.
But the standout band of the new millenium has to be Silverchair who have received the industry’s flagship gongs, the Aria Awards, a record 21 times as well as six APRA Awards. They’ve sold over 6 million albums. Here’s STRAIGHT LINES from the 2007 album Young Modern:
We finished the show with some hard rock: Wolfmother performed here in Byron this week and were amazing. Their song NEW MOON RISING was released in 2009 and its still one of my faves. And the perfect finale followed: AC/DC with HIGHWAY TO HELL. Here’s Wolfmother performing live on Jools Holland Later in October 2009.
Next week’s show has been suggested by the lovely Ros, and I can’t resist because its a goodie: SONGS ABOUT OTHER MUSICIANS. If you have any suggestions for tracks to include, leave me a message here. Meanwhile here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Turn Up Your Radio (1970) – Masters Apprentices
Eagle Rock (1971) – Daddy Cool
Most People I Know Think That I’m Crazy (1972) – Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs
Evie – Let Your Hair Hang Down, Pt. 1 (1974) – Stevie Wright
It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll) (1975) – AC/DC
(I’m) Stranded (1976) – The Saints
Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again (1977) – The Angels
Khe Sanh (1978) – Cold Chisel
Down Under (1981) – Men At Work
Power And The Passion (1982) – Midnight Oil 2
Never Gonna Die (1983) – Choirboys
Original Sin (1984) – INXS
Pleasure & Pain (1985) – The Divinyls
Before Too Long – Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls
When The River Runs Dry (1989) – Hunters and Collectors
Thunderstruck (1990) – AC/DC
Better (1991) – Screaming Jets
One Word (1992) – Baby Animals
My Happiness (2001) – Powderfinger
Weir (2000) – Killing Heidi
Black Betty (2004) – Spiderbait
Straight Lines (2007) – Silverchair
New Moon Rising (2009) – Wolfmother
Highway To Hell (1979) – AC/DC
Next week: SONGS ABOUT OTHER MUSICIANS
Theme Park is now in Drive Time! I’m very excited, (explanation points aside, can you tell?). To celebrate, the topic this week was CHANGE. There were songs about every possible variety of change: political, social, cultural, emotional, physical, even the kind you find at the bottom of your handbag when you most need it.
BayFM is now in its Winter season and with Theme Park’s new time of Tuesdays 4-6pm, you may have only just discovered us. So, if this is your first visit, the idea is not to find a list of the “best” songs on a subject, because “best” is boring and more or less just involves me reaffirming how great the Beatles, Radiohead and Roy Orbison are. No, what we’re trying to create is a thematically coherent playlist with a mix of genres, eras and moods. Some songs you’ll already know; some, maybe, you won’t, and hopefully each week we’ll rediscover the classics, and discover new music, together.
We opened the show with Michael Jackson’s MAN IN THE MIRROR. And what a great message it is: if you want to change the world then start with yourself and your attitude to those less fortunate than yourself. We followed with something a little less serious: the great Ella Fitzgerald with ANYTHING GOES from her album ‘The Cole Porter Songbook’. It was the first album she recorded for the Verve album in 1956.
John Mayer is in Australia at the moment and I’ll forgive his indiscretions in recent interviews because WAITIN’ ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE is such a great track. Here he is with an acoustic version of the song. Very nice.
We followed with the definitive cover of Bob Dylan’s ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER by Jimi Hendrix. Dylan wrote this song at a time that he was experiencing a complete life change, with two young children and a growing interest in the Bible. Hendrix’s version is so highly regarded that Dylan has been quoted as saying: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
Everyone’s allowed to change their mind now and again. A couple of terrific songs about the subject are the Cardigans’ ERASE/REWIND and soul singer Tyrone Davis’ CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
A completely different perspective on change came from the band Blind Melon. The track CHANGE is from their 1992 self-titled debut album and was the first written by lead singer Shannon Hoon, who struggled with a drug dependancy. The song encourages you to change your life when it gets too hard. Unfortunately Hoon found it difficult to take his own advice and he died in 1995, at 28, from an overdose. His grave is inscribed with words from the song.
Do you think money changes you? According to Cyndi Lauper MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING. Aretha Franklin, on the other hand, reckons MONEY WON’T CHANGE YOU. I think Aretha may have won that round.
Daniel Merriwether received a little bit of help from, rapper, Wale in the song CHANGE. The song and, in fact, the whole album was produced by wunderkid Mark Ronson. Rather than just play the official video clip, here’s a ‘making of’ that you might find interesting.
Country rockers, The Allman Brothers Band, sound as if they have hit rock bottom and are ready to do something about it in the very bluesy CHANGE MY WAY OF LIVING.
Another great rock group is Muse. The song FEELING GOOD is probably best known for Nina Simone’s outstanding recording. Here, Muse take the optimism of Simon’s standard to a whole other place.
We rounded out the hour with THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Recorded in 1971, it’s a poem and a song by Gil Scott-Heron, generally considered to be the father of hip-hop and neo soul.
I’M COMING OUT is a joyous disco number from Diana Ross. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, of the 70’s Disco band ‘Chic’, wrote and produced the track. Rodgers got the idea for the song when he went to a transvestite club in New York City. He went to the bathroom, and while he was standing at the urinal, he saw three men who were all dressed as Diana Ross.
I love my R&B. Anyone who saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Blues Fest a few years ago know what a dynamic group they are. A great song from them is SOMETHING’S CHANGED. We followed with A CHANGE IS GONNA COME. Sam Cooke’s Dylan-inspired, lump-in-the-throat protest song mourns both racial intolerance and his infant son’s fatal drowning. And it’s the most requested song in our list today.
Joni Mitchell’s song BIG YELLOW TAXI is about changes brought about by so-called ‘progress’; “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Sound familiar? And a big shout out to everyone in Mullumbimby, while we’re on the subject of unnecessary change.
David Bowie’s song CHANGES is one you must have predicted. And I’m nothing, if not predictable. We followed with another very predictable track: THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’, although it’s not Bob Dylan but a wonderful version by Nina Simone.
Let’s talk physical change. Can you get any better than Lou Reed’s TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE? It’s from the Transformer album, recorded in 1972 and produced by David Bowie. “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.” Yep, that’s what I call change.
Talking of changing teams, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood contributed a track from their Live From Madison Square Garden album, called, appropriately, TEAM CHANGES. And then it was time to head back to a song about political change: Tracey Chapman with TALKIN’ BOUT A REVOLUTION.
John Legend got some help from Snoop Dogg on I CAN CHANGE. That’s for the right girl, he asserts. Yeah yeah, heard it all before Johnny.
The Audreys do a gorgeous cover of the INXS song DON’T CHANGE. It challenges you not to change. Because you’re perfectly OK as you are, you know. The song is from the album, Between Last Night and Us. Here they are performing at Woodford Folk Festival, 2009:
We closed the show with a beauty: the Beatles and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. “Nothings going to change my world.” Well, maybe, but one thing I do know is that change is inevitable and while we might not appreciate it at the time, its all good.
Next week’s theme will be MORE CRED WHEN DEAD. Yes, every track will be from an artist who has passed on to that big disco in the sky and more than likely became more successful after they were gone. Big list to choose from, so inevitably there will be some omissions. But let me know your requests anyway. Love to hear from you.
Here’s this week’s playlist. From this week, I’ll include the album names as well. You can find all songs on iTunes.
Man in the Mirror – Bad, Michael Jackson
Anything Goes – The Cole Porter Songbook (CD1), Ella Fitzgerald
Waiting on the World to Change – Continuum, John Mayer
All Along The Watchtower – The Ultimate Experience, Jimi Hendrix
Erase/Rewind – Gran Turismo, The Cardigans
Can I Change My Mind – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Tyrone Davis
Change – Blind Melon, Blind Melon
Money Changes Everything – Twelve Deadly Cyns, Cyndi Lauper
Money Won’t Change You – Lady Soul, Aretha Frankin
Change – Love & War, Daniel Merriweather (and Wale)
Change My Way of Living – Where It All Begins, The Allman Brothers Band
Feeling Good – The Best of Muse CD2, Muse
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – The Breaks II, Gil Scott-Heron
I’m Coming Out – Floorﬁllers 80s Club Classics CD3 – Diana Ross
Something’s Changed – 100 Days, 100 Nights, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
A Change Is Gonna Come – The Man & His Music, Sam Cooke
Big Yellow Taxi – Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell
Changes – Hunky Dory, David Bowie
The Times They Are a Changin’ – Forever Young, Gifted & Black, Nina Simone
Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Transformer Lou Reed
Team Changes – Live From Madison Square Garden Cd1, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
I Can Change feat. Snoop Dogg – Get Lifted, John Legend
Don’t Change – Between Last Night and Us, The Audreys
Across The Universe – Let It Be, The Beatles
Next week: MORE CRED WHEN DEAD
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Hair is more than just the stuff that sits on top of your head. Hair can be a metaphor for life, for youth, for sensuality. And, as such, the subject has created a lot of interest from songwriters. The long and the short of it is that hair, or the lack thereof, lends itself to every genre of popular music.
So, just to be quirky, we started the show with two songs about having no hair at all. The very appropriately named Professor Longhair gave us BALD HEAD and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson contributed CLEANHEAD BLUES in which he claims that if it wasn’t for women he’d still have his curly locks. Oh yeah, sure. I’m not sure how old this clip is, but what a great venue!
Donna Simpson of The Waifs is a blonde who is much darker underneath than her image projects. Or so their song, THE HAIRCUT goes. So, let’s talk colour. McFly know a girl with FIVE COLOURS IN HER HAIR. If they were any cuter, they would have to be arrested. They remind me of the Monkees. Not sure if that’s a good thing.
Still on colour, Louis Jordan wants to know why YOU DYED YOUR HAIR CHARTREUSE. That’s the green colour your hair goes if you get a bad bleaching job, by the way.
There were no blonde jokes in the show this week, and certainly no ginger jokes. All in support of the sisterhood, you understand. And the brotherhood for that matter! But I do have a great quote for you from Dolly Parton. When asked whether she was offended by blonde jokes she responded by saying no, because she knew she wasn’t dumb. And she also knew she wasn’t blonde. Boom Boom.
Country singer Eddie Noack reckons that GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES but he’s not fussy about hair colour at all. As long as you’re a female, you’re in with a chance. The Meteors, on the other hand, are definitely suckers for LONG BLOND HAIR. Sonny Burgess likes a RED HEADED WOMAN, although he does sound rather ambivalent about her. Check out this clip from 2008 where he is performing at a Rockabilly Festival. He must be at least 80 years of age and he’s still going strong. Brilliant.
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band give us the song that we had to have on our show about HAIR. Yes, a little ditty about dandruff, KING OF SCURF. “I had alot of acne and pimples, I had to stay at home. Eventually, no one came near me, all I had was my comb”. Hilarious.
Time for something a little more serious, perhaps. Easily fixed by Nina Simone with BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE’S HAIR and we followed with India Arie and I AM NOT MY HAIR.
Now if you want proof positive that you can write a song about any old thing in the 70’s, take a listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young with ALMOST CUT MY HAIR. They’re performing at Wembley Stadium in 1974, although I don’t see any sign of Neil Young.
George Thorogood followed with another track that will resonate with all you baby boomers: GET A HAIRCUT. And continuing the theme, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band sang about LONG HAIRED MUSIC.
Our only Motown track this week was LET YOUR HAIR DOWN by the Temptations. Letting your hair down means that you behave in a free or uninhibited manner. The origin of the saying goes back to the 17th century when women’s hair was normally pinned up and was only let down for brushing or washing. The term used for this at the time was dishevelling. Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy might now be described as disheveled, but then it applied specifically to hair which was unpinned. There you go. A little bit of trivia for you.
Beck was next with DEVIL’S HAIRCUT followed by Owen who sang about that lover’s dilemma in WHO FOUND WHO’S HAIR IN WHO’S BED? There is a slight language warning on this one, but can you blame the poor guy for swearing?
Yay, we did include one for those of you with short hair: SHORT-HAIRED WOMAN from Lightning Hopkins. Reportedly, Michael Hutchence of INXS wrote SUICIDE BLONDE with, then girlfriend, Kylie Minogue in mind. Neil Young, whose true love’s hair is enormously important too, wants to live with a CINNAMON GIRL.
We enjoyed a lot of great guitar work on this week’s show. And amongst them is the band Wishbone Ash, considered one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. In BLOWIN’ FREE they hanker after a girl with golden brown hair, “blowin’ free like a cornfield’. I said they were great guitarists, I didn’t say anything about the lyrics now did I? Here they are performing in 1973:
I have to declare a bit of a thing for Led Zeppelin so had to play THE GIRL I LOVE SHE GOT LONG BLACK WAVY HAIR. As all good rock chicks do, of course. Me, being a red-head, doesn’t qualify I’m afraid.
One of my favourite acts from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival were THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS. I discovered an amazing song of theirs, set in the week before Easter. Perfect. It’s about a preacher who was murdered by his wife all because of THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR. I think its one of the most interesting things they’ve done. Unfortunately no decent clip available as yet.
But I do have a great clip of Little Birdy performing her hit, HAIRDO. Great voice.
We followed with PJ Harvey’s rendition of HAIR which revisits the story of Samson, who, as we know, was incredibily vulnerable without his locks.
We needed a song about the good old fringe, or ‘bangs’ as the Americans call it. And what better than BANGS by They Might Be Giants. The Beatles made their version of ‘bangs’ – the mop-top – world-famous and early in their career they covered Carl Perkins’ LEND ME YOUR COMB, so I thought I’d include Perkins version in this week’s show too.
BayFM will be at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Fest at our very own tent. I’ll be there Saturday April 3, between 12 and 3:30 so drop in and say hello.
It was appropriate then to close the show with a tune from one of the great Blues performers: Magic Slim and the Teardrops with GIVE ME BACK MY WIG.
Have a wonderful Easter! Here’s the complete playlist:
Next week: The topic is LISTS.